By Deborah Bostock-Kelley

Conveniently located in the heart of Carrollwood, 20 Minutes to Fitness is nothing like a sweaty, big box gym that you force yourself to work out for hours every day. After thirteen years of having their successful studios in Sarasota, Florida, partners Virginia Phillips, Al Roach, and Angela Begin opened their Carrollwood location in 2017. Their goal was to be a health and fitness resource for any age and any fitness level and provide 20-minute one-on-one personal fitness training once a week under the watchful eye of an experienced coach. 

“We are the anti-gym. We do not want to be lopped in with the big box gyms because we’re not. We’re health and fitness studios. It’s always one-on-one, and everything is by appointment. Clients move weights very slowly to force their muscles to do the work versus momentum and gravity; therefore, it is much safer than traditional strength training. So safe that doctors refer their patients because they know we will take good care of them, “ explained Virginia. “We chose Carrollwood because it’s a beautiful area with a lot of people, the right demographics for what we do.” 

In her forties, Virginia regularly competed in body-building. She knew the danger of overexertion working in a gym. When she and her husband researched the proven science behind the strength-building methods employed by exercising following a specific protocol for 20 minutes, they knew this was a niche that they could fill. 

“We realized people no longer have to spend hours at a gym to get the same or better results. We wanted to create this fitness company that could fit into anyone’s lifestyle that’s safe for any age,” Virginia explained.  

Angela relayed her favorite story about an older client who had difficulty once seated, getting back up from the floor.

“I love how we help our clients. It’s very rewarding to see people achieve their goals,” she said. “We had a client who wanted to be able to get down on the floor and play with her grandkids and be able to get up off the floor without having to struggle or have her grandkids help her. After time in the program, she came in so excited and said, ‘watch me’ and proceeded to get down on the floor and got right back up. She said, ‘I can do that now because of 20 Minutes to Fitness.’ I have clients come in my door all the time telling me how they can do things that they couldn’t do before, that their bone density scan came back and it’s improved, or just someone who says, ‘I have to tell you how amazing this place is, how it’s changed my life.’ That makes me want to come to work every day.”

Using scientifically based strength-building methods, a 20-minute training session using state-of-the-art high-end equipment, originally designed for physical therapy patients, equates to a workout up to three or more hours in a traditional gym. The studio is kept at 68 degrees, so the workout is sweatless. This is perfect for the busy professional who wants to do an effective, efficient workout on a lunch break and return to work. 

“Our average age is 50s to 60s, and we certainly have younger 40s and older. My oldest client is 96,” she said. “We have 70 and 80-year-olds who understand this is a safe place to be, and they want to stay mobile. If you’re not doing something to combat losing muscle tissue as we age (sarcopenia), you’re going to lose it. That threatens mobility, all your organs, because muscle pulls the blood flow and oxygen to all of our organs. We want to reverse sarcopenia.”

Virginia explained that so many people who discovered 20 Minutes to Fitness lacked the energy to go for a walk, play with their children or grandchildren, try to juggle a family, and work full-time.

“As soon as you start doing strength-training and building muscle, very quickly you realize you have more energy. You feel better. Your balance is improved because you are no longer losing your core and quad strength. You start losing body fat and start to tone up because you are increasing muscle tissue that is metabolically active. Muscle burns twenty-four/seven. Muscle is key to controlling diabetes, increasing bone density. There are lots of benefits to building muscle and strength training.”

Virginia encourages her clients to have a substantial breakfast, not just coffee, before working out.

“When you don’t have fuel, it doesn’t work very well. We talk about nutrition because we want them to have a great workout, get more energy, and get the results that they are looking for.”

During a complimentary one-hour orientation appointment, guests can experience several pieces of equipment to understand what it is like to work out on the specialized equipment and why it is so effective. 

“They learn the benefits, the effectiveness of it and not spending hours in the gym and getting hurt. Overtraining is never good. It’s not allowing your body time to rest and recover. If you are going to take your body to peak performance, allow anywhere from 3 to 6 days of rest and recovery.”

Unlike a gym, where CDC guidelines may not be as easy to enforce, at 20 Minutes to Fitness, staggered appointments ensure the staff has time to disinfect between clients, and CDC protocols are stringently enforced.

“Even though the Florida government temporarily closed us during the early pandemic, when we were approved to reopen, we knew we could control how many people we have in the studio. We control the social distancing,” Virginia explained. 

“Every one of our team members is compassionate and dedicated and wants to help our clients improve their quality of life. They are extremely qualified, or they wouldn’t be with us. We’re all a family, and that’s something I never want to lose. We have each other’s back. We are so passionate about what we do and how we change people’s lives. Our clients talk to us about it all the time, and we’re just grateful for it.”

Angela added, “We have a great staff and a great atmosphere. It truly is a family here, and that’s the wonderful thing about this place. For people who say that they don’t have the time, my initial reaction is, do you have time to be sick or not have energy? This really helps. I tell people all the time, come in and try us. You never know what you can achieve until you come in, talk with us, and see for yourself.” 

20 Minutes to Fitness is located at 11610 North Dale Mabry Highway. The studio has no contracts nor membership fees. Clients can purchase sessions in quantities of 1, 6, 12, 24, and 48. The studio is open by appointment Monday through Friday, from 7 am to 7 pm, and Saturday, 8 am to 1 pm. To learn more, visit www.20minutestofitness.com or call the studio at 813.664.8888.