The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


June 18, 2014

Touch, Tap and Sweat

On demand fitness expands local exercise options

The word virtual implies form without substance. On the contrary, there is both improved form and substance in the new virtual workout experiences available at Bodyworks Beckley and Pineville.

“This isn’t intended to replace live instructors,” CEO Mick Bates cautioned.

Bates has proven his priority to increase access to exercise by providing as many options as possible to southern West Virginia. Last year, he defused fitness bomb “Ain’t nobody got time for that” by turning both his Beckley and Pineville facilities into 24-hour access facilities.

Now, members can use a touchscreen to download the world’s most popular and updated fitness programs into a private interactive studio — for themselves, a group of workout buddies, or an entire organized class with live trainer support.

Called the Wexer Virtual system, workouts like spinning, Les Mills’ Bodypump and Bodyflow, Gaiam Kickbox Core Cross Train and Zumba are accessible at any time. They are a few of the more popular options from among 300 choices at members’ fingertips.

Any chosen workout sets up to play in the spacious group exercise studio, projecting onto the far wall for a unique class simulation experience. Bates said customizing a workout on demand isn’t abandoning the tried and true ways people get fit — it’s enhancing their interest in a healthier lifestyle.

“I’ve done the research and this increases people’s participation in live classes. It is made to order.”

Bates illustrated how a virtual preview for one or for a small group takes the sting out of the unknown to someone dipping their toes into the shallow end of a particular exercise pool. Familiarity breeds comfort, in this case, before taking the plunge.  

“I refuse to do yoga until I learn what to wear and some basic poses… ” said Bates, indicating a personally low threshold for embarrassment. Other wannabe yogis and yoginis, with Wexer Virtual®, can try it out to get the feel for what a class entails before joining a group of experienced students.

One proficient in his or her warrior poses can browse through advanced programs and add a challenge to the day that wouldn’t otherwise be available, especially in a more rural area.

“We have top instructors here, but they can’t be everywhere all the time. This differentiates exercise and fuses it with technology,” Bates said, adding “If you can use an ATM machine, you can use this program.”

Bodyworks’ Wexer Virtual site coordinator, personal trainer and group fitness instructor Nikki Green, is thrilled to have such a variety of exercise available not only in Beckley but in her native Wyoming County.

Bodyworks Pineville opened one year ago to a population that was before limited to neighborhood walks and basement set-ups for workouts.

 Now, they’re taking advantage of every outfitted corner of their state-of-the-art fitness facility.

At both locations, if someone wants to do Zumba at 2 a.m., then “You’re good,” affirmed Green. “Each selection on the screen describes what the choices are and gives you the chance to browse it like choosing a video before committing to doing it.”

Green floats between sites as a fitness instructor; she also floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee as West Virginia Toughman Contest’s reigning champ for the women’s lightweight division.

Referencing her personal philosophy of diverse cross-training, Green tailors her live interval training classes to appeal to a wide variety of students. For those who can’t make it to group classes every day, the options offered by Bodyworks’ new on demand exercise studios are limitless and ones Green schedules and often attends to check clients for proper form.

Dorothy Hrko, a member of Bodyworks Pineville, was always physically active, but now she attends both Zumba and interval training with Green and takes advantage of the new fitness technology.

“We usually come in the mornings and try different programs on demand. There’s weightlifting and abdominal training that we like to do.”

Hrko attests that her health has improved through consistency and frequency, working out both to Green’s classes and other activities including the on demand system three to four days a week.

Even more than physical health, even in a small town her circle of friends has expanded. “Everybody here has become friends.”

Samantha Goode, Bodyworks Pineville member since its opening in July 2013, has through a combination of group classes and activities at the facility lost over 20 pounds — without changing any other life habit.

“I have only missed two of Nikki’s interval classes since they started,” she said. “My husband said, ‘You have lost so much weight!’ and really I look like I’ve lost a lot more.”

Goode lost 7 inches from her waist within the first two months of her new routine. She also practices boxing and strength training with the on demand program.

“It works both my upper and lower body. It won’t replace the trainer, but I do enjoy the different strength programs.”

Goode also has an accountability partner to join her in working out and to leave no room for excuses.

“We usually work out together. She has lost a lot of weight, too.”

Another way Goode can tell she’s healthier is more practical — a benefit many could covet this summer, possibly more than fitting into a bathing suit.

“I have more endurance. It used to take me four to five tries to get my yard mowed. Now, I can do it all in one try.”

For more information about Bodyworks and for a schedule of available classes, visit

— E-mail

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