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The Heavyweight Champion

Client: Sandy

Personal Trainer: Julie Stubblefield, owner, SparkFit

Location: Mechanicsville, Virginia

Reasons to exercise. Several years ago, while waiting for her son to complete a speed, agility and quickness class, Julie Stubblefield had an idea. As a personal trainer, owner of SparkFit and a success story herself—she was once 70 pounds heavier—Stubblefield sat amidst opportuity. She was surrounded by other mothers sitting idle while their children played. If the kids are active, the moms should be, too, she thought, and she decided to offer them a workout. Soon afterward, she met Sandy.

“Sandy’s friend told her about the free class I was offering,” recalls Stubblefield. “Sandy was unconvinced and ready to decline.” Sandy, 49, had never exercised and did not intend to start now. However, a conversation with her 16-year-old daughter changed her mind. “My daughter wants her mom to live a long and enjoyable life and felt that exercise would spark my inner fire to keep up my shape and, more important, my mind,” Sandy says.

Acclimation. Initially, Sandy was nervous, but her worries were assuaged when she learned she wasn’t the only newbie in the 30-minute class. She was also comforted by SparkFit’s intake protocol which encompasses the following:

  • basic goal assessment to ensure that SparkFit’s offerings align with a new client’s needs;
  • understanding of injury and health history to determine contraindications and need for modifications;
  • review of rest-based training, the exercise protocol used by SparkFit;
  • observation of body language, level of confidence and signs of nervousness;
  • a 30-minute workout that includes both warm-up and cool-down;
  • postworkout discussion of the exercise format, nutrition support and plans available for purchase;
  • follow-up email or phone call within 24 hours to touch base and answer further questions.

“[Sandy and I] discussed the benefits of working out, why SparkFit encourages women to lift heavy weights and what changes she could expect to see in her body,” says Stubblefield. “Sandy said that her primary goal was not necessarily body change but, rather, to be healthy, to extend her life and to feel well as she ages.” After the first session, Sandy was ready to commit to a 9-week program.

Mind and body progression. “Being new to exercise, Sandy needed additional cueing for squats, lunges, curls and other basic moves that many of us take for granted as common knowledge,” says Stubblefield. Sandy appreciated the attention. “Julie was perfect in that she understood my ignorance of weight-based instruction,” Sandy recalls. “She made sure that I lifted properly and effectively.”

Sandy proved to be a quick study—after 2 weeks she required minimal feedback. She also progressed quickly. Sandy began by lifting 8-pound dumbbells with movements like a squat to overhead press. “She quickly moved on to 10 pounds and is now using 15- and 20-pound dumbbells,” notes Stubblefield. “As she progressed in strength, Sandy also noticed a difference in [her body] size—it wasn’t going up like most women think will happen when they lift heavier weights. It was going down. Her arms were tighter, her waist was narrower and her hips were slimmer. She was impressed that lifting heavy weights truly transforms the body in a way that most [people] don’t understand.”

External and internal shifts. In conjunction with the workouts, the two discussed diet. “We hurdled over some nutrition changes,” notes Stubblefield. “Sandy participated in our 4Weeks2Fab nutrition program and gained an understanding of how to eat for fat loss for her body.”

Sandy also overcame her dislike for jumping. She can regularly be seen doing jump squats and burpees in the studio—usually with a smile on her face—says Stubblefield.

It’s been 18 months since Sandy started working out with SparkFit, and Stubblefield couldn’t be happier with her client’s progress.

Physical improvements aside, what about Sandy’s initial goal of improved health? “Her annual health assessment revealed a decrease in blood pressure, cholesterol and body fat percentage,” Stubblefield says. “This allowed her to move into the ‘fit’ category, and it alleviated concerns that she may have been headed down a different health path. This was a major win for her.”

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