Living in the midst of some of this nation’s most beautiful mountains, rivers and forests, outdoor exercise opportunities abound. But where can you go during winter months or sweltering summer days to improve your health and well-being, find a supportive community and create an overall better life for yourself? Look no further than New River Valley gyms.
One of the fitness facilities in the New River Valley trying to demonstrate that exercise doesn’t have to be tedious or boring is Crossfit Blacksburg. Amy Crawford, co-owner and coach, explains that working out has the potential to be engaging and community-oriented. “Crossfit workouts differ from normal gym routines since they take constantly varied, functional movements and perform them at a high intensity.” In other words, the focus at this gym is on weightlifting, gymnastics and metabolic conditioning. The goal is to work on body movements that mimic actions people perform in everyday life. Workouts occur in group settings because a sense of community builds both support and competition, which are key motivational tools in a fitness environment.
And that feeling of support and camaraderie doesn’t stem from group classes alone. At Floyd Fitness, “everybody knows your name,” claims employee Robin Hairfield. “You come in here, get harassed and leave,” she jokes. The comfortable atmosphere allows everyone to join the banter. The gym caters to a wide age demographic, and Floyd definitely has a healthy and fit elderly population that takes great advantage of the indoor facility. The diversity here creates a welcoming atmosphere for all shapes and sizes of folks who want to improve their lives and health.
Seeing improvement in a member’s health is the best part of a job, according to Adam Harman, a trainer at Giles County Wellness Center. “Some members have even been able to get off medications for diabetes or blood pressure by adding exercise to their daily regimen. Giles County offers a huge variety of fitness programs. Exercise can be fun and have long-lasting benefits.” Like many gyms in the New River Valley, this one also emphasizes the social aspect of a small gym that creates a feeling of accountability.
The oncoming hustle and bustle of the holidays can easily become an obstacle or excuse for slacking on exercise. Hairfield recommends setting a routine and treating fitness as discipline. “The biggest key is to be consistent,” echoes Harman.
Aside from scheduling gym-time daily, what should we be aware of before entering winter in the New River Valley? Crossfit Blacksburg publishes a holiday resource guide on its website to answer this very question. “In essence,” Crawford states, “you must set yourself up for success and have a plan.” At Crossfit, members are required to keep a journal to measure and observe progress in their fitness abilities. Recording your goals, routines and results can provide a consistent form of motivation and encouragement.
Individual success stories abound at these exercise facilities, and gyms also have a positive impact on the New River Valley community as a whole. Giles County Wellness Center works with Humana Medicare to offer the Silver Sneakers program, which caters to older adults. A group class is complementary with the program and provides a fitness opportunity for seniors that may not be able to afford a gym membership.
At Floyd Fitness, the generosity can be seen through the many memberships given away during fundraisers or non-profit events. However, “the generosity doesn’t just end in Floyd,” Hairfield explains. The gym also sponsors individuals competing in athletic events to help them reach personal goals.
Crossfit Blacksburg considers itself a force beyond the gym community. Crawford says that to the gym members, philanthropy is a necessary and highly rewarding addition to exercise. The latest event members participated in was the nationwide program “Barbells for Boobs,” which raises money to perform mammograms for uninsured women.
Whether focusing on the individual or the community, gyms in the New River Valley have a powerful impact on the health and well-being of many people. Exercise facilities foster a sense of teamwork and support, yet push each person to achieve personal goals and see results. Every trainer would agree—the primary objective when helping clients is to make improvements in their health and fitness, which can produce an overall better life.
By Meg Selby
Photos courtesy Crossfit Blacksburg
Meg Selby is a newly-converted gym rat who is grateful for the existence of indoor gyms during chilly New River Valley winters. She is also a Virginia Tech English Department intern and assistant editor at New River Valley Magazine.♦ End