A lifetime pursuit of balance

Written by Easter Becker-Smith. Posted in Featured, Health & Wellness

Published on January 05, 2012 with No Comments

Life is all about balance. In the world of physical fitness and body building, proper dieting, exercise variation and intensity all combine to create a stellar physique. For Al Sabedra, owner of Classic Bodyworks in Portage, the idea of living with balance and a desire to reach out to others has led to the fulfillment of a lifelong dream: Operating a successful gym and providing a spiritual outreach program.

Since the age of 15, weight lifting has been an integral part of Sabedra’s life. A competitor in amateur body building competitions in his youth, Sabedra discovered the meaning of discipline and its fruitful rewards early on in life. For anyone who has ever personally competed in a body building competition, or even witnessed someone training for one, it’s a grueling process but a rewarding one as well. As he matured, weight lifting remained an important aspect of his life, even as he worked for over a decade at Ford Motor Company. Still, a financially stable job wasn’t enough to keep Sabedra happy. It wasn’t the life of passion he envisioned for himself.

“I felt unfulfilled. I wanted to do something else with my life and I wanted to pursue my dream. I didn’t have a ton of knowledge about other things but I knew the weights and I knew I wanted to help people,” said Sabedra.

Admittedly, when he first started out, Sabedra didn’t know what direction to take or how to get started, but he did know what he wanted: A clean gym, with friendly staff, weights, cardio equipment and good prices. After being turned down by several banks, Sabedra’s perseverance paid off and, in 1995, Powerhouse Gym was open for business. He eventually changed the name to Classic Bodyworks in 1998 and in 2001 Sabedra moved the gym to its current location in the Meadows Shopping Center in Portage.

Following the move, Classic went from a 10,000-square-foot facility to 20,000 feet, allowing for more equipment, more classes to offer and additional trainers to assist customers. One thing that didn’t change is Sabedra’s commitment toward helping others in any capacity, whether it’s assisting someone on the bench press or lending an open ear.

“We’ve always stuck by our standards, we’ve never followed other fads, and we’ve always followed our beliefs. We’ve got a good reputation of treating people with honesty and integrity,” said Sabedra. “I think that’s why we’ve succeeded for 16 years. God has blessed our gym.”

Throughout the years he’s spent working and improving Classic’s, Sabedra has went through his share of struggles including a divorce and bankruptcy. Throughout all the trials, he has kept his faith and has come out on the other side, a stronger individual. Through inspiration and faith, Sabedra eventually created a casual and friendly worship service open to the public at 7 p.m. every Friday at the gym. It’s called “Hizstrength,” and Classic gym member, Pastor Troy Johnson, helps lead the program each week. There is music, a sermon as well as a praise and testimony opportunity. As Sabedra says, “It’s all about Jesus Christ. It’s a place where people of like interests can come together and share their spirituality.

“When life brings us to our knees, it can help us look up and we can see the light. God can lift you up. I saw my purpose and it was to witness to others,” said Sabedra. “I believe that’s why the gym has been so successful. We’re not trying to push anything down people’s throats, but it’s a spiritual outlet and it’s somewhere for people to come on Friday nights.

“People have asked me why I have it here at the gym and I can’t think of a better place. I’ve witnessed so many people struggling. Maybe they think weight lifting and exercise is the answer. It helps but it’s not the answer. That’s why I know that having that relationship with the Lord is key,” said Sabedra.

Now remarried to his wife Teresa, Sabedra is focusing on his ministry outreach program and continuing to make Classic Bodyworks one of the premier gyms in the area. A leader by example, Sabedra believes in all-natural, drug-free training and has worked hard over the years to keep his facilities free of any such activity.

“I believe any other way is cheating. You don’t have to follow what the world says is right because that’s not always the case. It’s all about what’s healthy,” said Sabedra. “We strongly emphasize healthy, natural training. You lead by example and actions always speak louder than words. When you stay natural, you become a good worker, a good person and you develop good character. “

Classic Bodyworks opens Monday at 4 a.m. and stays open 24 hours-a-day till Friday at midnight. On Saturday, the gym opens at 6 a.m. and closes at midnight. On Sunday the gym opens at 6 a.m.and closes at 10 p.m.

There is free babysitting available for gym members in two shifts. The first, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the second, weekdays, 4 to 8 p.m. A wide variety of pre and post work out drinks, vitamins and supplements are available as well as clothing and workout accessories. Sabedra’s gym also offers a private women’s workout facility as well as therapeutic massages, personal training and a wide variety of aerobic classes, that are free with a gym membership.

For more information call 219-762-7277, visit www.classicbodyworks.net or www.hizstrength.net.

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About Easter Becker-Smith


All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Easter Becker-Smith provides coaching for individuals, groups and corporate teams.  She coaches individuals to help them discover their own path to balance and fulfillment in their lives.  She brings her years of experience in business as a highly regarded leader to help companies improve their productivity and efficiency by learning how to better communicate with each other.  Visit her website at www.coacheaster.com.

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