Physical, Mental Fitness Takes Many Forms

By Marah Morrison
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — It doesn’t matter if it’s Dec. 31 or Jan. 1, there is no perfect time for someone to begin to improve his health, says Creekside Fitness and Health Center instructor Tiffany Shirilla. What’s important, she says, is taking the first step. 

Shirilla advocates practicing a lifelong healthful lifestyle. As a fitness instructor, primarily leading spinning classes at Creekside in Canfield, Shirilla says her goal is to get members moving and have fun at the same time. 

“This is why I enjoy teaching so much, because you hold each other accountable,” Shirilla says. “Just start. Commit to being healthy.”

As members build relationships, they motivate one another to stick to their goals, she notes. 

“They get a great sense of community,” says Samantha Womer, a personal trainer at Creekside. “People who may not like to exercise can look forward to coming to class because you have friends and family here.” 

In addition to being a personal trainer, Womer teaches group exercise classes that keep people motivated and accountable. If someone is unsure about how to properly exercise, classes are a great way to get their feet wet, she says. 

“The No. 1 resolution for everybody is to lose weight. But then there are people who want to start working out more than three times a week,” Womer says. “Everybody who comes in here – you know them by first name; they know you by first name – never feels uncomfortable.”

Tiffany Shirilla, fitness instructor, stands with her spinning class at Creekside Fitness and Health Center.

Finding ways to improve Creekside Fitness is a year-round task for its general manager, Lori Hillman. In addition to classes, Hillman invites healthful diet groups to show people how to achieve more balance, she says.

“Whether you’re here or in the workplace, it’s important to keep that balance,” Hillman says. 

Joelle Chahine has been a member at Creekside Fitness for 10 years. From swimming, taking part in classes, working out on her own or playing basketball with friends, she says Creekside fits her needs. It’s a convenient location and she makes a point to sit in the sauna after working out, she says.

Chahine is a HealthMarkets franchisee and says fitness plays an important role in her life and her business.

“Mental and physical health is something that everybody should allocate half an hour to an hour every day,” Chahine advises. “As a small-business owner, you’re constantly dealing with others’ needs and you want to be the best version of yourself for everybody else to give back.”

While some prefer to work in groups, Fitness Together offers custom private lessons, says Erin Mellinger, owner of the Poland-based company. New clients are thoroughly assessed for muscular imbalance, joint pain, previous injuries or surgeries and fitness level, she says. 

“We want exercise to be fun for people. We want them to be able to do it on their own someday,” Mellinger says. “So we try to take them on their journey.” 

Massage can help relieve job stress and some injuries, says Gina DeAngelo.

Mellinger hosts up to 150 sessions weekly in five personal training studios. For so-called social exercisers looking to take their fitness to the next level, small-group sessions are available, Mellinger says. Most people start with the private training and advance to group training.

Results and personal accountability keep people coming back, as do the success stories posted on the studio walls, Mellinger says. 

“We’re laser-focused on our clients,” she says. “That’s what they need and that’s what gets them the results.”

A recent survey conducted by Inc. magazine found that 71% of respondents want to diet or eat healthier, 65% want to exercise more and 54% want to lose weight. 

But health outcomes in Mahoning County rank 67 out of 88 counties in Ohio, according to the County Health Rankings by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Trumbull County ranks 72. 

“We just collectively, as a society in Youngstown, have to band together and be more active,” says Angelo Babbaro, owner of The Train Station Fitness, Boardman. “Whether it’s CrossFit, spin or yoga, find what you love.” 

More than 250 people ages 5 to 76 regularly exercise at The Train Station, Babbaro says. 

Like Creekside, Babbaro tries to offer something for everyone, no matter their age or skill level. 

CrossFit, Youngstrong Sports and HIIT Ohio are the three main programs offered at the Train Station, all taught by certified instructors, Babbaro says. 

The CrossFit program involves free weights, band resistance and strength training as well as mobility medicine-ball conditioning. In the sports program, children are taught the basics of fitness while young adults are given exercises based on sports they play or want to play, Babbaro says.

HIIT Ohio, the Train Station’s newest program, comprises three high-intensity interval training classes: Fight, Flex and Flow.

Fight employs boxing-inspired exercises while recovery techniques taught in Flex can help prevent mobility issues and muscle imbalance. Flow involves metabolic conditioning, which allows people to transform the way they move and feel.

“HIIT Ohio is truly for anyone,” says Jenna Glenellen, director of HIIT Ohio. “Any fitness level, any age or demographic. I want to keep expanding, keep learning and give my community the best of my knowledge to help them love fitness as much as I do.” 

Beyond physical fitness, many look to improve their mental wellness in the new year. Massage therapy can keep people healthy, keep them in the workplace and lower their stress, says Gina DeAngelo, owner and therapist at Massage Café in Canfield

“Stress is huge in any workplace,” she says. “Even when you like your job, there’s stress. Employers need to be concerned about back injuries, neck injuries, headaches and carpal tunnel. Massage therapy helps with all of that.” 

DeAngelo employs 12 therapists who provide massages for pain relief or relaxation, she says. 

“As massage continues to be accepted by the public, I see the need growing,” DeAngelo says. “The changes in health-care coverage makes massage therapy a good value. If your doctor’s office co-pays are increasing, we become an affordable option.” 

The Center for Sound Therapy, Boardman, provides wellness through quartz crystal singing bowls, gongs and flutes, say Calvin Wagner, sound therapist, and his wife, Maria Lallo-Wagner, owner of the center.

The Center for Sound Therapy offers three sound-bath experiences. Although the sessions use different instruments, they still offer a meditative feel to them, Lallo-Wagner says. 

Sound therapy can help individuals rest after exercise, say Calvin Wagner and Maria Lallo-Wagner, from the Center for Sound Therapy.

The first session is a mixture of cultural elements such as using a rattle, a drum and a flute for a Native American element, followed by chanting. The second session is called a gong bath, which comprises only metal instruments and gongs. 

“Physicists say that when you strike a metal instrument, the electrons get excited because the electrons are coming off of the instrument, and we have an energy around us,” Lallo-Wagner says. “The two fields join together and the electrons are neutralizing the body, so you get a deepening, grounding experience.”

The third option is the crystal-frequency sound bath. During this session, the crystal singing bowls are the only instruments used, Lallo-Wagner says. 

“Any [physical fitness] program will tell you that you need a resting day, and with sound therapy working with physical fitness, we can offer that resting day because it helps in that muscle recovery,” she says. “That recovery will help you get stronger.” 

Lallo-Wagner describes a sound-bath session as a “cleaning of a slate.” If someone has never been to a session, it lifts the weight off his shoulders, and provides him with more patience and compassion, she says. 

“What we do is universal,” says Calvin Wagner. “You’re going to leave more creative; you’re going to have a different perspective and more clarity.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.