Shaping Up

I t’s a new year and perhaps, as they say, a ‘new you.’ Across the city, resolutions focused on maintaining regular workouts and better diets are about to be met by one of two things: abandonment, or action.

Eleven years ago, Christina Yaworowski and Drew Lewis acted. They energized each other, working as a team like they do now, to set and complete their own fitness goals. They became personal trainers and found “a life’s work” in the process, says Yaworowski. In 2009, they opened Active Wellness, a boutique gym-meets-gym boutique in the heart of Westville, to share what Yaworowski calls the “inspiring, uplifting feeling” of getting in shape.

Unlike most gyms, Yaworowski and Lewis, who are now married, customize each trainee’s fitness program. It starts with a free over-the-phone consultation outlining an individual’s goals and desired lifestyle changes, taking into account any medical or other special considerations.

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After the call, the two trainers draw up a plan, including a timeline marked by benchmarks and milestones, that’s meant to be realistic and sustainable. While drastically reducing someone’s daily calorie intake and instituting a brutal regimen exercise could show fast results, those results might not last long. In their many years of experience, Yaworowski and Lewis say they’ve seen rapid weight loss and lifestyle changes come undone within weeks; it’s just harder to stay motivated if the changes come too quickly or are too staggering.

The couple says moderation is key to keeping the enthusiasm alive over longer periods of time. “It’s more about integrating into [someone’s existing] lifestyle,” Lewis says. That’s why Active Wellness devises strategies with incremental goals for those serious about getting fit but not quite ready to ditch all their favorite snacks and habits. Starting with smaller but consistent changes that become as habitual “as brushing your teeth”—like a plate or two of vegetables replacing a cheeseburger at lunch—leads to better long-term benefits, Lewis says.

Each session begins with a conversation, when Yaworowski will ask about what’s gone well since last time. Too often people are discouraged by not following their own regimen, but Active Wellness keeps it positive. It’s not about what didn’t happen, it’s about what did, and more so, why a person felt compelled at that moment to exercise. They examine what triggered the good behavior, and work to reinforce it. Being a wellness coach is a lot like being the proverbial angel on the shoulder, and, they say, clients appreciate it: some have been with Active Wellness for nearly its entire existence.

New enrollees take an introductory fitness exam to learn, from top to bottom, about their top-to-bottom. Body mass index and body fat ratio, tallied using gadget that sends minor electrical impulses into the body, are calculated to get a baseline idea of the state of the body. A cardiovascular test determines the target heart rate of each person, followed by a posture assessment and full-body strength tests.

Just by taking part in the introductory fitness test, a client learns how to correctly do push-ups and sit-ups, which is just a start, albeit a good one. From there, they introduce “as many modalities” as possible, says Lewis, to keep things fresh. Featured workouts include kickboxing, pilates, yoga, weight training and more. Clients are encouraged to choose workouts that most interest them.

To help make it easier to get started, Active Wellness also sells some of the athletic gear you might need; Yaworowski seems particularly proud to offer mats from Jade Yoga, a made-in-the-U.S.A. company that plants a tree for each mat sold.

Because sometimes, to grow and move forward, it takes a yoga mat, or a jump rope, or a big bouncy exercise ball.

Active Wellness Boutique Fitness
16 Fountain St, New Haven (map)
Open daily, by appointment.
(800) 707-9580 | [email protected]

Written and photographed by Jared Emerling.

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Jared Emerling is a New Haven resident with a BA in literature from SCSU. Until recently he worked as the manager of Meat&Co and 116 Crown in the 9th Square. He loves the biographies and inventions of Nikola Tesla.

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