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In 2003 when I finished graduate school at age 32, I weighed 213 lbs. I have struggled with my weight all my life, as does every single member of my family. I have always liked being active, but as the “fat kid” in elementary school, I was never encouraged to do sports, and my family was not a particularly active family when I was growing up, although I was encouraged by my father to learn some things and I did take tennis lessons, etc. In high school I was on the swim team for a period. In my 20’s I had some knee injuries and then I just sort of gave up on the idea of being an athletic person, and I started gaining more weight and stopped exercising much. I had some knee surgery through my late 20’s and I always enjoyed the little exercise I got (including the knee rehab), and I had a period of time when I saw a nutritionist in grad school. Still, maintaining an active lifestyle and committing to losing weight never stuck. But when I finished grad school and my weight was 213, I knew I had to do something. Over the next few years, I lost a lot of weight by watching what I ate and doing some light exercise, and by around 2006 I was down to about 155-165 lbs, which was a major achievement.

When I moved to New Orleans in 2007, I gained the usual “NOLA 15” from all the good food, and over the next few years I would gain and lose the same 10 to 20 lbs over and over, bouncing between about 185 and 165. I then decided I really wanted to do something that would stick for good. When I got up to 185 again, I joined the UNO gym and saw a great nutritionist there who worked with me on changing my eating habits, but she also gave me the best advice I’ve ever gotten: see a personal trainer. I started seeing a trainer at UNO and it changed my life. I loved lifting weights and loved getting more muscular. I really actually enjoyed the physical activity, and I liked how gaining muscle kicked up my metabolism and made it easier to lose or maintain a healthier weight.

Then a friend of mine told me that there was going to be a kettlebell class at his martial arts gym in the Bywater, and I had heard about kettlebell and had been interested, so I started taking kettlebell with Brandon Bergeron at 6 a.m. twice a week in the Bywater! I loved kettlebell, how it combines strength training and cardio: it’s really the best of all possible worlds. And it’s relatively easy on my bad knees! I could see results pretty quickly in terms of gaining strength. Also, Brandon is super friendly and a skilled and patient teacher. His attention to learning proper form, so that I could do major workouts without injury, was key for me. When Brandon and Brian Adams opened Cypress Fitness, I knew I couldn’t give up my kettlebell classes and so I came right over to Cypress.

Since Cypress opened, with the regular schedule of strength and kettlebell classes, and the diversity of different teachers, I’ve gained muscle and gotten much, much stronger. I’m not vain about many things, but I really love my arm muscles now! I cannot stress enough that taking kettlebell and Cypress strength classes only a couple of times per week has significantly improved my strength, endurance, and overall health. What’s great about Cypress is that the trainers are all excellent, I can choose classes based on my schedule and the trainers I like best, and there is a kettlebell-only class on Monday nights that allows me to stick with my one true love, the kettlebell (although strength classes are great too). My knees will probably always be screwed up, and Cypress teachers are good about giving me modifications of some of the work we do, so I don’t get injured. The group class schedule and the 10-hour cancellation policy forces me to commit to classes (which everyone needs), and I look forward to seeing people I know in class. During class, when I see a woman I know pick up a heavier kettlebell than I was going to choose, it inspires me to try the heavier weight, so the Cypress community definitely maintains a spirit of helping each other improve and challenging each other. In addition to lots of strength classes with many of the trainers at Cypress, I’ve also now taken two Tai Chi seminars with Brian Adams. Tai Chi helps me with strength but also with everyday life stress and my spirit.

In 2014, although I’d gotten back down to weighing about 155-165, I was frustrated by my yearly yo-yo of 10 lbs up and down, and I wanted to get down to 150 and stay there (that’s a normal BMI for me), and the trainers at Cypress (especially Brandon) often encourage us to set goals. So, I started nutrition sessions with Brandon. Working with Brandon on nutrition helped me make some permanent or semi-permanent changes in the way I eat, and gave me tools I can use whenever I need them. I reached my goal of 150, and I even kept losing weight until in summer 2015 I weighed about 142 lbs, the lowest I’ve ever weighed in my adult life, and I was as strong as I’ve ever been as well. Even now, if I feel myself slipping up in weight, I know I can always get some nutrition sessions with Brandon and he’ll help me get myself back on track.

Recently I was in a car accident, and when I saw my chiropractor afterwards, she told me “you’re really lucky you’re in such great shape now.”  I really suspect that the upper body strength I have from kettlebell kept me from being injured quite as badly as I would have otherwise, and I have a good baseline of strength for doing my rehabilitation. Right now, that feels like a huge benefit I’ve gained from Cypress!

In short, Cypress Fitness has improved my life and I can’t imagine a future when I won’t be doing IKFF-style kettlebell forever, no matter where I live and no matter how old I get. There is something about the Cypress model that feels like magic: I can go just a couple of times a week and see huge results, and the trainers and the other people in my classes make it feel like a community who really care about each other’s health. The combination of good trainers plus people with knowledge who can help with things like nutrition (plus even martial arts) is fantastic. I’m with Cypress for good.

– A.L., Age 44

We all have that piece of clothing in our closet that is our “reach” piece.  You buy it, or keep it because you want to lose enough weight to fit in it.  For me, it was a cobalt blue Hugo Boss sheath dress I had purchased last December (2014).  It was a size to small, but to good of a deal to pass up.  As I was deciding what to wear for work last month (September 2015) I came across the dress and decided it was time to try it on again and see if I had made any progress.  As I zipped the dress up I was amazed and excited that it was now loose on my body!  I was filled with excitement, pride and sense of accomplishment!  I could not have gotten to where I am today without my workouts at Cypress Fitness.  I have been participating in personal training with Brian and group classes with all the other trainers.  I like the mix of the customized individual workouts and the team comradery environment of the group classes.  The confidence I have gained from becoming stronger, feeling better and looking better is all owed to working out at Cypress Fitness.  I have worked out at many different facilities, but never gotten the results that I have here.  If you are looking for a fitness center to help you achieve your personal goals, Cypress Fitness is hands down the place you should be working out.

