Making Moves

Mixing up your workouts


Take a stroll along Wilmington’s riverfront, and you might come upon an unusual sight – a bunch of folks working out to some jammin’ music with an up-tempo beat.

And the exercisers are not just getting in a great workout, they’re having fun while doing so.

These community workouts – an offering from Axis Fitness + Training’s new downtown gym – are just one of the ways the fitness center provides unique and interesting workouts. The outdoor classes, which are announced on social media, are free to members and nonmembers alike, and people of all fitness levels can partake.

“We bring the energy outside,” says MEGAN TATUM, a strength coach at Axis Fitness and its business operations director.

Though Axis Fitness’ exercise programs are fun, they are intense and based on exercise science. By employing exercise physiology, heart rate monitors, and data tracking, clients safely push beyond their perceived limits in the gym. As a result, they meet – and often exceed – their fitness goals, all while gaining confidence that leads to achievements in their personal and professional lives, according to MIKE BARNHART, owner of Axis Fitness Training.

“So many people don’t realize their potential,” Barnhart says. “You allocate one hour in which you work out in a progressive way that is relevant to what you want to experience, and you’ll understand how success in the gym transfers to other areas of your life.”

That success comes from a finely calibrated program developed for each Axis Fitness client. It starts with an assessment where trainers learn the clients’ fitness level and goals, which range from weight loss and toning to being able to move better. Then, a trainer creates an exercise program designed to help the client succeed.

“Our goal is to meet people where they are and get them where they want to go,” Barnhart says. “We have the tools and understanding to give them a ton of confidence. Our goal is to say, ‘Let me hold your hand. Let me give you a program you can do.’”

Though individualized, all Axis Fitness exercise programs are made up of three parts: strength training, endurance, and cardio. They are also designed so that exercisers get maximum benefit out of their workouts without getting injured. First, Axis Fitness trainers use their knowledge of biomechanics to ensure exercisers use proper form and, when needed, provide modifications. Second, the trainers, and the clients themselves, use heart monitor data, which is displayed on a TV, to check exercise intensity levels.

Though the heart monitor data often shows a client that she is capable of more, even when she feels like she’s giving her all, it also tells her when she needs to ease up, according to Barnhart.

“Everything in our training protocol is based on exertion,” Barnhart says. “People can think they are working hard and have no idea they are capable of so much more. They only have to look up on the TV to see what their heart rate is and where it needs to be. It’s actually possible for them to understand what’s happening inside their body and how that transfers to the effectiveness of the workout.”

Though Axis Fitness’ classes are intense, its clients, who range from teenagers to seniors, find them well worth the effort.

BLAIR SALLING, who has been going to the gym since it opened six years ago, says the trainers’ encouragement and the feedback from the heart monitors gives her the incentive she needs to perform at her best.

“The workouts are always a challenge, and you never get bored,” Salling says. “It’s the hardest type of workout I’ve done. I get the best bang for my buck.”

Despite their intensity, exercisers have a good time while putting forth all that exertion. Each exercise session is accompanied by invigorating music, and the trainers, who know each client by name, joke with them as they offer encouragement and support. That’s one of the reasons LAURA MCQUEEN, who also has been working out at Axis Fitness for six years, fell in love with it.

She also appreciates the fact that within about two months of going to the gym she lost 15 pounds, went down two sizes, and got stronger – results she has maintained and improved upon.

Along the way, McQueen says she gained the confidence and energy for any challenge.

“I never have to wonder, ‘Will I be able to do that?’” she says. “I know I can.”

To view more of photographer Aris Harding’s work, go to

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Categories: Health