By Cameron Copeland |

Staying active and working out has been a popular trend in today’s society, as social media influencers constantly post their workout routines for their followers to watch and use in their own lives. 

For most people, however, staying active is a way of life, NOT a fitness fad. 

For those who prioritize it in their lives, fitness can be used as a form of stress-relief, a way to improve their health, and feel better about themselves. 

I spoke to Gretchen Chiles, a full-time personal trainer and athletic director at WRS Athletic club, a health club in Waco that specializes in health and fitness for all of their members, about how fitness is important in her life and how it should be in others’.

Chiles became a personal trainer back in 1996 and earned her BS in Education from Baylor University. She’s been working at WRS for 16 years, being active her whole life and involved in fitness for over 30 years.

“I had always been interested in exercise and being active,” she said. “I started by taking a class with someone that I really admire and she asked me to take over the class, and once I started doing that and teaching classes, I wanted to go more in-depth with individuals so I also started personal training.”

Working for WRS for as long as she has, Chiles has seen the benefits of staying active, not just for herself, but for those she teaches, too.

“I feel like psychologically, exercise helps me deal with my day to day activities with my family, and now with my grandchildren,” she said. “It’s been such a positive part of my life seeing other people who have never exercised before start exercising and feeling better, and getting the results that they’re able to get.” 

Throughout her time as a fitness director, Chiles has seen people use fitness as a way to genuinely better their lives, but also as a trend with the intention of keeping up with society. 

Fitness influencers on social media promote exercise as a way to make a profit off the trend  rather than share the actual benefits of it to their followers. Because of this, the practice of exercise turns into an occasional activity that people say they do instead of a continuous one.  

For Chiles, claiming to work out and consistently doing it are two different things to her.  

“I think it starts out as a popular trend, but the only way that you’re really going to succeed with it is if it becomes a way a life, not something that you do for six weeks and then you’re done,” she said. 

Through her lifelong experience in fitness, Chiles knows the benefits of staying active in her life and she encouraged others to do the same, regardless of age. 

“Every aspect of it is beneficial to you whether it’s for your overall health or for the psychological benefits,” she said. “We now have so much information on how it helps prevent disease, how it helps you have an overall better feeling in life, it helps with sleep, and can impact your life in all areas; we’re finding out how much it helps us no matter what age we are.”

For anyone wanting to start implementing a daily routine of exercise in their lives, Chiles emphasized the simple solution of getting into hiking or walking outdoors or taking advantage of the resources offered at WRS or any other fitness club.

“If you’re able to join a health club I highly recommend that because you can become involved in classes that are offered,” she said. “At WRS we have trainer taught classes so you actually have a personal trainer teaching your class and it doesn’t matter what your level or exercise experience is.”