– Raeann Sarsfield

Truly superb. I had never done classes before, but I’m hooked, plus I go all the time just to use the open gym (which comes with the reasonably priced classes). This is NOT a place with a bunch of gimmicky add-ons like fancy new cardio machines promising weight loss in no time, tanning booths, or hot stone massages. This is a place where regular, motivated folk go to get solid exercise.

The trainers are fantastic, and they really hold the place together. Even if you’re exercising alone, they’ll never hesitate to answer questions or give you form recommendations if you want, but they’re also never intrusive. I think it stands as a testimony to the trainers’ skill that the gender ratio is pretty even in the classes, i.e. they manage to create an positive, serious, but not intimidating atmosphere. Other people in the classes are unanimously friendly (I get my movie and football news during the warm up, usually). Overall, I feel like I spend less time and mental effort exercising but I’m in better shape.

– William F.

I’ve had a bad back since Junior High. When I got my first MRI fifteen years later, the doctor said my spine looked like that of “an eighty-year old ex-rodeo rider.” I’ve always been an athlete, but when I came to Cypress Fitness a year ago, I’d lost most of my muscle tone due to prolonged pain episodes with new herniations and a damaged spinal nerve. Cypress Fitness was responsive to my body’s capabilities and limits while pushing the development, in particular, of my core strength (as well as working all muscles in context). While slipped disks can’t be un-herniated, the strength and fitness I’ve gained have really broadened what my body can do, vastly increased my confidence in its resilience, and provided what’s turned out to be durable protection against pain.

It’s a very good place. You should go there.

– Lee D.

I started with Cypress Fitness in April 2012. At the time I was recovering from treatments for breast cancer. I was diagnosed back in February 2011, and after a lumpectomy, I received both chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  One year after diagnosis, I was looking for a way to increase my stamina and balance, as I had bouts of neuropathy caused by the chemotherapy treatment. When I heard that a new fitness space on Tchoupitoulas was offering introductory Tai Chi classes, I decided to try it out.  At the time I weighed approximately 230 lbs. and was having increasing issues with balance and stamina. I also had arthritis in my knees which was growing more painful.

My first Tai Chi class was on April 3, 2012. Brian Adams, the class trainer, had me fill out the pre-enrollment form that asked about my movement history and any medical problems I might have. He then discussed these with me. Since that day Brian, Brandon Bergeron, and all the trainers at Cypress Fitness have always found ways to help me adjust my work with them so I could get maximum benefit while ensuring that I avoided further damage to my joints.  I enjoy the classes, which are always different formats, making workouts fun and stimulating, and not the typical “grind” found at most health clubs.

From Tai Chi I continued on to Kettlebell workouts and metabolic classes. I have also competed in Kettlebell competition and the Precision Nutrition program. I continue to practice Tai Chi, learning four different forms. With the guidance of the Cypress Fitness Staff, I currently weigh 183 lbs. and can almost deadlift my own weight (currently at 155 lbs.).   During these past 3+ years, I have had other medical issues turn up (full mastectomy and knee surgery), yet I’ve always returned to Cypress Fitness afterward ready to work, and the staff was ready to work with me.  

The lesson I’ve learned at Cypress Fitness is that if I am willing to put in the work, the staff will do whatever they can to work with me. And the results I have seen in myself (and which they have helped me achieve), encourage me to continue to be strong, build muscle, and eat healthy.

– Deany M. Cheramie, PhD, Age 51

My name is Christine and I am the manager of a small business here in New Orleans.  I have been training in Kung Fu and kettlebells with Brian since March of 2010.  As a business manager, I oversee 23 employees and manage all financial aspects of the business.  Obviously this requires long hours and can cause stress to build up.  When I started I was mostly looking for a way to relieve stress.  Within a month I had quit smoking and was beginning to feel stronger after every class.  Two years later it has become a part of my lifestyle.  I can walk into a training session with Brian tense and stressed out and by the end of class I am relaxed and feeling amazing!  It has also helped increase my energy level and transformed my body.  My arms have toned, my waist has shrunk and my butt has lifted!  Enough said! Brain has an amazing talent for making you want to push harder, dig deeper and reach beyond what you thought your limitations were.  I cannot thank Brian and Cypress Fitness enough for what they have done to change my life for the better.

– Christine Robert

I was in my “senior discount card years” and looking for a fitness class and trainer that would help me achieve my goals. I wanted to add muscle, increase flexibility and improve my balance. I joined Brandon Bergeron’s bootcamp class last year and followed that with his beginner kettlebell classes. I found Brandon to be a knowledgeable instructor who made the workouts fun, challenging and safe, plus he’s a nice guy! By the way. losing fat and having more energy was an added bonus!

– Kenny H., 58

My original goal was to lose weight.  Working out at Cypress, I have lost weight, but I’ve gained strength, confidence and an ability to tackle challenges that I used to think were out of my reach.  I am more coordinated, flexible and muscular than I thought possible.  Furthermore, working out at Cypress is fun.  Brian always provides new, challenging exercises and innovative approaches so I’m never bored with the routine.  I look forward to our weekly workouts because I leave feeling stronger than when I went in.  Thanks!

– Darcy McKinnen