2493 Linwood Ave., Naples
Try a free workout by contacting owner Gunnar Olson
Phone: (239) 234-6557
6 a.m. daily livecam workouts at Golifefit.com
NAPLES — Self-proclaimed fitness misfits have found their place at a boutique gym in Naples. People who want to workout but with lifestyles, illnesses or injuries that discourage them from sticking with it say GO Lifefit gym provides the solution.
"You're comfortable being yourself here whatever that means, whatever that is to you, " said GO Lifefit client Tim Boylan, 43.
Boylan worked out in a gym most of his life but plateaued before learning how to take it to the next level with trainer and GO Lifefit owner Gunnar Olson, 46.
Despite his history of physical fitness, Boylan is among what Olson calls his "dirty dozen" clients.
These are people with health issues and habits that affect their workout styles.
Olson is the first to say he isn't expecting to remake all your habits.
On a recent morning he had a Big Gulp on his desk that was sweating into an ever-growing puddle around his chewing tobacco.
"I ate Cheetos for lunch today," he said, laughing.
"They do Russian workouts together," said Sue-Jolie Boylan, 34, regarding her husband Tim Boylan, Olson and the rest of the "dirty dozen."
A "Russian workout" entails drinking alcohol while working out, she explains.
"It's amazing how much it relaxes your mind and gets you a great workout. You're just sweating through it. You're burning through the buzz," she says.
She watches and takes videos because it's so funny, she said.
It's not all about alcohol or habits for all of the dirty dozen members. Some, including Sue-Jolie Boylan, had medical issues that made their workouts challenging.
Boylan was recovering from cancer when she first started working out with Olson two years ago as a personal trainer, then later in group workouts at his gym.
"I was really weak. I couldn't climb stairs for more than 30 seconds. Now, I'm hanging off ropes on the ceiling."
Clearing the hurdles
Olson said that his clients' success is due to his approach. Whether people's challenges are physical, emotional or psychological, it's all because of his philosophy that "wellness starts from within then transcends to the exterior of the body."
After two divorces, Kathleen Zehler, of Marco Island, needed a psychological pick me up as much as a physical one.
"I had all sorts of mental baggage. I coined Gunnar the da Vinci of body sculpting. He starts with a great big blob. He begins at the head Gives you the tools to manipulate your mind and eliminate the obstacles," said Zehler.
Del Ackerman, 75, owner of Del's 24-hour Store, said he underwent 16 surgeries over the years after being hit by a school bus in 1969. Olson can work with him.
"Not only is he a trainer, but he really cares. He wants you to see results," said Ackerman.
Karenn Starr, 70, has Parkinson's disease, which leaves the left side of her body weaker than the right.
She attributes her ability to now hold down a physically demanding job to Olson's help. He developed an individualized strength training program for her, a diet and a home pool aerobics routine in addition to gym workouts.
"Sometimes we do a little sunbathing too, with a little vodka, by the pool. That's important," said Olson.
Gail Kappotis, 54, began working out with Olson two years ago.
It was the first time in her life that she worked out and wasn't sore afterwards.
Olson develops workouts for her that are safe despite her having extremely low blood pressure. He guides her through meditation and yoga; they do Xbox 360 Kinect, boxing and various other unique exercises.
"I've been to just about every gym in town but lost interest pretty quickly. You can come and go at most gyms and no one would ever remember if you were there," said Kappotis.
That's not the case at GO Lifefit gym.
"It's like a social club," said Olson, who designed the gym that opened on Linwood Avenue last February to have a "Las Vegas personality with the red carpet treatment."
"You never know what you're going to walk into," said Franny McCausland. That's why she likes it.
Clients may begin with a unique method of measuring body fat percentage, BodyMetrix ultrasound, which is not affected by hydration, exercise level or caffeine intake.
From there, clients get unique exercises as well, including dance pole aerobics, high intensity interval training, rope ladder climbing, row machines, spinning bikes, kettle bell training and boxing.
"I asked if we could do yoga one day because it's more of a peaceful workout," said McCausland. "I never experienced such an intense form of yoga."
Olson chimed in: "It was peaceful, though."
"Yeah, because I was dead," McCausland quipped back. "I'm never going to ask to do anything different again."
The two laugh.
"I love it here It's always nice to give him that hug goodbye," said McCausland.
Unorthodox trainer, owner
When it comes to things like late night calls for couple's counseling, sometimes Olson gets a little too involved with clients' personal lives, he says, but he just can't help it.
"I just care for people and their pains and in the end they care for me, too. The life I've led has helped me to help these people."
He shares with his clients that he served five years in prison after being found guilty in 2004 of being involved in one of the largest marijuana busts in Michigan's history.
"The best place to get in shape is prison," Olson said.
He successfully made it through Navy SEALs training only to get kicked out on charges of insubordination relating to marijuana just before getting his trident, he said.
"I want the truth out because although the truth hurts it makes people comfortable with me," he said.