The Valdosta Daily Times
Melissa Eikenberry started training with weights in high school.
“I always enjoyed it,” said Eikenberry. “I wasn't much of a sports or competition kind of person, but I liked weight training and exercise.”
It's something she kept up when she joined the Army after graduating high school.
Prone to stress fractures and shin splints when running, Ikenberry started working out in the gym when her unit was running.
After the Army, she started going to Valdosta Technical College for marketing and entrepreneurship. There, she figured out the business plan for Fit Mix, but wouldn't have a chance to open for 20 years.
In the meantime, she worked training at other gyms, eventually meeting her husband Shawn, and starting a family.
They moved to Alamogordo, N.M., where she kept training, using the base gym, doing some work at a bank. She still wanted to open up a place, but wanted to wait until she got back home to Valdosta.
When they moved back in 2003, Ikenberry started teaching group fitness and personal training at American Bodyworks, which would help her set the platform for what would eventually become Fit Mix.
“I started realizing where my clients were getting the most results: a cardio, a strength training and yoga and Pilates all combined together. That's kind of what Fit Mix is.”
Now that she's opened her own place—Fit Mix, at 3323 E. Bemiss Road — Eikenberry splits her classes into four categories: Fit Mix, Boot Camp, Morning Mix and HIIT.
The titular Fit Mix class is based off of what Eikenberry noticed at American Bodyworks.
Each class starts out with a light warmup and some cardio, usually kickboxing. Then they get into body sculpting, using light free weights. Each class is broken down by body part, focused on legs on Mondays, the upper body on Tuesdays and full body on Thursdays.
Eikenberry monitors her classes, watching to see when certain muscles are getting tired, and switching things up to keep people moving.
She brings in Yoga at the end of the session as a cool down, helping develop flexibility and building balance.
The Morning Mix class is geared towards beginners or those looking for some toned down toning.
HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, has clients doing 30 second bursts of a particular exercise—pushups or mountain climbs, for example—before resting for 10 seconds and then launching into 30 seconds of a different exercise.
The Boot Camp class is a rigorous, six week training program based off of Army boot camps and working muscles to exhaustion. It constantly builds on itself, getting harder as the weeks go by. While members can join Fit Mix for $40/month or $5/class, the Boot Camp program is $120, or $100 for early sign-ups.
Ikenberry prides herself on the relationships she builds with her clients, on how she gets to know them and bases their training off of that knowledge.
“I know the medical history of the majority of my clients...I know the things I need to watch for, if they've had bad blood pressure, if they start getting pale or their eyes get a little glassy, they need to sit down...that's why I want to keep it personal, keep it close, intimate...I don't like it when you get so many people until you don't know everybody by name.”
Eikenberry would like to add a couple of Zumba classes, but doesn't want to alter the primary focus on group personal training and one-on-one training.
That being said, she also listens to client input about the classes she offers and the times they are offered.
“It's a passion for me. It always has been. I see people who never do group exercise or any kind of organized exercise and I see the health problems it causes...I'd like to see everybody do something to get healthy so they feel better.”