Heard it Here

Wake Forest Students Cover Downtown Winston-Salem

Downtown Winston-Salem is Staying Fit


Open the door, and feel the intensity. “The longer you stand there and stare at it the more you’re going to hate it,” yells instructor Courtney Rosenbaum. Rows of kettle-bells, medicine balls, and weights line the walls while men and women of all ages are catching their breath and preparing themselves for one more set of pull-ups.

“They’re doing ‘Fran’ today,” explains instructor Dakota Wallace. “It looks simple, but it’s actually one of the hardest workouts in CrossFit.”

Individuals resting between sets of the Benchmark Workout ‘Fran.’

Top Tier CrossFit, which opened on Liberty Street in downtown Winston-Salem in 2014, is one of several gyms and workout centers aimed at the growing number of people living and working downtown who want to stay fit.

Each day in CrossFit is different, and the workouts put everyone face to face with a different set of challenges. “Yes, this is going to hurt. But fight through it,” Rosenbaum exclaimed. “Your mind quits long before your body.”

Top Tier offers a range of instructional classes, such as “Ignite Boot Camp” and “Mobility Hour,” for individuals new to CrossFit and those already well acquainted with the fitness program. At the moment, Top Tier is conducting an 8-week nutrition challenge for its members.

There is some good news for individuals who enjoy a slower-paced workout: PAZ Boutique and Studios, located on Trade Street, is a yoga studio operating in its 4th year since opening in 2013.

Michele Sturtz, owner of PAZ, likes to “Soak up the energy and get the body going,” with her classes. PAZ offers a variety of classes in many areas, including yoga, pilates, and barre.

Sturtz sees a lot of potential for the fitness scene to change downtown. With new developments making their way in, there will be growth which will create a need for more businesses in the fitness industry.

Coming from Colorado, Sturtz noticed a difference in her community and that of Winston-Salem. “Colorado was a fit state,” said Sturtz. “It shocked me coming here and seeing that people really don’t take care of themselves.” Over the period she has been downtown, however, she has noticed a greater number of people who have begun “cleaning up” and “listening to their bodies.”

There are many more opportunities in the downtown area for individuals to improve their overall well-being. On his way out of the Innovation Quarter YMCA, Winston-Salem Darin Ketner was drinking a protein shake and recovering from his workout. “Going to the Y allows me to keep up my fitness and live a healthy lifestyle,” said Ketner. “I haven’t had a chance to get on the bike trails yet, but that’s definitely something I will keep in mind for future workouts in addition to runs at Salem Lake.”

A frog statue sitting in the upstairs window of PAZ Studios.

The Winston-Salem Strollway, which connects to Salem Lake by the Salem Creek Greenway, is a walking, running, and biking path. It links the modern business district downtown with historic Old Salem. This path is beneficial for people looking to fit more activity into their day, which can begin with something as simple as a leisurely stroll.

Getting a workout or walk in outside is becoming increasingly popular for many in the downtown community. To better engage the Winston-Salem community and help them become more in-tune with their bodies, PAZ instructor Elliot Watlington teaches a free yoga class in Bailey Park each month from April to October. “We capture anywhere from 200 to 500 people for each event,” explained Sturtz. This yoga class is PAZ’s way of recognizing and giving back to the community it is a part of.

Physical fitness and well-being is undoubtedly an important aspect of life, but it can also have other applications. The CrossFit benchmark workout ‘Fran’ tests individuals both mentally and physically. Another benchmark workout, known as ‘Fight Gone Bad’ is intended to recreate the intensity of a mixed-martial arts fight.

Top Tier Instructor Jeff Kropelnicki first got involved with CrossFit during his time as a law enforcement instructor. “I see CrossFit as a way to help prepare cops for what they might have to be involved in,” said Kropelnicki.

For coach Courtney, she can connect with the fitness community she serves through teaching. “Watching someone get their 1st pull-up is like me getting my 1st pull-up all over again,” she said. “I get so excited for them.”














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