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HIGHLAND LAKES HEALTH: Advice from local trainers on starting (and keeping) a workout routine

Charlotte Dilworth of Kingsland Health and Fitness Center

Charlotte Dilworth of Kingsland Health and Fitness Center. Staff photos

Gyms have fully adapted to the “new normal” after COVID-19 shut down much of the economy 11 months ago, with even more cleaning and sanitizing than before. Many now provide online classes and workout videos, adjusting routines to individual needs inside and outside of the gyms’ physical spaces. The Picayune Magazine talked to five local trainers for advice on how to get off the couch and challenge yourself to a happier, healthier life.


Kingsland Health and Fitness Center, 2131 RR 1431 West in Kingsland

Dilworth has been keeping Highland Lakes tushes tight for 41 years. Along with one-on-one personal training and a fully equipped gym, she offers chair yoga, weight training, Zumba, aerobics, pilates, and more. Whatever you need to stay fit and happy, she has the experience and energy to get you there. 

Her advice for starting a fitness program is to walk in the door. 

“Don’t be afraid, be committed,” she said. “And know it’s not going to happen overnight. It usually takes about three months to see results, but you’ll feel better in two weeks.

“It’s been a tough year for everybody, mentally and physically,” she continued. “It’s not just your physical health, it’s your mental health.” 


Verus Fit Transformation Lab, 708 Industrial Blvd. in Marble Falls

Richard (pronounced Ree-shard) teaches “lifestyle habits of wellness” in small teams. In fact, he calls his approach “team personal training.” 

His innovative fitness program includes working with humongous (and heavy) tires, medicine balls, and kettle weights. He mixes cardio with strength training, changing up routines to keep it interesting.

“Exercise is important for longevity, for work/life balance, for stress relief, and to fight depression,” he said. “You can get high from a workout. It releases endorphins. It makes you feel good.”

Classes tend to become like family, offering encouragement and support.

“We are good at being excuse killers,” he said. “Lots of folks tell the story of what they can’t do instead of what they can. What we do here works.” 


Mad Dawg Fitness, 1800 Texas 29 West in Burnet

Lopez is known for his weight-loss programs, which pay off with persistent dedication, he said. He is focused on helping others get rid of what he calls “the quarantine 20” — pounds that have piled up while in lockdown. It’s not just about the weight, it’s about overall health and protection from disease. 

“COVID-19 creates a risk for people with breathing problems,” Lopez said. “If you are sedentary and overweight, it puts you at greater risk.

“Everything you can do to better your health physically is why you should exercise,” he continued. 

He recommends a mixture of cardio and strength training coupled with a nutrition program for the best results.

“There’s no special pill,” he said. “You show up and work out day after day, even on the days you don’t want to.”  


Iron Tribe Strength and Conditioning, 2701 Commerce St., Suite 7, in Marble Falls

Fitness habits should be long term, “like brushing your teeth,” Alyssa Wheelis said. She and her husband, Tanner, cross train in an open-air structure set up with climbing ropes, a huge variety of weights, and a playground-like structure of bars for pull-ups, balancing, and more. 

“What we recommend is to just get moving,” Tanner said. “That’s the number one thing. People have a tendency to say, ‘Oh, I’ll start tomorrow.’ If you want to do something, start it today.” 

“It takes 21 days to build a habit,” Alyssa added. “Create a workout habit and keep on going. Call someone and talk to them while you’re on a walk. They can be your accountability partner.” 

As for why you should work out, it’s not just to live longer.

“It’s to get the most out of your life while you’re still living,” Tanner said. “No matter what stage of life you’re in, whether 70 or 25, you are at a good point to start working out. Then, you are prepared to do anything that comes across your daily lifestyle. You can embark on any adventure you want to do, whether it’s skydiving or playing with your grandkids. You can accomplish anything.”