Have you ever driven by Southwest Strength and felt intrigued and intimidated all at the same time? Well that was me! Sports and fitness were both something that were always important to me, and throughout university, fitness became part of my daily life. As time went on, life got busy with kids, my career, and juggling motherhood and working full time became all I knew.
Living in small town Deloraine, fitness options are few and far between. I was never someone who could work out on my own at home. I needed a plan, and I needed someone to hold me accountable. Last summer, one of my husband’s co-workers was attending the gym so this sparked lots of conversations between us. I followed the gym on facebook and instagram, and I started to become more and more interested in trying it out…still a bit intimidated of course! Shortly after, I noticed they were offering a Boot Camp. I decided to give it a go, and registered. Surely I could devote one hour, one night a week, to myself.
The hardest part was walking into the gym for the first time, but immediately the sense of community and belonging became evident. Those were the best 10 weeks of my summer. I looked forward to Boot Camp each week. I loved the atmosphere, the one on one coaching, and most of all, the feeling of accomplishment afterwards. After the 10 weeks were up, I decided to try out the Active class. Once again, I was not disappointed.
Recently, I just completed another Boot Camp session, twice a week for 6 weeks. I really tried to zone in on proper nutrition this time around, learning how to properly “fuel” my body. Sara and Nathan are always both very supportive, checking in, educating me on different food programs, tips, recipes, and providing that positive encouragement that we all need. Most importantly, Southwest Strength has taught me the importance of what it means to be healthy, which doesn’t mean analyzing the number on the scale, but more so measuring success by increasing the reps and weight on the bar.
If you’ve been thinking about trying out Southwest Strength, I would highly recommend signing up for Boot Camp. Boot Camp is a great way to become introduced to the gym and some of the movements. It’s amazing how quickly you feel like part of a team, everyone is always so
encouraging and supportive, and those high fives at the end of class really seal the deal! Nathan’s continuous energy combined with Sara’s welcoming smile and their passion for fitness, make Southwest Strength one of a kind. I can guarantee; you’ll never look back!
June 4th, 2015 will be a day that I will always remember as one that was a turning point for me in my life. It was my first appointment with Sara at what was known then as Sara and Nathan’s Garage Gym, 5 months later it would expand and become Southwest Strength. I had lost 40 lbs and kept it off for over a year by then, I exercised a few days a week, mostly doing cardio from at home dvds. But I was neither fit or in shape and I felt I needed to be by January 2016 for my triennial. It’s a weeklong physical testing for my job including shooting, take downs, ground fighting, burnout drills, etc. I was lacking upper body strength, it even exhausted me to hold my gun stretched out in front of me for moderate periods of time. That is where Sara came in. I started personal training with her once a week, then when the garage gym expanded to Southwest Strength, I started group classes 3 times a week and within 3 months I had an unlimited membership and was there at least 4 times a week, fast forward to now and not only am I going a minimum 5 times a week, but we have an unlimited family membership and every person in my household attends classes or does personal training. Not only did I pass my triennial in January 2016, but I rocked it and in the process gained a confidence about my body and what I was capable of, that I had never had before.
Southwest Strength changed my whole attitude of exactly what it meant to be fit. I always associated being fit with being skinny when the 2 things have nothing to do with each other. I was always trying to change the numbers on my scale, I thought the lower the number the better person I would be and the better I would feel about myself. It’s not true. I now know after having Sara and Nathan as coaches and with the community at Southwest Strength that the scale is just one of many numbers. More important numbers are did I increase the weight on my back squat this week or do more reps, was I able to do one more burpee in 30 sec than I did in the tester 4 months ago or can I swing the 53lb kettle bell instead of the 45lb now. Nathan and Sara plan and teach the workouts like this, because they want every single person that goes to the gym to succeed and get better. It may be something like PRing a movement like a back squat or Deadlift, or moving through the different scaled versions of a movement. Every day/week they are there encouraging you to push yourself just a little harder than last time so you can see the best that you are capable of. Even if you didn’t believe you could, they did! They greet you with a hello when you get to the gym and you always get a high five after the workout before you leave. If Sara and Nathan were not the encouraging, and flexible coaches that they are, I don’t think I would be where I am today in terms of my fitness. They understand that I work shift work and have two busy teenagers, I sometimes can’t make it to a class (and I hate to miss, just ask Chris), Nathan will send me an adapted workout I can do at home or one we can do on the road in our hotel room.
