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IWLS Exercise Project-Fit Gym Review

Posted on April 9, 2019 at 1:18 PM by Iowa Weight Loss Specialists

By Paige Harnish and Travis Havens


Iowa Weight Loss Specialists’ behavioral health experts are continuing to work on the IWLS Exercise Project, a series of reviews of local fitness centers and programs to help you find a program that suits your interests and goals.  We hope that you find our exercise project helpful whether you are a medical weight loss or bariatric surgery patient.


Location: Locally owned

Location Attended: 7108 University Ave, Windsor Heights, IA 50324

Primary Contact:   Cathy Bormann - Owner

          (515) 537-6447

Exercise Types: Small group fitness, private classes and personal training

Average Class Size: 5-10 participants

Class Duration: 30, 45, and 60 minute classes are offered

Cost Per Month: $$*

I learned about FIT through Kristin, a postsurgical patient whose enthusiastic personality, persistence and hard work led her to achieve astonishing weight loss goals. Kristin was quick to tell me about how the community of support, comfortable environment, and variety FIT offers has helped her grow into someone who enjoys exercise and appreciates the many ways exercise can enhance a person’s life. Exercise has become a permanent fixture in Kristin’s life and has aided her ability to maintain a healthy weight long term.

Kristin was persistent that Travis and I visit FIT not only because the program has been effective for her, but because she feels that FIT would be a comfortable environment for IWLS patients of all abilities and levels of fitness. She reminded me how difficult it can be and how brave an individual must be to step into a fitness center for the first time in years—or maybe ever.

“I joined FIT because from the time I first walked in the door I was welcomed. Even after I explained all the modifications I would need and my amazingly low level of physical fitness, I was welcomed. I was encouraged and applauded and high-fived on every small accomplishment, and in turn I encouraged and applauded and high-fived others. I think this is the essence of what we are all looking for in a gym. It doesn't matter if they have the newest equipment or the brightest colors; it is the people that matter. I have found friends, help, encouragement and sympathy in my gym. I have also found some great people to party with! All of this keeps me coming back day after day and making progress, I am stronger, leaner and happier because I get up every day and sweat. 

This kind of atmosphere is what I wish for you all, I understand the fear and the procrastination of exercising, BUT with the right gym and the right people you can not only do it but enjoy it! Look around, check out all the places near you. Look at the big ones and especially the small ones and find your niche. Happy sweating!”

– Kristin Carlson, FIT member & IWLS patient

I had the pleasure of attending two fitness classes at FIT. FIT is a small, locally owned fitness center. The environment was casual and class sizes were small (five participants on day one and eight on day two).

On day one, I attended “Buts & Guts” class with Kristin. The environment was calm and the instructor Nicole even managed to facilitate the entire class in engaging manner while holding her baby—tell me about impressive! Nicole informed participants of equipment needed for class and class began right on time. The class consisted of circuits of body weight and medicine ball exercises targeting the glutes and abdominals. The moves were simple and alternatives and advanced positions were offered for every exercise. Because the class plan was well balanced and the level of difficulty seemed just right, the class seemed to go by rather quickly. I never felt strained or exhausted during the workout but was certainly sore the next day.

Favorite Aspects: The casual and comfortable environment at FIT took feelings of intimidation off of the table. I also enjoy that FIT is a place where friendships are made and progress is celebrated. Kristin mentioned a “Little Black Dress Challenge” she was partaking in and how members planned to rent a limo and go out wearing little black dresses to celebrate after the challenge is complete.

Areas to Consider:  FIT seems to be a predominantly female gym. Both Cathy (the owner) and Kristin, mentioned that men are more than welcome, both classes I attended consisted of only females with the exception of Travis.

Bottom Line: FIT offers a variety of group fitness classes that incorporate all areas of the body. The casual, locally owned environment makes FIT an emotionally safe environment for individuals of all fitness levels and abilities.



One thing I’ve noticed while living in the Des Moines area is how scattered it is with diverse strip malls that house just about anything from coffee shops to sports bars—or in this case, a lively fitness community called FIT that’s buzzing with hard-working (primarily) women. Those of you who have worked with me know that I spend a lot of time preaching the importance of finding a fitness environment that aligns with you and your goals, and I believe FIT would be a wonderful choice for a number of our patients at IWLS. Let me explain why.

