Fit to Serve
It’s a Monday morning at Fit Me Up Fitness, and Theodore (known as “Coach Theo” around here) just wrapped up a class, although no one seems in a hurry to leave. “This place changed my life,” one woman makes a point of coming over and telling me. Another effortlessly glides across the room on the rings that hang from the ceiling. Others stand together chatting happily.
The scene is starting to tell a story without Theodore saying a word, but he gets his point across anyway. “The community is the number one positive influence on a person’s life when they come here,” he says.
Let’s back up a step. Theodore and his wife, Amber, started Fit Me Up Fitness in 2013. They offer group classes for children 5 and up and for adults. The gym, located on Jaycox Road, is an open room with football turf on the floor and warped “Ninja Warrior” walls along the side of the room. There are also monkey bars, climbing ropes, sand bags, wrestling mats, cargo nets, rope ladders and more.
The concept is simple. “We are a total body athletic, strength and conditioning group training facility,” says Theodore.
But this is not fitness for the sake of looking better in a bathing suit (although that will happen). The gym’s slogan is “It’s Not About Me.”
“The only reason Fit Me Up is here is because we felt it was a call from God to start this place,” Theodore says. “Fitness is fantastic physically, but being focused on God gives you motivation to honor the body God gave you.”
Fit Me Up has numerous events throughout the year, including a 5K fun run that raises money for Smiles for Sophie Forever, a foundation formed to fight pediatric brain cancer.
“A lot of people come here not just to look and feel better, but to improve their overall emotional and spiritual well-being,” Amber says.
Theodore learned a lesson himself this year when he was selected to compete on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” which filmed in Cleveland this May.
“I fell on the third obstacle, which is a silly balance obstacle and not even hard,” he says. “I knew right away how God was going to use it. I had to come back and answer to 300 kids. You know what kids need to hear? It’s OK to fall. It’s OK to fail.”
Indeed, the gym is as much for kids as it is for adults. “What’s crazy is that I wrote in my journal that I wanted to start a place that kids never wanted to leave,” Theodore says. “And now it’s happening.”
As if on cue, his 4-year-old daughter, Alana, quickly scampers to the top of one of the warped walls.
This may be a gym, says Theodore, but it’s definitely more about the journey than the results. “Everyone takes care of you and loves you and helps you,” he says.
Theodore suggests these three quick moves.
1. Reverse lunges. Stand straight up, then take one large step backward with your left foot. Lower your hips so that your right thigh is parallel to the floor, with your right knee positioned directly over your right ankle. Make sure your left heel is lifted and your right knee is at a 90-degree angle. Do 12 reps then switch legs.
2. Kneeling plank ups. Start in a kneeling push-up position. Lower yourself to your forearms. Press back up to the push-up position and repeat. Start with one minute of reps.
3. Dead bugs. Lie on your back with your hands extended toward the ceiling. Bend legs to a 90-degree angle. Take a deep breath in while tightening your abs. As you exhale, slowly extend your left leg toward the floor and bring your right arm overhead. Slowly return to your starting position. Alternate and do 10 reps.