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Claremont Courier - A Local Nonprofit Newsroom

Dream back on track after COVID-19

by Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@claremont-courier.com 

It took Stephanie Worthington just six months as a flight attendant before she realized her true calling in life was motivating people to get in shape.

Despite being a pretty active person, traveling around the world was draining her energy. So she prayed for guidance to a new career path.

“I really wanted to make a difference in people’s lives,” Ms. Worthington said. “I know it sounds cliché,” she chuckled, “but I wanted to feel like I was giving back and that I was getting [something] back.”

She was working out at the gym one afternoon and spotted a trainer focused more on his phone than on his client. Something just clicked and she realized she could do better than that trainer. “I love fitness, you know. I said ‘I can do that!’” she recalled with excitement.

She launched her personal training career 15 years ago, acquiring the necessary certification and buying a franchise in New Jersey. Since moving to Claremont eight years ago, she has built a solid reputation and fitness brand, according to her husband, Mark Worthington.

In February 2020, Ms. Worthington opened Worth FiT Studio in Claremont with the backing of her husband. “This has always been her dream,” Mr. Worthington said. “The opportunity came, ironically, a year ago.” 

Before COVID-19 forced gyms and fitness centers to close in March, 2020, Worth FiT Studio was a bustling place, which grew into what the Worthingtons call a personal training “fit stop.”

“Like a pit stop, it’s 30 minutes. And there’s all these classes that she specializes in including personal and small group training,” Mr. Worthington said.

Though they’re not the size of a 24 Hour Fitness or a Gold’s Gym, their personal approach to doing fitness right and in a fun one-on-one manner is what sets them apart from other facilities.

“It was always going to be a small group type of training station where [clients] receive personal attention,” Ms. Worthington said. “So many people pay for an expensive membership at a big place only to go twice a month and walk on the treadmill.”

At Worth FiT Studio, there are no membership fees, instead it’s pay-by-the-session. New members can buy a single drop-in session, a two-class pack, or a three-class “feeler” package for either private, or partner trainings led by Ms. Worthington.

Returning clients can be put into FiT groups created by Ms. Worthington where they meet and work out monthly with other members of their group. Clients can also continue participating in private and partner training. “It’s basically about getting people moving,” Mr. Worthington said.

However, just 40 days after opening her doors last year, Ms. Worthington’s studio was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With rent to keep up with, the Worthingtons had to survive on their savings and any income the studio received. By not having any employees and being just a 13-month-old business, the Worthingtons said they could not apply for any new business grants or loans.

“She got off to this amazing start and then all of a sudden you don’t know how people are going to react,” Mr. Worthington explained. But even when the coronavirus disaster threw a wrench in her plans, Ms. Worthington did not give in.

“She’s always a few months ahead of everyone else,” Mr. Worthington explained. “She recognized that this wasn’t going away but didn’t want to keep closed month after month.”

She knew people would have some of the equipment they needed at home for her classes so she purchased a flat screen television and a webcam to host her workouts online. People register for her 30-minute classes, which include cardio fitness, strength 101, balance and core sessions or any of the six workouts that pique their interest.

 “Zooms have completely taken off during COVID,” Ms. Worthington said. “It was about finding ways to engage people because people are getting depressed, gaining weight.”

When it became possible she also got the proper city permits to reopen for outdoor fitness sessions.

Ms. Worthington’s online classes can draw eight to 20 people of all ages and from around the globe, with some clients tuning in from Brazil.

“All these people have now met each other through Zoom and it has benefited them in so many ways,” Ms. Worthington explained. “I even started opening the sessions earlier so people can hang out and socialize for 10-15 minutes before we start.”

On top of a loaded Zoom schedule, Ms. Worthington said she still takes time to use other apps like FaceTime to go out and walk one-on-one with clients who can’t come down to the studio.

 “You know it’s hard for people to start and get motivated,” Ms. Worthington said. “So I have clients where that’s all we do: we just get out and we walk. That’s what gets them out.”

Ms. Worthington reopened her studio on Monday, March 15, and although she did not have a full in-person class until the next day, she said it felt great to be back in session again. The group met in a hybrid class consisting of in-person and Zoom clients, a format she said she will likely keep going forward.

Now with Los Angeles County allowing gyms to reopen at 10 percent capacity, clients can attend Ms. Worthington’s classes in person. However, due to the studio’s small size she can only accommodate five people.

“The people are what make Worth FiT what it is. Everyone is just attracted to her energy and because of what she brings,” Mr. Worthington said.

“Her studio plan just fits perfectly in a post-COVID world where everything is small and personal,” Mr. Worthington said. “And where people don’t have to worry about being too close to someone.”

For more information about Worth FiT Studio or take a tour, visit the website at worthfitstudio.com or call 201-927-5172. Worth FiT Studio is located at 928 W. Foothill Blvd. on the south side of the street between Towne and Mountain avenues.

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