By Kim Walter
STEPHENS CITY -- There's a new chick in town, and she's small, yellow and fit.
The mascot for Chick Fitness in Stephens City was developed two years ago, but can now be seen upon entering the recently opened all-women's fitness facility located at 760 Warrior Drive.
Owner/instructor Hilary Greene said it was a dream come true when the doors opened on Feb. 11. She and a friend had the idea of operating a fitness website centered on the "fit chick revolution" several years ago, but it fizzled out.
The idea got new life, though, when Greene entered a contest last May to win $30,000 to go toward positively impacting and empowering women. She submitted an essay describing a place - Chick Fitness - where women could go for group classes, personal training and health education, and not feel intimidated.
"I had to include a name, and Chick Fitness just kind of came out, and it stuck," she said as she stood in the entryway of the business Tuesday morning.
Greene was selected as one of 15 national finalists. She didn't win, but getting noticed gave her the nudge she needed to make the idea a reality.
"I thought, if someone else believes in this and thinks it's worth it, then I can do it," she said. "I had to."
Born and raised in Stephens City, Greene has long been interested in fitness and maintaining an active lifestyle. She was a nurse for 18 years until she got a little "burnt out."
"I kept hearing from women that there was no place for them to go to get that feeling of empowerment and accountability," she said. "A lot of women, at a variety of ages, are intimidated walking into a room full of machines that they don't know how to use, and then seeing super fit men and women looking at them. At that point, it's easy to give up."
Greene took her nursing, as well as health and fitness background, and became a personal trainer. She decided the focus of such an all-women's facility should be on education as well as workouts.
"You have to be educated before you can make a lasting positive change in your life," she said.
In the midst of planning the facility, Greene held a contest to pick a mascot, which ultimately came from a student in a Manassas school art class. Greene bought the rights, and now the "Fit Chick" can be found on a bright pink wall, as well as onT-shirts and hats.
The mascot is a pleasant-looking chick, wearing her sweatbands and pumping a couple of hand weights, but she's not overly bulky. Greene said she felt the image lent itself to how a woman should approach getting fit - setting realistic goals, and not focusing on numbers or how the "media says a woman should look."
Chick Fitness members receive a once-a-month personal consultation, which includes setting goals, learning about proper nutrition and their body's make up as well as how family history factors in to all of that.
"We're thinking genetically, because maybe you aren't meant to be a [size] 2,4,6 or 8," Greene said. "You can be a 10 and be perfectly healthy. And just because someone is a 2 or 4 doesn't mean they're healthy ... there is such a thing as being skinny-fat."
Chick Fitness also offers a variety of classes, ranging in levels of intensity, from beginners looking for a complete change, to women training for races. Prenatal yoga, mother-daughter classes, kids yoga and Zumba are among the workouts offered.
Greene said another positive is the range in age of the instructors. Her youngest is 21, with the oldest is in her 50s.
"I think the relationship is so important for the instructor to build with members, too," she said. "They try new things and ask for member feedback; they laugh at themselves and each other ... we want this to be fun, something the women want to do and look forward to."
Chick Fitness has some events planned for the future. Starting this month, Greene will recruit local health experts to speak on a variety of topics important to women. The events will be free to members and offered to the public for a small fee.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Greene plans to host a 5K. Funds from the event will benefit the planned veterans memorial in the Newtown Commons. Greene said it's been a project for several years.
In April, Greene wants to make Chick Fitness the meeting place for a walk/run club, which would be free to any woman in the community. She said she hopes to use a walking trail near the business.
"I understand how close-knit this community is," she said. "I just want women to get up and [keep] moving ... it doesn't matter if they're a member or not, I just want them to know that they aren't in the fitness journey alone. I guess it's kind of my way of giving back."
Once a month, Greene also would like to have a 'girls night out,' during which a different kind of fitness class would be held -- something like belly dancing or a chair tease.
"It's got to be fun and flirty," she said. "Not a normal thing you would find in a gym."
Along with its large group workout room, Chick Fitness has a cardio room with treadmills and elliptical machines. Greene said eventually she'd like to add a cycling class, and maybe even expand to the vacant space next door.
There are currently four ways to be a "Fit Chick." A yearly membership at $29.99 a month gives members everything Chick Fitness has to offer, including all classes, monthly consultations with a personal trainer, access to the cardio room and free entrance to speakers and extra events. A three-month membership for $100 will include all classes, seminars and the cardio room, and a punch pass for $50 will be good for 10 classes. For those interested, with no commitment, any class can be attended at any time for $6.
All new members receive a free one-week trial.
Greene uses her business's Facebook page to advertise giveaways, which begin this month, and to post links to articles dealing with women's health. She also recently started a healthy recipe swap and a monthly newsletter, and plans to hold some special boot camps as summer approaches to get women "swimsuit-ready."
"I'm excited to meet all the women who are ready to join a revolution of positive change," Greene said. "You might fail sometimes, or have days where you don't even feel like getting out of bed. But you can't beat yourself up. As women, we pick ourselves up and move forward."
For more information, a full class schedule and hours, go to www.fitchickrevolution.com, or check the Facebook page by searching "Chick Fitness LLC."
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org