On the Fast Track to Fitness

Our writer tries out the custom-designed fitness program at Whitesboro Fit Body Boot Camp.

Story by Tennille-Lynn Millo. Photos by Sue Smith Romero

Fit Body Boot Camp's owner, Lisa Briggs, leads a high energy workout.

I pull into Whitesboro Plaza and take note of the red faces exiting Fit Body Boot Camp, their sweat glistening in the crisp late September air as they smile and chat about the “Super Sweaty Saturday” class they just finished. I take a deep breath and muster my courage. I am about to try it myself.

Hellos are quick and introductions to newcomers come effortlessly. Owner Lisa Briggs and trainer Nicole Demma quickly assess what I can do. Their calm, reassuring presence puts me at ease as they strap a MyZone belt around my waist. All members of the class put theirs on, too.

Lisa Briggs shows the high-tech MyZone belt that transmits vital stats to a wall-mounted screen.

“This will help us gauge where you’re at in the workout,” Demma explains, as she adjusts the belt so it’s comfortable against my skin. “You can monitor how hard you’re pushing yourself.”

The innovative, wearable bands are designed to track our heart rate, oxygen levels, and physical activity through wireless technology. As our activity increases, we can see our color-coded progress on a large computer screen hanging high on the wall. Red is the highest. blue is standard, and green means the instructors are about to call us out for slacking. With a workout designed to hit all my goals in just 30 minutes, I don’t mind being pushed to my extreme.

Briggs aims to make the most of that half-hour, respecting her clients’ time. She invites everyone to stand against the wall for a quick warm-up of squats and deep lunges, while at the same time she and Demma lay out the details of today’s class and demonstrate the motions we’ll perform with the weights.

A Fast and Effective Workout

Fit Body’s exercise routines are based on 30-minute High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) that appeals to people with busy schedules.

“A lot of people think 30 minutes isn't enough time to get a strong workout,” Demma points out. “Yet studies have shown that 30 minutes, three times a week, is exactly what your body should be receiving. Anything after that is a bonus.”

Briggs adds that HIIT creates an afterburn for hours. “Exercise triggers different responses in your body once you get above resting level. The afterburn is where most of your calories are burned once your class has ended and your body works to calm itself.”

We break into groups of four, each group at one of the stations: kickbags, ropes, TRX bands, wall balls and squats with weights. My group immediately heads for the TRX bands. I grab the large, bungee-like straps, and flex my arms in pull-ups and curls. The weight of my body tugs downward, as my arms tighten to pull it back up.

GPM writer Tennille-Lynn Millo dives into her workout with zeal.

Next come the kick bags. I haul into a kick to the front, then the side, and finish to the back. After three reps, the muscles in my quads and calves begin to beg for mercy. .

Moving to the ropes, I glance up at the MyZone screen. I’m in the red. I sink into a squat, grab the thick, black ropes from the floor, and vigorously slam them up and down against the cushioned floor, creating the illusion of small waves breaking on a beach. By the second repetition, my arms are on fire.

It's on to the kickbags and ropes.

My ears are full of the adrenaline-pumping music, the pinging sounds of success as everyone pulls into the red zone on the MyZone screen, and the enthusiastic voices of Briggs and Demma correcting our form and encouraging us to push through the pain.

At the final station, I’m certain the one cup of coffee I consumed before arriving is going to make its way back up.

“Catch your breath,” Demma tells me. “You got this. Work your way through it. Sink into your squat and slow your heart rate.” I follow Demma’s instructions, lift my 10-pound weights into a curl at my chest, and try to catch my breath as I sink into the weighted squat. The intensity of the workout makes my muscles spasm, causing my legs to tremble. .

Trainer Nicole Demma guides Millo and another member of the class.

But just as I’m about to quit, the class is done. High five’s are all around as we catch our breath and let out sighs that sound as heavy as the weights we just lifted.

“You’ve got the whole day to yourselves now,” Briggs says, as we line up against the wall, stretching into the cooldown. “You’ve given your body what it needed. Now go and have fun. We’ll be posting our challenge of the week on Sunday, so be on the lookout.”

Everyone exits the studio, anxiously chatting about tomorrow’s new challenge.

