How the Right Local Gym Can Change Your Life

In April 2018, Justin Beinkampen weighed in at 225 lb. It was more than he’d ever weighed in his life—even though he had a membership at a local gym. Without guidance and accountability, he rarely went.

Justin glanced at his 5-foot-9 frame in the mirror.

“I was like, ‘Gee whiz, I have a big, round gut and a super dad bod rocking pretty hard,’” he recalled.

He wasn’t sleeping well. His knees hurt and he was irritable. And he was following the same path as his father, who began amassing health issues—a heart attack, congestive heart failure and cancer—in his mid-40s.

“That’s five years away,” Justin said.

Justin knew he needed to make a change, but he didn’t know how to do it.

Finding Fitness Experts in North Charleston

Justin is busy.

As a general manager for ServiceMaster of Charleston, he oversees 50 employees and restoration projects within a 30-mile radius of Charleston. He often works 11-hour days, sometimes seven days per week. When he isn’t working, he’s busy caring for his toddler son with his wife, a nurse who also works long hours.

That leaves little time for health—or so Justin thought. He belonged to a 24-hour local gym but didn’t know what to do when he got there, and no one provided the support he needed to make changes.

Meals came from either a box or a delivery guy.

“Most of the restaurants here know me on a first-name basis, unfortunately,” he said.

But as Justin stood on that scale, he thought of his son. If he wanted to meet his grand kids one day, he needed to try something new. So he set a meeting with the owners of another local gym in North Charleston, just three miles from his home in Oak Terrace Preserve.

Jason and Emma Cohen of Locomotion Fitness are themselves the busy parents of young children, and Locomotion offers free consultations in which they find out what a person needs and then suggest a tailored plan.

“It kind of felt like home pretty quick,” Justin said.

Not Just a Local Gym: A Wellness Community

Justin began training three times per week at the North Charleston gym just south of Park Circle. The multitude of class times—ranging from 5:15 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.—made it easy for Justin to work out at Locomotion no matter his schedule.

“They make it as convenient as possible for you, so it wasn’t a major sacrifice,” he said.

It helped that he didn’t have to know what to do. No more guessing about rep counts without a staff person in sight. At Locomotion, the coaches guide him every step of the way. He shows up, and they have a plan for him. They know all about his current fitness levels and his goals.

“I’m not saying (globo gyms) don’t work, but in my opinion, the average person needs someone to kick ‘em in the butt; tell ‘em this is what you need to do—but also tell them why and educate them,” Justin said.

And when his progress began to plateau about three months in, his coach had an answer for that, too.

Nutrition Experts, Too

Everyone’s progress stalls at some point. On your own at a nameless neighborhood gym, you’ll get frustrated. Maybe you’ll quit. With a coach who knows your goals watching over you, you’ll stay on track.

“(Jason) was like, ‘Look, man, I get it—you have good days and bad days,’” Justin quoted his coach. “‘But you can get rid of a lot of these bad days by really taking care of your body and eating the right things.”

Jason explained Locomotion’s in-house nutrition program, which includes biometric testing, customized meal plans and grocery lists, and ongoing individual goal-setting and accountability sessions.

“Does this sound like something you’re into?” Jason asked Justin.

“And I’m like, ‘Yes, definitely,’” Justin recalled.

Justin was paired with a personal nutrition coach, and after walking through the basics of good nutrition and taking baseline biometrics—including an InBody scan, which measures body-fat percentage, lean muscle mass and more—they met monthly to measure progress, tweak the plan and discuss goals, recipes, successes and struggles.

“That’s probably the biggest thing for me; that someone’s holding me accountable,” Justin said.

From Daily Deliver to Do-It-Yourself

Unlike other diet programs, Locomotion’s system is designed to educate, not spoon-feed. This way, clients are empowered to make healthy decisions for life. It’s about being more than just another local gym with machines and dumbbells. It’s about being a wellness center where people accomplish important life goals with invested coaches.

“They teach you how to meal prep—they’ll give you the little containers that you need to meal prep, and they post videos online of how to meal prep, how to shop, how to cook,” Justin said. “Understanding what’s a good carb, bad carb, good fat, bad fat—that in itself kind of blew my mind.”

Now, Justin is armed with recipes and techniques to make healthy cooking manageable.

“We buy the chicken, keep it in single servings, marinate it and we freeze it,” he said. “And then I’ll go home and cook dinner within 15 minutes.”

Still Busy but Still Accomplishing Health Goals

When he first started training at Locomotion, Justin couldn’t squat to parallel or run 400 m without wheezing. Today, he can run a sub-2-minute 400 and squat 360 lb. He’s lost 25 lb. and inches off his waistline, and is less than 20 percent body fat. He no longer has knee pain.

“I’ve got more energy than I’ve ever had,” he said.

And he says that what used to feel like a sacrifice—making time for his health—gives back more than it takes.

“Life just seems easier,” he said. “I’m definitely more patient, and I definitely think I handle stress better. … And a better me is a better husband, a better father, a better manager and everything else.”

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