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Improving Health in the Heartland

Lisa Bell is on a mission in the Midwest.

Subject: Lisa D. Bell, RN, MBA

business: Bell Bodies Fitness, Newburgh, Indiana

Her Clientele. Bell specializes in training beginners, women and deconditioned individuals. Her clients range mainly from 30 to 65 years old, although she’s trained and taught men and women of all ages.

Impacting Her Community. First as a nurse in an intensive-care unit and then as a marketing executive for a pharmaceutical company, Bell saw that it was difficult and expensive to heal broken or unhealthy bodies. From personal experience and through reading current research, she became aware of the tremendous benefits of exercise, so she decided to switch her career to fitness.

“I am now on a mission in the Mid-west,” she says. “My mission is to reach the population that needs it most: the unfit, sedentary and working-class masses. My goal is to bridge the gap between clinical exercise science and the real life of working-class Americans.”

Training in Her Home. Bell felt that training in a gym was a barrier for some people. “If I limit my presence to the structure of a commercial gym, I am missing those who most need help,” she says. “Five years ago, I broke down this barrier by founding Bell Bodies, an 1100-square-foot gym in my basement. By providing complete privacy and confidentiality, compassionate counseling and sound exercise programming, I can help the deconditioned individuals who are too shy or embarrassed to walk inside a traditional club.”

Reaching Out Through Group Fitness. Bell does not limit her services to just personal training. “The reality is that much of society cannot afford one-on-one training,” she says. “As a result, I have carved out affordable ways to bring fitness options to the general public: founding a fitness ministry at my church, participating in a community training center that encourages nonmember walk-ins and starting an aqua fitness program at our community pool.”

Educating People. Bell also stays connected to the community through writing the biweekly “Keeping Fit” column in the Evansville Courier and Press newspaper. “Through my column, I feel like I’m really making a difference,” she says. “My finger is on the pulse of what the community needs to know in terms of health. I also built a website (www.BellBodies.com) to archive past articles and provide a community information source with obesity screening tools, health links and community fitness events.”

Why Clients Like Her Services. Clients are drawn to Bell because of her personality and her background as a nurse. “I’m comfortable working with clients who are healthy or diseased,” she says. “I’m comfortable working with women who aren’t comfortable with themselves. My goal is to make everyone fit in. I have a nonjudgmental attitude and acceptance of people. I know that we are all works in progress.”

Biggest Challenge. Bell has never advertised as a trainer; clients hear about her through word of mouth and through her writing. Her column and work in the community have had a tremendous impact on her business, for which she is grateful. However, her biggest frustration is lack of time. “I just don’t have enough time. At some point I have to go to sleep!” she jokes. “If I don’t have time to train someone or she lives far from me, I try to refer her to a gym or trainer closer to her house.”

Why She Loves Her Work. Bell loves to see changes happening for clients. “I am excited when a deconditioned person ends up maintaining a regular exercise schedule,” she says. “Some people reluctantly started to exercise and now are running marathons! Weight loss is the most thrilling change because I know that’s the hardest thing to do.”


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