I’ve learned to focus on my little improvements to get to big ones, I love being able to look back in my journal and see the progress that I have made doing things that I never would have dreamed were possible. My biggest accomplishment to date, would be doing my first pull up on my 39th birthday and even better yet, less than a month later being able to do 30 plus pull ups a week. (Remember my lack of upper body strength I had only 2 years ago)
Along with being fit in the gym, I have also come to terms with what needs to be done in the kitchen to make that happen. I asked Sara one day for help on this. She made some suggestions and set me on a path that has been successful for me in the last few months. I’m losing my last 10 stubborn pounds but at the same time becoming leaner and stronger. And she checks in on me, out of the blue just to see if there is anything that I have questions about or how I’m doing with things. That not just a coach, that is also a friend. I no longer look at how many calories are in food, I look at what is it made of, what the breakdown of the marcos are. I have also learned that it’s not just what you eat but when you eat it.
There is support from other gym members about this as well. We share recipes and talk about new products that we have tried, all usually during warm up or between sets, lol.
The atmosphere at Southwest strength is so relaxed and friendly. It is one of the best parts of going there each day. In a given class the ages of the clients can range over 50 years from the oldest to the youngest and yet everyone is doing the same thing (within scaled variations), you are never forced to do something that you are uncomfortable with doing. If you are thinking you need a change in your life or exercise routine or have drove by and thought I should do that. What are you waiting for? Contacting Sara or Nathan is your first step! Or contact a friend who maybe a gym member and come with them to a free class. There is always laughter in the class, no pressure that you can’t do something. You will look back in 2 years like I am now and wonder, why you waited so long.
Even on my worst days, as soon as I walk in the door at Southwest Strength, it puts a smile on my face. As the door closes behind me, I take a deep breath and I know that the next hour is just for me and it will be what I make of it.
“My experience with “training” prior to Southwest Strength was almost none! I had trained in high school for track, running longer distances, but otherwise had only been in organized sports such as volleyball and figure skating. My “workouts” consisted of walking the dog, riding my bike and playing golf. Before I started with Southwest Strength I was intimidated, I would see the members running and lifting weights at Sara and Nathan’s garage and thought I wasn’t capable of training like that. Flash forward and I now realize that I am capable and thoroughly enjoy the challenges training brings. I expect to sweat, and I expect to push myself each time I go to the gym. My biggest accomplishment at the gym as been running and pull ups. Both of which seemed unattainable!
My favourite part of Southwest Strength is the environment, everyday I look forward to going just to see the people! I often don’t look at the workout because I know there will be support and laughter to get me through- always laughter!! My favourite movement at the gym are pull-ups, they are so gratifying to do considering I didn’t think I could do them! Least favourite movement is definitely the airbike, I don’t feel strong on it and it is an uphill battle the whole time!
Fitness and nutrition have become a main focus in my daily life, Dwight and I hold each other accountable for getting to the gym 4-6 times a week and try to eat well. My idea of eating well as evolved and I really try to pay attention to how I feel after eating certain foods. I don’t diet or restrict myself but I certainly do pay close attention to what I put into my body. When I first started at the gym I thought that meant I could eat more, but I am learning that all the hard work at the gym can been undone by poor eating choices. Now I am really conscious of how I “refuel” my body.
Anyone considering trying Southwest Strength should simply come for one class, you will quickly see that the support is endless and the motivation is contagious. Our coaches Nathan and Sara are a vital part of the environment, their knowledge and commitment make anything possible. Their personal accomplishments are proof that they practice what they preach. They aren’t asking us to do anything they haven’t already tried, coaches should be role models and that’s Nathan and Sara.”
I have been going to Southwest Strength since April 1, 2016. When I started I had problems with my knees, was not fit and weighed 175 lbs. I no longer have any joint pain, have increased strength in both lower and upper body, and a much better developed cardio system (when I started had a hard time running 200 meters and now can run 3 km). I am down to my high school weight of 135 lbs.
