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Erika Wood

Featured Article

Living Well

How women can live well in a world telling them to be someone they're not.

“Loose 30lbs before summer!” “Shred inches around your waist!” “Get back to the better you!”

It’s maddening to be taunted by skinny women with bright teeth, porcelain skin and synched waists while trying to buy groceries. Even while knowing the images are doctored, your brain just keeps pick, pick, picking at your self-perceived flaws. To get to that “perfect” body, we hate ourselves into working out. Then we hate ourselves for hating ourselves.

It’s an exhausting cycle. Yet, wellness doesn’t have to mean losing weight or fitting into old clothes. It’s about caring for your body as is carries you through life. It’s becoming a you that concurs your goals, smashes glass ceilings and lives a long, prosperous life.

“We look at health and think thin people are healthy,” explains Erika Wood, co-owner of 30 Minute Hit, a local, women-only gym. “What we look like on the outside is not indicative of what’s going on on the inside.”

Boutique fitness studios, smaller gyms hosting fewer members, can be a solution for gym-hesitant woman. Because of their reduced scope, boutique gyms offer a close community of trainers and members. Parker hosts several of these boutique-style gyms including Club Pilates Parker, 30 Minute Hit, HotWORX and The Exercise Coach.

“As an industry, we have to be accepting of people where they are,” states Shelli Sifrit, co-owner of The Exercise Coach. “We have to provide an environment where you can feel safe.”

Local gyms are able to provide this comfortable and supportive atmosphere. 30 Minute Hit is female only, allowing women a safe space without facing unwanted advances. The Exercise Coach offers personal trainers for those lost on how to being and where to go next.

The fitness industry faces persisting criticism on its lack of body representation, habitually opting for sleek, toned bodies over ones with rolls and/or disabilities. In Diane Sparks’, owner of Club Pilates Parker, words, the fitness industry excludes “grocery store bodies,” aka the everyday, errand runner, a truly common body.

Aging women also find themselves excluded from the fitness moguls’ narrative. Shelli hopes to see more fitness studios address women as they age. For herself and The Excursive Coach, it’s all about building strength to minimize muscle loss. When you build muscle, daily activities become easier as you grow older. “We want to be stronger as we age,” says Jillian Sparks, owner of HotWORX.

Besides physical befits of working out, exercise helps subdue anxiety and depression and releases endorphins, a hormone that is known for boosting overall well-being. Focusing on your mental health allows you to complete other responsibilities to the best of your ability.

“In some ways, you have to be selfish and put yourself first so you can help others out,” states Yuan Rapp, a Master Trainer with Club Pilates Parker.

For those considering adding to their usual wellness routine, HotWORX uses infrared heat during classes to reduce inflammation, reduce blood pressure, build collagen, detox impurities and aid the immune system. And if that isn’t enough, Club Pilates Parker offers Teacher Training, a comprehensive program for becoming a certified pilates instructor, taught by Yuan.

In a world where women are held to high expectations, use your wellness journey to slow down and take time for yourself. Learn to love your body—bumps and lumps included. Celebrate a personal record, trying a new class, even just getting up and moving. Wellness is not about pounds, inches, or numbers. It’s about making today better than yesterday. As women are continually told to smile more, be less bossy, and achieve an unreachable beauty standard, rejoice being alive and feeling good.

  • Shelli Sifrit - Owner of  The Exercise Coach
  • Erika Wood
  • Erika Wood
  • Erika Wood
  • Jillian Sparks
  • Yuan - Master Trainer at Club Pilates