Christie Jarvis is determined to be a much better version of herself by this time next year.
"I'm turning 40 and I wanted to give myself the gift of better health," she said. "I've never been one to care about appearance, but I need to do this. I want to be around for my grandchildren."
With Nov. 30 as her deadline, Jarvis said her goal is to lose 100 pounds. She's put her plan into action by attending personal training sessions at Atoka's newest fitness facility, CrossKick.
The gym opened six months ago at the corner of Wesley Reed Drive and Atoka-Munford Avenue and has been well-received in the community: their kickboxing classes are often full.
Trainer Brent Ruffin, who co-owns the facility with Noel Howe, tells clients to expect a tough workout.
"If you come here, you're going to sweat," he said, Jarvis laughing and nodding in agreement.
At CrossKick, you'll find workouts focused on high-intensity cardio, cross training and fitness kickboxing.
The facility has several trainers – Billy Howell, Nick Evans and Jay Black in addition to Ruffin – and several different classes and programs. Kristen Bacon leads a class for children.
Ruffin said none of the workouts is ever the same.
"As instructors, we like to keep it that way because, as far as fitness goes, with gaining and losing, if you keep your workouts the same, you're going to plateau until you change it up."
Jarvis has been training with Ruffin twice a week for three weeks and sounds surprised when she said she's enjoying herself. She has already noticed a difference in the way her clothing fits – "My son told me, 'Mom, your clothes are bumpy,'" she shares – but said Ruffin hasn't allowed her to step on a scale yet.
She is both eager and anxious to do so.
"It's been hard, and it's tempting, but I haven't done it. I have to do what he says."
"Those numbers aren't the most important thing," Ruffin said. "You have to understand you're gaining muscle but losing inches."
Like many busy moms, Jarvis wasn't sure she could take on the challenge of dedicated personal training and committing to an exercise routine, but she said she simply had to make it a priority.
Jarvis, who was recently voted Ms. Tipton County in The Leader's Best of the Best readers' choice awards, is known for being a busy volunteer. After becoming a foster parent in 2013, she cut back on her commitments but is currently the chairperson for Relay for Life of Tipton County.
Relay's mission this year is to inspire healthier living and it helped get Jarvis into the gym.
"When I found out Relay for Life was really pushing the fact that being overweight increases your risk of cancer, I got more serious about it. Then, I decided to go to Africa on a mission trip in October and I decided that I'm not going to fly over the ocean at this size; it's going to be very uncomfortable and I'm going to hate it. So, I talked to Noel and Brent and started on December 3."
Jarvis said she's also modifying her diet, making better choices and limiting indulgences.
"Having Brent as my accountability person has helped so much."
Ruffin said training and coaching is only part of the equation, that if you want to stick to a plan for weight loss and better health, you have to be dedicated to it too.
"You can be the best trainer in the world, but you've got to have a client that's willing and wanting to push hard. We've never had that problem with Christie."
Jarvis is quick to chime in and set the record straight.
"One day I flopped down on the floor and said, 'I can't do it!' Brent said, 'You what? We don't say that here.' I want to put it on Facebook because it's true: If I can do it, anyone can."
For more information on CrossKick Gym, see www.crosskickgym.com.