Client Profile for January: Chiachung and Jair

This is the first of our Client Profile posts. Each month, we will recognize a client’s or clients’ achievements.  There are so many awesome people here at Fivex3 Training that it was difficult to choose the first client to profile. We decided to choose a couple who have made some truly outstanding gains in the past six months.  I don’t think they ever expected themselves to feel this good or be this strong. They have surprised themselves and surpassed all expectations. Introducing Chiachung and Jair.


We turn not older with years, but newer every day.  ~Emily Dickinson

For the past 3 years, I have had the honor, no, the privilege of working with two amazing individuals. They are not athletes. They are not involved in sports. They do not run marathons. They do not compete in races.  They are regular people. They are husband and wife. They travel. They enjoy rafting and snorkeling, hiking and sea kayaking. They enjoy their life together. And they laugh at each other…a lot. They are 56 years YOUNG.  Over the past three years, they have been consistent with their exercise, attending my classes twice a week in addition to their daily living….walking, snow shoveling, working, traveling. And in just in the last six months, they have taken their training to the next level.  I am proud to know and train Jair and Chiachung. They have single handedly shown me what hard work and consistency will do to an aging body….make you younger!

Chiachung and Jair first started taking classes from me in the summer of 2009. At the time, I was working as the School Director at a dance studio in Ellicott City, Maryland. I was trying to move the adult fitness program forward and had decided to create a barre class the year before. (This seems to be one of the new fitness trends in 2012 according to Shape Magazine.  I guess I was ahead of the times.) One class of three turned into three classes of 10-16 per class. (I could not teach more than 16 – I did not have the barre space!) The class became quite popular with people of all backgrounds, all fitness levels and all ages. I was able to scale the class to a very beginning level and at the same time, scale the class up to a more advanced trainee.  Since I was teaching in a dance studio, I was limited in terms of equipment. We used the barre for various exercises. The class used primarily bodyweight exercises as I had no space for equipment. Yet, the fundamentals were a part of my class always – squat, push, pull, hinge, lunge, single leg.  And although the class was created as a barre type class (exercises based off of ballet exercises), the class was constantly changing and growing. I knew it needed to become something else. In the beginning, Chiachung had a very difficult time with the class. The class was an hour long (including warm up and cool down) yet for the first two-three weeks, he struggled to make it through the entire class. He would have to walk out into the lobby and rest before returning to the class. He felt very embarrassed, he would tell me later, that he was a man and he could not get through an entire hour without stopping. By the end of the 9 week session, he was doing much better and was able to complete the entire class from beginning to end. The class ended mid-August. September rolled around and my classes started up again. I was so happy and surprised when I saw Chiachung and Jair back in class. “You came back!” I exclaimed. Chiachung smiled at me and said, “My knee pain is gone. I had to come back.” It turns out that he had been plagued with knee pain for a very long time and nothing he did made it feel any better.  “After two classes, my knee pain was gone. I knew I had to keep taking this class.” And the rest, as they say, is history.

I will always remember the night I told my participants in my 6pm Monday class that I was leaving Kinetics to open up my own gym in Baltimore.  I was particularly afraid to tell Chiachung and Jair. I can still see the expression on Jair and Chiachung’s faces when I gave them the news. Although they said that they were happy for me, I could see the shock and sadness in their eyes.  Chiachung looked like he had lost his best friend. A week later, they were showing me a print-out of directions to my gym, asking if they were correct. There was no way they were given up their classes just because I was leaving Kinetics.  If I was still teaching, they would be there.

By the time I opened my gym in June of 2011, Barre Core had ceased to be. I finally could give people what they really needed. Basic Training was born. I remember when I taught the first class. How would they react? Would they like it? They loved it. This is when I realized that the class was 90% me and 10% class. They trusted me. They knew that I am looking out for them and their needs, not my own. They enjoy exercising. They like getting stronger. They like moving better, feeling better.  And they are not alone.  I have about 8 other participants who also make the trip up to Baltimore for class. They, too, like the new class. The strength gains have been phenomenal.

Every Tuesday and Thursday night, Jair and Chiachung, along with their niece, Li-Wei, take my Basic Training class. (Li-Wei will be profiled on her own. The gains she has made in just five months have been amazing, coming only twice a week for one hour and not exercising anywhere else.) We laugh, we sweat, we work (they work -I just get to coach!) They have transformed their bodies…by getting stronger. Push ups were unheard of.  Now Chiachung can easily perform 10-18 push ups. He will do as many as he can unassisted then put a band around his arms and finish out his set. Jair, with band assistance, can perform anywhere from 6-8 push ups. And it would take a steam roller to knock her out of her plank position. That is how rigid her body becomes when she in position. They perform split squats, KB deadlifts, single leg KB deadlifts (with toe support), single arm presses, weighted glute bridges, planks, farmer walks, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, ball slams. Their strength is improving. Their conditioning is improving. And they continue to amaze me.