Paige and I attended a group FIT Camp strength training express class* that was led by group and personal FIT coach, Katie Jane. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly from the second we stepped foot in the gym. As we were getting introduced to our fellow workout partners, I quickly realized how comfortable all of the members were with each other. It was clear the members are truly a tight-knit bunch.

FIT offers a number of training options, including but not limited to: functional strength training, kickboxing, barre, Pilates, yoga, HIIT insanity and even “Golden Girls” classes that are tailored for women ages 60 and up. FIT has a nice open layout and is equipped with a variety of different equipment, and our particular workout incorporated a combination of medicine balls, kettle bells, free weights and TRX suspension training systems. The trainer was great about demonstrating each movement before she turned us loose to our 4-station circuits. This workout was short, sweet, and to the point—one that didn’t necessarily leave us lying on our backs gasping for air, though it still had plenty of substance to ensure we walked out of there feeling accomplished.

At FIT you’ll find that there is always something to keep you pushing forward. For example, they’ve implemented what is called the FitRanX standardized training level system used for gauging your fitness level. FitRanX is a scientific progression-style motivator that works to ensure you continue moving in the right direction. As you successfully complete a handful of select exercises comprised of a push, pull, squat, hinge and core movement, you earn dog tags and then proceed to the next level of exercises. I think this is a wonderful method of keeping you hungry each and every day.

FIT also offers a number of different monthly challenges—both fitness and lifestyle, to keep members motivated and on track. A few examples of some of their monthly fitness challenges include: 2500 kettle bell swings, run 100 miles, and 5000 med ball slams (each is its own individual challenge). The goal is to chip away at the challenge day-by-day, and progress is tracked on a white board hanging in the gym. Some of the lifestyle challenges include: commit to reading 10 pages a day, walking outside for 10 minutes without checking your phone, and a variety of other simple and effective methods to ensure you’re working towards not just a healthy body, but also a healthy mind. Those of you familiar with Paul Chek may have come across his e-book titled “The Last Four Doctors You’ll Ever Need”, where he preaches the importance of listening to what those four doctors (Dr. Movement, Dr. Quiet, Dr. Happiness and Dr. Diet) are telling us and the advice they are continually offering.

“Together they create a balance that not only improves your appearance but also your overall health and allows for much better results from your gym sessions. In a nut shell, we must not only work out but also work in.” – Paul Chek

FIT’s program design does a wonderful job of encouraging a better physical you, but also addresses the many health and lifestyle factors that play a part in this chaotic life. It’s important to remember that an effective training system is so much more than just figuring out the right sets and reps—it requires a well-rounded approach. At FIT you’ll find yourself making improvements in areas that are often times shoved to the back burner.

*Express classes (5:30-6:00 pm) are 30 minutes in duration whereas most other classes offered last between 45 and 55 minutes in duration.

Favorite Aspect: One thing that stood out to me at FIT was a wall towards the back of the gym that had dozens of positive messages written in chalk. The instructor explained to us how it came to fruition when FIT hosted a camp for young girls, and each girl wrote a positive affirmation as part of one of their group activities. It’s amazing how something so simple can make such a powerful impact on the overall atmosphere of the gym. Anyone who’s been in a last-set battle knows how much of a difference having positive messages scattered throughout the gym can make. Workouts are almost as much of a mental battle as they are a physical battle, and a few motivating words could be the difference maker in helping you hit your next PR (personal record). FIT does a wonderful job of keeping you focused and motivated throughout the duration of your workout.

Area to Consider: As Paige mentioned earlier you will find that classes are primarily filled with women. It’s not to deter men from training there, and I feel that both men and women would benefit greatly from any class offered at FIT.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for an environment that you can comfortably transition out of your comfort zone (meaning being able to work hard without the overwhelming fear of judgment) and still make leaps and bounds in a number of different areas of your health, this place is absolutely worth checking out!



*Prices may vary.

$= $0-$50

$$= $50-$100

$$$= $100-$150

$$$$= $150+

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