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Fitness Craze

New gym openings a result
of growing interest in getting fit

Gyms provide healthy support
and social network for members

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(February 2011) – After having a baby, Madison, Ind., resident Amanda Johnson-Kitzman decided she was not going to just sit back and wait for her pregnancy weight to go away on its own. Losing 37 pounds in eight weeks has definitely jump-started her motivation to slim down.
“I gained 59 pounds while I was pregnant,” said Johnson-Kitzman, 27. Wanting to learn to eat healthy and feel like her normal energetic self again, she decided to put more effort into a weight-loss program.
She began working out at Rockstar Gym because “I’d heard good things about the owners.” The owner, Nick Navas, had been working with some of her friends by training them to get in shape and stay fit.
Private training sessions with Navas has helped Johnson-Kitzman to realize she can lose the weight. Relying on the Stairmaster, elliptical equipment and a healthy meal plan, she is motivated to carry through on her goal of losing another 30 to 40 pounds.
Originally from Boston, Navas has owned Rockstar Gym since July 2010. He owns 50 percent of another fitness gym in New Hampshire and has been in involved in fitness for the last 16 years.

Turbo kick class

Photo by Don Ward

RaeAne Lynch leads a Turbo Kick class
at Fit For The King gym in Madison, Ind.

“We provide a service and training several notches above any other in the area,” said Navas. He is a master trainer and fitness judge, having managed other facilities. His wife, Brandi Navas, is a professional competitor for figure and bodybuilding. He likes to “take people from scratch and bring them up to competition level.”
The people who join his gym are “very serious about weight loss,” he said, and they are aware of his successful track record. He spends 30 minutes with each new member asking such questions as, “What are you trying to do?” and “How can I help you reach your goal?”
Each person has different reasons for joining a fitness club and different goals he wants to accomplish, Navas said. He takes a personal interest in clients’ results, while firmly believing, “Your success is my success, you’re failure is my failure.”
While Johnson-Kitzman is seeing results with Navas, she is also a long-time member of Fit for the King fitness gym in Madison. This gym provides her with support through a social network that helps keep her on track with weight loss.
Fit for the King offers challenges for members, which Johnson-Kitzman likes. The gym began a program in January known as the Buddy Challenge. “With this buddy system program, you can earn points for your workouts,” said Fit for the King owner Mike Foy. Prizes (points) are awarded and added to membership time.
Having been an athlete in high school and college, Foy said, “Fitness has been a part of my lifestyle for a long time.” He opened the business with his father-in-law, J.D. Traylor, in October 1994 after seeing a need for a fitness gym in the area.
“Every health club has strength and cardio equipment, but we probably have more than most gyms offer,” said Foy. Amenities include strong group classes, locker room facilities and a kids’ clubhouse for people who need to bring their children to the gym with them.

Camden Mahoney

Photo by Don Ward

Camden Mahoney
of Madison works
out on weights at
Fit For The King.

“The biggest part of any business is the people. I have a base of loyal members and great staff.”
RaeAne Lynch has been teaching Turbo Kick classes at Fit for the King since she became an instructor there in September 2006. This cardio workout is a higher calorie burning class, she said.
Women such as Johnson-Kitzman take the class because “they’re typically not afraid to try it,” said Lynch. But it’s also for men and individuals of all ages. “It’s very effective.”
Turbo Kick is something that “speaks to a lot of people,” she said. Ten classes are taught six days a week.
The program really exploded by March 2007, said Lynch. “We now have seven to eight instructors. Turbo is so popular people have gotten into other areas of fitness such as strength training.”
Overweight herself at one point, Lynch found out about Turbo Kick while sitting on the couch watching infomercials. She tried it, lost 45 pounds and now teaches it to others.
For people who say they don’t want to come to class and have other people looking at them because they are self conscious and may not be coordinated, Lynch said, “I do understand them. Once the class starts, no one will be paying attention to anyone else because they are all trying to keep up with the class and concentrate on breathing.”
Most fitness experts will tell you that motivation and accountability are the keys to successful weigh loss. As to the growing trend in fitness centers sprouting up everywhere, “Most gyms fail when people come in with a goal that they don’t reach, and then they leave,” said Navas. He runs his gym on a month-to-month basis, not requiring members to sign a contract.
“You have to have a business plan,” he said, to stay in business. Navas also does management-consulting work for other gyms. Above everything else, “our facility is focused on getting people results.”
Tom Runnebohm opened Anytime Fitness in Madison in December 2010. He sees a growing trend in fitness gyms because of health insurance. Many companies rate employees on a BMI scale (a ratio of height to weight) and they are “charged more based on what kind of shape they are in.”

Amanda Johnson-Kitzman

Photo by Don Ward

Amanda Johnson-Kitzman of
Madison, Ind., said classes such
as Turbo Kick have helped
her lose weight.

Like many others, Anytime Fitness is a 24-hour health club. It is “geared toward the everyday Joe,” said Runnebohm. There are 75 clubs throughout Indiana and 1500 around the United States. Anytime Fitness has also branched into Europe and China.
If it’s doesn’t become a lifestyle, most people stick with a program six to seven months, he said. “You need commitment and you need to see results, which are different for everybody.”
And fitness isn’t just for the young. After years as a physical therapist, Evan Beattie began her own business, Fit After Fifty. “I believe a lot of folks are becoming sedentary and I want to motivate them.”
Even so, “I’m not a Jillian,” she said, referring to TV fitness guru Jillian Michaels. “I go about it in a gentle fashion.”
Beattie, 61, works with individuals to set up any kind of exercise program they want to do in their own home. She said, “I build a program that works for that person.”
Snap Fitness is 24-hour gym that is sweeping both sides of the river. Erin Strode opened a location in La Grange, Ky., in July 2008 and one in Crestwood in January 2009. A third Snap Fitness has opened in Prospect.
Morgan and Caren Griffith opened a Snap Fitness in Madison last year. It has become a busy place, especially in evenings and weekends when members can come and go as they please, 24 hours a day.

Savanah Kramer

Photos by Don Ward

Savanah Kramer (above) and Toni Huff (below) are regulars at the weekly Turbo Kick class at Fit For the King.

Toni Huff

Basic equipment is provided for workouts in addition to sessions for couples or singles. This time of year “we see a lot of joint membership,” said Strode, referring to the husband and wife members he gets. “People are looking for a healthy lifestyle.”
Snap Fitness offers a Silver Sneakers program for members 62 and older, seeing a need to target this age group, just as Beattie does. He said Snap Fitness also interests a lot of travelers who can use one facility and then travel to another state and still work out at Snap Fitness.
Many may not realize that the YMCA also offers a variety of fitness programs. “Fitness is 90 percent of what we do,” said Karen Wyatt, Membership and Fitness director for the Oldham County YMCA branch.
Each week, 45 special group programs are offered. With an indoor pool, the YMCA can hold aquatics classes for additional workouts. An indoor sports arena is available for soccer as well, for the sports-minded individuals.
“We have a higher percentage of family memberships, probably because we’re in a more residential area,” said Wyatt. She, too, sees a trend toward individuals 60 and over working out.
Between Dec. 26, 2010, and Jan. 19, 2011, Wyatt said more than 400 people have joined the YMCA. But “40 percent do not stick with a fitness membership,” even if they have joined for health reasons.
Having been in the fitness industry for 25 years, Wyatt said see sees many people who genuinely want to lose weight to avoid heath issues, such as diabetes or to pursue personal goals. But just losing the weight is “not a quick fix.” She agrees that motivation is the main thing needed to reach any fitness goal.

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