TEMPLE CREST Jeremy Stair, a longtime member of The Walk congregation, turned his church into a refuge for the body as well as the soul.
For the past year, Stair, a personal fitness trainer and sports nutritionist from Temple Crest,
has practiced a weekly routine following Sunday services at the church at 8619 N. 40th St.
He transforms the 150-seat sanctuary into an exercise studio for his cardio-driven, fat-burning group training sessions.
“It was the pastor’s idea to do classes here,” Stair said.
A married father of two, Stair became a certified personal trainer slightly more than a year ago. Since then, he has trained dozens of clients in group and individual workout sessions at the church.
Stair slides the rows of seats against the walls to clear space for exercise mats, dumbbells, exercise balls, rollers and elastic ropes. He sets up a weight stand stacked with multi-sized dumbbells in the church foyer.
“Right after this (workout session) I have to move everything back,” Stair said on a recent Wednesday, when the church typically holds a mid-week evening service. “I can do it pretty quickly now, 15 to 20 minutes to do everything.”
Workout sessions are at 6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 4:30 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Group members typically get together on Saturdays to run.
Despite the spiritual surroundings, Stair leads a fitness program without a religious message, he said.
The dozen or so people who train with Stair each week can expect a rigorous workout program incorporating weights and resistance training to help them lose weight, build muscle and increase energy and endurance, he said.
Veterinarian assistants Catherine Fritchman and Brittany Seibert have been Stair’s clients since November. They had run a half-marathon but wanted to improve physical stamina. They hired Stair to help them accomplish their goal.
Fritchman, 27, who lives near the University of South Florida, likes the small group training in the church’s cozy setting.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Fritchman said of the church setting. “It’s like a private area. It’s not like a gym, where you feel everyone is watching you. I feel more comfortable.”
Seibert, 26, of West Meadows, and Fritchman remain active members because of Stair’s positive attitude and his ability to motivate them to work harder to be their best, they said.
Stair is a believer in the benefits of EpocFit, an hour-long group training program.
EpocFit is an acronym for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, a fitness program focused on the oxygen demands a person needs in the energy recovery process, Stair said. The program is designed to help clients burn calories between workouts.
Stair, 32, believes his passion to help people get in their best possible shape is a big part of his mission in life, he said.
The former diesel mechanic, who has struggled with weight issues in the past, understands how difficult losing weight can be for some people. He has not always been a muscular 250 pounds.
Stair weighed 300 pounds a few years ago. He lost 80 pounds in about a year following in the footsteps of his wife, Kristen, who had dropped 50 pounds in a weight loss challenge. They have two children, Ethan, 7, and Serenity, 6.
Stair used a variety of techniques to lose weight. He was not associated with EpocFit Group Training at the time.
Since becoming a personal trainer, Stair has worked with several church members, including Ricky Navarro, the senior pastor who offered Stair the use of the church for his workout training program free of charge.
Sharing is an important part of what The Walk is all about, Navarro said of the church, which was called Word of Life until two years ago. The congregation is celebrating its 51st year with plans to begin construction on a larger, new church building later this year.
“The (church’s) name should also speak of hope,” Navarro said. “I think it’s something the Bible teaches. It is about us being healthy and taking care of your body.”