Angela Hodge wasn’t about to let the coronavirus pandemic stand in the way of her dream: Opening her own private fitness studio.
It’s been 10 years in the making, ever since Hodge became a certified personal trainer following a complete lifestyle change and 150-pound weight loss.
Everything was in order. Hodge was going to take over the space previously occupied by Daru Strong Fitness Center, which closed March 13, and was supposed to open her gym April 1 after a two-week renovation.
COVID-19 complicated things.
But after 10 weeks of waiting, Hodge was able to debut The Fitness Suite — a private gym with five personal trainers focusing on total body transformations, sport specific training, bodybuilding competition preparation and children’s fitness classes — May 25.
“Contractors would look at me and say, ‘Lady, are you crazy?’” said Hodge, 48, of Port St. Lucie. “But they don’t know the base that I’ve built. Look what I’ve created. Look what I’m about to give others. It has literally been everything to me, all that and more.”
Hodge previously worked as a cosmetologist at a Palm City nail salon and spa she co-owned with her father and sister, she said. Though she had been overweight her whole life, Hodge said she really lost herself running the family business.
“One day I just woke up and decided I can’t do this anymore,” she said. “We closed the business down. I hired a personal trainer, quit smoking, quit drinking; and from that day forward, my life progressed.”
Hodge would have never believed she would love exercising and even started teaching a boot camp part-time at Indian Riverside Park, she said. Being a fitness instructor became her passion.
Hodge earned personal training certification in 2010 and has worked at several gyms since then, building relationships with clients who followed her to new jobs.
“It was a sign for me that this was what I was supposed to do,” she said. “It showed me that it wasn’t about the perfect outward image; it’s about how you feel about yourself.”
Thirty-five clients stuck with her through the shutdown, joining Hodge at The Fitness Suite when it finally opened. New members have also signed up, she said. Hodge has added eight more to her roster since opening, and the gym’s other trainers have seen an increase, too.
The coronavirus pandemic was a blessing in disguise, she said.
Closing for over two months gave Hodge the time to prepare opening in “the new normal.” The personal trainers are operating only by appointment and only with one or two people at a time.
Everyone inside the studio has to wear a face shield.
The Fitness Studio is still a work in progress, Hodge said, but she hopes the gym will be completed by mid-July.
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, Hodge said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I was always searching for an environment that people could go into and feel comfortable, where they didn’t feel that people were staring at them,” she said. “That’s the environment I’ve created.”
The Fitness Studio is at 1239 S.E. Indian St., Suite 105, in Stuart. For more information, call 772-323-7164 or email email@example.com.
Catie Wegman is a community reporter who also produces “Ask Catie,” an occasional feature to find answers to your burning questions about anything and everything — the more bizarre the better. Support her work with a TCPalm subscription. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 772-221-4211 and follow her @Catie_Wegman on Twitter and @catiewegman1 on Facebook.