One Member’s Success Story

“I look forward to the weekly challenges,” remarks Lenny Hatzinger, one of more than 100 active members. “It keeps me going through the week and pushes me to do more. I’ve watched myself go from struggling to do 10 pushups to doing 50. That accountability and validity, along with the group’s positive feedback, keeps me on track.”

Hatzinger came to the studio two years ago, after watching his wife and daughter shed more than 70 combined pounds through Fit Body.

Lenny Hatzinger and his wife Kim have met their fitness goals together.

“My wife and daughter came home with all this energy. They were smiling more, laughing more and always sharing stories about something they did or someone they met at Fit Body,” he said. “When they invited me to take a class with them, I was reluctant. I knew, as a man, walking into a female-dominated workout facility would be hard. But I wanted to be a role model for my daughter and show her my support. The hardest part of stepping through the doors was actually walking in. After my first class, I was hooked. The workouts were harder than I expected and the people around me made me want to push myself. I lost 29 pounds and gained muscle within months of joining. Any theory I had about a women’s gym was put to rest after that.”

While 90% of Fit Body Boot Camp’s members are women, more men have been joining.

“Exercise, health and fitness are emotional factors for a man, too,” Briggs said. “We tend to make men feel a little special when they come here because we’re aware of how awkward that first visit is for them. But after they warm-up, we give them a fair butt-kicking that’s equally as hard as our female members’ workout.”

Challenges Outside the Studio

“I like to give our members personal challenges for the week to keep them motivated,” Briggs explains. She posts them on Fit Body Boot Camp’s Facebook page and on a whiteboard located on a wall in the studio.

“Each challenge varies from week to week, so people are always interested to log-in and see what the next week has to offer. It’s usually something that people can build upon, like squat-jumps or pushups. Once they do their reps, they log them onto the site or the board so people can help keep each other accountable. It’s a great way to have people act as each others’ support outside of Fit Body.”

Despite the hard workout Saturday morning, every sweaty member is intrigued and ready to uncover the new challenge. Since it opened in February 2018, Fit Body has built a solid reputation for their six-week challenges, where members follow their own individually-designed routines to shed fat and build muscle tone. Exercise is just the beginning. The program is designed to encourage a healthy lifestyle as a whole, so they also offer clients nutrition and fitness counseling with email and phone support.

“We’re more of a lifestyle program,” Briggs says. “We look to find our clients’ ‘why’ and then we design a program around it.” Meeting each member’s needs and keeping the workouts fresh and fun are priorities. With more than 300 workouts, she says, “there’s never any monotony here.”

Using Her Own Struggles to Help Others

Briggs taps into her own life experience to provide an especially encouraging atmosphere in her studio.

“I was that person who was scared to walk into a gym,” she recalls. A few years ago while raising her three sons, she had lost time for herself.

“One day my doctor recommended I get out of the house, join a gym and begin focusing on my own well-being again. So I grabbed a girlfriend and joined a gym.”

Her friend was determined to shed an extra 20 pounds. Together, the two hit the machines and held each other accountable. Briggs found she enjoyed creating stimulating routines to keep their time at the gym inviting. And it worked.

“There I was, excited to wake up and workout. My friend lost all her weight, and gained muscle tone. When she called to thank me for my help and encouragement, a light bulb went off. That call felt so rewarding that I knew the moment I hung up that I'd found my purpose.” ~Lisa Briggs

Soon she found the Fit Body Boot Camp online and knew it would be the best way for her to help others discover the joy of a healthier lifestyle. Hers was one of the first Fit Body franchises in Central New York. (There is one in Rome and several in the Syracuse area.)

“I’m looking to open another Fit Body in 2020,” Briggs says. “I believe in what we’re doing and I want as many people to have access to that as possible. Body recompositioning is our clients’ ultimate reward, while their results and accountability is ours.”

As I step through the door, my flushed cheeks glistening, I join the smiling faces and happy chatter of of those leaving the class. It’s clear we’ve all felt a positive transformation in just 30 minutes. I’m left to ponder as I drive home, if that much can be accomplished in a half-hour, what else is possible the rest of this day.

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