On Friday night, more than 20 adults and children gathered at the Mountain Karate Academy gym in Lehighton. The crowd was there to celebrate the end of the first six-week TUFFCamp session, hosted by Mountain Karate. They were also celebrating the beginning of something unique for this area a fun, fast-paced workout that allows friends, parents and children to exercise together.
Group leader Chrissy Mayernik called out individuals during a short awards program, acknowledging participants who made big improvements to their health. The crowd clapped and cheered for each member celebrating weight loss or a higher fitness level.
Each Friday night, adults and children from throughout the area gather at Mountain Karate Academy for TUFFCamp, a program created by Greg Tymon, the owner and head trainer of Advanced Personal Training. He created TUFFCAMP to offer a total-body workout within one hour for people of all ages, and to get new and experienced exercisers excited about working out.
"This workout incorporates cardio, strength training, and core stability at the same time," said Tymon. "It brings all aspects of fitness into one workout, which maximizes results and saves time. It gets you up to the level where you're seeing results." Some members lost up to 20 pounds in six weeks, he said. Other measured their success by being able to complete a full push-up or quitting smoking.
"It's also fun, so the hour goes by really quick," added Mayernik.
Each week's hour-long program includes a warm-up and cool-down. Participants rotate between workout stations, doing familiar and new workouts like push-ups, sit-ups and "sit thrus," a twisting exercise that works the arms, abs and legs at the same time.
The beauty of timed workout stations, said Tymon, is that people of all fitness levels can work side by side. It doesn't matter if a person can do 30 push-ups or just one push-up during the station they put in their best effort and improve each week.
"They can work out side by side, from beginners to advanced, and they all get the workout that they need," he said. "There's no worry about keeping up with the trainer."
Each participant also receives a workout and nutritional challenge for the week, guiding them through the next week.
"They go hand in hand," he said of the challenges and weekly workouts. "Working one day each week isn't going to give you results."
Ironically, TUFFCamp began its first program in Lehighton at the same time that the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute released its study on health in Pennsylvania. Carbon and Schuylkill counties ranked among the unhealthiest counties in the state.
"We happened to start the same week that the study came out, and I think it inspired people to get out and start exercising," said Tymon.
He also credits Mayernik for requesting the program in Carbon County and for her enthusiasm in recruiting local members. Tymon worked as Mayernik's personal trainer while she was losing weight and getting in shape. She now plays an active leadership role during each week's TUFFCamp.
"Chrissy took that motivation (from her own training and weight loss) and spread this excitement out into the community," said Tymon. "She's doing an incredible job."
Last Friday marked the end of the first six-week session, but Tymon and Mayernik plan to continue as long as there is demand for the program. The group was once worried that there would not be enough participants now demand is so high that they are considering expanding the program to twice each week. The group currently sees 20-30 participants each week, and the next six-week session will begin this Friday, April 16.
"This exceeded our expectations," said Mayernik. "People are coming back time and time again."
TUFFCamp is held each Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Mountain Karate Academy, 110 North 3rd Street in Lehighton. New members are welcome and should arrive at Mountain Karate by 6:15 to register. There are fees involved.