Five reasons to seek out Southwest Strength:
- Invest in your health – We buy things, cars, clothes, a house. A car we sell, clothes we change, a house we down size but our body we have always. Make it liveable.
- Coaching – Few of us are trained in fitness but a coach is. Beyond creating comprehensive body fitness programing the coach sees your fitness framework, confirms what you are doing right, suggests how to correct mistakes and knows when to ask more of you.
- Structure – Making a commitment to go to the gym gives structure even to a busy life. Without it a person can easily be derailed within their own home. At the gym there is only one focus.
- Support – It is not just the staff that work hard to encourage you but also all of the members. From smiling when you try, to cheering when you succeed the Southwest Strength family nurture your efforts.
Results – Every little effort you put forth at Southwest Strength, if done consistently, gets results! It could be better mobility, increased strength or changed body composition. Every small change is a victory and you can make it happen.
“Nathan has been programming/coaching for me for about a year and a half. I have seen tonnes of improvements with my overall strength and skills since starting. I have achieved quite a few of my goals and I believe they wouldn’t of been possible without the help of my coach. I have truly enjoyed my overall training since I trust in my coaches knowledge to program specifically for my strengths and weaknesses. The great thing about Nathan as a coach is he is extremely passionate about what he does and he puts a lot of pride in the work he does. He cares about my success as an athlete and he makes me want to be a better athlete myself.” -Krista Corrigal
“The easiest part of working out for me is putting on the workout clothes and “showing up”. The best part about the fitness programming that I have been doing with Nathan and Sara is that when I arrive the work is half done. The programs are made, the equipment is simple to understand and utilize, and I just have to go through the motions. Now I make it sound easier than it is, probably because it is such a routine part of my life now, but for me half the battle was not knowing what movements and weights and reps to do to get the results I wanted to see for myself.
I started my journey on my own at home because I was embarrassed about how I looked and how I had let myself go. I told myself that I needed to give three solids months of effort to see if I could change my “big bones”. I saw results right away, the weight seemed to melt off like it was nothing. After that first 3 months my progress began to even out and I was not seeing as big of changes but there was still some progress. About a year and a half into my new lifestyle there were no more changes and my progress completely leveled off. I was showing up and trying so many different things, asking people for advice but nothing was happening.
In talking with Sara a couple times she encouraged me to come try a workout with her and Nathan. The automatic response was – but I don’t want to bulk up. I was all about weight loss and not about becoming “big”. With a little coercion and the promise that I wouldn’t be alone I gave it a shot. It was definitely not what I was expecting – but that was the best part about it. It was simple movements that you could scale to your level and work up to, giving me a new set of goals with every workout. The harder I worked the more often I could do everything they were asking me to do. I really appreciated how the workouts were prepared for me and was not having to think about that anymore. The workouts are consistently different, there is a theme but you will never do the same things over and over. I have been able to change my thinking – with Sara and Nathans constant education on what I value for myself. I want to be strong and I want to be healthy. My goals have now changed, I don’t look at the scale for self-worth I look at what fitness goal can I strive for next. I need to show up and be consistent with my workouts and I need to eat well to achieve my goals and that is all on me, no one else. They have taught me some basics on how to live the healthy lifestyle I want for myself and have encouraged throughout this entire process. My journey has been a long one and I’m not done; that is the best part!”-Danielle Wood
Meet Diane Tilbury. She has been training with us since the garage days, so about 8 months. Her progress has been inspiring. She has recently back squatted over 100lbs, deadlifted over 160lbs and took on the 2km rowing challenge full force! If anyone has ever been in the same room as Diane, you can’t help but notice that she is one of the nicest humans on the planet. She always puts forward a great effort, smiles and cheers on other members! It’s members like her that continue to inspire Sara and I as coaches. Thank you so much Diane for your continued support and just genuine kindness!
We recently sat down with Diane and asked her a few questions:
What are some of your goals in health and fitness?
“My goals in health and fitness are to increase and maintain my quality of life. I want to be able to be strong well into my later years. I want to increase my lung capacity and my muscular strength. In doing that I am working on losing weight in the process. I am working on eating better and having a positive life!”
