Owners of gym say form follows functional exercise

By Oscar Halpert
Enterprise editor
The fitness revolution has spawned a smorgasbord of workout alternatives.
Tom Rope KB

Gone are the days when your only choice for exercise was running, walking or thrusting barbells over your head.

In the new world of fitness, variety is the word and for fitness aficionados like Jesse Ward and Deidra Ducheane, functional exercise is the phrase that fits best at Local’s Gym, a venture they opened in September at the eastern terminus of 196th Street Southwest.

Ward, an Edmonds native who says he grew up as a pudgy kid playing soccer, became disillusioned with the standard offerings at the larger health clubs, where sales representatives push memberships and trainers can often be wet-behind-the-ears 20-somethings.

As a football place kicker, first at Edmonds-Woodway High and later at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., Ward says he began to wonder why his trainers focused on exercises for his legs but not the rest of his body.

“I thought ‘ how come all we do is kick?’ Ward said.

16 D Finishing Nail

He quit football in favor of rowing. There, he said, he learned an important lesson that eventually led him to open his own gym: There’s something beneficial about exercising as part of a team.

Unlike most big name health clubs, Local’s Gym has no TVs. And you won’t find rows and rows of people on climbing machines or treadmills.

Instead, groups of three to five men and women, under supervision of a coach, are run through a 30-minute workout that can include using a jack hammer to strike a truck tire, flipping that 400-pound truck tire, running outside, hanging on gymnast’s rings or stepping through an obstacle course.

The approach is part of a recent trend called functional movement, in which the focus is on overall, practical fitness training. The trend may be recent, Ward said, but the approach has been around for a long time. He said training academies in the former Soviet Union used general functional training with children in a similar manner. Many of those children later went on to specialize in their chosen sports as dominant Olympians.

Local’s is affiliated with Cross Fit, a Santa Cruz, Calif. based company that has other sites in the Puget Sound area.

Ward, a large man with a boyish face, said one of his goals in opening Local’s Gym is to combat what he says is a pervasive myth within the fitness industry that different people need different kinds of exercise.

“People are not that different,” he said. “How do you get out of that mind set so you realize that people don’t differ by kind but by degree?”

Corinthian Helmet

Variety is crucial and it helps to keep clients on their toes, Ward said. Group classes are a major focus but members, who pay a $25 monthly membership fee (group training is extra), can also work out individually.

“When you come into our gym, you don’t know what type of workout you’re going to do,” said Ducheane, one of three owners and the coach of the Mountlake Terrace girls varsity basketball team.

Ducheane’s run her own personal training business as well. One of her clients, 46-year-old Katie Kay of Edmonds, said she followed her coach to the new gym.

“What I like about Local’s is that I get just a great overall enthusiasm from everybody there,” Kay said. “I’m encouraged, supported and nurtured.”

She’s also sore.

“I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked,” she said. “I’m sore 24/7.”

I just wanna say thanks to Oscar for coming down to talk with us, Katie for being a stud, D for just being D and myself for being a pudgy kid (though some would say I still am…)