While many people may not know what they have until it’s gone, Mint Hill business owner Rhonda Walker definitely realizes—–and celebrates—–her loss.
“I cannot believe this was you!” exclaimed Katie Higgins, noticing a photo of Walker displayed by the front desk of Tone Your Temple fitness studio.
“That was me!” Walker replies without hesitating, revealing that she once carried an additional 100 pounds on her now-trim frame.
More than 20 years later, Walker still easily remembers that extra weight and its heavy toll on her life, physically, mentally and spiritually.
“I just was not happy,” she said.
Following the birth of her first child in the early 90s, she decided to take control of her health and began exercising and eating healthier. Her consistent efforts lead to a metamorphosis not only in her physical appearance and health, but also throughout her life. Several years later, she began sharing her success for others as a personal trainer.
“People started asking me questions because I was there all the time,” Walker said, recalling how her business began with conversations at the gym. “It started out as a passion.”
In 2005, that passion lead to the creation of Tone Your Temple fitness. Inside a calm yet colorful studio at 11205 Lawyers Road, Walker offers a wide variety of individual and group fitness programs, from kickboxing and the Pilates-yoga hybrid, “PiYo,” to strength and personal training.
She also provides nutrition plans for many of her clients as well as guidance to help keep them on track. Through years of experience, Walker understands that motivation can often be of the largest stumbling blocks.
“I find more so that my clients have a problem with just keeping with the exercise regimen,” she said, adding that she frequently texts clients with reminders for upcoming workouts or just to provide words of encouragement.
“I am constantly texting, saying, ‘I’ll see you this evening’ or ‘I know it was a hard session today but it will get better.’ I really put myself into it because I want them to reach their goals,” she said.
That includes encouragement for clients such as Higgins, who recently attended her first Gentle PiYo class. She is still experiencing the effects of a serious vehicle accident several years ago, she said. While the recent session left her feeling sore and weak, she said she will remain persistent and looks forward to the benefit.
Mint Hill resident Grace Thayer, who recently returned after a long hiatus, remembers those benefits well.
“I just started back last week after two years, and I didn’t really know how much I missed it,” Thayer said. “It makes you feel better all over, mind body and soul.”
Thayer plans to attend frequently, with a goal of returning to the more challenging noon session. Clients can pay for each individual class, or purchase a monthly class package.
Walker works to make sure clients such as Higgins and Thayer attain and maintain their goals, for physical but also mental fitness. She ends each session with a “thought of the day” and recommends a holistic approach to fitness.
Walker is also grateful for her supportive family, including her husband of 24 years, John, and their children, Elaina, Joshua, Caleb, and Moriah. Ranging in ages from 23 to 11, they are one of the main motivators for her focus on fitness, she said. As her poster reminds clients when they enter the studio, the benefits of a healthy lifestyle can often be an inspiration to others.
“One of the main reasons that I also wanted to maintain my health was for my children,” she said. “I wanted them to be healthy. In order for them to be healthy, I had to set the proper lifestyle for them.”
For more information on classes and personal training sessions available at Tone Your Temple, visit toneyourtemple.com.