Having recently opened a new gym, personal trainer Toni Piek has been seeing people who are excited to start training again.

Piek is the owner of Elevate Fitness Studio, 2120 First St., Hermiston, which opened Oct. 3. This is the first time she has opened a gym.

She was training three customers in one session the morning of Thursday, Nov. 18, and they expressed happiness about Piek, her gym and their workouts.

“My body told me I needed it,” Pam Hefner said about working out.

She said she used to train at the gym before the pandemic, back before it was closed under a different name and different ownership. Then, she changed her lifestyle, doing some walking and Zoom workouts, but it was not the same as being in the gym, she said.

She added she missed the gym, is glad to be back and is happy with Piek as a trainer. The other two women training with her expressed the same feelings.

“Toni is such an awesome trainer,” Connie Burke said. And Geneva Timpy agreed but added, “She cuts me no slack.”

Exercise provided Timpy with stress relief, she said. Yoga, in particular, provided her a way for dealing with the difficult time we have all been facing since we first heard of the coronavirus.

“The last couple of years have been tough,” Piek said. She expressed her hope that her gym could raise people’s spirits in addition to improving their health. Therefore, she said, she named the gym “Elevate.”

For Piek, exercise is a great helper, she said, and she told of her own history with it. She said she has not been fit all of her life. Though she was active and played basketball in her youth, she did not start working out until after she had kids.

Then, she went to a gym, dropped the kids off in the gym’s kids room and trained, she said. It helped her both mentally and emotionally, as it relieved her stress, she said.

Having now trained for 15 years, she is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer with a work history in physical therapy. Her work includes employment at Wheatland Village in Walla Walla, and she has been working with seniors for the past three years, she said.

These days, she gets up at around 4 a.m. for her first appointment 90 minutes later three days a week. By early afternoon, she has a break, but she returns to work in the evening for additional classes.

“It’s not work if you love what you do,” she said.

And she added most of her clients range in age from their 30s to their 70s and are trying to find the same of peace of mind she sought when she started training.

Piek is not offering an open gym membership in which people enter any time for workouts. Rather, she accepts clients for personal training sessions, group work or classes. In addition to classes she offers, she also has a yoga class and a cardio class, which other instructors teach. And another trainer comes in to train young people for sports.

Owning the gym excites and frightens her, she said.

“Everybody wishes that they could have their own place to call her own shots, but it’s scary,” she said.

She also said people have supported her, and she is appreciative.

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