Magazine Writing, Uncategorized

The suspense is building with TRX Suspension Training

Valerie Cook

Athens, GEORGIA (April 1, 2016)–In a gym typically packed with equipment, there’s a nearly empty room dedicated to a new fitness fad.

Roughly ten straps hang from the ceiling in a room of The Club, a health and fitness center that hopped on board with the new trend of suspension training.

TRX Suspension Training is a unique fitness style that primarily uses bodyweight exercises designed to increase balance and strength through a total body workout. TRX stands for Total Body Resistance Exercise.

Bodyweight exercises utilize bodyweight to perform exercises as a form of strength training. These exercises can be tailored to fit each person’s fitness level based on their bodyweight.

“It’s a really great place to start for a lot of people, so that they’re not making things too tough,” says Shelby Harris, a certified personal trainer at the Omni Club of Athens. Harris believes that bodyweight exercises are less intimidating for beginners who aren’t familiar with gym equipment and more complicated exercises.

Allison Nermoe, with the Health Promotion and Wellness department of Southeast Georgia Health System, says that bodyweight exercises are the best form of strength training because they don’t require equipment and can be done from almost anywhere.

Trends come and go within the realm of fitness, but the use of bodyweight exercises has only increased in popularity. Nermoe believes that these bodyweight exercises will stick around for a while because they are convenient and effective.

“I think that the fitness industry is finally getting a grasp on all the benefits that bodyweight exercises can provide, especially as our society continues to lead such busy lifestyles,” says Nermoe.

TRX Suspension Training has taken advantage of the benefits of bodyweight training. This system utilizes gravity to make effective workouts with minimal equipment. A strap set that mounts from the ceiling is the extent of the equipment needed to get an effective workout.

TRX was developed by a Navy Seal as a more efficient workout method during deployment. Tim Carlson, who served four years in the United States Marine Corps and current owner and CEO of BodyworX Studio 912, is familiar with the difficulties of exercise during deployment.

“You have to be creative depending on your environment that you’re in. I would carry my tennis shoes, Abmat, jump rope and water bottle,” says Carlson.

Carlson prefers bodyweight exercises because they tend to be more efficient in terms of space and cost.

“TRX straps were easy to transport and would give you a great workout,” notes Carlson.

Core strength is one of the primary goals that can be accomplished through using TRX Suspension Training. Carlson acknowledges that in the Marine Corps, cardio and core training is key to survival. The Marines adopted TRX in 2007 as a staple of training.

While TRX was designed to make exercise easier and more accessible for deployment workouts, it’s not just for soldiers.

“I could teach an 80 year old TRX, just because of the bodyweight and the foot position,” says Pat Kent, Director of Personal Training for The Club and TRX instructor. TRX can easily be tailored to the needs of each person taking the class.

However Kent was not impressed with the new trend at first.

“Someone asked if I thought it was any good and I didn’t know much about it and I said nope!” Kent recalls with a chuckle. He has since changed his mind, noting that the trend within fitness has begun to move toward body movement exercises as opposed to isolated exercises.

The response to TRX has been “tremendous,” Kent says, “Every class I have is full.”

Kent teaches his class at six thirty every Tuesday, but despite the early hour he still sees an amazing turnout.

Chris Lee, a certified TRX instructor, believes TRX differs from other fitness because of its versatility. Cardio, strength training, balance, and mobility are all incorporated into one fitness technique. Lee also mentions the “cool” factor associated with the class.

“Many people are curious about those yellow straps they’ve seen around the gym,” he says, noting how his clients like the unique qualities of exercises using the TRX.

While TRX is fun and adaptable to most fitness levels, Lee admits that there is a slight learning curve for new users. The most difficult aspect of a TRX class is usually the balance and focus that it takes to complete an exercise. Instructors of TRX are also careful to make sure that everyone has the correct form. This is easier to manage with the small class sizes that TRX tends to have.

“We keep it small, it’s intimate,” says Pat Kent of his classes at The Club.

The typical structure of a TRX class is a small group that allows for one-on-one instruction. This decreases the possibility of injury for those who aren’t familiar with TRX and who are unsure of the correct form.

While the primary method of TRX has mainly been in a gym setting with a personal instructor, the trend has shifted towards practicing suspension training at home. The TRX Home Gym has been a best seller. It is a portable suspension trainer that allows for home workouts.

“You can workout outside and tie it around a tree branch, put it over a door,” says Harris, who is familiar with the product.

The versatility and the simplicity in which TRX Suspension Training has utilized bodyweight training has made this fitness style become one of the top trends in the industry today.

Over one million people in 60 different countries have caught onto the trend of TRX Suspension Training and it continues to grow.



