413 Fitness’ mission to better the lives of those with mobility disorders is just about as special and unique as the founder, Kristi Richards
Kristi has always felt led to serve others through her natural gifts, and she exercised her gift of teaching and caring for small children when she taught early childhood education for sixteen years. She was pregnant with her third child and working at Moms Day Out at the YMCA, when she ran into a former Classroom Mom. They got to chatting and woman offered Kristi a free membership to the Y, if she would teach the new members how to use the equipment properly, turn on/off the machines, etc. Because she was pregnant at 36, her doctor told her that she needed to tone down her fitness for the safety of her pregnancy, so she started to closely observe the elderly and their movements even joining the senior fitness classes. It was during this time that Kristi discovered she really had a niche for working with the senior population.
Her love for this demographic of folks transpired into her obtaining her certification to teach Senior Fitness at six months pregnant. Her connection with her clients was something so very special, they both reciprocated the notion of taking care of one another. It wasn’t until the Richards family was expecting their fourth and final child, that Kristi knew she was going to have to step away from her senior fitness classes in order to love on her family and be home in order to homeschool her bunch.
While home, another window of opportunity opened for Kristi, and she felt led to take it. A 24-hour box gym was built down the street and she started to teach aquatics classes there. One of her clients was a church pastor and asked Kristi if she would provide her services to his church folks. The group participation rate grew from twelve to hundreds who wanted to be taught by Kristi and her team. She was absolutely blown away! It was around this time where she really started to settle into her calling and mission to serve the older population of North Austin… but, what was about to unfold was not anywhere on Kristi’s radar.
A non-profit found out what Kristi was doing in her community
to support the mobility of older folks and they wanted her to do a specialized series for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s. One of her clients asked if she would consider getting certified to coach boxing for Parkinson’s. She explains it as nothing short of a miracle. After their first week of classes, Sixty Minutes aired a special about Leslie Stahl’s husband, who had Parkinson’s disease and had discovered boxing helped him manage his symptoms. Kristi went from having three clients in a class to rebounding 76 calls in merely 72 hours requesting more information about this state of the art program that truly addresses the needs of a population that so often gets underserved and forgotten, especially in the fitness realm.
The business model of utilizing existing gyms during the middle of the day, when most seniors are sitting at home, really worked to the program’s advantage, and in three months time, 413 Fitness was operating out of two locations, expanding their variety of programs offered, hours of operation, and even their intensity of different classes, taking into consideration their range of motion and their abilities.
There are four locations of 413 Fitness
Situated in North Austin, South Austin, Northwest Austin, and Georgetown. The Georgetown location in Williamson County certainly has the potential to be the quickest growing and overall largest location due to the Parkinson’s Community involvement. Kristi does the movement break once a month at the Georgetown Area Parkinson’s Support meetings, so she is very well known in this community, and her wish is to ultimately serve a much larger portion of older folks, rather than solely those with movement disorders.
When you think of a personal trainer or a fitness expert
you most commonly will think about someone who sole’s intention is to strengthen bodies, and that is NOT Kristi’s main objective. Improving quality of life and providing an avenue for community is her absolute mission. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation it is estimated that at least 50 percent of those diagnosed with PD will experience some form of depression during their illness, and up to 40 percent will experience an anxiety disorder. When they strengthen their bodies, that’s simply a plus, ensuring they are more capable to get off of the floor when/if they fall. Two of her primary questions to her boxing fighters are:
- Do you have the strength to get yourself off the floor?
- Do you have the “know how” thought process to get yourself up and safe in case you fall?
Stability and balance get increasingly more difficult as we age for everyone, and they certainly are exemplified in folks with Parkinson’s as well as other movement disorders including stroke survivors, those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, multiple symptoms atrophy, and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, just to name a few.
When coining 413 Fitness, Kristi’s deep Christian roots, led her to mirror the verse found in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, and developed 13 pillars that the workouts include:
The part of our conversation that deeply touched my heart was captured
when Kristi told me that all of the participants in her gyms are constantly referred to as FIGHTERS and their spouses or support personnel are the CORNERMEN. This is empowering verbiage couldn’t be more true with the daily hurdles they face and it’s even more tremendous that they are showing up and FIGHTING through their struggles.
By allowing the Cornerman to participate in class, Kristi found they were also getting strong alongside their Fighter, making them even more capable to care for them. With the help and contributions of volunteers at the gyms, the spouses and support person, is able to get a break, and enjoy watching them get stronger, both physically and mentally.
Her clients have commented about her innate abilities
to push them when they are able (and being stubborn), but also extend a hug and support when she knows they need it the most. She is adamant that life does not happen in a chair, and if there’s a physical capability, then they will be up and moving and getting stronger. From first grade teacher to being a personal trainer; this is certainly not the path she had envisioned, but it’s certainly one God had his hand in.
413 Fitness is fighting to stay alive during this COVID-19 pandemic by offering classes on YouTube and she wants to assure her clients that we WILL be on the other side of this storm. Kristi and her amazing team of coaches are following up with clients, advising them on what YouTube class to engage with, and checking in on them through this pandemic.
413 Fitness is a true family testament in central Texas and one that is a true gem in the service they provide. 413 Fitness plans to grow and expand to serving a larger population of seniors and adjusting their workouts and ambitions, still under the 13 pillars.
If you have seen one case of PD, you have seen just that, only one!
Each person must be treated with a unique game plan and assessment. Kristi is committed to conveying the value of staying up with the programs during this time both for their physical strength, but also their mental health! She is deeply grateful for her husband Ben, who works well into the late night of the evening after working for Dell, editing the videos and ensuring all of the technical issues are taken care of.
413 Fitness will be accepting volunteers and their current and new clients with open arms when the world returns back to a normal state.
Find them on Facebook at facebook.com/413FitnessATX and make sure to “LIKE” their page to keep up with their journey!