Discover a gym for people who maybe don’t love the idea of discovering a gym.
This week I had the pleasure of visiting Fitness Evolution in Clintonville for a small group training class with owner Melanie Ash. Her studio has an approachable style with a focus on functional, safe exercises for every participant. Melanie has created an environment where someone who is new to exercise or who doesn’t feel confident going to most gyms feels comfortable. That, my friend, is a win.
This is a goal of many successful chains. Remember when Curves hit every town in America? I had some problems with that one from the standpoint of effectiveness and safety. What they lacked was personalization, variety, and functional movements. A lot of us sit all day, so why the heck are we sitting on a machine at the gym? And who sits and pushes resistance back and forth with their shins as their knees straighten and bend? No, you squat and lunge. We all do! It’s what makes up your everyday movements. Even if you think “I can’t squat, my knees hurt”…guess what…if you sit on a chair and get off of it, you squat. SO, we should all be training our bodies to do so more effectively and with less pain and dysfunction. I’ll hop off my PT soapbox now that you’ve heard me out. What Melanie has fostered in Fitness Evolution is that same comfort and friendship that Curves did, but with an far superior workout.
Walking into Fitness Evolution, you’ll notice a clean, bright, open space with neatly organized equipment. One side of the room is set up like a studio with mirrors and small equipment like mats, hand weights, medicine balls, etc. lined up along the side. The other side has larger equipment that’s great for functional strength. Lets talk about what you wont see. There is relatively little need for most of the machines you find in a weight room; if you have a great trainer, that stuff is mostly irrelevant and often inferior. You also won’t see a long row of olympic weightlifting equipment. You can find plenty of gyms in Columbus with those, but this isn’t that place. You will see one squat rack, but don’t be scared, because she won’t throw you to wolves if that’s something that’s new to you.
Fitness Evolution offers personal training, partner training, small group training, and a handful of classes classes. You’ll find a few yoga and bootcamp offerings, but mostly the studio focuses on a private and small group format. They are outlined on this list of services.
I got to be a part of a small group training with Melanie, which included me and 2 other women. They greeted me warmly, but were a little weary of my camera, so I promised them not to intrude on their privacy. I knew this was a safe space for them and honored that in the form of working some un-intrusive camera angles. We each took our place in the open side of the studio with a mat, free weights, kettlebells, and a medicine ball. All good stuff. While each workout is different, ours on that day included groupings of 3 functional strengthening exercises paired with a cardio interval. Difficulty was modulated with increasing or decreasing weight and joint health and injury prevention were taken into account. I could tell Melanie knew her regulars well enough to guide each through modifications. I appreciated when we did toe taps on a ball that she offered the option to add a jump, rather than teaching it as a jumping exercise and suggesting taking that out if you needed low impact. That kind of difference makes for a more positive experience. Of note, anyone an sign up for a small group training session (you perhaps?) so there is not a requirement to go through a thorough individual evaluation. The downside is a less intimate awareness of physical limitations, goals, and history, but the upside is being able to jump in and try something great with less sense of a barrier to doing so. Of course, there are personal training sessions too, so anyone who wants and needs more individualized assessment and instruction can absolutely get it.
The workout went by very quickly for me. It was broken up into groupings of exercises; she explains that often she sets up stations and circuits as well. I would rate the intensity as moderate to high. The atmosphere was social, happy, and comfortable, but also focused and hard-working.
You can learn more about Melanie Ash on her website. Go get inspired!
I’d like to end by sharing what Melanie has on the website. “Fitness is not just about being a certain size or looking good in the mirror. It’s about having the confidence to go for that promotion, the strength to lift something heavy without asking for help, the endurance to go hiking with your family and the longevity to enjoy many memorable moments with the ones you love. Being fit makes you happier, more confident and more successful in every area of your life.You know what feels better than any number on any scale or any dress size? Being able to take on life without hesitation.”
That’s the kind of gym you’re going to find when you visit them.