Erin’s Transformation

On November 9, 2014 my life changed forever. I intended to go visit a friend for the evening, but plans were pushed back several times due to different circumstances. My friend and I ended up watching a later movie than initially planned. The movie turned out to be three hours long, which put me on the road at one of the most dangerous times of the night. At approximately 1:29 am, I was struck head-on by a wrong-way drunk driver traveling the wrong way on the expressway. Immediately, my spine shattered- I had two burst fractures at L5 and S4 of my spine—severely compressed nerves, several broken bones, damaged organs and muscles, a severed iliac artery and a concussion. I was paralyzed from the waist down and the doctors did not know if I would walk again or what my recovery would be like. It has been 3 1/2 years of multiple surgeries—eight in total—to repair the damage to my spine and abdomen. I spent 68 days in the hospital, including the rehab hospital, and another two years subsequently in outpatient rehab learning how to walk again and alternatively use the bathroom.

The following year and a half, I focused on being a new wife and I joined my husband at the gym since we both love to be active.Going to the gym was something I had always loved to do. As a prior Group X instructor and personal trainer throughout college and beyond, I prided myself on my strength and fitness knowledge. To think that working out in the same way and doing normal things such as squats and lunges was something I may have lost completely broke my heart. But because of great medical care, a lot of faith, and a great support system, my surgeons told me time and time again that I have beat the odds. Don’t get me wrong, I still have all of the same issues as paraplegics- as that is my official diagnosis—I can just walk. My gait is not normal, but to an untrained eye, it looks pretty good. While my recovery may never be complete, and I may never be who I once was, or have the strength in my lower half that I once did, I have learned to adapt. I still struggle with pretty weak calves due to nerve damage. The calves control all movement of the feet making balance hard and orthotics necessary.


Finding a gym where I could feel comfortable despite my newfound disability and limitations was key. Working out at Four Seasons has given me a lot of hope. I have been able to attend several of the classes and focus on what I am able to physically do—which turns out to be a LOT. I love the group fitness class setting and I am over the moon grateful to be able to participate again. Other participants may notice me sometimes holding onto the wall or the structure beam in the room to balance. Going to classes gives a lot of opportunity to interact with others and workout to an already-formed workout routine to fun music. Because of my fitness background, I am able to modify exercises as necessary and all of the instructors have been very accepting of this. I also love the teaching style of the instructors as they are upbeat, understanding of current fitness trends, and make sure to focus on a lot of safety cues, which keep participants like myself and others safe.


The Four Seasons location closer to where my husband and I now live also has a pool. I have just discovered how much I love swimming for sport, and how free I feel in a pool. In the pool, my limitations feel less burdensome somehow. I’ve always considered myself a “fish” and having a pool, which is really good for my body and easy on my joints and back, has been super helpful. I hope to join a swim team soon and I plan on using the Four Seasons gym to train. This gives me a goal. while keeping me fit at the same time. Four Seasons is overall a great gym with plenty of space, different kinds of fitness equipment and group classes. I consider comfortability in a gym super high on my priorities list when deciding on a place to work out, and I feel extremely comfortable here. There is a great mix of all kinds of people, which makes it more of a win in my book!

-Erin Rollins

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Gains! Making Progress & Pushing Through Plateaus

Many are looking to increase their strength and lean body mass struggle to make the meaningful gains they expect when they pursue an exercise program. There are many factors that can influence progress in both positive and negative ways. Some things to consider are:

Exercise Intensity: Intensity matters! Muscles don’t want to change and must be worked well beyond their normal capacity to force adaptive responses.

Here’s how to increase the intensity of a workout:
Work to failure – Are you pushing yourself to your failure points to force your body to change or are you coming in and doing the 8-12 reps at the same weight each week? You must test your limits if you ever want to force change. One way to keep pushing forward is by working to muscle failure. Muscle failure occurs when you reach a point where you can’t do one more clean rep without cheating or using bad form. There are many ways to leverage failure in your programs…rest/pause training, drop sets, timed rest, and negative reps to name a few. Ask a trainer.
Change your tempo – Are you so worried about getting to a number of reps that you are speeding through your sets? Give your muscles the time under tension they need to change by using the 1:3 rule, 1 second on the concentric (lifting/pulling) movement and 3 seconds on the eccentric (lowering) movement.
Increase the resistance, increase reps – As your muscles adapt, stress them more each workout by increasing resistance or adding more repetitions.


Overtraining: Overtraining often occurs when you don’t give your muscles adequate recovery time and rest between workouts prior to working the same muscles again. If you find yourself doing 35 sets for the same muscle group or working the exact same body parts hard on successive days, you might be overtraining. Building muscle and strength is an adaptive process of tearing down and allowing your body to build back up.  More is not always better. 

Types of exercises: Are you doing the right exercises to meet your goals? Are you neglecting entire muscle groups because don’t like doing certain exercises? Your trainers can work with you to choose key foundational exercises that are going to work big muscle groups and bring balance to your body. (Don’t skip leg day!)

