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“I always tell my children — grown now, of course, but I always tell them — that I’m going to live to at least one hundred, and that is the reason behind this latest chapter. I want to be strong and healthy for them.”
  • Denise Ryan

Getting Better All The Time

Denise Ryan has been a member of Fitness Incentive for, she guesses, “about 28 years.” This makes her a 72 East Main Street veteran and demonstrates her long-term commitment to health and fitness. Recently, Denise decided to redirect her approach to exercise by focusing on strength training, having been a devoted group-ex class attendee for years. We spoke briefly to Denise and her trainer, TJ Lynch, about the outstanding results she has achieved.

PS: What was your fitness life like in the early days of your membership?

Denise Ryan: Though I am a long-time member, my attendance has been on and off because of my five children. Most any mother can relate. It was hard to balance the scheduling. Nursery school, car-pools, and drop-offs… I’d go to the gym for a while and get into a good routine, and then I’d have to pull back. And while that was a pattern for a long time, I always managed to get back here.

PS: What prompted the shift in focus from group-ex to strength training?

DR: After Covid, I definitely felt like I’d gotten thicker. Soon after the gym re-opened and the classes were starting back up, I came back. I took a few outdoor classes, but I was also following some people and learning some things on Instagram. I had a friend, actually a friend of my daughter’s friend’s mom; she mentioned that she’d trained with TJ, and she loved the program and was in great shape. I enquired at the Front Desk, and that was really it. It just fell into place.

PS: Once you developed this interest in strength training, how did TJ enter the picture?

DR: Well, all through the years, I was always interested but had never acted on it…I just kept taking the classes. I probably had a little bit more information from Instagram and social media, which prompted me to want to pursue it, and I just knew, from being connected to the gym for all those years, that TJ had a great program.

Over the years, with all the classes, I was definitely able to keep the weight down and feel toned, but having five children meant that my weight would go up and down and fluctuate. I wasn’t seeing the muscle growth I’d become increasingly interested in. I now know that I have muscles…muscles where I didn’t even know I had muscles! And that’s a wonderful thing. Lats are coming in nicely, my legs are way more muscular, my abs are looking really good after having five kids, which is a big deal for me.

PS: How important has diet been?

DR: Very. Key. Part of what I’ve learned is the connection between the training and diet…understanding why you need carbohydrates and why you need protein each and every meal. Learning how to fuel your body the most efficient way in sync with strength training. Timing is vitally important: when specific foods are consumed and why. When to eat the carbs, when to eat the proteins, even when it’s OK to “cheat,” although we don’t use that word…
TJ: What some people call “cheat days” we call “higher-carb refuel days.” Denise has two fuel days per week when the carbs are much higher. It’s about a healthy relationship with food, not being overwhelmed, and not denying yourself food as a kind of punishment or the price you have to pay to train effectively and successfully.
DR: Everything I’ve read and looked at shows me that the women I follow or would like to be more like have these coaches for life. I don’t know that I’d have a coach for life, but I’ve been at this for a year and would like to continue. I have no idea when I might stop, but I know that right now, I’ve had amazing results. And I’d like to see more. I definitely want to have more muscle growth from head to toe.

PS: As much as you have already achieved, there are still goals.

DR: Absolutely.
TJ: Denise’s results have inspired so many women because she has established the mind-muscle connection that most people never experience but which anyone can see looking at her. Once you experience it, the mind-muscle connection gets stronger and stronger. Her mind is open, but so are her muscle cells. We’ll train up to four times a week. Most people wouldn’t be able to recover from these sessions, but Denise can and does. She has learned how to fuel her body and has trained her body to process fuel to produce the transformation she wants.
DR: TJ has said that most people will come to the gym to sweat or get sore. He doesn’t care if I sweat and doesn’t want me to be sore.
TJ: We stimulate the muscles without annihilating them. It’s all about connecting to the working muscles, not destroying them, and training smarter, not harder. Denise is efficiently putting on lean muscle tissue at an age when most people are losing it or adding fat.
DR: And it’s helped me in so many ways! I’m very busy at home, with dogs and my kids — they’re grown, but I’m always doing stuff for them at the house, and the strength I have now… I’m just loving it. I was cleaning the shed this morning and set up an umbrella and a table. Normally I would have struggled. It would be heavy on the one end and difficult to manage. It was so easy for me to pick it up and hold it and insert it into the stand! It was a great feeling to have that strength. I like to be productive and accomplish things, and I like to feel strong. And I do!

PS It’s wonderful to see that benefit in your daily life, like when you bend over to pick up a grandchild…

DR: Yes! I always tell my children — grown now, of course, but I always tell them — that I’m going to live to at least one hundred, and that is the reason behind this latest chapter. I want to be strong and healthy for them.

About The Author

Paul Smith
  • Paul Smith

Paul Smith manages member communications and graphic design for Fitness Incentive and Incentives Spa. He is a frequent contributor to Fit to Print.

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