2. What are some of your favourite exercises/movements? Least favourite exercises/movements?
“My favourite exercise/movement is anything to do with my shoulders. I love lifting weights to feel the muscles in my upper back. Since I have been learning to do those lifts I have found my muscles are not so tight. My least favourite is of course the dreaded burpee! Lol! Someday I will succeed at them, with practice and encouragement from Sara and Nathan.”
3. What are some of the changes you have noticed with your own physical ability since attending Southwest Strength?
“The changes I have obtained since starting at Southwest Strength are;
– an increase in my ability to do more cardio, my lung capacity is much better since I have been taught to breath properly while I exercise.
– I am stronger and more flexible. Bending, moving, just everyday movements are much easier. For example, lifting groceries, doing housework and playing with my grandkids is so much easier. I just feel better in my body!”
4. Your favourite thing about Southwest Strength?
“I like how Sara and Nathan train you with their first rate knowledge. You are taught the proper way to do every exercise/movement. It is first explained then demonstrated. You are never made to do something you don’t feel comfortable with. They always have a way to modify an exercise for you.
I love their gym atmosphere, it is such a friendly positive place. I really enjoy the group workouts I have met some great people. Sara and Nathan as well as fellow gym members are so encouraging and nonjudgmental. My confidence level has risen and with all the encouragement you just work harder! The best part is the feeling of accomplishment you get once you have finished a workout. The feelings last throughout the day, it definitely makes you want to go back! I am still a work in progress, I am learning more every time I go.”
5. Would you recommend people try out the services Southwest Strength has to offer? Why?
“I would definitely recommend people try out the services of Southwest Strength. If you are wanting to feel better in your life by improving your health and fitness this is the place to go. You will work hard but you will also get the best workout for your body and mind! “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great!”
Danielle Davies – Client since Oct. 2015
1) How long have you been attending Southwest Strength, and what are some your fitness goals!?
I have been attending Southwest Strength for a total of 5 months, nearly 4 of those months on the unlimited membership. My fitness goals are ever changing, but something I am currently looking to improve is my upper body strength. A pull-up would be fantastic! Some goals I had set back in October are/were: a push-up, a pull-up, 175lb back squat, 250lb deadlift and a rope climb!
2) Have you met any of those goals!? What changes have you made physically!?
I am finally able to do a full ‘man’ push-up, something I have never been able to do! I have also recently surpassed my 175lb back squat goal. It feels incredible to finally cross those goals off the list! Physically I have noticed significant fat loss and muscle gain, and an amazing improvement in my mobility. Going into this with a previous knee injury I was quite skeptical that lifting weights would actually help the pain I was experiencing. It is amazing now to have almost full range of motion, stability and I am almost 100% pain free in my bad knee! I have never felt better!
3) You have been attending our group class 5 days/week for about 4 months, what keeps you so motivated!?
The amazing people I have met since I started at Southwest Strength is a huge factor in keeping me motivated. I love seeing people give it everything they have during a workout and leave with a smile on their face, it really inspires me to do the same. The constant changes and improvements in my own body makes it that much more motivating as well. Pushing myself and doing things I never thought possible, and feeling proud is so rewarding.
4) Your favourite part about Southwest Strength!?
My favourite part of Southwest Strength is the amount of support and encouragement you receive from the coaches and the members. I love walking in with a warm welcome, cheering on the tail end of the previous class, and leaving feeling accomplished (and of course with a high five!). I enjoy the positive atmosphere and the sense of family. It’s my favourite part of the day!
5) Least favourite movement!?
Hmmm, tough one! I know a couple months ago I would definitely say a burpee or turkish get up, but I am coming to terms with these movements as I get stronger! I’d say where I’m at right now wall walks terrify me and I would love to be able to do one and face my fear of being upside down!
6) What changes have you made with your lifestyle in the past year to lead to such great body composition results!?
I have really been focusing on watching what I eat and being active everyday. Making sure I am eating clean foods, and eating enough food! For about the last 6-8 weeks I have been religiously tracking and weighing my food with great results. It is really amazing to really see what you are eating in a day, vs what you thought you were eating! With the help of the Southwest Strength coaches, I have been watching my macros and making sure I am eating enough protein daily. It is really amazing how much your body changes when you fuel it properly and stay active!