What does one think about when they hear the word, “gym.” Maybe you think about lifting weights; switching up which day you work on legs and which day you work on arms. Maybe you think about going to run on the treadmill or riding the bike for thirty minutes. Or, maybe your mind even reverts back to elementary school when you would run pacers and practice stretches. Well for me, growing up I kind of thought about all of these ideas. My family has always been a member of a gym, I was on the swim team in middle school, and I took dance classes from the time I was 3 up through my senior year of high school. I felt like I was doing all the right things to be healthy because I was exercising.
It wasn’t until I graduated college that I realized I could no longer eat the way I always had and just walk it off.
Luckily, I didn’t have to search for a solution too long because my school that I work at had recently received a health and wellness grant. With this grant, they had a partnership with a local gym that allowed teachers to workout there at a discounted rate. Through my time being a member of this gym I have found out so many things about my body and quite frankly how to handle growing up…body wise.
Here’s the moral of the story; you won’t always have the metabolism or the body you did when you were sixteen…or when you’re twenty. You change as you get older, and if you don’t take action that change could be for the worse. So I have decided to grab my health by the shirt collar, and show em’ I mean business! It hasn’t been easy, and sometimes I really just wanna stop and take a nap and eat pizza…but I really have found with the right gym you actually want to get up and go.
So what is this magical place that has made me actually excited to get up early on a Friday during my summer break and sweat my butt off? Well, it’s Element Strength and Fitness in Landrum, SC. Element is a boutique gym that opened in 2014 and is co-owned by Sonya Culbreth and Jennifer Willis. Both owners have been in the fitness industry for several years now, and have such lively passion that the majority of their instructors are previous clients that are now turned experts.
Then comes the question, why them? Why don’t I just use the “gym” (I use that term loosely) that is located in my apartment complex? Or why not join one of the many chain gyms that are located within one mile of where I live? Well, one reason is camaraderie. The very definition of the word meaning trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together, is exactly what you feel when you’re at Element. I started off going to group fitness classes there with co-workers, and as people’s schedule’s change I realized I’m one of the last people from my school who still attend classes there. Even though I don’t have the same people I started with there by my side, I’ve found literally two dozen more who I can call by name and shake my booty with any day of the week. Trust me, when you spend time doing enough squats with a person you begin to form a bond with them. I mean we all honestly feel like a small family when we are together. We ask about life events, celebrate birthdays, inspire, and encourage one another on a daily basis. Now, I did love my indoor track at the YMCA back home but I can tell you I never had that kind of relationship with even a fraction of the members, let alone the instructors.
Another aspect of Element that has continuously kept me coming back is the accountability. I know the word accountability can either be sour or sweet. Sometimes accountability is just a nice way to say that someone is bugging you until the point of annoyance. That has never been my experience at Element. I typically go to some of the same group classes with the same instructors, so when they ask me if I’m coming to class on Tuesday I view it more as a friend asking me the next time they’re gonna see me. They know when you have things going on and they’re always willing to sign you up for a class or do whatever they need to to help keep you on track with what your goals are.
Now, I’ve mentioned that I attend group fitness classes at Element and you might be over there thinking ‘Uh…what’s that mean.’ Well, Element offers Element Fit (dance/cardio + strength), PiYo (yoga + pilates), Pound, BCX Boot camp Training, Butts and Guts (self explanatory), and XT Blast (circuit training). Such a HUGE variety of classes that could cater to the person who has never worked out a day in their life and the person who works out religiously. The variety of workouts available to me on a weekly basis is such a huge plus for me, because I can get very bored doing the same routine over and over again. But more than that…my body gets bored. I enjoy having a variety so that I can challenge myself and work on different aspects of body. Just as an example, I had never done a burpee a day in my life before some of these group classes…and I still wouldn’t call myself the burpee queen but I can do a round of burpees for two minutes without crying and that’s more than I could probably say a year ago. Cardio is always great and gets all those good endorphins going, but some of the strength and training classes that I’ve tried through Element have made me feel like a stronger and more capable woman than I ever use to feel.
One of my last absolute favorite things about Element is the flexibility they have with their clients. In addition to all of these wonderful classes, there are also several opportunities to book a personal training session with some of the instructors to work on what you need. They always show modifications for all moves you do in a class and they always give you great feedback if they want you to try to go lower in your squats or change your form in something. A lot of the aspect of being in a healthy gym is working on the whole transformation; inside and outside. It’s great if you can do 10 pushups in thirty seconds…but not everyone can. They help you find out what works best for YOU and then meet you exactly where you need to be. There are no judgments passed on anyone because everyone is capable is working on being the best that they can be. That type of adjustment is exactly what everyone needs in a workout because no two people have the exact same body type, so they don’t need the exact same expectations put on them.
Now I know I’ve talked on and on about all the great things I get to experience in my gym…but I’m aware that not everyone lives in Landrum. Good news, you don’t have to! Element is also available to everyone, anywhere online! Online you can find a variety of exercise videos that are exactly what you would see in some of the fitness classes plus two types of nutrition plans; Element 7 and Element Prime. Sonya and Jennifer are always willing to learn and listen to what other nutrition experts are saying so both of these plans are not one exact formula. They have gathered real information that they are truly passionate about sharing. No pills, potions, or strict diet plans-just real food that works for real people. Both of these ladies are always willing to keep it real with you, and they would never tell you “never” about anything. They just want to help you gain knowledge about how to lead a balanced, healthy lifestyle and break the everyday cycle of bad choices.
So if you’ve been on the fence about getting a hold of your own health and where to get started, no need to wait any longer. Get out of your comfort zone, and into your element!
Wanna know more? Check out their website and youtube page below!