Mesa gym holding virtual workouts to benefit nonprofit The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa gym holding virtual workouts to benefit nonprofit

Mesa gym holding virtual workouts to benefit nonprofit

By Zach Alvira, Tribune Sports Editor

A Mesa-based gym is finding ways to help individuals stay active during its closure due to the coronavirus, while also helping a local nonprofit along the way.

Anytime Fitness Dobson Ranch has turned to virtual classes in what franchise owner John Schuck has deemed a 21-day immunity boosting challenge. The program started Monday, March 30, with classes held online each night for individuals to workout at home using their own weights or body weight.

Taught by trainers from the Anytime Fitness Dobson Ranch location, Schuck decided to bring the gym home to his members, many of which he has grown to know personally, and allow them to remain active during unprecedented times. But he opened the program up to others, too, even those who may not be members of the gym.

“It’s not only the workouts, there’s a nutritional aspect at the base of it,” said Schuck, who opened the Anytime Fitness Dobson Ranch location in 2016 after undergoing his own weight loss transformation. “I really think of it as a habit-changing program where they get lessons and habits to work on. We don’t tell them what to eat, but we want to encourage them to get sleep and taking time for themselves while staying active.

“It’s something people across the country can take part in.”

Schuck also decided to use the online workout platform to help raise awareness and funds for local nonprofit, Control Alt Delete.

Founded in September 2019 by Laura Pahules, Control Alt Delete aims to remove the barriers blocking women and men from walking away from abusive relationships. Pahules estimates her organization has helped over 450 women, men and children escape abusive relationships since its launch.

“To know that we, the agency is the lifeline for these people is powerful,” Pahules said. “It’s humbling. We are the ones that help them get out of that situation.”

Pahules passion for helping those in toxic domestic situations stems from her own experiences in an abusive relationship with her ex-husband. It was at that point she found herself making excuses for abuse, including blaming alcohol and having a tough day at work.

She realized that escaping an abusive relationship isn’t as easy as simply walking away. As many as 98% of women and men face financial abuse, where they are deprived of money from their spouse.

On many occasions, a $5 gas card is the difference between helping someone escape.

“They may have a car but don’t have gas. They may have family that can come pick them up, but it may take a day or two, so they don’t have a place to stay,” Pahules said. “We are taking away whatever keeps them stuck in that bad situation.”

Pahules’ organization has become a go-to for law enforcement officials to contact if they suspect domestic violence in a relationship. It’s also become well-known in the community, which has helped those in need be able to reach out when they seek help.

When an individual calls the organization, Pahules springs into action. She attempts to set them up with electronic gas cards or rideshare services. If they need somewhere to stay until they can reach other friends or family, she often rents out a hotel room for them.

But none of that would be possible without the help of donations, something Schuck recognized early on when he became a board member of Control Alt Delete during its creation.

“Whenever I do something, I think about Laura and ways I can help her,” Schuck said. “She comes out of pocket a lot and it’s all volunteer work. We suggest donations to her but it’s not necessary [in order to participate]. Anything we can do to help her and the organization.”

After each virtual workout in the 21-day program, those involved are asked if they are able to make a minimum donation of $1. However, with several across the state and country suffering from financial hardships due to the coronavirus pandemic, donations are not mandatory to take part in the virtual training.

Anytime Fitness Dobson Ranch is also hosting a healthy recipe challenge, where members and non-members can enter their favorite healthy recipe for a chance at prizes. Entries are free, but donations are also welcome with all proceeds going toward Control Alt Delete.

Entries are being accepted through April 8. The top recipes will be included in an e-cookbook.

“Our goal is to come up with recipes that people have never thought of making with things in their pantry,” Schuck said. “I thought it would be a cool thing. At the end of it we will try to get $20 a copy for the cookbook and all of the funds will be donated back to the organization.”

As more couples remain home together due to the social distancing practices, Pahules said this is a time where the organization may see an uptick in calls for escapes.

Pahules said there could be more escapes than the nearly two-day stretch during St. Patrick’s Day, in which the organization helped nearly 80 individuals leave domestic violence situations. But with more people seeking help, the more funds that are needed.

“Having been through depression before my own transformation, I know times like these can knock people off track,” Schuck said. “So, to allow them to get a free workout from home and do it for a good cause, it’s great.”

To learn more about Control Alt Delete and to take part in Anytime Fitness Dobson Ranch’s 21-day challenge or donate, visit  γ

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