I could keep talking about them from my point of view, but it would just not be the same. Hearing it from them makes it much more personal. Their writing may be a little broken, but the message is clear. They wanted to become healthier and stronger. They got what they wanted.

Here is their story…

Our objective of exercise has been to get healthier and become stronger together while not injuring ourselves. Those goals are particularly difficult for my wife and I, both at 56, as we are at different fitness levels and have different issues such as a stiff body, weak muscles, back pain and arthritis. We needed an effective trainer who could motivate both of us in the same class.

Fortunately, Jair and I met Emily in June 2009 before she opened Fivex3 Training. At the time, Emily was teaching at a dance studio in Ellicott City where she was also director. Her class, Barre Core, provided the foundation that allowed us to get to know and control our own body. The movements were basic and slow enough for elders like us to exercise every joint, control and stretch muscles. Yet, she made it challenging enough for different fitness levels. Emily emphasized  form but not quantity which allows each individual to follow their own path without competing with others. At age 50+, it was quite a challenge for such a demanding class. In the beginning, I couldn’t even go through the whole class without walking out for a 10 minutes break. After few classes, I was debating if I should just drop off. But, I did not. Now I am so glad that we both stuck with the class and enjoy the new healthy life style. We started to notice a difference both mentally and physically after only two sessions. My knee pain had been troubling me for years especially during cold wet weather. Now, the pain is totally gone because the surrounding muscle is stronger so the joint carries less load. Our endurance, strength and flexibility are all significantly improved.

In addition, this class was very effective. We quickly realized the difference of increased endurance and mobility in just one summer session. We believe our Barre Core training  set the cornerstones for us to move into the current Basic Training class and even Conditioning. We had taken classes such as Pilates, step, and yoga. But none of them provided the total body workout that included both strength, endurance and flexibility training. And, most important, no instructor paid attention to how to protect body from injury like Emily. For example, Pilates was good, however it can easily cause injury if posture is wrong. I stopped going because that.

Emily pays careful attention to each individual’s condition and crafted postures to use right muscles with right technique. She carefully records individual performances and sets goals for each session with different movements and activities. During each session, Emily motivates us to challenge ourselves, but not compete with others, to do the best we can. She makes you think she is your personal trainer and you are THE ONLY client. Because of that, the results are obvious and amazing. My push-up has increased from 5 to 18 in three months. My wife’s one-arm presses have increased from 5 lbs to 15 lbs. Our flexibility, endurance and strength have all improved dramatically. Setting personal records makes us very proud of ourselves.

After 2 plus years of training, we have revived our health and bodies. We are young again, both physically and mentally. All daily activities, including snow shoveling, are simple and easy. And, we are now full of energy to do much more. We are also more willing to go extra miles to learn new things and develop new skills at home and the office. We feel like we have been given a second chance of life. We are now pain free.

We are able to do many more physical activities such as traveling, hiking, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and rapid rafting. We also grow our own organic vegetables. In addition, by appreciating the second chance of life, we have developed more passion to surrounding and be more involved in community social activities than used to and results in a much more meaningful and peaceful life. Our vacations are no longer just laying on the beach and relaxing. With our new bodies, our vacations are now packed with excitement and adventure. We did Class V rafting in Alaska, snorkeling with sea lions in Galapogas, cannoning along the Amazon river, hiking in rain forest, and sea kayaking around Caribbean rift. There was no way we could enjoy all of that without Barre Core and Strength Training.

By working out together, we have also developed a stronger bond and appreciate each other more. Now, the twice a week classes have blended into our life style. It is our most important weekly activity that will help us enjoying a happy and healthy life for many years to come. To my family, the class is a path to happy and healthy life. It is the time we are bonded together sharing common interest and goal. We workout together and grow together. It helps us remain consistent and support each other for exciting and everlasting future.

~Jair and Chiachung, ages 56.

For Chiachung and Jair, this is just the beginning of a new way of life. They have their whole lives ahead of them to continue to get stronger, mover better and enjoy their life together. No more knee pain. No more back pain. A life filled with adventure and excitement. I believe they are vacationing in Costa Rica this year. And I am sure some snorkeling or hiking will be involved. 🙂

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