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No lark in the park: Six-week class takes fitness to next level

July 9th, 2011 8:19 pm by Madison Mathews

New Year’s resolutions often deal with setting aside time for a new workout routine in order to lose weight and keep fit, but like many people, Nikki Matthews didn’t always follow through with her resolution. That is, until she signed up for a close friend’s summer workout regimen.
Upon completing the six-week session Friday, Matthews can run faster and longer, do regular push-ups instead of the modified version and feels stronger overall.
“I have more stamina now. I can run longer. I can do more push-ups now. It’s always fun to see how far you can push yourself and how much farther you can go every time,” she said after completing the 45-minute workout at Jonesborough’s Stage Road Park.
Before taking the class, Matthews would occasionally go to the gym to work out on an elliptical machine or take dance classes, but none of those options were yielding the results she was looking for in getting strength training or being pushed by a trainer.
When she discovered Georgia Walker’s Fitness in the Park program in Jonesborough, it seemed like the perfect alternative to hitting the daily grind of the gym.
“I’ve known Georgia for a long time and I’ve always wanted to do something with a personal trainer or just some type of exercise and the gym has never really worked out for me, so I really just wanted to tone up and lose some weight at the same time,” Matthews said.
Fitness in the Park uses circuit training, a type of high-intensity interval training designed to use one’s own body weight as resistance. Each class features a variety of activities, ranging from lunges and push-ups to cardio routines. Exercises are designed to suit each person and vary from beginner to expert.
Circuit training incorporates aerobic fitness with muscular strength. It promotes cardiovascular fitness by keeping the heart rate up throughout the entire session, and is designed to work the entire body to provide an increase in lean muscle mass while also decreasing fat mass.
In addition to having more stamina, Matthews said she looks and feels better and has an added boost to her self-esteem thanks to the class and Walker’s training.
“Basically, she just tells you what you need to do for yourself. She pushes you as far as you can push yourself, and then you have to push yourself the rest of the way,” she said.
That’s the kind of mentality Walker wants in her clients. Whether they’re young or old or have little to no fitness experience, Walker asks that all they bring is a can-do attitude and a desire to get fit.
“It’s been fun. I enjoy doing it. Everyone seems to like it. They like working with the group. Sometimes, I’ll show up and it’s just one of them and it’s just me and one other person, and they don’t enjoy that too much,” Walker said with a laugh.
After graduating from the College of Charleston in South Carolina in December with a degree in physical education, Walker returned to her hometown eager to find a job as a physical trainer. After striking out, the certified personal trainer decided she would take matters into her own hands and start her own fitness class.
The first session held in the spring started out small with family and friends, but continued to grow by the time the second session began in June.
With another session set to begin July 18, Walker, whose parents own Olde Towne Pharmacy in Jonesborough, said more and more people keep joining the ranks of Fitness in the Park.
“It seems to be a smaller world every time somebody comes. They’re like, ‘Oh, I know your mom and your dad, or you went to school with my kid.’ I get that one a lot,” she said.
In doing the classes and one-on-one training, Walker said she’s grown as a trainer, which is something she needs as she gets closer to her reaching her goal of going to physical therapy school.
“Each time I get here, I have to be on my toes and think of something to push them and some days they don’t like to be pushed and you have to know when enough is enough, so they don’t cry on you. That’s scary,” she said. “This is still being active and you have to know how to train people to do therapy also, so it’s getting closer to my goal.”
Walker said the classes are perfect for anyone looking to start exercising or for people who are looking for something to really take their exercising to the next level.
“The more, the merrier. I can do beginner stuff, intermediate stuff and expert-level stuff, so come on,” she said.
Cost for the July 18-Aug. 26 session is $125. The class will meet at Stage Road Park every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
For more information, call Walker at 956-3131 or email

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