A League Of Their Own

Unique once-a-week workout is a hit for improving balance, strength and overall health.

When the Citrus Park Little League baseball team advanced to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 2008, Sarah Martin tagged along for the ride. Such are the perks that come with being the mother of one of the players.

Sarah Martin & her coach Anna

“That was probably the most exciting summer of our lives,” Sarah remembers. “It was as exciting for the parents as it was for the kids who were playing. It was an absolute thrill, and at the time we kind of thought, Well, this is how it will be going forward.”

Not quite. The Little League teams that Sarah’s three sons played for never returned to Williamsport. But all three eventually played on teams that traveled elsewhere, so extended baseball trips became a staple in Sarah’s life for several years. She loved them all.

“Other than the trip to Williamsport, I especially liked the trips that we made to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown (New York),” Sarah reveals. “We’ve made that trip as a family with the kids four times.”

Sarah still loves to travel, but with the COVID-19 pandemic restricting travel outside of the country and her job being one that keeps her sitting at a computer all day, she’s at a point where she considers a long walk to be a nice trip.

With an eye toward fitness, Sarah and her husband have made long walks a regular part of their daily routine. Those walks, though, are just one aspect of Sarah’s regular fitness regimen. The other is a once-weekly workout at 20 Minutes to Fitness.

Sarah found 20 Minutes to Fitness a couple of years ago after a gym nearby canceled the exercise program she had joined. When she learned the details of what 20 Minutes to Fitness offers, she considered it perfect for her lifestyle and fitness needs.

“I realized years ago that I’m not going to stay fit just being a mom, no matter how much running around I had to do while raising three boys,” Sarah explains. “But I’m not a gym person. In fact, I dislike big gyms and prefer not to go to them.

“I don’t like waiting around for someone else to be done using a machine before you can use it. I wanted something, not easy, but something that’s quick and still allows me to get the workout I need. That’s why I thought 20 Minutes to Fitness would be a good fit.”

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 program designed to do what the business name implies: achieve results through a weekly 20-minute session.

The workouts are structured around an exercise method known as slow-cadence training. The coach guides each client’s pace and form as weights are lifted in ultraslow movements on highly specialized equipment.

Each repetition during each workout takes approximately 20 seconds, thereby maximizing muscle performance. The slow-paced movements create continuous tension on muscle fibers, which generates more physical benefits than a traditional workout program with three or four sessions per week.

“While each repetition in a traditional workout lasts for one or two seconds up and then one or two seconds down, we stretch that out to a 10- to 12-second count. It’s a big, big difference that achieves far better results,” says Blake Weinstein, general manager of the 20 Minutes to Fitness in downtown Sarasota.

Each workout consists of five to seven exercises lasting two minutes each, with the goal being to reach what is known as “peak performance.” When muscles reach this level during strength training, blood flows to the site. That supercharges the body and helps it burn fat while it rebuilds and strengthens the muscle naturally.

“Participants get the maximum benefit through one 20-minute workout per week,” explains Angela Begin, 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. We work the entire body to keep it strong.”

The program has years of research and plenty of science behind its success. The weight-training 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 calibrated to work specific muscle groups without putting undue stress on joints or ligaments.

Research has shown that in addition to improving strength and balance, weekly 20-minute slow-cadence training sessions help 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 points out. “This allows for a quicker recovery after surgery.”

The program even has people who have delayed surgeries because they’ve built up the muscle around the joint, Angela informs.

“Most of our clients, though, 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,” Angela notes. “They want a safe, quiet, private studio environment, and that’s what we offer, in addition to building back the muscle people lose as they age,” she states.

“The other thing is that you’re never too young or too old to do this. We have teenagers who come in, in addition to clients who are in their 90s. We have clients who have never worked out as well as athletes. We build your strength from where you are today.”

“It’s once a week for 20 minutes. Who doesn’t have time for that?” – Sarah

The Right Fit

Sarah joined 20 Minutes to Fitness a little more than two years ago. She remembers her first workout as if it was yesterday. She says it was challenging but in “the best possible way.” She knew after that workout that she’d be back for more.

“I decided right then and there that I was going to stick with this program and make it work because it felt right to me,” she adds. “And that’s a big thing. You have to do what’s right for you if you’re going to be successful, and this is right for me.”

With the exception of a stretch of time when the facility was shut down during the pandemic, Sarah has not missed a weekly workout at 20 Minutes to Fitness and says she looks forward to them every week.

“I love them,” she confirms. “I crave them. When I get to that sixth day following my last workout I’m ready to go, and I literally can’t wait to get there. On the mornings of my workout day, I’m really looking forward to that workout.”

One reason Sarah looks ahead to the workouts is because they’re working so well for her. She says she has added strength and balance, improved her posture and simply feels better since beginning the weekly workout routine.

“To me it’s a no-brainer because it’s once a week for 20 minutes,” Sarah concludes. “Who doesn’t have time for that? It’s a great workout and a great way to get stronger, and when you’re done, it feels better than a bowl of ice cream.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photos by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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