Fitness program offers a new lease on life

193

VINTON–Debbie Pitts credits the Curves program with saving her life.  She describes herself as fairly athletic in her youth—playing basketball, volleyball, and softball. However, over the years with the demands of her career and family, she found less and less time for herself.

She was a smoker and when she gave up that habit in recent years, she quickly gained about forty pounds. That led eventually to a diagnosis of sleep apnea. She says she was having difficulty just walking around her neighborhood “without huffing and puffing and sending her husband to get the car.”

On her sixty-first birthday last February she had an “aha moment” and decided to give herself the gift of renewed health. She did some online research into exercise and weight loss programs and located Curves in Vinton.

She found typical gyms intimidating. While she had tried weight-loss programs before, she felt she needed a program which combines exercise, a food plan, and the motivation of personal coaching. She felt like she had “hit bottom,” looked around for support, and found it at Curves.

Pitts is from Roanoke and grew up in the Williamson Road area.  She settled in Vinton in 2005 and loves the close-knit community. She is best known to those in Vinton for her work as assistant director of the Roanoke County Recreation Department and then executive director of Virginia’s Explore Park. She retired in 2013.

As her devotion to serving the community grew through her job, her time for herself diminished. As she became caregiver for her mother, her own well-being became less and less of a priority.

Beth Lynch, who owns the Vinton Curves franchise, said that is the case with many women today—“everyone else comes first.”

Lynch is originally from Vinton and a graduate of William Byrd. She has been with Curves for 11 years, since her twins started kindergarten.  Her “aha moment,” when she was several pounds heavier, was an uncomfortable feeling in her feet and legs after a walk; she decided, “I don’t want to feel like this.”

Curves is designed just for women and for women with busy lives who like a comprehensive approach to health and fitness.  Lynch believes their wellness program is unique in that it benefits individuals physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.

The 30-minute exercise program at Curves involves circuit training using step stations and hydraulic equipment--30 seconds at a time.
The 30-minute exercise program at Curves involves circuit training using step stations and hydraulic equipment–30 seconds at a time.

According to Curves, their 30-minute fitness concept “combines strength training and sustained cardiovascular activity to work every major muscle group through safe and effective hydraulic resistance.” It is based on circuit training–changing to a new activity or fitness machine every thirty seconds. The individual determines the intensity.

Debbie Pitts of Vinton says a local fitness program has gotten her life back on track.
Debbie Pitts of Vinton says a local fitness program has gotten her life back on track.

There are bicep/tricep, squat, ab/back, leg press, glutes, obliques, leg curl, pec/deck machines and step stations. It takes about 30 minutes to go through the course twice. The recommendation is to work-out three to four days a week. Pitts said her goal is 10,000 steps a day. She is now up to about 5,000.

Many of their customers are ages 55 and up like Pitts, but they also have trainer Jillian Michaels videos which appeal to all ages. There are organized classes such as Zumba, Body Basics, and Dance and Tone.

The facility also features cutting edge technology with the CurvesSmart computer system which allows exercisers to monitor and document heart rate, workout intensity, range of motion and repetitions.

Pitts’ favorite is the stretch machine to help cool down after a workout.

One of her favorite pieces of exercise equipment at Curves is the stretch machine, used to cool down after a workout.
One of her favorite pieces of exercise equipment at Curves is the stretch machine, used to cool down after a workout.

In addition to exercising, participants meet with a personal coach like Lynch once a week individually and cover topics such as their food plan and the progress they are making. They periodically check weight and measurements. A physical assessment is completed when an individual first starts the program.

Individuals develop their customized food plan online, choosing fresh healthy foods for three meals and two snacks—but those they like and which are readily available in regular grocery stores. Pitts says her meals are mostly high protein/low-carb.  There is little to no sugar.

She prints out her food plan once she has developed it online with menus for the week, the recipes, and an actual grocery list. She eats normal foods for breakfast like sausage, eggs, toast, cereal, or oatmeal. Lunch and dinners are also familiar foods—the key is portion control (a petite sirloin instead of a 12 ounce rib-eye), moderation, and the right method of preparing the foods. Pitts said her husband who has no weight baettles to fight loves the meals.

She is still allowed her fudgsicles and the four piece Chicken Supreme dinner with a vegetable from Bojangle’s. She just makes it a point to give the biscuit from the meal away.

Pitts was even more motivated when she saw immediate results and a steady weight loss over the months since she joined. She finds herself making trips to Goodwill to donate the clothing that is now too large. She said it’s not just the exercise and the meals plan that have made the difference for her—it’s the atmosphere. The fellowship, comfort level, and friendliness of the others who exercise there have kept her coming back. The close-knit Vinton community extends to the ladies working out at Curves.

The Vinton Curves is located on Washington Avenue next door to Valley Bingo, where it has been for 17 years. They are open from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. and then from 3:30 to 7:30 in the evening. Lynch says that seniors need to check their health plans to see if the Silver Sneakers program offered at several fitness centers in the area is covered under their plan.