While many of us were sleeping through the wee hours this morning, there was a group of dedicated local residents kicking off their day with a workout at Fuel Fitness and Tanning, as they do nearly every day.
A core group of more than a half-dozen health-conscious individuals file into the gym Monday through Friday, as many of them have done for years, to continue a healthy lifestyle that has become part of who they are.
“I’m retired Army, so for (my wife and I) it’s been constant, but it’s now just something for us to continue,” said Philip Chatigny JROTC Army instructor at Marion County High School. “My parents are 82 and they still go to the gym every day back home, so it’s something to keep going. A lot of people are working out to lose weight, but a lot of this crew is looking to just stay healthy.”
Chatigny said he and his wife, Denise, are at the gym five or six days each week and see the same dedicated group of people between 5:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. more often than not.
“We’re all very dedicated,” Denise said. “We’ve been here through snowstorms and everything else, and everyone’s dedicated to working out and staying in shape. The people are what makes it fun.”
Another regular, Rita Rust, also touched on the group’s dedication and said it’s been paying off.
“The people you see in here are here almost every day,” Rust said. “I’m here three days a week, but Carol (Hall) is in here every day and Chuck (Abell) is here four or five days a week. Kathy (Elliott) started when Weigh Down Washington County started and she’s been losing weight ever since.”
Elliott, who has hit the gym routinely three to four times a week since January, is one of the most recent additions to the workout crew and said setting time aside early in the day was essential to putting her workout plan together.
“I’ve lost 10 pounds since January and I just really enjoy coming in and working out,” she said. “I have to do it in the morning because if I don’t, then with everything that comes along throughout the day, it’s hard to get back out and do it.”
Abell, 46, is the youngest of the early-morning regulars and said it wasn’t any particular thing that made him more health-conscious, but said a combination of family health histories and age factored into his adopting of a weekly routine that includes 20 to 30 minutes of cardio and 25 to 35 minutes of weight training each morning. He seconded Elliott’s notion that working out at the crack of dawn is almost mandatory.
“I’ve been coming here pretty regularly since they opened, and I started a morning routine probably three or four years ago,” Abell said. “Work schedules kind of dictate how long you can stay and the time you need to get here, and I’ve found that I’m just too tired in the evenings after a long day of work to be able to sustain any kind of workout, so if I don’t do it in the morning, I don’t do it at all.”
Some of the familiar faces at Fuel Fitness began embracing a healthier lifestyle in recent years, but others have been dedicated to staying in shape for many years.
The latter group includes Rust, who has been exercising faithfully since she was in her 20s.
“I was getting married, so I got in shape and I stayed there,” she said. “I just don’t have the good gene pool. I’m not that naturally thin person, so I better work out or I won’t stay fit.”
Hall, who frequents Fuel Fitness as much as anyone in the group, summed up well that the early-morning workouts have come to mean not just healthier living, but stronger relationships.
“It makes me feel better and it helps me maintain my weight. I hope it’s strengthening my heart muscle and my bones and my mind, as well,” Hall said with a laugh. “(The people here) are great. You see them every day and you start to know them and their families. They all have to be dedicated, and more so than me I think. They do a lot harder workouts than I do, but I’m just proud that I’m able to do what I can do.”
Health Stars is a new series that highlights county residents that have made a lifestyle change that has resulted in weight loss or other positive outcomes.
If you or someone you know is a Health Star, let us know.
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