A descendant of a family of entrepreneurs and preachers, Charles Cook takes his heritage very seriously. Using the spiritual philosophy of love and helping people, his goal has been and is to help people maintain a healthy life style spiritually, physically and mentally. “Our mission is to improve the health and quality of life of our clients through offering customized fitness, nutrition and weight loss/management solutions,” he said, referring to his personal training business. When passing the 2002 Smallman Street Uptown Fitness Studio it is not unusual to see him or his trainers putting clients through cardiovascular, resistance and polymeric workouts.

NO PAIN NO GAIN—Fitness trainer Charles Cook exercises before his next client.

“I love to help people. This is my passion and ministry,” he said, considering himself a life coach and mentor. Going into the prison system, including the Allegheny County Jail and Shuman Center, he said provides him the opportunity to spread the word on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well as strengthening his listening skills. “In this business it is important for me to develop relationships,” he indicated, noting that trust between him and his clients are an imperative tool. “People not only trust me with developing their body, but share personal concerns and issues,” he said.

FITNESS FOR ALL—Ammena Muhammad Smith is one of many women clients aiming to maintain a healthy lifestyle while trainer Charles Cook coaches her.

A nationally certified personal trainer, master fitness trainer and weight loss specialist, Cook has been in the personal training industry for more than 20 years. He received certifications from the International Federation of Personal Trainers Association, the National Fitness Association, the National Association of Health Fitness and received his CPR and first aid training from the American Red Cross.

As a fitness trainer, Cook’s responsibility includes providing personalized fitness and nutrition programs through an exclusive network of knowledgeable and informative fitness experts

A 45-minute to an hour workout three days a week focuses on a total body workout through the use of single and compound movements, small apparatus equipment, cardiovascular stimulation, core conditioning, active recovery and partner-assisted stretching depending on the clients’ goals, said Cook. “Each of our customer-defined services are tailored to meet their needs now, and is flexible enough to ensure continued development as needs change.”

When looking for a personal fitness trainer, Cook suggests remembering that training is not a one size fits all program and that knowing why (having a goal) you want to workout and being aware of your medical history is essential. “Keep in mind that this person is your personal trainer, signing on to a big health club or gym may not be that personal,” he said. Cook defines a personal trainer as a person possessing specialized education that encompasses a solid background in anatomy and physiology. He says another important characteristic of a personal trainer is honesty. “At Uptown Fitness our personal trainers will always be honest in determining whether the client’s goals are realistic and also attainable.” As his final point he said personal training is a lifestyle.

With the new year upon us, Cook said people have a tendency to begin workout programs in January. Other than setting new year resolutions, he said a few key reasons to exercise are to lose and maintain weight, to manage stress and relax, to improve the functioning of your immune system, to reduce your risk of heart disease, to reduce the risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure), to increase your level of muscular strength and to help relieve many of the common discomforts of pregnancy.

Because 80 percent of people who make resolutions don’t stick to them, Cook suggests being consistent by utilizing the expertise of a personal trainer three days a week and to workout on one’s own by walking, swimming or anything outside of what the personal trainer does the other two days of the week.

Concerned about people’s general health, Cook and his two partners, Sean Marszalek and Devenee Schumacher believe exercise and diet go together. As a result the trio owns a company called SDC Nutrition. Established in 2008, the company is the producer of About Time, a 100 percent natural nutritional protein supplement. Designed for all age groups and lifestyles, Cook describes About Time as high quality, all natural, cold pressed micro-filtered whey isolate (powder) and a meal replacement bar. Whey, he said, comes from cow’s milk containing proteins, peptides (or protein segments), lactose (a type of sugar found only in milk), fat, salts and water. The product, he said, has natural healing agents. The isolate comes in 17 flavors. Distributed by Select Nutrient, the largest all natural distributors in the country, Out of Time can be purchased locally at the Uptown Fitness Studio and Right by Nature in the Strip District and the East End Co-op in Point Breeze. The product is also sold in Ohio, Florida, California and Washington, D.C.

An entrepreneur since the age of eight, Cook said he operated an all-year round lawn care business in his home town of Washington, D.C. “I cut grass in the summer, raked leaves in the fall and shoveled snow in the winter.” Possessing the entrepreneurial spirit all his life, he said after researching the best place to locate his personal training and fitness business, he moved to Pittsburgh because of the multiple opportunities that exist here. “The opportunity for Blacks to go into business here is wide open he says. Recently opening a convenience store called The Trading Post at 911 Swissvale Ave. in Wilkinsburg, he said the community is like a gold mine. “The area is a good place for business. People just have to have vision and open their eyes and see the beauty. This area has character all it is missing is love and I am looking to give it the love.”

(Uptown Fitness Studio offers one-on-one personal training and home sessions by appointment and body sculpting aerobics classes take place Sundays at 4 p.m. To arrange a session or to receive innovative personal fitness and wellness techniques, call 412-390-7860.)

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