Getting Fit in Dade County
By LYDIA BERGLAR
A new year often brings new resolutions about getting fit and staying active. For some Dade County residents, fitness is already ingrained in their lifestyles. Others are just starting out.
While there are limited options in the county when it comes to fitness facilities, many residents have found walking, hiking, or running to be a lifelong aid in health and fitness.
Dade County resident Ann Brown has walked almost every day since 1974. She recalls, “Jogging was getting big back then, and I told my doctor that I was going to jog. He advised me to walk instead.”
She believes the benefits of walking, specifically outside, lead to more than just physical health. “It’s helped me physically. I’m thankful to say that I don’t take any medication. It also does a whole lot for you mentally, just getting outside, being in nature. It’s also a spiritual thing. You can get closer to God while walking.”
The “Four Fields” Dade County Sports Complex and the many miles of Cloudland Canyon trails are popular spots for walkers and joggers, and the Trenton sidewalks also see plenty of use. Mountain biking is also popular on the trails.
While Dade County High School students can take a weightlifting class (which nearly all athletes take), adults have limited options when it comes to gym facilities in the county. The Covenant College gym is available for community use, but it has several drawbacks, so without GetFit 24/7 in Trenton, most Dade residents would either have to build home gyms or drive to a nearby town.
Covenant College offers gym memberships to the public for $99 a year, but the location is impractical for most Dade County residents. Additionally, hours are limited, especially during school breaks. During the school year, peak hours (4 to 7 p.m.) are reserved for athletes, students, and employees.
The college’s facilities include an aerobic room with cardio equipment, a weight room with dumbbells, power racks, and cable machines, an indoor track/basketball courts, and a room with mats, balls, boxes, kettlebells, foam rollers, and other training equipment.
For details about how to access the Covenant gym, visit www.covenant.edu/about/community/ashe.
The Sentinel sat down with the owner of GetFit 24/7, Grace Pickering Wooten, to talk about recent updates to her gym located at the south end of town. Wooten recently rearranged the lower portion of the facilities to create more space for equipment. The business also has a new website, www.getfittrenton.com.
Additionally, the gym no longer offers Silver Sneakers and CrossFit. Instead, seniors now have a discounted rate and Wooten offers a cross training program without the CrossFit branding.
According to Wooten, “We’re no longer in compliance with Silver Sneakers,” a program which allows seniors to use insurance to pay for gym memberships. “When it started 15 years ago, we were required to offer group fitness for seniors, but that went away with COVID-19. The same people who were eligible for Silver Sneakers now get a discounted rate.”
Regarding the move away from CrossFit, Wooten explained, “This is the first year we haven’t been a CrossFit affiliate. Now, we’re an independent cross training program.” Wooten has always programmed the CrossFit workouts and continues to program the cross training workouts. The classes are 5:30 a.m, noon, and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. on Saturday.
She encourages all fitness levels to try the class if interested. “There’s a level of intensity that most people don’t do on their own, but all of the movements can be scaled to any fitness level. You start at the level where you are and build up from there. It’s constantly varied, and everything is measurable, because we do it for time or for load. Your results and progress can be measured.”
Aside from the years of CrossFit and now cross training, Wooten never saw much consistency with group classes, so she decided to use the square footage for equipment and the 24/7 gym. “We’ve tried group fitness classes off and on over the years. Except for CrossFit, it doesn’t really matter what kind of group fitness it is; it just doesn’t seem to stick.”
Wooten has been involved in fitness since her mid-20s, and she and her late husband started the gym in Trenton (then called Genesis Gym) 17 years ago with a handful of members. The building had been a gymnastics/cheerleading/tumbling gym before the Wootens bought it.
Wooten reported that she doesn’t see many new members, even in the season of New Year’s resolutions. “We have been in business for so many years now that we get a lot of people who come back. We do get new members, but I see more old members returning and current members getting back on track.”
Wooten noted that being a small gym in a small town comes with limitations, but GetFit 24/7 does offer two perks that not all gyms have. First, Wooten doesn’t require a contract. She explained, “I don’t want people to feel like they’re stuck. I want people to use their membership.”
Second, it’s a 24/7 gym. “I used to be open from 5 a.m. – 9 p.m. When we became a 24–hour gym, our membership exploded. I hadn’t realized what a big deal that was to people. We have people that use the gym all 24 hours of the day.”
While childcare is one thing not offered by the gym, Wooten noted that the gym is family friendly. “If the only way you can get to the gym is to bring your children, make sure they’re well-supervised and safe. I really respect parents who bring in their younger children and try to develop that habit at a young age of working out.”
Wooten believes that people are more aware of fitness since COVID-19. “The whole mindset of fitness has changed,” she said. “People are more aware, I think, since COVID-19, of the benefits. It was a big deal when people couldn’t get to the gym.”
Regarding further updates and improvements, Wooten plans to serve protein shakes and several prepackaged food items once the kitchen is completed.
Wooten’s tips for anyone focusing on new fitness goals? “Pick a time that is the absolute easiest for you to be consistent or you’re challenged just getting in the door. For anybody to be consistent, it has to be convenient.”