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A Life Transforming Approach to Fitness

by Glori Gayster
Change is difficult, especially when it comes to getting in shape. It often comes down to having inner-strength and commitment to a healthier, balanced lifestyle. Having someone to rely upon who’s overcome the same challenges can make a difference. At Emerge Fitness Center in Mount Laurel, that’s exactly what clients have in owner and head fitness coach Darren Garland. “Our clients are comforted in knowing that I have dealt with many of the same issues,” says Garland. “I know first hand the internal struggles and how to overcome them.”

Mapping out your body’s blueprint
For wellness that lasts, a person’s fitness program, says Garland, should not be “one-size-fits-all”. Goals vary as much as one’s body, health and motivation differ from the next. “We provide each client with his or her own ‘body blueprint’—a comprehensive evaluation offered before any class or fitness program is recommended,” he says. “The assessment, in combination with one’s goals, results in the development of a well-balanced plan.” The first step is for clients to undergo a full health screening. Clients are asked about any back, knee and joint pain, as well as personal and family history of heart-related issues, high blood pressure, diabetes or other conditions to determine if medical testing may be required. An exploration of one’s activities, both past and present, rounds out the analysis.

Garland says, “A big part of the blueprint plan is setting goals. We want to learn what may have made a client stop working with a particular trainer. What is motivating them to make this change? What is their level of commitment?”

Last comes a full body evaluation of the client. This includes a postural screen viewing one’s neck, hips and ankles from the front, side and back to discern any alignment issues. Clients also undergo a functional movement screen, which uses seven specific movement patterns to detect past conditions and protect against future injuries. “The entire process takes less than an hour but it makes a world of difference in terms of results,” Garland says. “Not only are we able to design a program that is unique to each individual, we bond with the client. Our coaching is based on trust and understanding—something that is not common in other facilities where the bottom line outweighs actual results.”

It starts with a personal journey
Emerge Fitness Center coaches have experienced many of the same weight loss issues as the clients they work with. “I know what it's like to be out of shape,” says Garland. “On January 17th, 2003, I was told I could not receive life or health insurance because of my risk factors. I was 367 pounds and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had totally let myself go. I was an athlete who couldn’t even get up a flight of stairs without panting.”

He adds, “So what did I do? I spent hundreds of hours studying weight loss, reading every article and book I could get my hands on. I tried fad diets, studied routines and applied techniques then my unstoppable will paid off. I found a weight loss system that would work and I succeeded.”

Garland’s story is just one of many. “For many years, my weight was a huge factor in my life. I hated being in pictures and my stamina level had made even routine activities like walking, swimming, and skiing a chore,” says Helen Graziano of Mount Laurel. “Thanks to Darren, I went from a size 24 to size 12 in 16 weeks. People who have not seen me in a while don’t recognize me. That is a great feeling!”

For Mike Labajo, an Emerge Fitness client-turned-coach, the results changed more than his appearance and mindset. “I was working out three times a week with very little results. My drive and motivation started to decrease and before I knew it, 2 months had gone by and I had not worked out once. I needed a big change soon,” Labajo explains. “I went to Emerge Fitness to transform my life and with Darren by my side, I melted 20 pounds off in the first month of training. I was so amazed by the results that I decided to intern with him and become a fitness coach myself. I now share my knowledge and experience with others at Emerge Fitness.”

Garland says, “If your desire is there, results will come to you. As one’s coach, we engage in constant motivation—subtle reminders of the goal and how together, we will get there. Whether you just want to lose some extra baggage, get in better shape or complete a full body transformation, Emerge will give you the tools you need to succeed.”

Emerge Fitness Center is located within the Roberts Mill Plaza at 3701 Church Road in Mount Laurel with convenient hours Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. For more information or to schedule a personalized complimentary body blueprint, call (856) 438-0348 or

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 10 (December, 2010).
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