 Not being consistent or training infrequently – Missed workouts are the bane of anyone trying to get results. Make sure you are stressing your muscles in a frequency that is right for your body.

Nutrition (of course): To spark those gains you have to definitely eat nutrient dense foods that give your body the building blocks and recovery fuel necessary to make progress. Empty calories like sugary sodas, candy bars, and potato chips can work against your energy levels and desired body composition. Muscles also need protein in abundance to grow, so make good choices to get the protein needed. It’s not by accident that protein is a key component in post-workout smoothies. If you find it hard to get enough protein in your regular diet, invest in a quality protein powder to substitute for snacks and supplement your meals. – Personal Trainer, Ray Haddox


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More to the Core-Stop with all the crunches!

As a trainer, one of the terms we most frequently hear is “Core.” Generally it is used when an individual is describing their mid-section or more specifically the abdominal muscles. And while yes, these muscles are part of the “core,” they are just a fraction of what makes up the core. So once you better understand the functionality of the core, besides it being aesthetically pleasing at a low body fat, you will know how to maximize core-specific training. In other words STOP WITH ALL THE CRUNCHES!

So what exactly is the core? The core is all musculature from the shoulders to the knees. We can further define this as “all the muscles that attach to your hips, pelvis, and low back” according to Cosgrove and Schuler, authors of The New Rules of Lifting for Abs. The core is all the musculature that surrounds, supports and engages movement of the torso or keeps it stable while the extremities are in motion. That’s right, it’s not just used for sit-ups.

From here the core can then be broken down into three different parts: the inner core and the two chains of the outer core. Without going too much into the specific anatomy, here’s a quick breakdown. The inner core is comprised of the diaphragm, pelvic floor, multifidi and transverse abdominis. The outer core is comprised of the anterior chain (front of body) and posterior chain (back of body). Most people are familiar with the rectus abdominis (six pack), obliques, and hip flexors. But since the core goes to the knees this also includes the hamstrings and glutes. Also shoulders and down so the lats, and traps. Basically when stating you want to train your core, most people are referring to the abs when in actuality the core is so much more than just the abs.

With that being said and what you are reading this for is “How does this apply to me?” well, I will tell you. For the most part “doing crunches is a complete waste of time”, that’s right I said it. Besides the general fact of you shouldn’t be trying to bend your spine from an anatomical standpoint it doesn’t really offer an effective training adaptation. Exercises such as planks, side planks, dead bugs (isolative core strength) offer a more effective result. Along with Deadlifts, squats, sprinting, and real-world movements (dynamic core strength). It’s with these exercises and as I mentioned before a low body fat percentage you will be able to see not just your abdominal muscles, but your entire core.

If you are interested in learning more about core training please schedule a free consultation with one of our certified personal trainers. Not only can we help get you a better mid-section, but help truly strengthen the core and reduce the chance of injury. And like I say “You can look like a million bucks, but if you don’t feel good is it really worth it? We don’t just build bodies for the beach. We build bodies for life and functionality”. -Personal Trainer, Matthew Welker

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Staff Spotlight: Jennifer Ince, Program Coordinator

Today we are celebrating Jennifer Ince, Program Coordinator at Four Seasons Health Club! 

Jennifer has been teaching Group Fitness for almost 7 years and has been at Four Seasons for 3.5 years.  She started out as a Group Fitness Instructor and was promoted to Program Coordinator in May of 2017.  Her passion for fitness came from years of competitive running and lead her to pursue a Masters Degree in Exercise Science.  She’s always been fascinated in the science behind bio-mechanics and how that relates to exercise. Jennifer also holds a special place in her heart for working with our nation’s youth in order to prevent and end childhood obesity. She’s proud that Four Seasons has partnered with so many schools in the Bloomington-Normal community, so we can bring fun group fitness programs to their P.E. departments. Jennifer firmly believe that exercise should be enjoyable and is constantly looking for ways to bring some of our Four Seasons Group Fitness classes into the community!

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Staff Spotlight: Staci Yehl, Group Fitness Instructor

Let’s congratulate Staci Yehl on being nominated for the YWCA Women’s of Distinction award in 2018!

Staci was nominated for being the founder and owner of Blessed Birthdays, a faith driven and non-profit organization which provides birthday parties for children served through Home Sweet Home Ministries and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She was born and raised in Bloomington, graduated from Illinois State University, and is a Learning Behavior Specialist for Unit 5 School District at Northpoint Elementary. Staci believes that “Every child deserves to be celebrated!” and strives to provide dignity for families who can’t afford to give a birthday party on their own. The birthday child experiences a two-hour party that includes games,  crafts, prizes, food, and presents. The families can’t help but feel the love and support of their community during their party. Staci and her husband have two boys and in her spare time she enjoys teaching Group Fitness classes at Four Seasons Fitness Club.

Here at Four Seasons we couldn’t be happier to have such an outstanding instructor like Staci a part of our Four Seasons family. She embodies our core values and lives out our vision statement, “Transforming lives by creating a healthier community.” Staci, thank you for everything you do in our community, and well done on your nomination!  

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