Laura with personal trainer James “JT” Thompson

When your commitment to fitness is long term, it truly is a journey. Laura was a longtime member at Culpeper Sport & Fitness, and transitioned when the gym became part of the PATH Recreation & Fitness Center in March 2022. She shares how her love of physical activity supported by personal training has helped her develop strength, work through injury and savor the “me time” that enhances the rest of her busy life.

A love of sports and physical activity is a theme that runs through Laura’s life. She enjoyed lots of outdoor active time with her brothers growing up, and as a self-described “jock with rolled up sweatpants” teenager, she played softball and tennis. Tennis is what brought her as an adult to Culpeper Sport & Fitness back in its Sport & Racquet days.

“My youngest son played tennis,” Laura says. “I thought it was great that the club offered a pairing of the tennis facility and a gym. I got started with personal training to stay fit and strong for tennis. Preston Will, CSF manager, was my first trainer. For 8 or 9 years now I’ve been working with JT (James Thompson).” Her visits are typically during the day.

Laura and JT share a thoughtful and mindful approach to fitness that serves their training relationship well even during challenging times. Running used to be part of Laura’s regimen until a meniscus tear. Her doctor advised against going back to running after she healed. He suggested trying an elliptical in the gym. Laura reflects, “I looked on this change in a positive way: I wasn’t giving something up, I was saving my health by making a change.”

She also suffered torn tendons in her ankle during a tennis clinic. It took two years of treatment, rehab and strength work to return the ankle to health. While wearing a boot in rehab, she continued to work out with JT. They refocused her workout so she was not doing as much lower body work. “It’s so important to focus on what you can do, not what you can’t,” Laura believes.

She has come to appreciate the importance of focus and how it can effectively support exercise. “When working out, JT advises me to think about what I’m doing. What’s working in my body? Which muscle? To be in that moment is such a mindful approach. His suggestion for breathwork and focus on the activity is a gamechanger for stability and balance,” Laura observes.

Laura’s training with JT is a mix of machines, strength and cardio. Some sessions are with a workout partner. Laura’s routine starts with about 10 minutes of cardio; she says, “On the treadmill I’ve got my music on, I’m hoodied up, and that’s my transition time to refocus and gear-up for my workout.” Once she stretches after cardio warm up, she moves on to a variety routine that might include tire lifts, core work, dead lifts, triceps work, kick outs with resistance bands – interspersed with more cardio that could involve a few minutes on the treadmill or rower, or pushing the sled. The routine varies so that her physical condition is always pushed.

“You have to do this for you, no one else,” believes Laura. “I’m into this for my good health. Running a business, family time … it’s hard to find time for oneself. When I come through the door, I have made a commitment to work on me.”