Magazine Writing, Uncategorized

Wild Card

Yoga: More than just a pose

Valerie Cook

Athens, GEORGIA (April 20, 2016)– It was 1997—a time when home workout videos were popular among fitness fanatics. Debi Garrett, an aerobics instructor and self-proclaimed workout junkie, rented a VHS tape of yoga and remembers feeling an amazing sensation, “I was hooked.”

What started out as a fun workout option turned into a lifestyle for Garrett. She is now a certified yoga instructor at Five Points Yoga in Athens. It became such an ingrained part of her routine; she finds that if she doesn’t practice yoga, even for a few days, she doesn’t feel as good all around.

“Yoga gives you everything you need: strength, flexibility, balance,” says Garrett, “There’s also the mind-body connection that you don’t find in any other form of physical exercise that I have experienced.”

That mind-body connection is one of the reasons so many people keep coming back to yoga after they try it for the first time. Shannon Ball, co-founder of Five Points Yoga, highlights the importance of connecting the body and mind, especially in relation to health issues.

“Yoga is an amazingly powerful way to reconnect inside, to move energy in our body in a culture of overweight, stagnant people,” says Ball. She is concerned about the inactive nature that people are demonstrating in their daily lives. However, Ball notes that as people are able to relax and get in touch with themselves, they tend to make healthier choices in their everyday lives.

Dr. Rebecca Marshall, a professor at the University of Georgia who specializes in yoga and mindfulness meditation research, stresses the importance of a healthy mind leading to a healthy body. She has based her research on analyzing the effects that yoga and mediation can have on the mind.

Her researched focused specifically on breath work and how it can help change the mind. Alternate-nostril breathing is a breath technique used in yoga and mediation, which requires breathing in and out through one nostril at a time. It is believed to balance the hemispheres of the brain. Marshall studied this technique in people who have had a stroke and found it increased their verbal fluency. In her studies, which included stroke victims and controls, she found that it helped both groups with depression, anxiety and had an overall calming effect on both the body and the mind.

Marshall feels that yoga is becoming increasingly popular because people are starting to notice all of the benefits associated with it. When people were not as familiar with the practice of yoga, the general attitude towards it was skeptical.

“People said like, somebody from India is coming to do yoga,” Marshall notes of the hesitancy to put stock in an unfamiliar practice, “but now it’s like actually in research journals. We know that it can change executive function.”

Increased flexibility is a common aspect associated with the practice of yoga. Marshall recalls that flexibility issues are the reason she got involved with yoga originally.

“I was in graduate school I couldn’t touch my toes, and I was in my 20’s and I thought that’s wrong,” she says with a laugh.

Garrett notes there are common misperceptions about flexibility in yoga, “you don’t have to be flexible; that’s a total myth.” It is more important for someone who is not flexible to practice yoga, in order to keep his or her knees and back healthy.

A rising trend in the world of yoga is that it is now being used as a form of medical therapy. In addition to already having a yoga instructor certification, Garrett is now pursuing an advanced yoga therapy certification. She has seen firsthand how yoga can help people with physical ailments. She currently works with a client who has Parkinson’s disease.

“He swears by his yoga once a week to help him manage his symptoms,” says Garrett.

She believes that yoga therapy can work well alongside Western medicine practices and is finding that an increasing number of people are coming into the Bikram Athens studio on the recommendation of their healthcare providers.

Jolin Conine, an instructor at Bikram Athens, is also familiar with the medical health benefits of yoga.

“I woke up one day and started having chronic neck and back pain and didn’t really know why,” she recalls.

Conine ended up in the hospital where she learned that she had four herniated disks, “I tried all of these different ways of trying to relieve the pain.”

It wasn’t until she tried hot yoga, also known as a Bikram practice, that she started being able to manage her pain and stress levels. Bikram yoga is a series of 26 poses practiced in a heated room designed to work the whole body. What started out as a way to relieve pain from her herniated discs turned into something more.

“You realize there’s so many other benefits that your body and your mind are getting, that it keeps you coming to the yoga,” says Conine.

Conine has recognized the increasing number of athletes that are now taking her yoga classes. She notes that some of the football players from the University of Georgia have come to practice yoga; she feels that yoga is now an accepted part of an athlete’s training regime.

While most yoga calms the mind and has health benefits, there are specific practices that are aimed at achieving different goals.

Ball says that most styles can be modified to work with a lot of populations. She primarily teaches restorative and vinyasa yoga. Restorative yoga is beneficial for anyone who needs to slowdown and restore, hence the name. Vinyasa is also known as flow yoga because of its fluidity from one movement to the next.

“Vinyasa is a wonderful option for so many, but seems especially effective for people who need to move a bit to help their minds settle and relax,” says Ball.

