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VOL. 41 | NO. 45 | Friday, November 10, 2017

Resolve to try a different fitness method

'The gym?' Really? There are more options than ever. Try something new

By Hollie Deese

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Julie Kramer, 58, had what she calls her “epiphany moment” when she was 45 and had gotten a few bad blood test scores from her doctor. She was 40 pounds heavier than she is now, and it really hit her that she needed to make some serious changes.

Involved in sports when she was younger, she started slowly to gain some fitness back, just walking on her lunch break and, occasionally, trying out classes like Jazzercise.

Kramer heard about Orangetheory, the one-hour, heart-rate monitored workout designed to burn calories for 36 hours after class, from her son and daughter-in-law. Despite some initial intimidation that the classes skewed younger, she walked through the door two years ago.

Today, she is a devotee.

“I thought, ‘I am not going to be able to keep up with these people,” she recalls. “Also, a lot of the people are runners, and I’m not a runner at all, so I hoped I’d be able to do this, or at least, not make a fool out of myself.”

Variety the key

Today’s health-conscious consumers have access to everything from SoulCycle (wellness, inspiration, exercise and mindful living) and CrossFit (combinations of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more) to Pound drumming fitness (transforming rock music and drumming into a spirited exercise program).

The new kind of workout can be super low-key, like the stretching Streto Method at Massage Envy that uses assisted stretching to improve flexibility, a top-down program in which stretchers work with you, starting with your neck and shoulders.

Julie Kramer, 58, of Bellevue uses a medicine ball during one of the station workouts at Orangetheory Fitness.

-- Michelle Morrow | The Ledger

Or, it can be super high-octane, like the workouts found at UFC Gym in Hendersonville, owned Sean Patton, formerly in the military. Patrons can find circuit-training, ultimate-training, TRX, boxing and kick-boxing conditioning classes, taught by a coach who uses real heavy bags for resistance training.

“We have current and former fighters teaching you boxing, kick-boxing, conditioning. So, they’re going to come around, and they’re not going to just let you sit there and just whale on a bag, they’re going to come around and actually teach you how to throw punches, how to throw hooks, how to throw jabs, how to throw crosses, how to throw combinations, how to throw kicks,” Patton explains.

He says his team makes the training fun and interactive, while passing on actual skillsets through training.

“We’re really five gyms in one,” Patton adds. “You’ve got your boot camp, circuit-training style gym. We’ve got that with the ultimate training. Then a lot of places you’ve got cardio boxing, fitness boxing, fitness kick-boxing type gyms. So, we have that as well. We do a ton of personal training and private coaching. We offer nutritional support.”

Combining workouts

Orangetheory, with four locations in Nashville and in Farragut and Bearden in East Tennessee, offers group personal training workouts focusing on high intensity interval training that blends cardiovascular and strength training.

Earl Jones, 52, left, Katherine Kirchhoff, 24 and Brittany Artz, 28, work out using bands at Orangetheory Fitness at Nashville West.

-- Michelle Morrow | The Ledger

Kramer liked that the Orangetheory class was a little bit faster-paced than what she was used to, really working up a sweat. Plus, the range of class times met her hectic schedule managing a one-on-one tutoring program for the National Adult Literacy Council for adult immigrants learning English

About a year ago, Kramer added barre3 to the mix, a combination of yoga, Pilates and ballet, and she now works out about five days a week between the two.

“I like that one because it’s a lot of strength training, and working parts of your body that you just would not normally work in your everyday life that are important for your strength,” Kramer says. “I think for women, or at least for me, I never had a lot of upper body strength. That has really helped me with that.”

The schedules of both places work for Kramer so she can alternate both. “I found that they really complement each other, because they’re totally different,” she explains.

“Orangetheory is more high intensity, and really gets your heart rate going. barre3 gets your heart rate going, too, but I can tell a big difference in my strength with that.”

Members work out using weights at Orangetheory Fitness at Nashville West.

-- Michelle Morrow | The Ledger

Kramer has had some orthopedic injuries over the years and adds she is able to adjust both of these workouts with different options, with the help of on-site coaches. “They really encourage you to do things at your own level,” she explains. “I like that. And I’ve improved a lot.

“I’m not a professional athlete and I’m 58 years old, but I can really tell a difference in my stamina and my strength.”

Orangetheory franchise owner Karen Meng says all kinds of people come to work out, including sidelined athletes who can continue to work out in ways akin to physical therapy while adjusting the workout to what their body needs on any given day.

“And then we have some people who maybe haven’t exercised in a while, not necessarily that they were athletes but have realized that they can come and take class and feel better,” Meng notes.

Pace McCamy owns the Nashville and Knoxville barre3 locations and was drawn to the workout as a way to manage rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups. She used to have two or three painful episodes a year. Since starting barre3 six years ago, she has had only two.

“I really believe that barre3 has helped me physically,” McCamy says. “But the other really great, cool thing about barre3 is that it’s not just about the exercise. It’s not just about those 60 minutes. It’s also nutrition. So barre3 has also helped me realize how I needed to fuel my body so that I could keep on going.”

Adding wellness to workouts

Robin Channell, the owner of Nashville’s Vigor Fitness and Wellness Studio, offers a modern, upbeat space with one-on-one functional training and group fitness classes such as cycle, yoga, barre and boot camp-style sessions, as well as other personal services like massage, nutrition consultations and private training.

