Personal trainer Claude Hafez believes most everyone can move and she won’t take “no” for an answer.
“Regardless of age or injuries or limitations, everyone can move. You think you don’t want to move anymore, and you feel like the chair is calling you to just sit down, but I want everyone around me to keep moving. That’s why I named my business ‘Keep Moving With Claude.’ ”
Hafez opened her business with a one-of-a-kind credential for the Tri-Cities area as she is the only certified master trainer from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
After more than six years at the Kennewick Gold’s Gym, Hafez went out on her own while based out of the Mission Accomplished Gym at 5601 W. Clearwater Ave. in Kennewick.
Hafez said every one of her 60 clients followed her to the new location where she trains people of any age but has a passion for working with seniors.
“I love seeing people whose balance is better; they’re losing weight and moving easier. It’s so rewarding. It’s like someone gave me a million dollars,” she said.
Hafez has many success stories to tell from a variety of clients who arrived with shoulder issues, knee problems or lowered strength that often comes with age.
“Anyone who comes to me starts with simple movements and finds it makes a huge difference in their everyday lifestyle by adding daily movement,” she said.
She had a client in his late 50s with Parkinson’s who could only walk backward and had given up hope regaining the ability to walk forward.
Hafez said no one else wanted to train him. “I said, ’OK, I’m going to train this person,’ and I jumped in. His back muscles were very, very weak and his front muscles were very strong. I did an assessment to find what kind of imbalanced muscles he had, and he worked five days a week for six months and started walking forward again. He couldn’t believe it himself. He is a different person now. He couldn’t stop crying and it’s just so rewarding.”
To become a master trainer by the NASM, Hafez had to complete multiple prior certifications in several specialties, including corrective exercise, performance enhancement (intended for athletes), and weight loss. “I didn’t want to stop learning; I keep enjoying it,” she said.
Hafez hasn’t been living and breathing fitness and nutrition her whole life.
An immigrant from Lebanon who arrived in the U.S. after witnessing decades of war, Hafez was once overweight herself.
“I was big, and I didn’t want to move. I was just eating muffins and drinking orange juice. And one day I looked in the mirror and said, ‘This is not me. I’m still young. I don’t want to end up being a couch potato.’ ”
She made a plan to hire a personal trainer but then had a restless night thinking she could do it herself. “I Googled, ‘What is the best certification to become a personal trainer?’ I found the National Academy of Sports Medicine and I registered that same day so I couldn’t change my mind tomorrow,” she said.
After she figured out how to help herself, Hafez decided to help people in the community.
“I want to show people how to be healthy, be fit and be active. It’s not about getting a six-pack; it’s about enjoying life and what they are doing every day,” she said.
That was a goal shared by Maggie Shearer, 63. “I found I was losing strength, and couldn’t do things around the house as well. Claude helped me get my strength back. She’s really familiar with older bodies. They’re not as elastic and don’t recover as quickly, but we didn’t want to give up all the good stuff,” she joked.
Shearer comes to Keep Moving once a week for an hourlong session with two friends, Loria Kirsch, 60, and Joan Young, 67. The trio focuses on exercises that keep their balance and strength through compound muscle movements.
“I really like that she works on balance a lot with us,” Kirsch said. “We’re at that age where once you start losing it, that’s it.”
Kirsch and Shearer have been working with Hafez since 2016 and recently brought Young into the group training, which can make the sessions more affordable.
Hafez doesn’t operate on a contract basis, with sessions costing $65 per hour for one-on-one training or $45 per hour for a buddy workout.
She’ll also do 30-minute sessions for a single person for $45, usually for people coming back after surgery.
Group sessions are limited to three people so that no one compromises their form and risks injury.
Hafez is so confident people will find her service valuable that she has offered to refund their money if they don’t see a difference after a couple weeks.
“I just want to motivate them somehow. You know you’re not going to lose your money, right? Just lose my time. I’m happy to do this. But in a couple weeks they find they feel good after they work out and it changes the whole day,” she said.
Every new client starts with an assessment to get a baseline, which also accounts for any prior injuries, imbalance or deficiencies in strength. “So no one is going to be coming in here and start jumping and doing push ups and dead lifts,” Hafez said.
“From there, we build a program just for you. I do a lot of balance, mobility and joint workouts. This way we work more muscles at the same time. When you sit down on a machine, like the chest press, you work one muscle at a time. Instead, I put clients on the ball, if they have good balance, and when they do a chest press, they are also working their core, their legs, their glutes and their hamstrings, but their main focus is the chest. But just by being on the ball, they are moving more muscles so it takes less time to feel strong.”
Without a contract, Hafez isn’t trying to lock people into a set number of visits in the way a physical therapist might have with an insurance authorization. She provides each client with a written copy of their personalized workout and encourages them to do it on their own time.
Hafez is also certified in the TRX suspension trainers that use your own body weight to offer resistance and improve balance.
Young said she’s heard the success stories herself. “My friend has rheumatoid arthritis and says the resistance training has saved her life,” she said.
The goal of Keep Moving with Claude is to encourage people to move 30 to 45 minutes a day to feel the impact.
“You don’t need me your whole life,” Hafez said. “Not all people can afford a personal trainer for their whole life, but since I write everything down, your workout is your workout. I don’t want people to stay with me. My goal is just to keep people moving and that way you’re going to save your bones, you’re going to save your bone density, you’re going to save your joints, and you’re going to be enjoying more things like walking, playing golf, playing pickleball, or enjoying your grandkids.”
Keep Moving With Claude: 5601 W. Clearwater Ave., Kennewick; 503-369-4745; kmwclaude.com.
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