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January 31, 2013

Do you like this?

Like Elvis at 40—when “fat and forty” was the catch phrase of the day back in 1975—I considered my New Year’s resolutions, the ones to stop abusing my body, once again this year. I was not fat, was way past 40, but feeling the effects of a Presley-esque lifestyle that had left me a little soft in the middle and, like The King, unwilling to do much about it until vanity or the next gig coaxed a reaction. And, of course, the Elvis Way didn’t work out too well for him.

Elvis, who died at 42 in 1977  and was considered “middle-aged” at the time, would have been 78 this year. I’m 30 years younger than Presley would have been, but his own daughter, Lisa Marie, is now 42. So is Rachael Ray, LL Cool J, Thom Yorke and Tony Hawk, among other celebrities. None of them is exactly washed up, out of shape or what you’d call “middle-aged” today. I perked up at that revelation.

Unlike Elvis, I did not use bennies to keep me awake or lose weight—but I nevertheless pondered a healthier, less chemically and fast food-dependent lifestyle. I was not on death’s doorstep by any means, but I could use a tune-up.

Fortunately, Chattanooga is a mushrooming hotbed of fitness and there’s no shortage of studios and gyms around town. But my direction was not only focused on getting “fit,” but also feeling and looking good once the heavy lifting was done. Calls were made, appointments were set, the time—and my deadline—approached. What follows are my personal adventures and observations. And while I did not sign-up, suit-up and show-up at every stop, I enjoyed the process more than I thought. So tag along for a day-trip on The Pulse Fitness Trail ...

My first priority was to check out a fitness studio—but not necessarily a gym, which I often found cold and utilitarian. Working downtown, I wanted a quick fitness fix in a nearby, hip center that I could visit frequently and feel comfortable with. Thrive Studio in Coolidge Park met all those requirements and more.

I met owner Kim Gavin, who launched Thrive last summer, in the warm, welcoming and spacious studio to learn more.

“Thrive is based on the idea that fitness is not one size fits all,” Gavin said, immediately striking my interest. “We’re tailored to the individual. People need different things at different times—not just fitness, but nutrition and attitude adjustments.”

Thrive is a holistic environment combining exercise with nutrition (from their excellent  vegetarian cafe). Here, trainers customize the entire fitness experience to your needs, and on the way out you can enjoy a snack or a full healthy and nutritious meal.

All the usual high-end exercise equipment abounds—indoor cycling, fitness and strength-training machines—but Thrive also offers yoga. Connecting the triad of fitness, nutrition and the healing powers of yoga, the studio truly earns its slogan, providing a “healthy body and a happy mind.”

As many know, it’s often not enough to just go sign up. My best efforts succeeded with the encouragement and prodding of a like-minded buddy. Thrive offered classes or training buddies in a group or personal session that provided that support system.

Since opening in July 2012, class offerings have shifted, Gavin said. “We’ve added some new classes and moved times  to accommodate the busy schedules of our clients. We’ve also added kickboxing and cardio-kickboxing, and we’re listening to what people want in terms of times and types of workout. “

Thrive is also a thriving social setting. The studio’s two-hour fitness classes carry fun and revealing names like “The Nutcracker” and “Jingle Your Balls,” which they hosted during the holiday season. “Fun names,” Gavin said, “but it’s a hard-core workout.” That same adjective can be applied to Thrive’s Boot Camp, which meets every morning at 6 a.m. for a “butt-kicking, rain or shine” exercise fest not for the weak of heart.

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January 31, 2013

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