LOCATED JUST OFF of Shorter Avenue on Center Street, stands the city’s first 24-hour, members-only gym. Housed in the renovated and repurposed Wheeler’s Building Supply warehouse, the Rome Athletic Club (RAC) is a multi-level space featuring two floors full of workout equipment, a quarter-mile track, five acres of space out back, and saunas. However, this is not your usual gym. This particular fitness club is made up of a dedicated group of trainers and members who, day in and day out, show what it means to be “RAC Strong.”
Kelley Toles, general manager of the Rome Athletic Club, is no exception. Years ago, Toles was asked if she would be interested in helping to run the day-to-day operations at the RAC and she was intrigued.
Toles had done it all. Her resume includes working at a bank, serving as an ophthalmologist’s assistant, earning her masters to become a school teacher, and motherhood.
Today, Toles not only manages Rome Athletic Club, she is also a certified personal trainer who changes lives by showing her clients the benefit of living a healthy lifestyle. Her mission is to in-spire everyone, regardless of their age, background or lifestyle, to join the strong community of the Rome Athletic Club.
“RAC is not just a building with ma-chines; it is a community of people who share a common goal of fitness and a general concern for others,” Toles explains. “A lot of people are intimidated the first time they come to the gym. However, at RAC you are greeted at the door and made welcome by not only our amazing staff, but by all of the members as well.”
The members-only facility offers many unique workout experiences. “(RAC) offers a wide variety of training opportunities and classes because we want to have something for everyone,” says Toles. “One of our missions is to provide people with a new way to work out, and not just use the standard machines. We want people to know that our goal is to help them become healthy and this can be achieved in many different ways. Being healthy is not about becoming obsessed with a number on the scale or putting on big muscles. We want our members to feel empowered, fulfilled and happy with themselves.”
One of the ways RAC accomplishes this is by providing unconventional tools such as tires, bars, bags, ropes and sleds. Their hope is to keep workouts fresh and fun, so that their members never get bored with a routine.
For Toles, the overall mission of RAC is simple. “We want to show our current and potential members that everybody can be strong in their own way,” she says. “It’s not just about lifting weights or trying to achieve a perfect body; it’s about feeling good about yourself and building a strong community.”
Through a variety of classes, Rome Athletic Club seeks to engage members no matter where their talents or preferences lie. RAC offers unique workshops that range from kickboxing and self-defense to classes using ballet techniques and hip-hop dancing.
One trainer who uses her talents to help others get in shape is RAC’s Amanda Dewitt. Exercising her own love of “dance fitness,” she instructs RAC’s hip hop cardio and street step classes. A former Zumba instructor, Dewitt noticed that her trainees became more excited when they danced to songs that were current and popular. So, she started her own dance fitness class that is similar in format to Zumba, but to the tune of today’s hits.
“Fitness is essential to my happiness,” ex-plains Dewitt. “The gym can easily become part of your everyday life. For me, my friends are there. You see these people every day and the gym becomes your social arena. It’s a wonderful way to relieve your stress and, overall, feel better about life in general.”
But programming aside, the thing that is truly different about Rome Athletic Club is that the trainers seek to build more than just a gym; they build a family. According to Dewitt, RAC brings together people who may not have known each other in any other setting. “We all come from different backgrounds with different views and beliefs, but we all share this common ground with a love of fitness and we help to motivate one another,” she explains.
Several of Dewitt’s trainees have lost over 100 pounds through her sessions and classes. “You just have to dance – you just go for it!” she exclaims. “I have people come in who are still in college along with people who are in their 60s. It’s such a great range of people to work with!”
For RAC trainer Bob Moss, the career of a personal trainer is, simply put, all about people. However, if you’re Moss, those people may include NFL players and wrestling legends.
Moss began his quest for fitness in the basement of his childhood home. He and his friend, Marty Lundy, set up a small weight room in the basement of the Moss household – Bob aiming to gain weight while Marty sought to lose some. Many reps later, Moss would go on to start “Bob’s Body Shop” for athletic training, while Lundy went on to become “Arn Anderson,” a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Fame member.
But “Arn” isn’t the only celebrity Moss has had the opportunity to help train. He also served as his high school football team’s co-captain alongside Ray Donaldson, who would go on to play for the Dallas Cowboys and become a Super Bowl champion. Moss takes pride in having helped train these legends, just as he does training anyone who wants to put on a little muscle. Whether it is bodybuilding, circuit training or specific athletic training, Moss knows the business.
“My personal philosophy is that everybody is somebody,” says Moss. “I guarantee that if you get in a gym and do it every day and do it right, you are going to see great results.”
When fitness becomes a part of your everyday life, your world can change. A great testimony to this is the journey of Kim McAd-ams. A full-time registered nurse at Floyd Medical Center, McAdams realizes the impact physical fitness has on one’s own quality of life.
“As a nurse, you know what you are sup-posed to do to be healthy – you learn in life what you should be doing – but as a wife, and a mom, and a full-time employee, life can get so busy,” she says.
Wanting to make a change in her own life, McAdams signed up for a fitness competition called “Floyd Fit,” hosted at the RAC, and start-ed to put in the hard work. She and her partner in the competition worked with Toles three times a week and took advantage of full access to the facilities throughout the week. As the inches came off and the pounds dropped (over 70 between the two of them), McAdams and her partner quickly took first in the competition.
But her journey didn’t stop there. Through-out the year-long “Floyd Fit” program and her continued training with Toles, McAdams began to see more results.
“I still go to the RAC today,” McAdams says. “Because of Kelley and all of the encouragement, I’ve lost over 40 pounds. It’s not easy, but having those people by your side to help encourage you in such a friendly environment makes a real difference.”
In the United States today, over 78.6 million adults are obese. To put that into perspective, obesity affects the life of every one in three Americans on average. Personal trainers and gym memberships can go beyond simply help-ing you work off those extra pounds. They can help you establish a fitness routine; keep you accountable; and give you new perspectives and ideas on health, nutrition, and fitness.
McAdams attests to this in her own journey. “When I’m at the gym working out and it’s just me and my trainer, she treats me with respect and pushes me,” she explains. “For people that are overweight, often times you can feel out of place going to a gym, but at the RAC it doesn’t matter. Everyone makes you feel welcome and they know who you are.”
Rome Athletic Club shows that a gym can be much more than a place to work out. Here, a gym is a community sharing a common goal, a group of people of every size and background helping to motivate one another, and a family.
A gym is only as strong as its members, and at Rome Athletic Club their members are RAC Strong.
For more information about available classes and membership benefits visit online at www.romeathleticclub.com or call at 706-295-3678.