With so many different styles of yoga and the complexity of the different poses associated with them, the certification process to become an instructor is lengthy. The process varies, depending on the style of yoga and how much time you are willing to invest. However, there are standards set by a governing body called Yoga Alliance that those who train yoga instructors must abide by in order for their students to be considered registered instructors. The minimum requirement to be considered a registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance is completion of a 200-hour training program. From there, it is important that they gain teaching experience in order to become a more qualified instructor.

The 200-hour certification process can be completed in various time frames. Some ways that certification can be completed include a full month of intensive training at an ashram, a secluded retreat where yoga is practiced, or at two-week intervals. Conine believes that the more time invested in learning the practice of yoga, the more that instructors will gain and improve their practice. Regardless of how someone becomes an instructor, the methods all have the same core concepts. It requires in-depth training—becoming a yoga instructor isn’t just mastering the poses.

“So there are different systems, but they all include like a certain amount of spiritual information, a certain amount of anatomical information, a certain amount of actually learning how to do the poses, like the breath work as well,” explains Marshall.

Yoga is as much a spiritual practice as it is physical. Meditation and focus play integral roles. Marshall notes how there is now more evidence associated with the meditational focus needed in yoga.

“There’s so much beautiful research on how it can help things like heart disease, how it can help special education children, special needs children with autism,” she says.

Some yoga instructors credit yoga’s increasing popularity to the higher functions that it can provide to practitioners. Ball believes that people are finally noticing the important elements of life that yoga provides.

“The emphasis on inner reflection, breath and present moment pulls us to what we really want and need.”




Magazine Writing, Uncategorized

Profile Story

From Accountant to Fitness Entrepreneur: Finding her Passion

Valerie Cook

Athens, GEORGIA (March 3, 2016)–The gym is relatively quiet in between classes, except for the laughter of her kids as Caroline Ward takes a breather during her hectic schedule.

As a mother of three, Ward already has a lot on her plate. On top of being a full-time mom, she owns and operates TransFit, a fitness studio in Athens. She doesn’t have a lot of free time between having a family and running a business, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

A little over six weeks ago the doors to TransFit opened in its new location on South Milledge, after seven years operating out of Ward’s basement.

Ward, a former University of Georgia graduate and Gym Dog, has always been devoted to sports and fitness. Suzanne Yoculan, former Head Gym Dogs coach during Ward’s time at UGA, remembers her as a dedicated athlete. Ward stood out through her willingness to help her teammates succeed and the way she came into the gym everyday with a great attitude.

“I can remember her making cakes for her teammates’ birthdays. That’s the kind of teammate she was,” Yoculan recalls.

However, after graduation she struggled to find the right career path where she was meant to be. At UGA, she majored in accounting and became a certified public accountant. She then went back to school and earned her master’s degree in Public Administration.

Ward first started her career in the accounting profession from the advice of her dad, who assured her that there would always be a job market for accountants.

“At that time, that’s what my dad told me to do and so that’s what I did,” she said of her decision to pursue accounting.

After five years working as an accountant, Ward began to feel that something was missing from her life. She admits that she never felt fulfilled while practicing accounting. It came to her like a dream—she was being called down a different path.

“I needed to do what I loved to do, not just do something because somebody told me to do it.”

It was then that she realized she needed to focus on what she loved—fitness. As a former college athlete, it can be difficult to transition into the work force and not have that routine of mandatory exercise that is required of college athletes.

This is not uncommon. In fact, Dr. Douglas Kleiber, an expert in sports and psychology, co-authored an article concerning the exit of college athletes from their sport and the depression that can follow. He advises athletes to identify other sources of meaning in life to help with the transition after college.

Ward has found her source of meaning through helping others reach their fitness goals. She views her business as more than a gym. She believes that getting to know her clients is the key to how she can help change their lifestyles and make a real impact.

“It’s just realizing that you’re not just a number, and I feel like that’s how TransFit is different, we form a relationship with each client.”

The relationships that develop between trainers and clients are what make Ward’s approach to fitness unique. She talks with her clients to develop the right routine to meet their fitness goals.

Katie Woodall has been with Ward from the beginning of the business. Woodall was one of her first clients and has since become a certified nutrition consultant for TransFit.

She credits Ward with changing her life, adding, “Caroline’s influence and encouragement to be my best has continued since then.”

Woodall describes Ward as being “the real deal.” The most important thing to Ward is that she continues to encourage and inspire women through fitness.

A difficult aspect of creating a business from scratch has been the challenge of balancing her home life and work life. She strives to be the best mom and the best wife while pursuing her goal of being an entrepreneur; she is still trying to find that balance.

Through TransFit, Ward has found her passion and continues to be active in the local fitness community. In addition to helping her clients of TransFit, she regularly teaches yoga to the current Gym Dog team and the UGA baseball team.

“I’m still really involved in UGA athletics, I love that, you know I was an athlete, that’s my heart.”




