The fitness industry has experienced a strong rebound this year, as many people returned to gyms and studios making organized exercise a priority. Fitness is a community and a home away from home for many who realized how much they missed the social dynamic of going to shared spaces to workout.

Living Wellness with Jennifer

Industry professionals certainly learned to pivot during quarantine, and many continue integrating new alternatives for keeping clients in shape. Some now offer online memberships, and many have set up private facilities in garages and homes. These new wellness options have allowed both trainer and client to create a more customized and personal experience while continuing to afford safety through sanitation and lessening of exposure.

This year, I began working with one such trainer and, for me, it was a personal lesson in reframing life and stepping into empowerment.

Kristi Lynn Lake started a gym in her home garage in 2018, prior to COVID, not knowing it would be a trend forced upon many in the coming years. As a trainer, Kristi always appreciated intimate and well-organized spaces; as a psychology major, she also realized the optimal potential private settings can provide. A client’s personal choice in music, for instance, and setting circuits that flow and move without interruptions from others are noteworthy benefits. Before her time, Kristi created an effective model for enhanced convenience and personalized motivation that was a new experience for me.

I was referred to Kristi when looking for a different training approach for greater motivation. Even though I am in the fitness industry, the effort to stay in shape is an active task (you’ve heard the adage that the shoe cobbler always wears the worst shoes). Upon meeting Kristi, I noticed she was re-racking my weights with a prosthetic left arm requiring me to check any preconceived impressions at the door. She was born with this anomaly which she considers a motivating factor, reminding her and inspiring others, that not all things in life come easy. Work and determination to succeed are what really matter.

The past couple of years have required resiliency for us all as we’ve had to accommodate in more ways than we could ever imagine. Finding a safe and motivating space to lift weights and learning to embrace movement as a tool for perseverance, were empowering steps for me. Having a cheerleader that embodies positivity also provided the increased motivation I was seeking.

A pivotal approach for daily health involves creating or finding a space for wellness practices and movement that cannot be minimized by life disturbances. Whether your comfort zone is returning to the gym or studio, accessing online classes or exploring the many new options available, we all need to continue shaping the environment around us to support the health we need. Retooling wellness and adding new approaches with intentionality are key. Finding those who inspire and letting them play a significant role in our lives also raises the bar.

Jennifer Di Francesco is a wellness explorer and desert adventurist and can be reached at

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