By Dale Hemmila
Sara Thomas is a woman on a mission.
As the owner of the Curves fitness studio in Fort Gratiot, she is committed to helping other women improve their quality of life through better health. Her determination to “strengthen women in a safe, comfortable environment, both physically and mentally,” has earned her recognition as the Blue Water Woman Health Educator of the Year. She was nominated by three of her employees and members of her Curves fitness studio.
With 160 members, Fort Gratiot’s Curves is the only local facility dedicated to strictly women’s fitness. The Curves model of 30 minute circuit training, and Thomas’ expertise as a Cleveland Clinic certified weight loss coach, has helped numerous women lose weight, gain strength, and maintain a higher level of fitness on their way to a better quality of life.
For Thomas, that means a great deal of satisfaction, but it doesn’t necessarily come easily. That means a work schedule of more than 50 hours a week doing everything from leading classes, working as a weight loss coach, handling the bookkeeping, the marketing, the payroll and everything else that is needed to stay in business. She also teaches Zumba classes at the YMCA of the Blue Water Area to generate additional income to help keep Curves viable.
“I feel like a survivor and fight every day to keep the doors open,” she said. “I don’t want to do anything else. These ladies need me. I’ve just got to hang in there. I love what I do.”
That commitment to her members doesn’t go unnoticed. Curves’ members’ testimonials confirm their affection and respect for Thomas. They also make note of her dedication to helping them lose a life-altering amount of weight in a healthy way.
In the nomination, one member wrote: “Several years ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was 60 pounds or more overweight and I had to use a cane to walk even a short distance. With Sara’s help, time has gone in reverse. Now, I don’t take any medications. I can do Zumba and walk 15,000 steps a day.”
Another member noted: “Over the last three years, Sara has worked one-on-one with me in my struggle to lose weight. With her support, I have lost 65 pounds.”
And yet another member noted: “I came to Curves at a low point in my life. My cardiologist told me if I don’t lose weight and get my cholesterol down, I was going to have to take medication. I joined Curves and Sara has been my coach. With her help, I’ve reached my goals. I couldn’t have done it without Sara’s support.”
“I lost 40 pounds in four months. I had foot issues and thus, did not have to have surgery,” wrote another client.
“She is a cheerleader for woman’s fitness,” said one member. “She has a strong passion for women’s health. She is kind and caring, exemplary, compassionate, supportive and encouraging; she is a devoted business owner.”
One woman said: “I’m truly impressed with Sara’s dedication to the membership. She’s like the energizer bunny, she keeps going and going.”
That type of feedback for Thomas fuels her resolve to keep Curves open.
“Their testimonials are a constant reminder that I am doing what I was meant to do,” she explained. “These ladies reinforce my mission to support women’s health. Providing the tools to women to extend their life and lead a healthy life is my passion.”
While assisting women is her goal, she also is a supporter of others in the community. Her studio and her members assist many non-profits and worthwhile causes.
Every month, Thomas and the members of her Curves studio provide assistance to a different nonprofit organization in the community. Organizations that have been supported by these monthly fundraisers include Hunter Hospitality House, Mid-City Nutrition, Blue Water Safe Horizons, and the March of Dimes, among others. Most recently, Thomas and her members took on a large part of the Back to School Back Pack Giveaway program.
“It’s so, so important to give back to others,” Thomas said. “Collectively, myself and the members will always do more for our community.”
Helping to keep women healthy and giving back to the community is all part of Thomas’ own Curves business model that she works hard every day to maintain.
“I need the love and support of my membership as much as they need mine, so I will continue to do this as long as possible.”