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The music was blaring and a woman with a microphone headset was running around on a recent Thursday in fitness gear and with a bit too much energy.
It was only 9:05 a.m., but her comrades were just as pumped as they executed a series of jumping jacks and high-knee exercises.
“Get those knees up,” she challenged them.
This is boot camp at Exquisite Physiques, a locally owned fitness studio on North McCord Road in Toledo. About 10 people showed up for the morning class, where they were sure to take a beating in the form of bungee push-ups and mountain climber exercises ordered by instructor Shanika Kynard, a high-energy fitness junkie whose teaching style is a mix of militant, motivational, and nurturing.
“I want them to reach their goals. The weight isn’t just going to fall off,” said Ms. Kynard, who has weight loss goals of her own. “It’s a task and you have to work on it. Everyday is a new day to start.”
For Ms. Kynard, this is how most work days start. As a fitness instructor and owner of Exquisite Physiques, her time is spent working out or thinking of new ways to work out, including new exercise routines and choreography. She also spends time coaching her clients, listening to their stories, and encouraging them to continue on the track to a more healthy lifestyle.
Class sizes have swelled with the start of the new year, as people trying to meet their weight loss goals flood the studio and cash in on recently advertised coupon deals.
The first half of the class was dedicated to bear crawls, push-ups, and cardio workouts. Aerobic step boxes, punching bags, jump ropes, and weights come out during the second half, along with pull-ups. The students fought through the workout, some dripping with sweat, others tackling the assignment with ease.
“Good job on the ropes,” they encouraged each other. “You by the bag, get up. Come on. You got this,” one student tells an exhausted newcomer.
They finished the class with a cool-down routine, something light and less intense.
“Give yourselves a hand. You deserve it,” Ms. Kynard said. “You’ve completed a whole 50-minute boot camp at EP.”
While some students moaned and groaned about how their bodies ached after the workout, Jo Flores-Dunaway appeared unfazed. She’s been at this for almost a year. Ms. Kynard and her staff of trainers and instructors helped Mrs. Flores-Dunaway meet her weight loss goals just three months after she joined the club.
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“I was 40 pounds overweight after having a baby,” said Mrs. Flores-Dunaway of Sylvania. “I started in February, 2012, and by May 1, I’d lost 42 pounds.”
She’s not at all offended or discouraged by Ms. Kynard’s teaching style.
“I think she really has a gift for it. [The workout is] terrible, but she’s running around dancing and full of energy and she just makes it fun,” Mrs. Flores-Dunaway said. “It’s not like she’s a sadistic maniac who’s always been skinny. She knows.”
In 2008, Ms. Kynard carried as much as 212 pounds on her 5-foot, 10-inch frame.
“I’ve never been what you’d call small. I was always somewhere above average,” said Ms. Kynard, 27. “But I didn’t know I was fat. I knew my body was changing, but you don’t notice until all the weight is on you.”
Through fitness classes and healthy eating habits, she dropped 60 pounds. By 2010 she’d started teaching private classes and in 2012 she opened her own business.
“I used to be that person sitting in the back of the class, out of breath and thinking I couldn’t do it,” said Ms. Kynard who worked as a medical aide before opening Exquisite Physiques. “So I get it. It’s easy to quit. But, I think having my own personal story helps to motivate other people. I know their struggles firsthand.”
As a certified group aerobics instructor she spends her days in front of the class, shouting out choreography and demonstrating techniques. A graduate of Scott High School and the University of Toledo, Ms. Kynard also holds a certification in turbo kick and has been a personal fitness coach for years. In February she’ll receive a Zumba certification and is on track for personal fitness trainer certification this spring.
A typical day for Ms. Kynard starts with a 7 a.m. wake-up call, followed by a light breakfast. By 8:30 a.m. she’s at the studio, preparing for boot camp. She teaches a number of other fitness classes throughout the day, including turbo kick and pole fit. Co-instructors handle the Zumba and yoga courses while she works on her certifications. They also teach the other courses on a rotating schedule.
Much like a boxing workout, turbo kick is filled with power punches and foot work. Routines often include a lot of step-aerobic techniques. Ms. Kynard, who jumps right into the class after boot camp, adds some extra rhythms to the steps, making them look less robotic and more like dance.
“I don’t want you doing this,” she said as she did a step incorrectly and lazily. “No calories will be burned.”
Around 11:30 a.m. she took her first break of the day. After a quick lunch, it was time to handle business: a series of Facebook photos and status updates for her almost 650 followers, and marketing and business meetings with potential clients — both individuals and companies. When there aren’t meetings, she continues to exercise, working to meet her own goals.
“In my mind, I only work out twice a day,” Ms. Kynard said, despite the fact that she exercises at least five hours a day and sometimes seven hours. “I don’t count some of the workouts, because my body is accustomed to it. It’s going to take more than that to lose the weight.”
Come 5:30 p.m. she was back at it with another turbo kick class. This one was filled with folks fresh from work, many of whom were tired and just wanted to get through the class. Too bad for them: Ms. Kynard was fired up and even more hyped than she was for the 10 a.m. class.
“Let’s move,” she told the class of 16. “Let’s get fit.”
Although the 6:30 p.m. Zumba class is taught by someone else, Ms. Kynard was still there, up front moving to the Latin rhythms and running through the crowded class of about 30 people, motivating the participants.
She started to feel the affects of the day’s activities around 7:15 p.m., just before the last class of the night — pole fit, the most strenuous of the day’s courses. A co-instructor leads the class, while Ms. Kynard signs up new members and offers words of encouragement to those in need.
“You did great for your first time,” she told a Zumba newcomer. “Just stick with it. You’ll get it. We hope to see you again.”
Pole fit ends at 8:30 p.m. and the last students file out about 8:45 p.m.
“That’s it. I’m done,” Ms. Kynard said. “Until tomorrow.”
Contact RoNeisha Mullen at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6159.