September 4, 2019

THERESA JAVA/Free Press
Professional fitness trainer Chris Merrell devises individual workouts and programs for clients in his new studio, Beyond Traditional Wellness.

THERESA JAVA/Free Press Professional fitness trainer Chris Merrell devises individual workouts and programs for clients in his new studio, Beyond Traditional Wellness.

PLANTATION KEY — Fitness trainer Chris Merrell says there’s a mental element to being physically fit and that everyone controls their own stress level. Rather than harboring any toxicity, he recommends taking a 30-minute walk.

Fitness is a personal journey but sometimes people need some guidance, which is what Merrell offers.

“Add a few pushups to the beginning and the end of your walk to release endorphins,” he said, and, by adding in more physical activity little by little every day, people adapt quickly to a new, healthy learned behavior.

Theresa Java/Free Press
Chris Merrell demonstrates a suspended pushup at his Beyond Traditional Wellness studio in the Indian Mound neighborhood on Plantation Key.

These are just a few suggestions Merrell may recommend to those seeking a healthier lifestyle through his new Upper Keys fitness studio, Beyond Traditional Wellness.

“My favorite saying is, ‘On good days, work out. On bad days, work out harder,’” he said.

No one is born lazy. That’s an acquired behavior.

“Fitness is something that is completely accessible all on your own,” Merrell said. “It’s something, just like every other life skill, that can be learned, and once you learn form and how to really push yourself, you can lead a higher quality of life.”

Beyond Traditional Wellness aims to provide nutritional knowledge and exercise form and create muscle memory to help people become more fitness-minded and move toward a healthier lifestyle.

Merrell stresses the importance of form and says that body weight squats are among the trickiest to master.

When squats are done with an elongated spine and knees above the toes, they are more effective than doing a higher rep count, which is also a setup for injury, Merrell said.

Beyond Traditional Wellness fitness programs can be scaled to all ages and levels with a progressive and responsive approach. Merrell teaches the importance of metabolic conditioning, cardiovascular exercises, body control or learning how to move with a focus on keeping correct biomechanical methods.

Merrell started his career in health and wellness as a message therapist but shifted to training after realizing that most of his clients were seeking relief from a sport- or weight-related injury.

“Fitness is for everyone, all ages, kids with an attention deficit and for the wheelchair-bound,” he said. “I teach people fitness and get them motivated to do it intentionally and do it right. … When you walk in, you’re going to leave with education. This is the way to do it.”

Merrell said he provides people with the tools and know-how to push themselves toward healthier habits.

He also estimates that diet contributes 65 to 70 percent to the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.

Beyond Traditional Wellness provides small group classes of up to six, private and semi-private sessions, and massage therapy. Merrell is looking to add more classes before his grand opening in October.

The studio is located at 89240 Overseas Highway, Suite 2.

For more information, find Beyond Traditional Wellness on Instagram and Facebook @BTW.JUSTGO, email Merrell at btwjustgo@gmail.com or call 305-395-2316.

tjava@keysnews.com