Cleo Atwater and his wife Cherisse Atwood instruct classes at Moves2Inspire Fitness Center.
Making her clients physically fit isn’t the only goal for Cherisse Atwater with her new business Move2Inspire. The mother of three also wants to help her clients strengthen their inner selves.
“It’s not just physical, it’s also spiritual, mental and emotional,” said Atwater.
Atwater opened the Moves2Inspire Fitness Studio at 3836 Salem Road, in the Kroger shopping center in Covington, in June. The business offers classes in Zumba, kick boxing, boot camp, self defense and teen hip hop.
While the classes are open to both men and women, the majority of clients are women, and the most popular class is the Zumba. Atwater described Zumba as Latin-inspired dance moves that also encompass movements from dances in other cultures such as African and American.
“I use more of the urban-Latin mixed with Latin hip hop,” said Atwater. “I tend to focus more on the lower body and abs. As women, those are our target areas.”
Atwater said music with a good dance beat is essential.
“Most of the women love it, because they don’t feel like they’re working out,” said. Atwater. “We dim the lights, it’s almost a club-feel, in a way, for them.”
Atwater said she became certified to teach Zumba when the owner of a different fitness center where she worked out asked her to lead classes.
“I knew I had a gift of dance and loved dance as a hobby but I never thought I could actually teach it,” said Atwater. “After finding out that I could put my own style to it, that’s what made me fall in love with it.”
Atwater also instructs the kick boxing class, which she choreographs to music, at her center.
“That’s more cardio and toning, more core work with the kick boxing,” she said.
Other classes include: Boot Camp 360, a class which utilizes small hand weights and resistance bands, and is designed to provide clients with strength training: Combat Fitness, a self-defense class taught by Cherisse Atwater’s husband, Cleo Atwater, a Gwinnett County police officer; and teen Hip Hop class, for children ages 10 and up.
Atwater said her clients range in age mostly from 30 to 60 years old and many have weakness in their knees and backs. She makes modifications in her exercises, offering them other ways to do the dancing, and workouts.
“They like the fact that we offer the modifications and slow things down, so that they can participate on their level,” said Atwater.
Atwater started off her fitness career by first teaching free Zumba classes at Springfield Baptist Church in Conyers and then classes for teachers and staff at Memorial Middle School. She said the reward of running the fitness center is the relationships she develops with her clients.
“I love the motivation and the encouragement I offer. I love the fact that I’m able to offer something fun because sometimes people look at working out as a chore or another thing added to their list. I love that we make it our own and do more than dance together. It’s a fellowship together. We try to get fit from the inside out,” said Atwater.
“We have gratitude journals, just to meditate on things that we are thankful for and grateful for. We talk about being kind to others and yourself.”
Atwater said sometimes first-time clients are intimidated by the women who are in better shape.
“After the first class, some of them are already telling themselves why they can’t come back,” she said. “I tell them to be patient and kind to themselves and set short term goals and be more realistic. Each time they come, it’s going to get better and better.”
Atwater advises them to just keep moving, even if they can’t keep up with the dance steps, and to concentrate on controlling their breathing.
“We talk about things to focus on just to keep them in their workout,” she said. “But the main goal is for them to not stop, not quit.”
In addition to her husband, Atwater is also assisted in her business by her daughter, Taylor Atwater, a 17-year-old Salem High School student, who works as a the receptionist; daughter Cleo Atwater, a 13-year-old student at Memorial Middle School, who helps with the teen hip hop class; and son Xavier, 9, a student at Flat Shoals Elementary, who holds the door for the ladies who come to the center.
“We are a family business,” said Atwater.
Atwater said the business is also community service oriented. She and her clients supplied items on a wish list to two women from a local shelter, as well as making donations to the shelter.
“Sometimes we have to get out of ourselves and help someone else,” she said.
To learn more about Moves2Inspire Fitness Studio, visit www.moves2inspire.com or call 770-595-5991.