No drill sergeants here: Linda Lavalle, a personal trainer at University Hospitals Avon Fitness Center, gets her clients in shape with compassionate care centered around achievable goals. “I’m not whipping people into shape by making them do things they hate,” she says. “I try to find out what people enjoy, and what they can do safely.”

Lavalle started her career as a physical trainer and eventually transitioned into personal training. She now coaches clients individually and teaches group courses at UH’s state-of-the-art fitness center in Avon. “I work with a lot of older people, and people who don’t have a high level of fitness,” she says. “I just want my clients to get better and achieve their goals.”


Lavalle suggests her top three tips for staying fit.

Keep moving.

“No matter what you like to do for exercise, that’s what you should do. Keep moving because the more we stay sedentary, the harder it is to get back,” she says. “I say it’s like a rusty bike chain. You don’t put a bike away for 40 years and pull it out and expect that all of a sudden it will start moving like it did when it was brand new.”

Focus on diet.

Lavalle stresses the importance of making smart dietary choices. “Weight loss is 90% about what you eat; you can’t use the gym to burn off what you ate.” As for what to focus on? “If you grow it, eat it,” she says. “Avoid processed foods.” 

Set small goals.

Lavalle recommends breaking your goals into small steps so you can build them into your day-to-day life. “If someone comes in with a goal of losing 50 pounds, that can feel overwhelming,” she says. “Think of a healthy thing you can do to eventually get there. Are you going to come to the gym more often? Focus on portion control? I tell people to set small goals and reevaluate every two weeks to see if they’re working.”


University Hospitals Avon Fitness Center

1997 Healthway Dr., Avon, 440-988-6800,