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At Muscle Up near Rocky Mount, owner Kelly Lambert keeps exercises varied and tailored to the individual.
KYLE GREEN | The Roanoke Times
Kelly Lambert (right), owner and trainer at Muscle Up in Rocky Mount, Virginia, throws a weighted ball to cross training fitness class participants squatting against a wall during a circuit exercise.
KYLE GREEN | The Roanoke Times
Cross training fitness class participants Judith Ogle (left) and Cindy Belanger (right) hit a punching bag during a circuit exercise at the Muscle Up Gym in Rocky Mount.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Cindy Belanger grimaced before she grinned.
Belanger, 55, had just learned that the 5 p.m. workout class, previewed on a dry-erase board by fitness instructor Kelly Lambert, would include a modified squat-thrust.
“We love Kelly,” Belanger said, smiling. “We don’t love burpees.”
Lambert, 33, and her husband, Mike, 41, residents of Rocky Mount, opened the Muscle Up gym in March.
About that time, during an open house, Belanger won a month’s worth of group exercise classes. Like many people long mired in sedentary ruts, she fretted about the first class.
“All I could think about was whether I was going to be able to keep up,” Belanger said.
Lambert understood. She’d been there. Belanger and other Muscle Up clients say Lambert has a knack for tailoring workouts, even in a group class, to reflect individual fitness levels while still pushing for vigorous exertion.
“Before” photos posted at the gym include shots of Lambert as a young mother who filled out the chair she occupied for five years at an accounting firm.
“I was 25, heavy, not obese but overweight,” she said. “I just felt tired all the time. I thought, ‘I’m not going to keep going on this path. I’m going to get healthy.’ ”
Lambert started working out regularly. She lost weight. She gained strength and endurance.
“I fell in love with it,” she said. “I thought, ‘I want to help other people do the same thing.’ ”
Lambert, described by her husband as “driven,” became a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. For a while she commuted to Roanoke to teach fitness classes. But she grew weary of the commute. And the price of gas burned a hole in the money she made.
Mike Lambert owns and operates Lambert’s Construction Co. He runs the company from a building that once housed Clements Ford Tractor off U.S. 220 on the plateau between Boones Mill and Rocky Mount.
The couple leased additional space there, and Muscle Up was born. Lambert said she likes the gym’s rugged, industrial feel. There are bathrooms but no locker rooms, showers or organized child care.
During a recent class, one mother parked her twins in a stroller while she worked out. The pacifier-outfitted children sat transfixed as exercisers hustled from one workout station to the next — punching heavy bags, rippling stout ropes, hefting medicine balls and enduring burpees (a combination of a push-up and a jumping jack).
Lambert described the gym’s focus as cross-training, emphasizing cardiovascular fitness, strength and flexibility.
“It’s a full-body workout,” she said.
Several clients said Lambert keeps them engaged by varying workouts and slipping in an occasional surprise.
“The reason I stick with her is I’m not bored,” Belanger said. “Every workout with her is different.”
The 5 p.m. class Jan. 27 included Beau Montgomery, 31, and his wife, Holly, 27, from Union Hall. Beau Montgomery works as an electrical engineer in Roanoke.
“I like that it’s never the same workout,” he said. “Up until this, I was just doing free weights. I feel healthier now.”
Muscle Up launched with seven clients. Lambert said the gym now has about 70 regulars spread across varied class times.
Like Belanger, Faye Lahr, 59, has been a client since March. Her “before” photo shows Lahr when she weighed 237 pounds. She’s shed about 58 pounds. The results from regular workouts have impressed her physician, she said.
“Never brag to your doctor that you’re exercising three days a week because he’ll make you do four,” Lahr said, smiling.
She said Lambert encourages clients to do their best.
“She’s aware of your limitations yet she still makes you work,” Lahr said. “You don’t slide by.”
Justin Stebilla, 23, agreed.
“She’ll push you just enough so that you get exactly what you need,” he said.
Karen Arrington, co-owner with husband, Doug, of Hometown Ice in Rocky Mount, said she works out in the winter to build endurance for summer, the full-bore season for ice peddlers.
“I have a gym at home but I don’t push myself,” Arrington said. “Kelly helps.”
Belanger said she sometimes has to force herself to exercise.
“But I always feel like I’ve accomplished something when I leave here,” she said.
Lambert said people often straggle to class appearing spent and blue from the day’s stress. But their moods almost always brighten during and after workouts, she said.
“I look at the changes in people and it gives me a lot of joy and satisfaction,” Lambert said. “I’m so proud of them. It’s a very satisfying, fulfilling job.”
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