by Erin McNelis
In an environment flooded with fitness fads and phenomenon’s, Bair Knuckles Strength stands out from the pack. The award-winning fitness program in Fort Washington, PA goes beyond a weight loss solution; it’s a lifestyle program. The goal isn’t to lose 30 pounds in 30 days, but rather to age gracefully while helping restore the function of the body so that clients can live without painful joints and stiff muscles. “We want to help parents keep up with their kids and grandparents to be able to pick up their grandkids and get down on the floor and play,” says owner John Bair. People get sick and injured, but most people want to live life to its fullest, and Bair trains them to do that by helping them realize what they can accomplish.
Bair’s program focuses on strength training, as the name suggests. The science behind the training philosophy is that strength allows people to move better, and with better movement, the body is no longer a limiting factor in peoples’ lives. This also allows them to build strong bones, burn more fat, lose weight and look fantastic, a nice side effect to strength training. They have the energy for the day to day grind of life, without feeling sluggish. “When people build muscle, and change how they feel physically, they build confidence as well, and that confidence flows into other aspects of their lives,” says Bair. “It empowers them to do things they didn’t think they could.”
Bair’s commitment to helping people move and feel better stems from his own personal struggle with being 70lbs overweight and painful injuries after his athletic career ended. “Strength training helped heal my body, but it also helped me heal emotionally and spiritually, too,” he says. He also saw a need in the fitness industry that wasn’t being properly filled.
“Fitness is a $74 billion industry, but 98 percent of people don’t meet their goals. The industry isn’t dialed in to what real people want and need. I want to help everyday people feel better than average and ordinary. Not everyone wants to be a cross-fit athlete or an Olympian.”
The program begins with an orientation and free trial. The orientation gives Bair an idea of each individual clients’ needs before they begin. He asks what prior injuries clients have had, what medications they are on that might hinder a training regimen, and most importantly what their wants/goals are. He puts them through a functional movement screen to locate red flags. “I teach them to heal and get movement back so they are not in pain,” says Bair. “If you have a shoulder injury, it really doesn’t do any good to do push-ups. Heaping pain on more pain is adding fitness on top of dysfunction, and that is the opposite of a healthy lifestyle.”
The program offers private, semi-private, and group training that involves kettlebells, ultimate sandbags, Indian clubs, and calisthenics. Many clients participate in the group classes because Bair Knuckle Strength is all about community, the biggest benefit of this program. “My classes are designed to have all different levels in the same class,” says Bair. “The group setting has an incredible energy and it also helps people see many levels of fitness. We’re facilitating growth for the rest of your life, and people can stay within the encouraging community as they figure it out.”
While the program focuses on building strength and training for everyday activities, Bair is expanding offerings to include restorative classes, along with classes for those who are at an intermediate to advanced level. Classes are planned for pre-beginners and for people who want to do multiple pull-ups, handstand push-ups and are moving into those higher-level activities.
“This is what I am passionate about, my purpose in life” says Bair. “I want people to know that I understand their fears, the intimidating factor and the miss-information that is out there about fitness, and I will help you sift through it all, make it simple, and guide you to a place you never thought possible.”