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Become the you you’ve always wanted to be

Elite Fitness opens in Solon

SOLON– Spartan Square, a small strip mall on the south side of Solon along Highway 1 has become something of a one-stop-shop for healthy living. The center includes Mac’s Nutrition, Eastern Iowa Family Counseling, Ability Physical Therapy, and opening today, Elite Fitness.
Ability Physical Therapy is Elite’s parent company and opened its Solon branch in March. Ability also has locations in Mount Vernon, Marion and Center Point. Elite Fitness will offer customized personal training in a newly renovated space adjacent to Ability. While it will be outfitted with the latest in personal training and workout equipment, it will not be your typical gym setting.
“It’s not going to be a 24-hour gym,” Andy Bishop, DPT (Doctorate of Physical Therapy) said. And rather than having a membership to a “gym,” patrons will have personal training sessions by appointment. “You can do a half-hour session, you can do a one-hour session,” he said. “You’re getting that time with an expert, someone who’s an expert in movement and strength training.”
It’s all about whatever your goals are.
Bishop gave the example of a man recovering from knee surgery who would like to get more of his old mobility back. “I just got done with physical therapy, it’s not nearly as painful, but I still feel really weak,” Bishop said. “How do I generally strengthen my lower body?” The answer, he said, is working with the personal trainer for a few sessions to learn specific exercises to improve strength without the risk of re-injury or doing other damage.
“You can then take that, go to a gym and use that as a guide for your own workout,” he said. “You’ve got that knowledge from them that hey, this is how you do it right.”
Others may desire weekly personal training on a long-term basis. They can buy a package with several sessions at a discounted rate. Bishop added some people want that experienced and knowledgeable set of eyes on them to guide them through their workouts instead of having a membership at a gym without the personalized guidance.
Elite features a 1,500 square foot personal training studio. One room will feature an athletic turf surface. “A lot of personal trainers have facilities with a turf surface,” Bishop said. “This will be a multifunctional training space. You could have one-on-one personal training, or you could have one trainer and four people working out together.”
The other will be outfitted with an array of workout equipment in an “open campus” setting, Bishop said.
“There will be some free weights and racks of equipment on the wall. You grab the equipment and you’ll have this open space to be mobile on your feet if you’re working on agility or balance, or laying down…anything you want to do,” he explained. There will also be cardio machines, a treadmill and an elliptical stair climber as well. “It’s built for personal training use, by appointment, and since we will have pass-through doors (leading to Ability Physical Therapy) to our clinic, if I have a patient I need to challenge more, I can bring them over here during their appointment.”
It’s a synergy, Bishop said. “We’re physical therapy, we’re massage therapy and we’re personal trainers.”
Solon has a 24-hour gym, but Bishop noted it’s geared more for someone who has their own workout regimen in mind. “But for folks who maybe have never worked out before, or they want to strength-train and really see gains, then you really need to come to a personal trainer because they’re an expert in how to do that.”
Eric Wykert, PTA, CPT (Physical Therapy Assistant and Certified Personal Trainer) is one such expert. A CPT, he said, guides a person through their fitness journey, whatever that may be.
“Whether that’s going through weight loss, trying to build strength for a specific sport or activity, enhancing their performance (in a sport), or even in a group setting,” he said.
He received a BS in Exercise Science from Western Illinois University (WIU) in 2012 and followed it with an Associates Degree in Physical Therapy Assistant from Kirkwood Community College. He started out as a personal trainer in Burlington after graduating from WIU and later moved to Iowa City, where he met his wife.
“We decided we wanted a little more to my educational background,” Wykert said. This led to Kirkwood and the PTA degree.
“I use both tools (degrees) in my everyday life, and I found my place here at Ability (and Elite), so I get to walk in both worlds,” he said. He’s been in the Mount Vernon office for three years and will transition to Solon. “I’ll be managing the fitness side of things and still working as a PTA,” he said.
First-timers, new to the world of fitness and personal training, get a full tour of the facility, and then Wykert will sit down with them to discuss their full medical history and to determine what their fitness goals are. Most importantly, “What is keeping them from feeling like the best version of themselves? That’s what we’re ultimately trying to do,” he said.
Some come in wanting to drop some weight. “But is it truly that you want to lose weight? Or is it that you just want to feel able to do the things you want to do? It’s all about getting to the bottom of what people are looking for, and how can we best help them,” Wykert said.
Elite offers metabolic testing (via a simple breath test) for those who only want to drop some extra pounds. “That gives us an accurate read-out of what that particular person needs (caloric demand) to function, and then we determine what their caloric need is to lose weight, or gain muscle.” With the information in-hand, a person can start modifying their diet while receiving fitness coaching.
Wykert sees a wide-variety of clients, but the common denominator seems to be they just want to feel healthy.
“If they lose some pounds in the process, that’s just the icing on the cake,” Wykert said. “But ultimately, they just want to feel better about themselves. They want to function better. They want to do the things that either they’re limited in doing, or they used to do and they want to do it again.
“It’s our job as a personal trainer to make that a personal experience, not make it ‘cookie cutter,’ and determine how we can best meet that person’s needs,” he emphasized.
Wykert can tailor a fitness plan to just about any age group, but noted it is important to have a health professional oversee it. “Especially at the younger ages to make sure the kids are moving appropriately, using proper body mechanics, and understanding how their body is supposed to move rather than just saying, ‘OK we’re going to go pick up these weights.’ We want to guide those kids.” His youngest client was 7 years old, and he’s helped a man in his 60s develop the confidence to bowl again after hip surgery. “I’ve worked with collegiate athletes, semi-professional mixed martial arts fighters, triathletes and marathoners. People can be athletes well into the later years of their lives.”
Sports performance never really goes away, he said, until you want it to. Working with such a wide range of ages makes the job exciting and fun, he added. “The human body is an amazing machine, and there’s no limits.”
Ability and Elite fill a gap in the community, Bishop said.
“Solon has grown a lot in the last five or 10 years. So the demand is there. The population is getting bigger, the school district is getting bigger, so you have all these young families that have the need for services.” Rather than busy families trying to find the time to drive to Iowa City or elsewhere, they can now access physical therapy, massage and personal training in Solon.
“We’re here now, so they have the convenience of good service in those areas,” Bishop said.
Wykert said, “Personal training has this mindset, when people think about it, that oh, it’s these people that are trying to train for a particular thing, or they’re trying to be crazy-in-shape. But I think that can be a negative thing. The important thing to understand is, we help everybody, and everybody has an element in their life that could use improvement. What’s keeping you from being the best version of yourself? We’re here to get you there.”
Elite Fitness is located at 413 Haganman Ln. (Spartan Square), Unit D. Phone 319-624 1GYM (496) for an appointment. For additional information go to www.elitefitnesssolon.com. Elite is also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EliteFitnessStudioSolon.
The facility is hosting an open house on Thursday, May 30, from 4 until 6 p.m.

“What’s keeping you from being the best version of yourself? We’re here to get you there.” – Eric Wykert, PTA, CPT

“The human body is an amazing machine, and there’s no limits.” – Eric Wykert, PTA, CPT

““You can do a half-hour session, you can do a one-hour session. You’re getting that time with an expert, someone who’s an expert in movement and strength training.” – Andy Bishop, DPT