Faces of Fitness in Shelby County

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Fitness experts say the key is don't go it alone

By Lisa King

You can tell it’s January by the throngs of people heading to the gym to work off the holiday pounds.


The thing is, how long will it last?

Jerimiah Heath, director at the Family Activity Center at Clear Creek Park, said in general, people start to lose their enthusiasm by the end of February.

“What I’ve seen is that people who work out on their own lose their motivation the quickest,” he said. “Those who join classes or get involved in kind of group activity tend to preserve the longest.”

Cathy Wilhoite, who teaches a series of exercise  “Boot Camps” at First Baptist Church, said she agrees.

 “Most people who work out in classes stay with it longer because of the social aspect,” she said. “Everybody likes to share an enjoyable experience, and people can really have a lot of fun if they find the right class. Like for example, there is a guy in one of my classes who likes to clown around a lot, and he always has everybody in stitches. He’s one of the highlights of the class, but in all my classes there’s just a certain camaraderie among people; you can just feel it in the air.”

In case you were thinking of jumping into a training program, there are lots of committed instructors in Shelby County who want to help you get involved and stay involved.

Through classes at gyms, churches and even the library – along with the FAC – you can tackle just about any specific form of exercise you like.

For instance, Shelby County Parks and Recreation offers a broad range of physical activities, and Heath said those include yoga, water aerobics, Zumba, and exercise classes for all age groups, including children and seniors.

“Our Silver Sneakers classes are for senior citizens who want to improve their cardio and muscular strength,” he said.

Many of those who teach these classes for parks and rec, as well as other places in the county, including those who have their own fitness-oriented businesses, do so because they are passionate about fitness, Heath said.

“We are fortunate to have a lot of dedicated people here in the county who are very knowledgeable about fitness in several different kinds of activities,” he said.

Peggy Tschauner, owner of Shelby Fit for Life, who teaches Tai Chi as well as workout techniques with exercise balls, said during the past 25 years, that she has been in the fitness industry, she has seen trends change in what people want in an exercise class, and has adjusted her classes to fit those needs.

“People want a more personalized approach than they did in the ‘80s,” she said. “Also, life is more fast-paced now, and people don’t have as much time or patience as they used to.

“These days, they come in and say, ‘These are my goals; get me there as fast as possible.’ We are a ‘I want it right now,’ society. So at Fit for Life, they get a personal trainer who helps them outline their goals and work with them to meet those goals.”

Tschauner also employs specialists who instruct members in classes such as the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, strength training, kick boxing, Tai Chi, boot camp, ball exercises, Zumba and specialty workshops.

Hot topic

Gina Rempe, is a 7-year instructor of hot yoga, an activity that she said is becoming more popular all the time.

Rempe, owner of Shelbyville Hot Yoga, who is also a personal trainer, is another dedicated fitness expert, who studied the discipline under Hot Yoga legend Jimmy Barkan in Tampa.

The term “hot” refers to the fact that yoga is practiced in a room where the temperature is very near 100 degrees. “The goal is to sweat the toxins out of the body,” she said.

She said she belives that hot yoga is growing in popularity because of a fitness trend she has observed.

“People still want to lose weight, but these days they are becoming more conscious of being healthier, and focusing on feeling better, and this is a way to do that,” she said. “Yoga is an Indian discipline, stressing mind over matter, and focusing on the body’s inner health, strengthening the organs and the cardiovascular system.”

Rempe’s classes generally consist of more women than men, mostly in the 35 to 55 year old age group. Her passion for teaching hot yoga comes through in the excitement in her voice.

“I love it so much,” she said. “It helps your whole body; your organs work at their maximum potential and it just flushes all the toxins out of your liver and kidneys.”


Dancing to a new tune

Heath said that the most popular classes at the FAC are Zumba, a dance-style activity that uses Latin music, and he has also had a lot of people sign up for the Silver Sneakers classes.

“This is targeted toward seniors to improve their cardiovascular and muscular strength,” he said.

Wilhoite, a former Fit for Life Instructor, who used to teach the Silver Sneakers classes at the FAC, said people like the class for the reason Heath mentioned.

“They like that it helps them to stay healthy, and it’s wonderful to see them combining socializing and physical fitness,” she said.

In addition to her boot camp, Wilhoite also teaches a class called Mommy and Me at Gillman’s Dance Studio on Main Street and Tumbletime at the FAC.

Women only

The pursuit of not just health but friendships also is part of the curriculum at Curves, a chain facility in Shelbyville that caters to women.

Owner Jaime Laton said her facility’s combination of cardio and aerobics, with a dash of Zumba music thrown in, is a great way to get in shape and make friends, too.

“We also offer a free weight management class every Saturday of the month at noon,” she said. “That’s a time when women can get together and get some new ideas in a very important area.”

Rempe said she can’t emphasize enough the tremendous impact class camaraderie has on participants.

“In a group setting, you can just feel the energy bouncing off you from other people,” she said. “All I can say is, it’s just a kick-butt feeling.”