Local trainers use ‘out of the box’ approach to fitness

By Jennifer Holloway - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Sat., Aug. 20, 2011
Frank LaTeano straps on a harness and pulls a jeep up an incline behind EnFuse Fitness.
Frank LaTeano straps on a harness and pulls a jeep up an incline behind EnFuse Fitness.

Drive around to the back of EnFuse Fitness in Enfield and you may find someone pushing a jeep around the parking lot or even strapped in a harness, pulling one. Ryan Woods and Tyler Pratt use some ‘out of the box’ equipment when it comes to training clients, including a jeep, tractor tires and a sledgehammer. Not every exercise is this flashy, though. Many of their workouts could be described as rudimentary.

“It’s very remedial stuff,” Woods said. “A lot of times the stuff we start off with you’ll see in physical therapy.” Some of this includes strengthening a rotator cuff or making sure knees move properly.

“We’re prepping them for more advanced exercises,” Woods said.

Both trainers agree that current fitness trends like P90X, Insanity, Zumba and Spartan Races are highly effective for weight loss, but these programs do not address an individual’s conditioning.

“As a whole we’re generally very deconditioned,” Woods said. “Most people sit all day long, and they have typical postural compensations where shoulders come forward or they have tight quads or weakened glutes.”

Woods said that doing some of these programs as a deconditioned individual can predispose someone to injury. “Although they’re great, they’re great for more of an athletic community that’s already in fairly good shape,” Woods said.

Woods and Pratt work in tandem to help people overcome tightness and inflexibilities. Many who have worked with them appreciate the paired coaching and the support. Pratt said they check in with their clients about the amount of water they drink, the foods they eat, their energy levels and how their clothes fit.

“We didn’t design this type of training,” Woods said, stressing that there is nothing new in fitness, just rebirths. “It’s being able to create an environment where people can not only go from A to B, but they can do it comfortably and progress on.”

The trainers also understand their limitations. While they have both studied nutrition and can make suggestions with diet and supplements, neither claims to be a doctor. To compensate for that, they have aligned themselves with doctors and nutrition coaches.

Woods and Pratt also address clients’ internal struggles. Many times, people push themselves in the gym and do not drop pounds or lose inches. Pratt said that things like hormonal deficiencies or abnormalities and thyroid conditions can affect a person’s ability to lose weight and stay healthy. He and Woods have their own stories of health battles they have overcome through changes to diet and fitness.

The personal stories from their clients best exhibit the results. Mandi Gavlak of Somers said this is the first year she has been able to work in her garden without pain. “My body works better than it used to,” she said. When she came to EnFuse Fitness she had muscles that were either overbuilt or weakened. With Woods’ and Pratt’s approach, her body is now more balanced.

Yuean Li’s story is somewhat different. Coming from China, she said working out is not the norm. “In Chinese culture, if you’re a woman and thin, you’re fine,” she said. After four years in an American college, Li began to realize that, though she was thin, she had little muscle. Not only has her strength increased through working with her trainers, she said her mood that can drift toward homesickness has also improved.

Larry Brickner, of Suffield, spent 20 years monitoring his cholesterol levels, but he could never reach the magic HDL number of 40. After changing his fitness approach, he has met and surpassed that number.

With all of the exercises, whether basic or advanced, Woods and Pratt ensure people execute all movements safely but also have fun. Achieving that first lap around the parking lot while pushing Pratt’s jeep induces a higher heart rate and sweaty palms, but it also provides an accomplished feeling and a big smile—after a moment of rest, of course.

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