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Trainer Spotlight

Elite Aiken Trainers Offer Inspiration and Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

Lesley Koppert

Max Fitness

Lesley has always had a personal passion for fitness and for testing her limits. She feels compelled to help others chase their goals and push their boundaries through fitness. She loves to see her clients realize their potential and see their limits grow. She points out that you have to be patient and consistent when working towards your fitness goals, “So what if it takes 6 months, a year? That time is going to pass anyway! Stick with it.”

Lesley is a PUSH instructor at Max Fitness. PUSH is a dynamic group fitness class for all levels guided by heart rate monitor technology. It is a fun, exciting way to pursue your fitness goals with new workouts every day.

An accomplished runner, Lesley enjoys running long distances. Currently, her goal is to run a marathon in all 50 states, having completed 21 already. She also recently began ultra-marathons and has done 50k, 50-mile and 100k distances.

Adam Kato

Palmetto Muay Thai & Kickboxing

Adam "Kato" never set out to become a coach, He sees it as one of the benefits of doing something he’s loved for a very long time. Kato grew up in Australia where his uncle had martial arts schools. He, along with his brother and a bunch of cousins would all pile into the minivan and go train and, according to Kato, cause their fair share of chaos.

For those contemplating beginning Muay Thai, Kato points out that there are many reasons to become involved with the sport;  to improve cardio fitness, self-defense, boost confidence, or to lose weight and tone up. Kato believes a coach should be able to perform, or at least was once able to perform, everything they ask of their students. There is nothing he asks of his students he hasn’t done many times over. At 48, Kato is still dedicated to his own training. He doesn’t let age stand in his way, but sees it as a motivator. He feels that once bitten by the Muay Thai bug, it can lead to a lifelong passion that only becomes more addictive as you improve. Kato also points out that the longer most people have been involved in martial arts, the humbler they become. He loves watching the character it builds in a student. “I honestly can't imagine life without it, and love to see the passion grow in my students,” he says.

One of Kato's hobbies is riding horses. Two passions in his life growing up were horses and martial arts. One of his first jobs was working/training horses. Having worked with both, he wouldn’t say whether horses or people were easier to work with, but remarked that one of the two doesn't tell lies. Kato also practices yoga and began running during the pandemic and stresses both go hand in hand with martial arts. He doesn’t see them as extracurricular activities for fitness because they are a crucial part of competitive Muay Thai. Without them, a student will no longer continue becoming a well-rounded 'nak muay' (student of Muay Thai).

Jaiyviah Mills

Club Pilates

Jaiyviah’s athletic journey began with gymnastics at the age of five. She advanced all the way up to level 10. Though a knee injury ended her gymnastics career, she still found herself wanting to work out and stay physically fit.  About a year ago, Jaiyviah was looking for something she could incorporate into her routine other than weightlifting and stumbled upon Pilates. She embraced Pilates training and was eventually approached to become an instructor. She was already teaching gymnastics, so she felt that adding a Pilates certification to her resume was the next move.

Jayiviah has always wanted to see people be the best they could be, physically, emotionally and spiritually. When asked for a motivation tip for readers, she advised, “Take it one step, one moment, one day at a time! It’s honestly the small things that are going to add up to get the results you want. You don’t have to start going to the gym three days a week, because you aren’t going to stay committed to that. Start with one day, then the next month try to do two days a week. Soon you will be going four days a week!” 

When not at Club Pilates, Jaiyviah still stays active through lifting and squats. She still enjoys going for an open gym session at CNC gymnastics where you may see her on the swing bars or doing routines on the floor including twisting or flipping!

Hope Menjares

Workout Anytime

While in high school, a coach of Hope's took the time to teach her the rights and wrongs of lifting. Not only did he show her the correct method, he taught her the reasons why rather than expecting her to blindly follow suit. He showed concern for her overall well-being and helped her progress without injuring herself or becoming discouraged. This inspired her to show others that same care and encouragement.  She loves to help explain exercises in different ways that make it easier for others to learn, and to help others feel confident in their own skin, physically and mentally. Hope stresses, "You are your biggest critic. No one notices the small things that you may notice. Become your biggest fan and the rest will fall into place! You have to believe in yourself just as much as the people that love you do.” Outside of the gym, Hope loves to hike with her husband and dogs. Except for the spiders, she enjoys being out on the trails. In addition to being very relaxing, hiking helps her stay active on her weekends away from the gym.

Justin Strickland

South Aiken Physical Therapy

Justin’s inspiration to become a personal trainer grew from a genuine love for helping other people move from where they are to where they want to be. He understands that exercise has a profound effect on many facets of the body, not just the physical, and he loves sharing that with other people. When asked about his training philosophy, Justin stated, "Don’t look for motivation. That’s like ocean tides. It comes, it goes. Look for commitment. Commit to the process. Once you’ve built enough momentum behind your commitment, then you’ve reached discipline and the rest is history!" Outside of his gym routine, Justin enjoys physical labor. He volunteers in his free time to help those in need with physically demanding projects. He also enjoys taking his dog for walks.

"Don’t look for motivation. That’s like ocean tides. It comes, it goes. Look for commitment. Commit to the process. Once you’ve built enough momentum behind your commitment, then you’ve reached discipline and the rest is history!" - Justin Strickland, South Aiken Physical Therapy

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