Magazine Writing, Uncategorized

Meaning Behind the Poses

Vinyasa is a practice that flows from one movement to the next. Olivia LeMieux, avid yogi and employee at Keep it Simple Yoga, demonstrates the dancer pose. This pose opens the chest and strengthens the mind.
Yin yoga is considered to be yoga for the joints, not the muscles. The pigeon pose helps to align the hips.
Restorative yoga focuses on mindfulness and creating awareness. The restorative bridge pose opens the front of the body and helps to counteract depression.
Power yoga is fitness-based, practiced to increase stamina and strength. The chaturanga sequence is physically demanding and incorporates almost all of the muscle groups.
The Hatha practice is good for beginners. Triangle pose engages the entire body and strengthens the core.
Ashtanga is typically fast-paced, composed of challenging poses. This intense side stretch posture with the hands in prayer behind her back exhibits a pose typically held in ashtanga.
Iyengar yoga incorporates controlled breathing techniques with traditional poses commonly found in Hatha. The warrior two pose strengthens and stretches muscles.
Bikram yoga, traditionally practiced in a heated room, is composed of a sequence of 26 poses. The standing head to knee helps increase balance and flexibility while improving concentration of the mind.
Magazine Writing, Uncategorized

Health and Fitness Interview

Valerie McCallum started her own business in health and fitness called Love Yourself and is pursing a career in healthcare. She has expansive knowledge on our beat and has a unique perspective by being a student. She is extremely passionate about health and fitness and has great advice for students wanting to make a lifestyle change.

Tell me a little bit about what Love Yourself is.

V: Love Yourself is a business that I have developed in the past month. I advise clients on nutrition and help them choose which BeachBody product will be best for them.

What is BeachBody?

V: BeachBody is a company that releases exercise and nutrition programs that are proven to give results. My personal business is devoted to helping women or men learn to love themselves by channeling their energy into improving their health and fitness.

How did you get the inspiration to start it?

V: This past December I visited a friend who shared her story with me about her business, AFeldeisen/Journey to success. Ashley Feldeisen, is now a Diamond BeachBody coach after starting her business just a year ago. She has lost 35 pounds, built physical strength, and adopted a positive attitude through this business. I decided that I wanted to take on the challenge of improving my health and attitude. I also decided that I wanted to have financial security when I attend nursing school. If I am consistent with my business I will absolutely be able to achieve this goal.

What kind of trends do you see happening in the health and fitness realm?

V: One trend that I have noticed since becoming a BeachBody coach is that many people who promote fitness are harsh and standoffish. I believe that it is important to support and encourage people no matter where they are in their health and fitness journey.

What programs or dieting options would you suggest to college kids?

V: I suggest beginning their journey with the 21 day fix and Shakeology package. This beginner/intermediate program is great because you are not cutting anything out of your life completely. Portion control and consistency are key. Plus, with our schedules, 30 minute workouts are perfect – and they are done at home.

What issues do you think are most prevalent in health and fitness right now?

V: I think the biggest issue with health and fitness right now is that people don’t make it a priority. I look at using these products as an investment. I am not spending 100 dollars a month on alcohol downtown. I am investing 100 dollars per month on Shakeology. Shakeology gives me the most nutritious meal of my day that makes me aware of what I am putting into my body. I believe that people are having trouble realizing how important their choices really are.

What made you choose Beachbody?

V: I chose BeachBody because I know the products work and it is not a scam. I lost 7 pounds after completing the 21 day fix one time. I feel better mentally, physically, and emotionally. These products work and the people that use them and interact with you make you never want to stop using them.

In your opinion, what are the benefits of working out as a college student?

V: As a college student, working out makes me more motivated, focused, and accountable for my goals.

What would you say to people who don’t feel they have the time or money to eat right and work out?

V: I would say that 30 minutes per day is only two percent of your day. We spend well over 30 minutes per day on social media or watching Netflix. As for money, I don’t think people realize that these programs are investments. You are not blowing your parents money or the money you may earn on your own. I work two jobs and I am a BeachBody coach while also a full time student at UGA. I am not trying to praise myself but I want people to realize that time and money are no excuse for neglecting their health. Shakeology ends up costing around four dollars per shake. This is half the cost of a meal at Chick-fil-a and I know we all find time and money for that. I would just say to them, I understand you are busy and this is an expensive-seeming commitment but it is a commitment that can truly improve your health and satisfaction.

Do you feel that UGA offers enough outlets for health and fitness?

V: I believe that Ramsey is a phenomenal facility for health and fitness. However, I know that it s hard for people to workout in public sometimes. Even then, they may not know how to work the equipment or be able to afford a 20-40 dollar per session for personal training.

What is your advice to people who want to make a healthier change to their lifestyles?

V: My advice for people who are looking to change their lifestyles is to stop downing yourself and stay consistent. Consistency is key!!