The Exercise Coach's equipment.

What if you could work out for only 20 minutes twice a week and get great results? That's the promise of The Exercise Coach. The franchised fitness studio was opened by Chrystal Pruitt in Sarasota in January before being shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the gym recently reopened, with a number of new safety features in place.

The Exercise Coach boasts several high-tech machines, including a leg press, a chest machine and a targeted cardio machine that you only need to use for two minutes at a time. The gym's plan is based on scientific research that targets each move to the individual and emphasizes workouts that penetrates into the deepest muscles, which are rarely stimulated.

To keep clients safe, Exercise Coach trainers are now disinfecting equipment before and after each session and clients are required to use hand sanitizer, which is provided for them, along with masks and gloves, if they want to use them. Employees undergo temperature checks before their shifts begin and wear masks, and the number of clients allowed to train at the same time remains limited, among other safety precautions.

Chrystal Pruitt

The gym's guiding philosophy is that the most effective way to change the way one's body looks and feels is to increase muscle. The gym also provides a “Nutrition Playbook,” which is given to customers when they sign up. The book teaches them what to put on their plate, what to use in moderation and what to avoid, and includes nutritional guidelines for people that are adaptable for any diet, including dairy-free, Keto, Paleo and more. The gym also sells protein powder, with both non-dairy and dairy options.

On one visit, I tried out the leg press. A trainer carefully guided my movements getting on the machine, and my workout began with a few tests that measured my strength levels in pushing and steadying the machine. After that, I began pressing as hard as I could and steadying the machine so that my effort stayed inside a green target window. The trainer coached me throughout the entire workout and told me when to press harder or ease off. In addition to personal training, the gym also offers group training with customized workouts.

“This is a great option for people who are too busy to go to the gym or who don't want to hurt themselves if they don't understand how to use machines," Pruitt says. She previously worked as a nurse and owned a home health agency. "My goal in opening The Exercise Coach was to continue helping people," she says, "but after being in the hospital and in home care for all those years, I felt that by moving into wellness and prevention, I could educate before problems arose."

The Exercise Coach is located at 4333 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite E, Sarasota. For more info, call (941) 259-4863 or visit the gym's website.

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