Ready for a New Fitness Challenge?
Confucius said that if you do what you love you won’t have to work a day in your life. That tends to hold true for fitness routines as well: Do what you love, and you’ll never have to work out a day in your life. OK, perhaps it doesn’t translate directly, but then again, Confucius really needed to focus more on his abs.
But with the great diversity in fitness routines and exercise options available to us today, there is almost no excuse to not be able to find a routine that not only excites you and keeps you interested, but that also delivers great results. And in that regard, and in our efforts to find new ways to keep fit, we tracked down three locals who are devoted to unique and original workout routines that leave practitioners in the best shape of their lives.
There is a fine line between fitness lover and fitness fanatic—and we’re pretty sure 31-year-old Natalie Zellers of Naples constantly jumps over it. She then flips a tire over it, climbs a rope over it and then, for good measure, taunts it with some kettle bell swings. You see, Zellers, owner of Opus Studio graphic design, spends much of her free time at Crossfit Redline in Naples. For those of you unfamiliar, Crossfit is a strength and conditioning program that constantly varies and uses raw and basic equipment to get Navy Seal-type results. We’re talking tractor tires, medicine balls, metal bars, ropes, gymnastic rings and much, much more.
“It is the joy of my life. And I know that sounds sick,” says Zellers, laughing. “I was already in good shape before I started Crossfit. Or at least I thought I was. I played volleyball in high school, then got into spinning, got a level one yoga certification, taught body flow for a year and started working out with a personal trainer in order to compete in a figure competition.” So just what does she do now that makes all that other stuff seem like child’s play?
“Let me give you an example of Friday’s WOD (Workout of the Day): It was as many reps as possible in five minutes of lunges; as many as possible in four minutes of strict pull-ups; three minutes of box jumps; two minutes of kipping pull-ups; and one minute of double unders (jump rope).” And that was the warm-up.
In January of this year, she even switched her diet to the Crossfit-endorsed Paleo diet, which consists primarily of meats, leaves and berries. That means no grains, glutens, beans, starches or processed foods. “They say it helps you perform to your full potential,” says Zellers. “My body fat is the same as it was when I did my figure competition and I’m stronger. Right now my body fat is 11.8 percent. My performance is great. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been … I’ll never go back.”
“I had been working out for 20 some years, but when you get over 40, especially for women, it’s increasingly difficult to keep your same shape,” says Sara Parise, a 45-year-old self-employed investor from Naples. “And when you are dating, you tend to go out to dinner a lot, and I just needed to tone up.” But it was when the dating stopped and a marriage proposal was accepted that Parise decided to ramp up her regular workouts with a brand new class created by Amy Lademann, co-founder of Beyond Motion in Naples, called Barre Motion. “I was getting married in about six months, and was looking for some kind of bridal bootcamp. I’ve been ballroom dancing for three years, and so anything with dance in it struck my interest.”
Barre Motion is a muscle-quivering mix of ballet, pilates, yoga and strength training. “It’s a combination all of my favorite things to do in one class,” says Lademann. “It is the mindfulness and concentration of yoga, the core strength and flexibility of pilates, and it is the definition (especially for the upper body) of weight training. It targets all of the body parts that women are concerned about.”
“These are small movements, but you’re amazed how it gets your heart going,” says Parise. “She (Lademann) is always looking for a different way to do an exercise—you might do curls, but maybe on one leg. When we move to the barre there are a lot of squats and kicks. Your legs are literally shaking by the end. It is an amazing workout. Within two or three classes, I could totally see a difference. And my skinny jeans fit better.”
So now that the wedding has come and gone, what is keeping her in Barre Motion? “Just because I got married doesn’t mean I’m going to let myself go,” says Parise. “I really do enjoy it. It’s a great mix and a great way to keep my muscles long and lean.”
In many ways, eric staubs is the perfect embodiment of 21st century fitness. He’s going it alone. But he’s smart enough to glean techniques from various other sources and stack them into a routine that works best for his purpose—whatever that might be. “I used to be a pretty heavy guy,” says the 46-year-old construction superintendent from Sanibel. “Before I made up my mind to get into bodybuilding I weighed 200 pounds,” says Staubs. “I competed in the 160-pound class.” With that goal tackled, he then got into triathlons. He competed in the 2010 Ironman Cozumel race. Now, his sights are set on mountain bike racing—something Floridians aren’t well known for.
“I do a lot of high-intensity but lower-weight stuff. (People) will say, ‘You’re doing P90X or Crossfit,’ but I’m just focusing on elevating my heart rate and keeping it there,” says Staubs. “I do a trifecta circuit—maybe chest, then leg, then back—right from one movement to the next to the next. I’ll repeat each movement very fast, so, for example, I might go from an incline press right to a plyometric box jump to a pull-up and right back to the incline. My goal is to be agile. I’ve developed 16-week training cycles. Now my focus is competing in (this month’s) Leadville Trail Race in Colorado (which Lance Armstrong won in ’09).”
The race is a 100-mile trek that starts at about 10,000 feet above sea level and climbs to more than 12,000 feet across inhospitable mountain terrain. He qualified for it by finishing the Wilmington Whiteface 100K in under six hours. That’s Whiteface as in the Olympic mountain—a mountain with the greatest vertical drop east of the Rockies (except he had to go up).