Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach
MARY ESTHER — Some might call him the director of health and fitness; to others, though, he’s the positivity expert.
Teddy Savage of Planet Fitness is both.
And he’s on a mission to make everyone as optimistic as him and, of course, to work out.
“I’m not really one of the titles, but I really love that title because it goes into our perspective,” Savage said. “I think positivity is a choice. We all have moments in life where we can either choose to be positive or choose to look at it from a negative lens. And as a positivity expert, I want to empower people to choose the positive side of things. Find ways to be thankful for what we have, to be thankful for the ability to move our bodies even if it’s for a limited time for limited capacity.”
Savage has a passion for spreading his own optimism. He traces it back to his childhood.
“I grew up in a household that was all about service to others,” Savage said. “My mom was a preacher and my father retired from the postal service, so I was always shown that you should be selfless in your approach to life … . My platform to give joy and happiness and prosperity and longevity has been fitness. It’s really a vehicle for change people can grab ahold of and make their own.”
And Savage practices what he preaches.
When he wakes up, the first thing he likes to do is stretch out his hamstrings. He might do a couple of body weight squats while he brushes his teeth, some calf raises or lateral steps to the right and left while he is whipping up an omelet.
He calls them “mighty moments.”
“There’s always gonna be time in your day where you can discover those mighty moments,” Savage said. “And a lot of people think that working out has to exist in 60- to 90-minute windows when it really doesn’t. If you can find 10 to 15 minutes just to increase your heart rate, beats per minute and really focus on your cardio inventory indoors, then that’s all you need.”
Everyone has an opportunity to win the day as soon as they wake up, he said. He recommends starting with jumping jacks or stretching, which also will trigger the release of endorphins.
Exercise is the secret to positivity, he explained.
“These are chemicals that the brain releases when you do physical activity that are responsible for your mental disposition,” Savage said. “And that’s the way that people stay positive. It’s not about doing some extraordinary different things. Just make small moments count for a large result in the end.”
Savage also has advice for people who just aren’t feeling it.
“A lot of times when we, when we find ourselves being downtrodden, it’s because we’re looking outwardly and everything that we’ve ever needed to be the person that we want to be lives within ourselves,” Savage said. “The moment that we realize that we can take steps towards becoming that. It’s more about how you feel than it is about how you look.”
COVID-19 has messed up a lot of things, Savage said, but fitness isn’t one of them.
“Fitness has been shown that it can be flexible,” Savage said. “It can be fluid, and it can really be wherever you are. It’s the best accessory because it travels as well. And it also shows that no matter where you’re starting in your journey, whether you’re a novice, intermediate, fitness enthusiast, you can start and your starting point is uniquely your own.”
When establishing a workout routine, Savage suggests a comprehensive approach with a bit of upper body, lower body and cardio — and it doesn’t have to be at a gym.
“In terms of upper body, you can do push ups that really start to engage those chest, shoulders and triceps muscles,” Savage said. “You can do some dips, and you can do this off of your couch or sturdy chair, where you have your elbows in, your fingertips facing forward and a pronounced chest.”
He also suggests working out the muscles used to pull, the back and biceps. Bicep curls can be done with water bottles or canned goods, he said.
“Then you wanna start to strengthen the back muscles because they help us to stay upright even when you’re sitting down or standing for long periods of time,” Savage said. “So you can do a couple of hip hinges. You stand with your feet about hip width apart. Act like your hip is the hinge to a gate. You close that gate by lowering your chest towards the ground, stop that about parallel, and get right back up to start. This will really start to strengthen those muscles that support the spinal column.”
He also pointed out that the core can be done standing, such as standing crunches.
The most important muscle, though, is the heart, he said.
“You can run in place,” Savage said. “You can do jumping jacks. You can bound out, making sure that you land nice and soft. Even if you don’t have a jump rope, you can have a pretended jump rope, and it’s great because that’s another thing I want to stress to the readers is that fitness can be creative and it can be fun. It doesn’t need to be a chore and it doesn’t need to exist in conventional ways.”
Regardless of whether someone goes to the gym, Savage wants people to know they are beautiful, he said.
“You are amazing and extraordinary right now,” Savage said. “Whatever circumstances you so happen to be in the midst of right now, you’re amazing. Take steps to adding a little bit of that flair, that sauce on top of it, and do it for yourself. Don’t do it for anyone else, or you wanna look like or be like someone else. Do it because it’s gonna add value to your life and your longevity, and you’ll ultimately find joy and peace and prosperity in that.”
Teddy Savage recommends using the free Planet Fitness app or attending a virtual workout at 6 p.m. Monday through Friday on the Planet Fitness Facebook Page.
“Those workouts usually only last about 20 minutes, and the best part about it you don’t need any equipment whatsoever,” Savage said. “So you don’t need to have both the equipment or any heavy weights at your house to get a super effective workout.”
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