Getting Stronger, Staying Stronger

The winter months are always the busiest time of the year for Susan McCormick, who along with her husband, Chuck, rents out a unique historic property along the Gulf Coast in Venice that accommodates about 20 visitors during peak season.

Susan McCormick began the 20 Minutes to Fitness program about ten years ago and has become a big proponent of it.

Under Michelle’s watchful eye, Susan (right) completes a 20 Minutes to Fitness workout.

“The property has three buildings that were built in 1926. In 1930, it became known as the Banyan House because of the large banyan tree that’s growing there,” Susan, 66, says. “We restored it, and now we rent it out on a seasonal and monthly basis.”

Susan’s role in the business doesn’t end at finalizing a booking. In addition to keeping the property in good shape, she often lends a hand moving renters in and out of the property, a job that sometimes requires her to drag heavy pieces of luggage up two flights of stairs.

“We get a lot of elderly people who come and stay here, and several years back, I started having trouble carrying some of the luggage up the stairs,” Susan relates. “It was around that same time that I read an article about a  fitness program.

“I decided to check it out and made an appointment. I knew nothing about weight training at the time, but after that first appointment, I started going regularly because the program really worked for me. That was nine and a half years ago.”

The program that Susan read about and has been participating in for nearly a decade was made available through 20 Minutes to Fitness, which has locations in downtown Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Tampa and St. Louis.

Tailored Training

At 20 Minutes to Fitness, clients work out one-on-one with a nationally certified personal fitness coach who creates and supervises an individualized workout program. The program is designed to do exactly what the business’ name implies: achieve results through one 20-minute session once a week.

The workouts are structured around an exercise method known as slow-cadence training. The coach guides the client’s pace and form as weights are lifted in ultra-slow movements on highly specialized equipment. Repetitions during each workout last approximately 20 seconds, thereby maximizing muscle performance.

The slow-paced movements that comprise each workout create continuous tension on the muscle fibers, which allows clients to get more physical benefits from a 20-minute, once-a-week workout than they would get from going through a traditional workout program three or four times a week.

Each 20-minute, full-body workout consists of six to seven exercises that last for approximately two minutes each. The goal is to reach what is known as peak performance, the point where blood flows to the muscle and supercharges the body. This helps burn fat while the muscles are rebuilt and strengthened naturally.

“Participants get the maximum benefit through one twenty-minute workout per week,” explains Angela Begin, general manager and part owner of 20 Minutes to Fitness. “By going slowly, we get down deeper into the muscle fibers and force them to work at their peak performance. And we work the entire body to keep it strong.”

The program has years of research and plenty of science behind its success. The highly specialized weight-training equipment is part of that success. The equipment features a patented double-stacking system, where weight can be increased in increments of 2 pounds instead of the traditional 5, 10 or 20.

The equipment is also calibrated to work specific muscle groups without putting undue stress on joints or ligaments. Research has shown that in addition to improving strength, weekly 20-minute slow-cadence training sessions can also help improve balance, increase energy, control arthritis, increase bone density, fight symptoms of diabetes and reduce back pain.

“We have clients who are planning to have hip or knee replacement surgeries, and their doctors refer them to us because they know we can help them build the muscle around those joints prior to surgery,” Angela adds. “This allows for a quicker recovery after surgery.

“We’ve even had some people who have been able to hold off on those surgeries because they’ve built up the muscle around the joint. However, most of our clients are people who want to stay fit and don’t have the time or don’t want to spend hours in a gym and possibly risk injury.

“They want a safe, quiet, private studio environment, and that’s what we offer, in addition to building back that muscle that people lose as they age. The other thing is, you’re never too young or too old to do this. We have teenagers who come in, as well as clients who are in their nineties. We have clients who have never worked out as well as athletes. We build your strength from where you are today.”

“A Committed Lifer”

A former nurse, Susan has worked with several coaches during her years of training at 20 Minutes to Fitness. She has most recently worked with Michelle, who Susan credits for pushing her strength and fitness to new levels.

“All of the coaches I’ve worked with have been excellent, and Michelle is one of the best!” Susan exclaims. “She monitors my progress and pushes me to work harder at things that on your own you would have quit on long ago.

“The program has made me a lot stronger and given me a lot more energy, and I really enjoy it. It may sound funny to some, but my once-a-week workout is something I really look forward to. And it’s a perfect fit for my busy schedule.”

Susan is what Michelle and her fellow coaches at 20 Minutes to Fitness refer to as a “committed lifer.” Michelle says that a high percentage of the facility’s clients wind up making a commitment to their health and fitness just like Susan did.

“We have a lot of people who come here just to check it out and quickly begin to realize the benefits of the program, which are vast,” Michelle notes. “Once you start to develop that leaner muscle mass, your organs naturally begin to work better.

“Not only that, but when you have more lean muscle mass, you’re able to think much more clearly because your endorphins get released, and when those good endorphins get released, you tend to feel better and younger because you have more energy.”

Being a former nurse, Susan is well aware of the fact that our bodies tend to lose muscle mass naturally as we age. She says her weekly workouts have definitely helped her ward off that problem and have greatly improved her overall health.

“I’m a big proponent of preventative medicine, and this is one way of staying ahead of things,” she says. “And believe me, I have noticed the results. I no longer have any problems carrying luggage up those stairs. That’s not a problem at all.

“I highly recommend 20 Minutes to Fitness for anybody, men and women alike. It’s a great program, and everyone at the facility is so nice and helpful. I feel like I’m part of a family when I go there, and you don’t get that feeling at a regular gym.”

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