By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
In 2008, Encore Rehab listened to their post-rehab patients when they pointed out the need to continue their fitness journey after prescribed physical therapy regimens had been completed. The patients had come to understand the great value of consistent exercise, and wanted a gym that reflected the things they learned and the strength they had gained while being treated at Encore. Jonathan Henderson, whose family started Encore and also owns SportsFit, in turn made “we’ve got your back” a reality in Athens by spearheading the 2008 opening of SportsFit, one of five 24/7 exercise facilities located in North Alabama and in Mississippi. SportsFit Athens is on the north side of Hwy 72 right across from the Surgical Tower, at 22423 US Hwy 72 East.
I spoke with Chelsey Smith, who is the regional director of SportsFit and a “lifer” when it comes to fitness and working out. She loves free weights and the squat rack, and for cardio she uses either the Stairmaster or the rowing machine. Chelsey has worked for the company for a total of five years, with a hiatus during COVID. She has also done some marketing and was able to tell me what SportsFit brings to the table with regard to approach, philosophy, trends, equipment, classes, and community outreach. Chelsey spoke with confidence when she said, “We are a traditional gym, and stick with tried and proven approaches to workouts, classes and fitness in general. Trends such as kettle bells have stayed and are incorporated into the equipment we have available.” SportsFit also recently upgraded their spin class equipment.
The facility offers more than 200 classes, and below is a partial “A-to-Z” listing of what is available:
SportsFit Athens Group Fitness Class Descriptions:
Barre – Combines ballet-inspired moves with elements of Pilates, dance, yoga, and strength training, no ballet experience necessary!
BODYPUMP – Full-body strength training workout. Uses body weight, barbells, and dumbbells to tone, strengthen, and sculpt the entire body.
BODYSTEP – In this workout you can expect a mixture of upbeat, rhythmic stepping, with squat and lunge patterns to work the legs. Combine this with movements like burpees, push-ups and weight plate exercises, and the result is a fun, uplifting, full-body workout!
HIIT Strength (High Intensity Interval Training) – High intensity cardio and calisthenics followed by recovery periods.
Kickboxing – Intense workout using kicks, punches, and cardio segments to tone your entire body.
Muscleworks – Resistance training using dumbbells, body bars, stability balls, and mats.
RPM (spin) – Indoor cycling workout where you control the intensity. This low-impact workout takes you on a journey of climbs, sprints, and flat riding. Be sure to bring water and a towel! (Please arrive a few minutes early to set up your bike.)
Silver Sneakers – Designed for active older adults, these classes combine low-impact cardio movement with toning and stretching exercises for stronger muscles, a healthier heart, and an increased range of motion.
Shine Dance- Come party with your besties! Shine dance fitness class is rooted in traditional dance such as jazz, hip hop, and ballet. We take those foundational moves and create dance routines that are easy enough for beginners yet challenging enough for the more seasoned dancer.
Yoga – Increase your strength, balance, and flexibility by combining flowing postures with relaxation and breathing techniques.
Zumba – Cardio dance workout with a little merengue, a little salsa, and a little reggae. Great cardio for all ages.
The facility offers more than 200 classes as well as video-based workouts — something akin to an in-house Peloton, where you can access an IPad on the wall and bring up a class for everything from yoga to dance classes and more. The name of the video-based system is Les Mills, and the following describes their “why” as well as some of the classes they make available:
We’re on a mission to create a fitter planet. This doesn’t mean making people work out. It means helping people fall in love with fitness so that they want to work out.
Body Attack – The high-energy fitness class with moves that cater for total beginners to total addicts and gets you fit for the sport of life.
Tone – We are excited to bring you LES MILLS TONE™. We listened to your global feedback and heard your desire for a more modern training experience. Created from the foundations of BODYVIVE 3.1, LES MILLS TONE maintains the original 3-in-1 training style — a mix of cardio, resistance, and core while playing with different training concepts to ensure everyone gets the best results from their workouts.
If you want the optimal mix of strength, cardio, and core training, this is it. Step into a LES MILLS TONE class and you’ll tick off a complete workout in 45 minutes. The challenging mix of lunges, squats, functional training, and tubing exercises will help you burn calories and take your fitness to the next level. Also a great foundational class, LES MILLS TONE has a wide variety of options accommodating all fitness levels ensuring everyone leaves the workout feeling successful.
Sh’Bam – A fun-loving, insanely addictive dance workout. SH’BAM™ is an ego-free zone – no dance experience required. All you need is a playful attitude and a cheeky smile so forget being a wallflower – even if you walk in thinking you can’t, you’ll walk out knowing you can!
Body Jam – Choreographed by Gandalf Archer-Mills in Auckland, New Zealand, BODYJAM™ is the ultimate combination of music and dance. Tracks that you love right now? They’re in BODYJAM. That new style you’ve heard about? It was in BODYJAM last year.
The Trip is a fully immersive workout experience that combines a 40-minute multi-peak cycling workout with a journey through digitally-created worlds. With its cinema-scale screen and sound system, this IMMERSIVE FITNESS™ workout takes motivation and energy output to the next level, burning serious calories.
Core – Inspired by elite athletic training principles, LES MILLS CORE™ is a scientific core workout for incredible core tone and sports performance. You build strength, stability, and endurance in the muscles that support your core, improve balance, assist injury prevention, and become better at everything you do.
“All the moves in LES MILLS CORE have options, so it’s challenging but achievable whatever your level of fitness. During the workout, trained Instructors guide you through correct technique as you work with
resistance tubes and weight plates, as well as bodyweight exercises like crunches and hovers. Plus, there are some hip, butt, and lower back exercises too.”
Because of SportsFit’s blend of tradition and technology, they are able to tailor make classes for any age or fitness level. Chelsey told me that they have a solid representation from the senior community in our area. By the way, the Silver Sneakers program is part of select Medicare coverage and is offered nationwide. Les Mills’ “Born to Move” is a fitness program specifically designed for kids from the age of 3 to 16.
Chelsey also emphasized the blessing of having a pool. “We LOVE having a pool!” she said, and also wanted people to know that each SportsFit is located right next to an Encore facility, which uses pools for much of their rehab programs. And, you don’t have to be a swimmer to take and benefit from the pool-based exercised classes.
I asked Chelsey what SportsFit does to help people keep their New Year’s resolutions past the month of January. Her answer? “We try to create a friendly-staff atmosphere that is kind and knowledgeable. We also have competitions that are fun, not too intimidating, and that get people involved. We also encourage our members to join in community fitness events like the Chick-fil-A 5K or Make-a-Wish.
There has never been a better time to join SportsFit, whether you have made a resolution or not. Join in their 15th anniversary celebration and take the win all year long.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner