For Heidi Wakeman, owning Rainier Functional Training Center is an opportunity to transform lives, and its new location will help her facilitate that dream.
“I was a stay at home mom, and I joined a gym just to lose weight and get healthy, and I fell in love with it,” Wakeman said. “I had an amazing trainer, and I realized that I want to change people’s lives like he changed people’s lives, so I went to school to become a trainer and opened a gym.”
That gym was located on Rainier’s Center Street before Wakeman bought its new location last April for $212,000. Before her soft opening in February, Wakeman transformed an old DVD rental store at 304 Binghampton St. in Rainier, into the gym it is today. She held its grand opening on April 11.
One of the lives Wakeman said she hopes to impact is that of Rainier resident Art Lindgren, 84, who sought the soothing of his sciatica and arthritis pain, which would start in his hips and shoot down to his legs.
Wakeman’s regimen for Lindgren has been just the ticket.
“What I principally do here are stretching exercises and core strengthening, because I have a balance issue,” Lindgren said. “It really helps me out. I come up twice a week. You need that ritual to have the drive to get up and do it. It helps tremendously with the arthritis relief.”
Despite his age, Lindgren still helps out at his horse ranch, a task that his twice-weekly workouts enable him to do with relative ease.
“I’m working out enough that it enables me to do what I am doing,” he said. “What I’m doing is hard work — picking up stalls and hay bales. I don’t lift a lot of them, but I can move them when I have to. I still chainsaw trees and cut wood and do what guys do that are 30 years younger than I am. I know that sounds like I am bragging, but I also can go into the waiting room in a hospital and be the only one without having a cane it seems. They look at me like: ‘You’re 84?’”
Lindgren initially heard about the center from neighbors who use the facility regularly. When he heard there were exercises he could do to combat his pain without taking medicine, he decided to check the place out. He rejoiced when he discovered that Wakeman had the knowledge to back up his neighbors’ claims.
While Wakeman’s expertise keeps Lindgren coming back for more, he said, it was her compassion that got him in the door.
“I was impressed because I told her about my health concerns,” Lindgren said. “I have asbestos scarring and I had a quadruple bypass. She didn’t just stand there for two minutes — she sat me down on the stair steps that were over there for 15 minutes just talking to me about what my medical issues were. I didn’t want to exert myself to the point that I was doing something that I shouldn’t be doing.”
Lindgren isn’t the only one impressed with Wakeman’s disposition.
Theresa Brown, of McKenna, has been using the facility for three years.
“I like the personal attention,” Brown said. “There’s always someone to give you a little advice or help with your form. Heidi’s tough on me. When she knows I can do more, she gets me to do more. She’s a kind and caring person.”
Yelmite Corbin Garner, who recently rejoined the center, echoed these sentiments.
“Heidi is encouraging in all the right ways,” Garner said. “She makes you want to work hard for yourself. She’s not gonna nag you into doing it. She encourages you for yourself.”
Yet it’s more than Wakeman’s reported attributes that her clients are so excited about — it’s the new location itself.
Brown said she loves the garage door that is in the front of the building, because it will allow those working out to do so outside during the summer.
The center has a large front room with weight training stations, machines for core strengthening and tools for stretching. It also has a spin room in the back where yoga is taught, a room for massage therapy, and a room full of weight-training apparatuses for personal training and individual workouts. It will eventually boast an espresso stand outside for protein shakes and other goodies to aid in pre- and post-workout regimens.
But it’s the center’s ease of access and the windows that has Garner fired up.
“I love how the new location is closer to the road and easier to get to,” he said. “Before, you had to pull into a cul-de-sac kind of thing. I like the new location, and the windows are really nice because you still get to look outside while you’re working out. It gives you something to look at, instead of just looking at your own feet.”
Members who use the center have the opportunity to simply use the facility individually, sign up for classes, or enroll in personal training. Wakeman even said that kickboxing is on the horizon.
And it would seem that Wakeman’s enthusiasm for personal fitness has rubbed off on her clients.
“It means everything to me,” Brown said. “Everything. I haven’t always been as fit as I am now in my life. I’m probably fitter than I’ve been in 10 years.”
Garner agreed with Brown, saying that physical fitness means a lot to him.
“I’ve always been a tad underweight, so I’ve been trying to pack up some muscle, gaining any kind of weight,” he said. “I’ve really been on a kind of fitness journey over the last few years and I love this place. I don’t have to worry about my workout like I did when I was at college. It makes me sore in all the right places, and I can trust that it will workout all my muscles in a way that is all balanced so I’m not like all those memes about having small legs and big arms.”
Rainier Functional Training Center is open from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and classes range from two to 10 people.
Those interested in getting involved can find more information or sign up for classes at rainierfunctionaltrainingcenter.com.