With spring just around the corner, many people are likely considering some type of change.
Maybe it’s spring cleaning, a new spring wardrobe or reaffirming your New Year’s fitness goals.
If it’s the latter, Columbus has a no-excuses option -- the men behind Uncommon Athlete offer a once-a-week free fitness class in the courtyard of The Tap, 1024 Broadway.
The owners and trainers of Uncommon Athlete are all veterans -- Mike Stout retired from the U.S. Army last year, Josh Pentz and Dennis Smith will each retire in the next couple of months -- and have decided to make Columbus their post-retirement home.
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“I absolutely love the area. Love downtown,” said Smith. “We’re home here. I’ve been here longer than I was at home so this is home.”
And Pentz, who was planning a move to north Georgia, said he couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work with two men he respects, making a living doing something he loves to do.
Stout, who is just three classes shy of earning his Bachelor’s degree in Sports and Health Science, said opening a fitness facility was always part of his post-retirement plan and staying close to Fort Benning allows them maintain ties with the military.
“We’re really into fitness, we’re into being healthy and we like helping people get fit,” he said. “It’s something we’ve always done. We’ve always prepared soldiers to go into combat, we’ve always helped take them from being civilians that were kind of unfit and taking them to basically being elite athletes. And what we want to do is do that same thing with civilians. Show them how they can get fit and have fun doing it.”
All three agreed that their brand of fitness was a good fit with the uptown atmosphere and they’ll be opening their facility, 1205 First Ave., sometime around May 1.
Meanwhile, the free fitness classes, held every Saturday at 11 a.m. weather permitting, have been going on for about 12 weeks and have been successful, attracting a wide variety of potential clients.
“We’re all working out together,” said Smith, noting that the groups include people ages 14 to 65. “So that just goes to show you the diversity we have in the program.”
The programs they’ve developed include many of the basic tried-and-true elements of fitness -- Olympic lifts, which include squats, dead lifts and bench presses; and body workouts, such as push ups, pull ups and sit ups -- as well as what those outside the fitness industry might see as “fads,” but are actually just other fitness tools
Take the kettlebell for example. Over the last several years, this cannon ball with a handle (as Smith described it) has been showing up in workout DVDs, at gyms and on the shelves at places like Walmart. It’s been treated like a new way to workout, when it’s actually been around for centuries.
“I think everyone has their own opinion of them. It all depends on who researched it, what organization or university did the study,” said Pentz.
According to the Kettlebells USA website, the word first appeared in a Russian dictionary in 1704.
Pentz said he thinks people really started paying more attention to it with the CrossFit revolution and that’s when studies started showing the benefits of the kettlebell.
“It comes down to less isolated movements,” said Pentz. “You can pick up a kettlebell and do a full-body workout... and not necessarily grow in mass, but grow in stamina, strength and power in a 20 or 30 minute workout compared to doing an hour-long workout per muscle group every day of the week and then introducing (cardiovascular exercise) on top of that.”
The kettlebell gives a better range of motion than traditional hand weights or a barbell and also creates an instability that works the core muscles.
All three agreed that anybody can benefit from a kettlebell workout and that it’s an important tool to have in your “fitness toolbox,” but it’s one of many tools that can be used to reach a fitness goal.
“The kettlebell is a tool. And so is the barbell and so is the dumbbell and so is the jump rope,” said Smith. “The number one thing is the attitude of the person to start the program and them to stick with it... It all begins with the person. It’s attitude and a goal and then they can do anything they want.”