LAKE PARK -- Twice each week for more than a year now, a feisty group of mature women come together at the Health, Life and Fitness Club in Lake Park to support each other in their pursuit of a healthier life.

Wearing a T-shirt proclaiming, "If God wanted me to touch my toes he would have put them on my knees," Pat Sapp and the others are put through their paces by center owner, Chris Snow.

The group even includes Snow's own mother, Grace Kinsey, who was part of the inspiration behind forming the exercise club.

All of the women testify to the benefits of the low impact exercise routine, which incorporates free weights and an exercise ball. "It keeps me on my feet and keeps me going," said Kinsey.

Snow came to the fitness business a little later than she had initially intended, purchasing the center following her retirement as a teacher at Lake Park Elementary School after 30 years in the career field. "I had wanted to be a P.E. teacher, but when I was in college, they didn't have women's athletics like they do now," she said.

Since buying the club two years ago, Snow has made several significant improvements to the center, adding a massage therapist, tanning beds, and a hair and nail salon, Shear Perfection.

Her lifelong love of fitness makes Snow a strong advocate of exercise and she is delighted that her center has had such a positive affect on others.

Client Fay Wisenbaker started working out at the club a year ago, but she had so many health issues, Snow insisted she clear her workouts with her doctor first. At only 42 years of age, Wisenbaker has had heart problems for a number of years and has both a pacemaker and a fibrolator. "I was told 10 years ago that I would have to have my heart valves replaced," she said.

After working out for one year doing weight training and aerobics, Wisenbaker and her workout partner Judy Marcus have both seen dramatic results.

"I just saw my doctor at Emory last week and he said I won't have to have

the surgery," Wisenbaker said. Marcus said she was a borderline diabetic and had high blood pressure, and the exercise has lowered both her blood sugar and her blood pressure.

"When I bought this gym, that is exactly what I wanted--to help people," said Snow.

She tries to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible while they are working out, regardless of their skill level, and a separate ladies-only area helps take some of the intimidation factor away. Her dedicated staff of employees helps motivate the clientele, be they firemen already in peak form or stay-at-home Moms needing a little stress relief.

Snow also tries to provide services for her clients, including a highly successful Weight Watchers group with more than 50 members who meet every Thursday night.

The center is a family affair, with husband Jim managing the business side, leaving Snow free to concentrate on the customers.

The family atmosphere in the center is no mistake, as Snow tries her best to make everyone happy to be there and want to come back.

"If they don't know each other when they come in, they do by the time they leave because I'll introduce them," she said.

To contact Business Editor Kay Harris, please call 244-3400, ext. 280.

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