Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

May 30, 2013

Family matters

Fitness facility specializes in changing lives

Bart Doan

BROWNSBURG — Jamie Kibby says it’s not all about fitness, it’s about family. That it’s okay to have a cheeseburger when you want one. And maybe a margarita to go with it.

She says she’s not out to make a ton of money, and what she’s learned since starting her business in August of 2008 is that it’s much more gratifying to change lives.

Welcome to HIP Fitness in Brownsburg, where wanting to be a good example for her children has turned into a lifelong passion that’s become more than just about losing weight or getting fit.

“I was a stay-at-home mom for years and I didn’t necessarily have this physical background,” Kibby said. “But I felt like I was overweight. I wasn’t healthy, and I wanted to be a better mom to my kids. I think that if we show them how to be healthier at a younger age, it’s much easier than doing it at my age.”

Kibby has 40 classes per week and several instructors, but it’s the other things that stand out to patrons and participants. Such as a yearly Chicago trip they take, or the once-a-month margarita night they all share.

“We’re real people,” offers Kibby. “People might ask my why I’m eating a cheeseburger and I won’t sit here and say I don’t do that. I always tell people, moderation. If you want a hamburger, have a hamburger. Just don’t do it every day.”

And listening to the stories of those who have been affected by Kibby’s model, which aims at making sure workouts are fit for all body types to be in the same classroom doing the same exercises, shows a common theme, if not a common story.

“One of the many things I love about HIP is that Jamie has created a fitness family,” says Samantha Beery, who has been a patron for over two years, “not just a place to go exercise. They are also women who support each other and build each other up with encouragement. I cannot imagine my life without it now.”

“Jamie has an enthusiasm and brightness about her,” adds Beth Linginfelter. “I struggle with chronic circulatory problems and being able to regularly practice yoga and cardio helps mitigate my health issues. I definitely am a healthier, happier person by knowing and experiencing HIP Fitness.”

And some of the stories go deeper than that, stories that allow Kibby to understand what the place means to so many other than her.

“I’m working with a gal right now, her daughter was 13-years-old and passed away. She’d been in major depression,” explains Kibby.

“She’s lost almost 15 pounds now and told me that it’s changing her. I feel like we connect, because a lot of us are all moms too. It’s not just exercising.

“I have another gal I work with, she comes from a very abusive background,” adds Kibby. “Her husband is in jail right now, and when she first started coming here, she’d stay in the back. Now she’s always right up front. You wouldn’t believe the confidence in some of these women.”

With that, Kibby says that the place has been more than just an inspiration on them, in turn they’ve done the same for her.

“They’ve changed my life,” says Kibby of the men and women she works with. “It’s hard to describe, but they’ve given me self-confidence too. I think before I did this, I wasn’t a go-getter. I was a follower. Since this, I’m a more confident person.”

Still, Kibby never wants to get too big to the point where she doesn’t know every person that walks into that door, whether they’re with her or one of her several instructors. Money is secondary. Changing lives above the neck and below is forever the goal.

“I don’t want to get ginormous,” she says of the future. “I always want it to be a family where I know everybody. It’s not about making money and I’m not going to retire off of this. I just want to hopefully continue changing people’s lives.”

She also says that she doesn’t want fitness to ever be intimidating, acknowledging that it can be. Come one, come all, she says. And clients agree.

“In the past two years, I’ve lost 125 to 130 pounds,” says Denise McCleese. “I’ve been so excited for the encouragement I’ve received, the accountability, and the fun we have. Jamie has encouraged me through my personal trials my family has experienced with health related issues over the past year. Honestly, I could go on and on about how important HIP has been to me in meeting my wellness goals and I am so thankful to be part of the HIP family.”

“I thought I would feel weird and out of place,” recalls Julia Pulliam, who started with Zumba classes in January of 2012, “but the ladies that work there make sure you do not feel that way. There are outside activities also that we as members are asked to participate in with Jamie and her crew. It’s just a lot of fun and I wouldn’t go anywhere else. We’re a family.”

Monica Derhammer worked in a gym in Avon for over a decade, and she also says that coming to be an instructor at HIP Fitness has been an eye-opening experience for her.

“The other gym I worked at, you came in, taught your classes, signed out, and left,” she explains. “Whether you’re working out for your first time or have been doing it for years, you gain that relationship with your members that they can come to you with questions about health and fitness, but also on a personal level.

“The friendships I’ve developed at HIP go outside the gym to sometimes even lunches or just sending daily text messages. That is what makes HIP especially different from other gyms — the relationships between clients and instructors.”

“It’s a fun atmosphere with a lot of inspiring people,” adds Taryn Mason, Kibby’s first client back in 2008 when she started doing personal training. “I appreciate that I had the opportunity to find a place close to my home that allowed me to exercise and meet my goals.”

“Hopefully this will continue,” Kibby says. “I think people are afraid they’re going to be the heaviest, most out of shape person coming in. Whether you’re a woman over 200 pounds or a teenager under 100, you’re in the same class. I don’t have to change the workout for any of them. I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they can’t do something.”

And that, in a nutshell, is what HIP Fitness is all about.