Life-Changing Movement:
It’s Never Too Late!

Underground Fitness
Mary Sczudlo, Co-owner of Underground Fitness, often shares her personal fitness journey to inspire those who feel like they don’t belong in a gym.

“I was losing my best friend to dementia. We had been friends for 40 years. She was smart, funny, caring, and energetic. She was the only person who knew everything about me. But suddenly she was disappearing before my eyes at only age 72. It really scared me. I was 61 and wanted to be healthy and able to enjoy life as I grew older. I didn’t want this to happen to me. I spoke to my doctor and he told me the only thing that works to help prevent dementia is exercising regularly BEFORE it starts. I was a workaholic, working 60 to 70 hours per week, out of shape and very overweight. I thought I didn’t have time for exercise, and it was intimidating just thinking about walking into a gym full of fit people who seemed so different from me. To be honest, deep inside I was afraid that I didn’t have the strength or stamina to even be able to do the exercises. I was afraid of embarrassing myself. But the alternative, if I didn’t exercise, was worse than my fear of being embarrassed. For the first time it hit me that I needed to exercise to save my life. It was time to change my priorities.

“My daughter helped find a personal trainer to get me started in an exercise routine. When I started training with her, I could barely lift 8lb weights and didn’t know what a bodyweight squat was, let alone perform one with good form. Despite my limitations, my trainer never made me feel inadequate or hopeless. She focused on form, teaching me to perform exercises correctly. Our workouts were based on high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) – short, intense periods of work followed by short periods of recovery. To start, I scheduled two workouts a week into my crazy work schedule and the results were apparent even after the first month.

“At Underground Fitness, I enjoy the small group experience, the depth of knowledge and professionalism of the staff, and the results I am seeing in terms of my growing strength and stamina. What a gift to have a gym that is welcoming and encouraging rather than intimidating!”
“My energy level increased; I was able to move better as I went about my day, and I dealt with stress in a much more positive way. I knew my life had changed for the better one weekend when I was thinking about some difficult things I needed to deal with at work. Instead of reaching for a cookie, I grabbed my sneakers and went for a walk. That would NEVER have happened before. It’s now been a year and a half since I started and I am 64 lbs. lighter, four pant sizes smaller, and workout with 44 lb. kettle bells. In addition, I went through surgery six months after I started and had a record recovery time that my doctor attributed 100% to my new exercise program.

“But the most significant impact are the changes on the inside. I stand taller (as tall as my 4’11’ frame allows) because my confidence has increased. I feel stronger and more alive than I have in 25 years. I am a passionate believer in what exercise can do to change lives for the better, no matter what age or shape you’re in today. In particular, I believe H.I.I.T. really works. Even for people like me who needed a lot of modifications; and science backs it up. My personal results are proof it works.”

The trainer who helped Mary change her life is now her business partner, Stephanie Richie. Both women have a vision and a passion to serve people at all fitness levels. They believe that working out is life changing, not only for increasing strength, endurance, and mobility but for mental and emotional health as well. Physical exercise gets your heart rate up and your blood flowing. Endorphins are released, which boosts your energy level. All these components are essential for overall well-being. In addition, they saw a need for a gym that could reach people like Mary. They knew not everyone could afford a personal trainer and wanted to make personalized training readily available.

Underground Fitness combined Stephanie’s knowledge and passion for training people to get ongoing improved performance at all fitness levels, and Mary’s passion to help those who are at lower fitness levels. They came up with a small group program that trains a maximum of five people per trainer, called Foundations H.I.I.T or FHIIT.

FHIIT is focused on high intensity interval training with client-specific modifications. The classes are for people needing more modifications due to lower fitness levels, injuries, or for persons who are more comfortable in a small class environment. Members of this class are experiencing great results in improved strength, endurance, and mobility. Cathy Heck said this about it. “At Underground Fitness, I enjoy the small group experience, the depth of knowledge and professionalism of the staff, and the results I am seeing in terms of my growing strength and stamina. What a gift to have a gym that is welcoming and encouraging rather than intimidating!”

Underground Fitness, however, is not just for people at lower fitness levels. They have another program called Amped. It also utilizes high intensity interval training but in a larger group setting (24 participants). Strength training, functional movements, and intervals are combined for optimal results. Within this class, trainers can modify exercises and scale weight loads, providing everyone with an effective workout. The movements and circuits change daily so that clients stay challenged and engaged.

Checkout Underground Fitness on their website at
Both programs offer free classes so that potential clients can try out the program before joining. In addition, FHIIT is having a free information night at the gym on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 at 6 pm. Drop by to learn how the small group class works, how exercises are modified, how balance work is built into the workouts, and to sample some great-tasting, healthy recipes.

Written by WNC Woman