by Crystal Alofoje

Ava Adames, in addition to running her own fitness studio, teaches “Fit Boxing for Women” for the Mt. Airy Learning Tree. On the left she is seen doing a Pilates exercise.

In the center of a world where illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, and cancer plague society and often claim the lives of loved ones, one local woman is doing all she can to help others make better choices and live healthier lifestyles. Ava Adames’ Well Loft Studio in Germantown is a peace of serenity, offering classes that not only target the body, but the mind and soul as well.

“I wanted women to feel like they can have their own personal time to work on their wellness,” said Adames,  owner and operator of the studio. “That is the environment that I have created and am still creating.”

Due to much success, loyalty from community members and an increase in customers, The Well Loft staff and friends celebrated the grand opening of its new building the first week in April. The new building, at 6143  Germantown Avenue, is 1400 square feet, 500 square feet larger than the old space a few blocks away.

The current building is able to accommodate more people and equipment and is handicapped-accessible. The studio offers courses like fit boxing, indoor cycling, yoga and personal training opportunities. “Americans deal with a humongous amount of stress, especially when the economy is suffering,” said Adames. “I have created a small oasis in Germantown for you to get professional advice and training.”

While growing up in South Jersey, Adames, 37, admired her mother’s philosophy on staying fit and healthy. Adames became athletically driven, delving into gymnastics and later Pilates. However, it was not until she acquired her Bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix that Adames realized her calling was to help people conquer battles that come with unhealthy habits.

“Americans work so much that little time is made for recreational exercise,” said Adames, who trained at The New York Pilates Studio and has over 10 years of personal practice using the classical Joseph Pilates method. She also has nine years of experience in personal training, which she gained while earning a degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. After graduating in 2004, Adames completed her certification in personal training and Pilates and for three years worked as a corporate underwriter during the day and as a personal trainer in the evenings.

Working two jobs was strenuous enough, but Adames continued to further her education, and in 2008 she received a Master’s degree in exercise science from California University of Pennsylvania, thus acquiring the skills to become a wellness coach. Adames’ husband, Ismael, then helped her to start her own business as a full-time personal trainer.

“I realized the desire (for a personal trainer) was strong in the suburbs, but the need was stronger in Germantown,” said Adames, referring to the need for more African American women to take better care of their health. For example, according to the Center for Disease Control, diabetes affected 25.8 million people in the U.S. last year, nearly half of whom were women. The CDC reports that African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes, a major cause of heart disease and stroke and the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. “We don’t have to live with diabetes or heart disease. We can do something about it,” said Adames.

People are more obese today, she said, because there are fewer jobs that encourage physical activity. More people are sitting in front of a computer all day, stressing out because of work or other personal issues. Most do not take the time to exercise, and too many of us are choosing fast foods and microwavable meals that are high in sodium.

One client, Jennifer Santangelo, said she enlisted in Ava’s “Fitness Boot Camp” last spring. For six weeks the group worked out three times a week. “Ava kept the workouts interesting,” she said, “and she gave me a meal plan to follow … At the close of Fitness Camp, I had lost almost 16 pounds and at least one to two inches off my waist and hips.”

The new and improved Well Loft Studio offers a larger staff that helps educate members on better meal plans and proper exercising techniques tailored for each person. When Adames is not training clients, she is spending time with her husband, Ismael, and three boys ages 14, 9 and 4 months. She also teaches a course in “Fit Boxing for Women” on Wednesday evenings, starting May 4, for Mt. Airy Learning Tree.

For more information, call 215-268-6109 or visit www.avaadamesfitness.com and/or www.thewellloft.com.