REAL WOMEN, REAL RESULTS, REAL CONNECTIONS
By Kelly Johnson FOR THE TIMES
Along with fireworks, confetti and midnight kisses, the New Year also rings in feelings of nostalgia for many. Losing weight, getting healthy, feeling younger — this is the year to tackle those well-intentioned goals.
But as we settle into 2015, and the nostalgic, holiday- invoked memories begin to wear off, Joan Brame has a simple message for those finding themselves at a crossroads with their resolutions.
“Tomorrow is a new day. Small steps do matter. Take one small step that you can live with and keep doing it,”said Brame, owner of Empower Fitness in Lawrence. “Often, resolutions are very unrealistic. Until it incorporates a change that a person can live with, it won’t continue.”
Brame started her all-female gym several years ago with the intention of educating and promoting women’s health.
“I wanted to focus on empowerment and I understand the role of women— being multi-taskers, always caring about other people — but it’s also so important for women to assume responsibility and take action regarding their own health,”she said. “Women often neglect themselves.”
Each individual’s experience at Empower Fitness is personalized for that customer. Upon joining, an assessment is taken to gather weight, measurement, health and other information to create an adequate and appropriate routine. A 30-day goal is also established during assessment, which can be measured in the gym.
“We try to get people to make changes in eating, stress, movement or whatever is going on with them,”Brame said. “We are really engaging. What makes us really unique is that we’re really a community. We want you to be a better, healthier you within our welcoming, female environment.”
While the gym is not exclusive of ages, Brame categorizes her main clientele into three groups. Customers aged 40 to 55 are usually employed and juggling multiple responsibilities and experiencing hormonal shifts, leading to weight gain and belly fat concentration. Many of the women aged 55 to 70 are also experiencing weight gain, weakness, aches and pains due to transitioning into retirement, an empty-nest household or other reasons. The number of members aged 71 to 89 has been increasing recently, according to Brame, so that they can “keep moving.” “The demographics show that women are living longer,” Brame said. “And in this new day and age, women above 40 prove to want to stay rigorous, to stay healthy.”
Brame’s customers and targeted audience also get a team of support. While staff members have been certified as personal trainers, massage therapists, Pilates instructors, exercise coaches, cancer exercise specialists and more, Empower Fitness also offers an array of programs specifically designed for the above-40 age group.
Tai Chi, yoga, Zumba, heart- rate workshops, summer shape- ups and more – the options are seemingly endless. And for a lighter touch, there are “chair” classes including chair yoga, chair cardio, and chair strength and balance.
The majority of customers at Empower Fitness have been long-time members, but the lengths of their terms are indeterminable when observing their interactions with the staff – everyone is on a first-name basis, time becomes irrelevant and progress and positivity are the only concerns.
“Nobody is dying to exercise, but you want to come here for the great equipment and the atmosphere is absolutely wonderful,”said gym member Vivien Conner. “You’re welcome and accepted.”
Brame said that her hope for her business is to continue to appropriately address the needs of her clients and to further develop community collaborations, such as with Capital Health, NAMI, St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center and others.
“We’re real women here. Real women, real results, real connections. We all make mistakes, we all fall of the wagon, nothing’s perfect, but the idea is to be able to regain control,” she said. “My ultimate hope is that this business continues beyond me because I feel that we’re really fulfilling an important need in our community.”
Empower Fitness is located in the Lawrence Shopping Center at 2495 Route One at Texas Avenue. For more information, visit www.empowerfitnessnj.com