Stay Toned In Less Time

Once-a-week exercise program builds bone density, controls arthritis and more

Under the watchful eye of her coach, Angela (left), Brenda is adding strength and definition through the 20 Minutes to Fitness program.

At its peak in the early 1970s, Pan Am Airlines carried more than 11 million passengers to 86 countries. Then, in 1980, it bought domestic carrier National Airlines. That purchase sparked the collapse of both, and Brenda Gary saw it coming.

A flight attendant with National at the time of the merger, Brenda witnessed firsthand how Pan Am’s $437 million purchase slowly ate away at profits. The downfall was hastened by economic decline, fuel costs and the Lockerbie bombing. Pan Am filed for bankruptcy in 1991.

“I stayed on for a while, but Pan Am offered me a buyout in 1989, and I took it,” Brenda remembers. “Prior to that, I could see the writing on the wall, so I started going to nursing school. By the time I was offered the buyout, I already had my nursing degree.”

Brenda’s foresight allowed her to make an easy job transition. She worked as a nurse for 15 years, primarily in the mental health department at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa.

“During my interview for that position, the nurse manager asked me why I thought I was qualified to work in mental health,” Brenda recalls. “I told him that serving the traveling public for 17 years qualified me, and he hired me on the spot.”

Brenda, 74, recently retired from her nursing gig. She initially thought retirement would allow more time for one of her favorite activities, working out, but that hasn’t been the case.

“My husband and I stay very busy, but I know the importance of staying in shape and being physically fit,” Brenda offers. “I started exercising years ago, when I was in my 20s, long before the physical fitness craze really started.

“Back then there weren’t a lot of gyms for women to go to, so I used to work out to an exercise album that I found somewhere. I later joined a private exercise club run in Miami by a husband and wife who did aerobics.

“I’ve stayed with it ever since, and even though there have been times when I got away from it for a little bit, I always came back to it. Now I do a 30- or 35-minute low impact workout most days and once a week I go to 20 Minutes to Fitness, which I love.”

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 exercise routine. The program is 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 the client’s pace and form as weights are lifted in ultraslow movements on highly specialized equipment. Repetitions during each workout take approximately 20 seconds, thereby maximizing muscle performance.

The slow-paced movements create continuous tension on muscle fibers. This allows clients to benefit more than they would from a traditional strength-training program involving three or four hours per week.

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

Each routine consists of six to seven exercises of 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 equipment features a patented double-stacking system, where weight can be increased in increments of two pounds instead of the traditional five, 10 or 20. The equipment also is calibrated to work specific muscle groups without putting undue stress on joints or ligaments. 

“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 says. “This allows for a quicker recovery after surgery. Some clients have been able to hold off on surgery altogether because they’ve built up the muscle around the joint and may no longer need surgery.”

Research shows that in addition to improving strength, slow-cadence training can improve the immune system and balance, increase energy, help control arthritis, add bone density, fight symptoms of diabetes and reduce back pain. 

“Most of our clients are people who want to get fit or stay fit and don’t have the time or don’t want to spend hours in a gym and possibly risk injury,” Angela adds. “They want a safe, quiet, private studio environment. That, and the opportunity to build back the muscle that people lose as they age is what we offer.”

Angela points out that no client is too young or old. 

“We have teenagers who come in as well as people in their 90s,” she observes. “We have clients who have never worked out as well as athletes. But no matter who you are, we build your strength from where you are today, which is why we encourage people to come in and learn about this unique system and try it out. 

“We offer a complimentary orientation, with no obligation to continue, which is a great way to make an educated decision about whether the 20 Minutes to Fitness program will work for you.” 

Carry That Weight

Intrigued by its concept, Brenda joined 20 Minutes to Fitness a couple of years ago. At the time, she was exercising at a gym three days a week. She now says that she gets more from her weekly 20 Minutes to Fitness session than she ever did from traditional workouts.

“One way I know that is because I regularly buy those 40-bottle cases of bottled water,” Brenda details. “It was never a problem for me to pick those cases up and put them in the cart or take them out of the cart and put them in my car.

“But when I got home, it was too much for me to carry that heavy case of water into the garage, where we stored it, so my husband bought me a little dolly for that. But now, since I started going to 20 Minutes to Fitness, I don’t need that dolly anymore.

“I can take that case of water out of the trunk of my car, carry it into my garage and place it on the shelf without any help. That tells me that I’ve grown stronger since I joined 20 Minutes to Fitness, and that it’s working.”

Brenda hasn’t just gained strength. She says she’s more toned and has more energy.

“It keeps me motivated because I really like going there and doing the workout,” Brenda adds. “And everyone there is so professional, friendly and upbeat. My trainer, Emma, is the best. She does a great job of helping me get the most out of my workouts, and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a good workout because it really works.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings 

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