The Rosemary Street gym is pushing the norms for personal fitness and giving its clients top-notch care
By Chiara Evans / Photography by John Michael Simpson
As an undergraduate student studying exercise and sport science at UNC, Cody Johnson jumped at the opportunity to join the Chapel Hill Training team. He learned about personal training and the managerial side of running a fitness studio by shadowing co-owner Lauren Cruz as an intern in 2012, two years after the West Rosemary Street studio opened. He eventually started working there part time, leaving to work in Durham for a year. When Lauren decided to move to Philadelphia to pursue her master’s, she offered 23-year-old Cody a position to run the studio.
“I thought it would be a fun challenge to take on,” Cody says. A few years later, he became a co-owner of the gym, which houses six trainers and a health coach. Staff are required to hold a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in exercise science, exercise physiology or exercise psychology in addition to a high-level certification in personal training.
“That really makes sure that our staff knows the science behind what they’re going to be implementing so that we can use research-based principles in our program design when we are working with our clients,” Cody says.
Chapel Hill Training offers an abundance of classes – from small group training sessions and personal training to on-demand classes or health coaching. “Every single time that we’re going into one of the sessions, we are focused on what these clients need when it comes to their exercise goals for today,” Cody says.
“Keeping them in a small group also allows us to talk to them about things outside the studio that are going to influence how they’re training today.” He says personal trainers will discuss anything from orthopedic needs and sleep patterns to what their clients ate for breakfast.
“Group training oftentimes is not very specific to an individual,” Cody says, “and we’re really trying to make something here that’s affordable for people to do but also gives them the attention and the focus that people need to really get where they want to be when it comes to their health and fitness.”
He says personal training is the “bread and butter” of what Chapel Hill Training offers. These one-on-one sessions provide accountability and personal guidance based on a client’s physical and mental needs as well as their health and fitness goals.
One longtime client, Lauren Leve, says when she started at Chapel Hill Training five years ago, she was recovering from chronic fatigue. She says she started to feel improvement after two classes. “It is the best inner, strategic, targeted, rewarding investment that [people] can make in themselves,” Lauren says. “And it’s because the folks there will take them as they are and bring them to where they want to be.”