By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor
A year ago Colleen Sturgess left her job as head trainer at Boca West Country Club and didn’t know where life would take her next.
A conference she attended in Indianapolis that focused on how boxing can help people with Parkinson’s paved the way for her venture, Beyond Fitness.
Her gym in West Delray Beach, 5848 West Atlantic Ave., provides different classes for special needs children, veterans and anyone who wants a good workout. The gym opened in September 2016.
“I knew I needed to take a leap of faith and do something,” she said about leaving her job. “I wanted to help people.”
During a recent Rock Steady class, which is an hour long boxing session for people with Parkinson’s, participants warmed up with chair exercises, worked on balance and then put on their boxing gloves and hit the bags.
Sturgess coached the participants through different exercises and maneuvers, cheering them on and playing lively music.
After she graduated from school with a degree in sports medicine she said she thought she would be a trainer. But she ended up working in country clubs and has been working with senior citizens for the past 14 years.
“It is a different way of training,” she said of the age population she works with. “I teach them to stand up tall and engage their muscles.”
She said a big focus is on form, which she said isn’t common at other gyms.
After taking the boxing course and experiencing how much fun the trainers were having and how boxing could be done in a safe way, she said she knew that was something she wanted to incorporate in her next job.
She said she sits down with gym-goers before they start their classes and she goes over their medical history and evaluates what exercises they can handle.
“I wanted to offer classes that benefit the community,” she said.
In addition to Rock Steady, she offers Connected Warriors, which is a free event for veterans. Once a month, she teams up with Wounded Warrior to offer veterans a workout and lunch.
After school, there are kid friendly workouts like Kids/Teens Cardio and Boxing and Dancers with Disabilities. There is a session for parents and kids to work out together that is led with help from her son.
But beyond a solid workout, she said her goal is for people to leave with a smile on their face.
“It’s about working your body and mind,” she said.