Small Town Fitness Studio Battles Rising Health Care Costs, And Wins

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Located in the second unhealthiest county in a state that suffers from one of the highest rates of national obesity, the residents of Bolivar, TN have seen their health care costs and prescription drug consumption rise significantly over the years along with the rest of the state. However, thanks to local fitness studio and a fitness training husband and wife team, many people in this small town have undergone dramatic transformations in their bodies, their health and their lives. A small, family oriented fitness facility that began as a "garage gym" operated by a single certified personal trainer, Phoenix Fitness and its owners have been saving lives and helping people in the community face their health challenges and change their lives through fitness. Gym members in this community have accomplished remarkable results ranging from dramatic weight loss to strength gain, increased athleticism and a significant reduction in the need for prescription medications.

I literally held Elizabeth in my arms and coached her along the way because she panicked when she first stepped on the elliptical machine for her first exercise session

Three years ago, equipped with knowledge, a plan, and a dedication to fitness, Chris Hatley and his new wife Dixie set up the few pieces of exercise equipment that they owned and began operating a fitness studio out of their garage in the small town of Bolivar, TN.

Bolivar is part of Hardeman County, reported as the second unhealthiest county in Tennessee by the Tennessee Institute of Public Health. With a population of only 6,000, the nearest corporate gym facility is located over 90 minutes away.

Chris & Dixie became certified as fitness trainers in order to help the people of Bolivar get healthy. With very little funds and armed with a never-say-die attitude and a commitment to fitness, Chris & Dixie made their facility available, and members of this small community began to approach the "garage gym."

"Chris and Dixie have started a revolution in our small town and the gym they own has become a family. Everyone helps each other and the progress that everyone has made is unreal. People in town are seeing the remarkable results that we are all making and want to learn how to become healthier. I want to impact lives like Chris and Dixie have impacted mine," says Tommy Naylor, who has lost 73 pounds and is currently enrolled in a program to become a Certified Fitness Trainer.

  •     Elizabeth Stevens, a local elementary school teacher, has lost over 150 pounds in the last three years since she began training with Chris and Dixie. "I literally held Elizabeth in my arms and coached her along the way because she panicked when she first stepped on the elliptical machine for her first exercise session," says Chris. Now she is on their power lifting team.

  •     At 75, J.R. Armstrong thought he could not exercise because of his bad back. After sticking to a group exercise program, called the 'Senior Renegade Program', he now leads an active lifestyle and brags about carrying all the groceries in on one trip.
  •     Sue Morton, 74, and Carolyn O'Bryan, 68, were unable to complete the Cooper 12-minute walk/run test. Just a few months later, working together, they now partake in all the Senior Renegade group classes and each performs 30 minutes of cardio exercise daily.

Chris and Dixie quickly realized the tiny garage could no longer accommodate the growing number of towns people wanting to transform their lives through fitness. They took their life savings and invested in a larger facility to better serve the community. Several months later, in an indescribable stroke of bad luck, a gym member called Chris in a panic at 10:30 pm on a Saturday night to reveal that the entire gym building was lit up in a blaze of fire. The facility and their $40,000 worth of fitness equipment and office records were burnt to the ground. Chris and Dixie could only stand by in horror as they watched the remaining timbers of their gym come crashing down. The entire town was stunned.

Chris and Dixie were devastated with the complete loss of their savings and hard work. The loyal townspeople immediately got on the phones, calling everyone they could to somehow help Chris and Dixie. The local bank and businesses got involved and over a period of several weeks the funds were raised to purchase new equipment. They found an abandoned 4,000 square foot grocery store and everyone pitched in to help rebuild a new facility. They all decided to name it Phoenix Fitness, after the mythological bird

that rises from the ashes.

Since they do not make a living by operating Phoenix Fitness, Chris and Dixie have both accepted jobs in Ohio and, in just a few weeks, are getting ready to leave the fitness community they have built. Townspeople and gym members have agreed to help pitch in to keep the facility running, as long as Chris & Dixie return often. Additionally, a few of the regular gym goers who have made some of the most drastic changes in their lifestyles and bodies are now working on obtaining certification as fitness trainers in an effort to keep the facility's philosophy, attitude and atmosphere intact.

(For complete story see: Small Town Fitness Studio Battles Rising Health Care Costs, And Wins)

About Phoenix Fitness

Phoenix fitness is a small fitness studio located in Bolivar, TN. Owned and operated by Chris and Dixie Hatfield, it has transformed bodies and lives through fitness and inspired a community. Although the owners are relocating to take up positions in the fitness and health care field, they will continue to run the facility and train their clients. To speak with the Hatleys, please contact:

Christopher: (731) 609-6663

Dixie: (901) 491-3486

About ISSA

Since 1988 the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) has provided certification and continuing education to over 80,000 satisfied fitness professionals. ISSA certifications are recognized worldwide. From Youth Fitness to Senior Fitness, ISSA offers 10 certification programs and dozens of continuing education courses. For more information on the ISSA, please visit:

To schedule an interview with a representative of ISSA, please contact:

Sabeen Sadiq

Director of Public Relations for the ISSA

Toll-free: 1-800-892-4772

International: (805) 884-8111

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