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January 26, 2017

"Laura Islas has kept her weight under control

for over a decade and now helps others as well." 

- Steven Ryzewski, Senior Sports Editor



Health and Fitness Association


Fitness Journal article feature

- Alexandra Williams, MA

October 12, 2009

Laura Islas, a certified personal trainer in Milford, Michigan, did exactly that. She saw a need and opportunity at her church and adapted her boot camp program to fit the congregants’ needs. “I wanted to reach people who might not have been reached in a typical venue. The majority of the class participants are nonexercisers. Many of the women would never have attended a fitness program elsewhere. Some are embarrassed by their weight, some feel too old for a gym, and many simply cannot afford a gym or haven’t learned the value of incorporating exercise into their lives.

“To make the workout palatable to all types of people, the only required equipment is a mat or towel. We use only body weight exercises for strength training,” states Islas. To help her clients take ownership of their health, Islas makes it mandatory for them to commit to attending the sessions. And even though she started offering the classes for free, some participants now hire her on a one-on-one basis, having come to see the “inherent value of exercise,” as she puts it.

By meeting these clients where they were—physically and mentally—Islas has had success reaching a population that would never have stepped through a gym door. Participants felt safe trying exercise at their place of worship, with their friends and a teacher they knew and trusted. What’s more, Islas is a perfect example of self-responsibility, as she did for herself first what she is now helping others to do: “In 2002 I weighed 199 pounds and was fat, depressed and had a variety of obesity-related problems. On my own I managed to lose 65 pounds.” Islas also thinks in terms of prevention and changing the culture in her community: “If each one of us shared a little of our skills or excess with others, none of us would . . . be a burden on society.”

What can you do? A fun team event might involve a group of trainers going to an underserved area and doing a full day of assessments and recommendations. Maybe you’d gain new clients, maybe not, but it would get you some great publicity and community goodwill. You could even bring a nutrition expert with you, or at least some information about healthful eating." (For a comprehensive article about promoting good nutrition, see “The Latest Nutrition & Physical Activity Policies” by Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD, in the July–August 2009 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.)

“The Wellness Culture: Self-Responsibility at Last.” IDEA Health & Fitness Association, 30 Nov. -1,

Milford Times 

March 11, 2010

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