Tracey Burke starts at 4 a.m. many days. She comes to work at 5 a.m. – full of energy and passion. It’s a necessity.
As a certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist, she sets the tone for customers who are looking for inspiration and orientation from her.
“It’s not a job,” said Burke, owner of The Body Shed in Greenwood. “It’s a lifestyle. I can get up every day and do what I love. “
In 2005 she was part of a hiking group at the YMCA. The group called “the Peeps” started by running a mile around the track. The women then started running and eventually began participating in 5K, 10K, and half marathons.
After finishing a half marathon in 2005, Burke said she and one of her “peeps” thought they could do more, so the following year Burke began training for a full marathon – 42.1 miles – in Myrtle Beach.
“I have to learn more about my body,” she recalls.
So she decided to take courses to become a certified personal trainer. She’d always been active – she’d played softball and a career – but that was a different commitment. In June 2006 she received her training as a personal trainer.
“I trained my first two people in a workshop, and that’s how it started,” said Burke.
She later began teaching a 6 o’clock class at The Sweat Box, which was where The Body Shed is today. In 2016, Sweat Box owner Ruthie Graham decided she was ready to retire from the business and Burke asked if she could have Graham’s list of customers. In October of the same year, Burke opened The Body Shed with a number of customers. It allowed her to do something she’d always wanted.
“My whole goal is to teach,” she said. “I want to be able to teach you my knowledge so that you can do better on the other side. Fitness is a passion, so it just worked out that I loved the teaching aspect. “
It’s a Friday at Burke’s gym and the 1pm class is Dr. Jennifer Lippens from the Montague Eye Center, her husband Jeff, and an office worker Jessica Makl.
Burke wrote the day’s exercise routine on a chalkboard. She has classes at different times and days during the week, but she schedules all workouts for her clients on Monday afternoons. She has private, face-to-face meetings and groups.
She emails her clients every Monday to summarize the past week and talk about what’s coming in the week to come.
“I always ask her, ‘What’s your win?'” Said Burke. “I want you to have what you did the week before.”
She analyzes every workout and wonders if it was the best she could have planned.
“I always wonder if I can do a little better,” said Burke. “Can I do better? Can I make something out of it that you benefit from when you leave? “
In this special week with the group from the eye center there is a warm-up, a challenge and regular training. Burke doesn’t just train. She works out with a lot of her clients, which means she works out a lot most days of the week.
“There has to be a balance,” she said of her intense and extremely active schedule. “I have to eat right. I need to make sure I’m getting the nutrients I need and that I’m getting my water. I get no less than 100 ounces of water every day. I make sure that every meal I eat contains some rebuilding protein. “
There is an acronym on the board – AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) – and the workout includes buprees, thrusters, and barbell cleans.
“We talk about it, but someone always counted,” said Burke while attending AMRAP. “Nobody wants to do more than they have to.”
Makl replies: “If I were at home, I would have stopped two minutes ago.”
“Accountability” is a word Burke and her three clients talk about that day when it comes to using a personal trainer.
“I have an appointment at the same time every week,” says Jennifer, who usually attends the meetings on Tuesdays and Fridays. “She expects us to be here. She’s counting on us to be here. She holds us accountable and is a role model. It shows us how to find balance. “
Jennifer offers her employees the personal training experience as a free benefit.
“I’m a healthcare provider so it just seemed to fit,” said Jennifer. “To have access to something like this is nice.”
Jennifer said healthy employees make happy employees. Both Jennifer and Jeff even went into rehab at Burke after surgery. The Lippens triplets were inspired to create their own workout board at home.
“The example of how they exercise falls on children,” said Burke, who cited a recent study that showed that children are much more likely to exercise when their mothers exercise.
This is Makl’s first experience with a personal trainer.
“I’m just trying to be healthier,” she said. “There is definitely more motivation here. There’s always someone pushing you and telling you you’re doing a good job. “
She also joked, “I don’t want to give up in front of my boss.”
Jeff said he was inspired by his training with Burke.
“I don’t know if I would do as well at one-on-one as I did with other people here,” he said. “You also have to be accountable, show up, and push yourself. She keeps pushing us. “
He said he trained on his own, but he would often burn out after about six months.
“Tracey is great,” said Jeff. “She’s just full of energy. She’s pushing you all the time. She is always optimistic. She changes the workouts every week when we come here.
“We never do the same thing twice. It’s a wild guess what you’ll get when you get here and that’s great because if you go to the gym on your own, you do the same routine. We train all of these muscles, but in different ways. “
Burke doesn’t think attending her own classes, sometimes several times a day, will overwhelm her.
“The body will go on,” she said. “We should work. Most jobs are sitting jobs. Most jobs don’t “work” – as they used to be on the farm. Not many people do physical work anymore. “
Burke doesn’t think of The Body Shed as your typical gym. She said it was a place to grow physically, mentally and spiritually. One of their 6 o’clock courses follows each workout with a devotional one. Burke said she doesn’t see her customers “as a number”.
“You’re not just someone in a group,” she said. “I know you had pizza for dinner last night, and I know your kids have a big softball tournament this weekend. I know as much as possible about everyone so that I can help them better. “
Burke chats with her clients during training, and during her session with the eye center crew, she spoke to Jennifer about type 2 diabetes. Jennifer said that 75 percent of her patients had recently had diabetes over a two-day period, which can affect the eyes.
“We always talk about how to lower blood sugar through diet and exercise, and how I can get my patients to do the same,” said Jennifer. “I use a lot of what she (Burke) tells me.”
Burke expects one thing above all from its customers: honesty.
“I just want you to be real,” she said. “I can’t work with you if you’re not honest. The biggest challenge is people not being honest about their portion size, workout, or intensity. At the moment I cannot name a person who is not completely honest. “
She said that when a customer has a treat like a Dairy Queen Blizzard, “we don’t beat each other up over it.”
She attributes the 80/20 system.
“Eighty percent of the time we do what we’re supposed to do and 20 percent of the time we enjoy life,” said Burke. “For them it’s responsibility. For me, it means making sure they win for themselves. “
In addition to her many workouts – including seven Tuesday classes – Burke is also an avid runner.
“She even persuaded me to run,” said Makl. “Well, now, during my free time at home, I run.”
How does Burke keep the energy to stay so active?
“It’s a blessing,” said Burke, who leads 28 classes a week. “God has richly blessed me. There is no off switch. “
Contact author Greg Deal at 864-943-5647 or follow @IJDEAL on Twitter.