Channell has always had an interest in fitness, from her early days pursuing dance and running through 10 years as a national level fitness competitor, she always knew it was her goal to open her own gym.

It wasn’t until after the birth of her two sons and career in corporate healthcare that she truly realized the impact nutrition education and overall wellness had and how she longed to help others find balanced healthy lifestyles.

As running began to take a toll on her body, Channell began searching for other ways of keeping in shape. She fused her weightlifting expertise with the restorative ability of yoga, healing power of massage, balance and poise of barre and offers it all at Vigor, opened in October 2016.

“We have a lot of people that come in here because of the variety of classes,” she points out. “They want to try yoga, they want to cycle, but they don’t want to go to a studio where that’s all they do because I think people, especially with yoga, have fear that they’re not going to be able to do all those poses.”

Channell adds when it comes to her own workouts, recovery has been a big part of the equation over the years. So, when she opened the gym, she was sure there was a wellness aspect to it as well.

“Every five years something shifts on my body, and then all of a sudden, maybe the past five years, things just hurt. I’m in pain more after a workout. And if I would have opened the studio about 10 years ago, I would have not thought to add the wellness side of it, and wouldn’t have yoga.”

On the wellness side, in addition to nutrition, they have added infrared sauna to their massage services. Channell says it has been a game-changer when it comes to relieving joints.

“Our minds want to keep going because we have that drive in us from when we were 20 years old, but then our bodies are like, ‘Oh, no,’” she acknowledges.

“My entire body can be sore from workouts, and I lay in there for 30 minutes and sweat. The infrared light gets into your joints and it’s healing.”

The average person sweats out 3 percent toxins and 97 percent water in a conventional sauna, Channell says, compared to 20 percent toxins and 80 percent water in an infrared sauna.

Looking, feeling good

Making fitness an all-over mindset is the focus of the latest book from internationally-renowned trainer Samir Becic, “ReSync Your Life: 28 Days to a Stronger, Leaner, Smarter, Happier You.’’

The former fitness director of Bally’s Total Fitness introduces a whole mind-body approach to wellness in which people “resync” their minds, bringing spirituality, physical fitness and exercise, all together.

“When you work out, when you exercise, you are creating the best expression of your genetic makeup,” Becic says. “When you wake up from bed, and you are forty or fifty years old, you wake up from the bed like someone who is twenty, because there are certain exercises that improve the muscle that affects the motion of sitting in a chair and then standing up. So, simplistic, effective, functional exercises that allow you to move your furniture without hurting your lower back, or your knees, or the elbows.”

Becic was always fit and says he realized when he was 10 that when he was working out he felt better. He felt more confident. He was able to stand in front of his class and speak to twenty students as the class president because he felt good about himself.

Then, in his teen years, being fit helps him remain focused despite having attention deficit disorder.

“It has helped me to learn better. It has helped me to be more confident. It helped me to feel better, have more energy, and look better. All of that I realized, when I was 10.’’

Food a big factor

Fitness and health go hand in hand – basically, work out all you want but if you are eating too much it won’t make any difference. That’s why so many trainers and gym are incorporating wellness programs and packages in with the typical memberships.


Shawn Booth, a celebrity fitness trainer, health and wellness expert, recently launched Healthy Meal Plans by Shawn Booth. He does pop up fitness sessions at Vigor Fitness and Wellness Studio and works with a number of private clients on health and wellness issues.

“I have created more meal plans in the past couple weeks than I have any other month in the year which is very surprising to me,” Booth says, as typically people really slack off on nutrition and fitness routines between Halloween and the New Year. “I do like seeing that because you worked all year for your progress. Your new muscles, the fat you’ve lost, and there’s no point of giving all that up and then starting again at the end of January or February.”

Booth customizes meal plans for people looking to shed some fat, tone up or simply to put on some muscle. He works with a registered dietician and a couple of other trainers, gathering client information including gender, height, weight, goals and what they’re looking to achieve. Based on that information, customized plans are created to help them reach their goals.

“It’s a 12-week program with instructional videos. We walk the client through every single exercise on their videos and then provide support for them throughout the 12-week process. And just really educate them on the proper portions, sizes they should be eating, and what they should be eating and making sure that they’re not afraid to eat the fat and the carbs – the right ones.”

Booth, like other experts, says if you’re trying to reach your fitness goal, 80 percent of that success is in the nutrition. “Because you can work out an hour every single day, but then you have 23 other hours in the day to mess that all up,” Booth says.

More than vanity

Kramer is sure she will always be able to stand to lose a little more weight, but getting and staying fit in her 50s is about so much more than looking good in a bikini.

“It’s about getting up in the morning and feeling good, and feeling good every day,” Kramer says. “I can’t even explain how much energy it gives me.”

Lack of energy was a big issue for Kramer before she joined the group class workouts. She would work all day and come home, and basically just sit on the sofa totally drained. But now she not only has energy from being active, she gets energy from the supportive group atmosphere from the mainly female clientele.

“People are very encouraging at both,” Kramer says of these. “And at Orangetheory, you get a high five on the way in, and usually at the end of the class they encourage you to high five your neighbor.

“You feel like you really accomplished something.”

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