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Personal training sessions keep gym clients coming

July 30, 2007

In a world where gyms and fitness centers beckon with billboards, water parks and membership specials, Body-N-Motion has found a lower-key, back-to-basics niche.

Tucked in an office/flex park next to the headquarters of Mays Chemical Corp. on the northeast side, Mike "Mr. Motion" White's 5-year-old gym specializes in personal training. All its clients have White or one of his 10 employees putting them through the paces of a customized workout that, White notes with pride, is rarely the same routine twice.

The clean, well-equipped facility is roomy enough for lots of elbow room and group classes, but it isn't flashy. The attraction isn't the amenities, White said, but the personal attention and motivation he and his trainers provide.

"People will make a million excuses not to go to the gym," he said. "They don't want to do this, but they know they need to."

Making appointments and having a personal trainer waiting makes people more likely to get to the gym, even if it's just twice a week, White said. The trainers hold up their end of the bargain by providing workouts that not only strengthen and tone the body, but engage the mind-sit-ups, for instance, become an abcrunching game of slapping a moving target, rather than a monotonous countdown.

The personal sessions are also tailored to what each person wants to work on, whether that's a smaller waist, a more muscular build, or what White calls "the GBT-gut, butt and thighs." Beyond that, he watches for weaknesses during a client's initial assessment, such as a wobbly ankle or an underdeveloped set of quads, and works on strengthening those in workouts.

"He doesn't just do exercises, he does things to balance your whole body," said client Barbara McLaughlin.

McLaughlin, a nurse, and her husband David, a surgeon, have been going to Body-N-Motion for about four years after trying numerous other trainers around town that didn't produce results, she said. They gave Body-N-Motion a shot on the recommendation of their son, who'd been referred to the gym by a friend, and quickly became a fan of White's wholebody approach.

Problems that McLaughlin had experienced as a result of using some muscles more than others-to lift patients, for instance-soon started to lessen, and eventually disappeared. Her husband worked on strengthening his knee, now pain-free, after a partial knee replacement.

With a laugh, McLaughlin credits White for keeping the couple, in their 50s, "upright and working well."

White, who began working out in high school, devoted his life to personal training at an early age. He credits his first workout coach in his hometown of Chesterfield with inspiring him and recognizing his talent at helping others. After high school, White joined the Army, only to leave a short time later when an accident shattered his right ankle.

After returning to the gym as part of his recuperation, White became a certified personal trainer and joined Bally's in Indianapolis. While working there, then at smaller gyms in Anderson and Indianapolis, White also trained for bodybuilding competitions.

During one of those training sessions, White ruptured a disc in his back, leaving him temporarily paralyzed. He used the forced time off to attend classes in exercise science and physical education, eventually earning his degree. He re-injured the same disc a few years later-again becoming temporarily paralyzed-but continued to work part time training clients during his recuperation.

After a partnership in another gym faltered, White struck out on his own, opening Body-N-Motion five years ago using his savings and a bank loan for the equipment. The facility brought in $230,000 last year, but is on pace to significantly increase that amount this year through additional trainers.

Looking forward, White aims to increase his exposure among clients and businesses growing ever more conscious of keeping employees fit to keep health costs down. Eventually, White can see himself creating workout tapes for his clients to use at home.

Even though White is a former bodybuilder, he realizes not everyone needs-or wants-to look like Mr. Universe. After his accidents, White said, his motivation for staying fit became to stay healthy and keep up with work and his 4-year-old twins.

That's the same motivation he uses when training clients, White said-to keep them healthy and able to enjoy life.

"It all goes back to one thing: treat your body like a temple," White said.

More than money, White said he's motivated by helping people, which is why he tries to keep Body-N-Motion's rates affordable. Each personal session is $45, with groups of a few people running at $25 a session and group workouts of 10 people or so costing $10 each.

It's a better value, White feels, than personal training sessions at other gyms, which frequently cost more and rarely provide as comprehensive and varied a workout.

For his clients, the results are worth it, said Kevin King, who's been going to Body-N-Motion four or five times a week for more than four years. When King's home workouts produced little results except shoulder pain, King went to Body-N-Motion on the recommendation of his son, who was going at the time. His shoulder pain soon went away, and his arms gained so much muscle that his son refused to continue working out with him, King said.

"I like the feeling that I'm doing something good for myself," King said. "I like the motivation. I didn't like the pain the first couple of weeks, but after that the pain goes away and everything is good."
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