By Kat Riddler, Editor-In-Chief


Sylvia Grimes, Total Body Blast Instructor - COURTESY OF MIKE PLUMB/THE CURRENT
Sylvia Grimes, Total Body Blast Instructor – COURTESY OF MIKE PLUMB/THE CURRENT

Looking to mix up your workout routine? Check out Sylvia Grimes’ Total Body Blast class on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Recreation and Wellness Center (RWC).

Total Body Blast is what its name suggests: working out the whole body. The workout is a combination of cardio and conditioning exercises. The class uses aerobic, floor work, and resistance exercises using kettlebells, free weights, Swiss balls, resistance bands, and mat work. Each Total Body Blast instructor is in charge of creating their own exercise routine, making each class unique.

Workouts are accompanied by music to motivate set exercises. Participants are encouraged to use a weight that challenges them, but also one that allows them to complete all of the repetitions. Light and heavy weight sets are kept to the side to make it easy for individuals to switch weights. Participants are also advised to go at their own pace. If one is using a heavier weight, it might take them longer to complete the set, and that is okay.

The main goal of the class is to not rest between exercises and continue through the routine quickly and with intensity. Interval training helps individuals tone and strengthen their muscles as well as gain lifting techniques. If one has to rest for water or a breather, they are advised to keep it to 15 to 30 seconds. A typical class lasts 45 to 55 minutes.

There are four Total Body Blast instructors at the RWC: Vicki, Sylvia, Kathy, and Sam. Each instructor decides what type of exercises and training their class focuses on. Grimes said, “My Total Body Blast class is a combination of cardio, strength training, core exercises, balance training, and a little stretching…I make sure the workout is fun and innovative at the same time.”


Grimes encourages all new participants who join her class to go at their own pace in order to reach their fitness goals. She provides modifications for the exercises as well as advanced movements for athletes. “The class can be challenging, as we are building stronger minds. I encourage my participants to not limit themselves. I encourage them to challenge their mind and body. The body achieves what the mind believes,” said Grimes.

Watching celebrity trainers and seeing exercises done at various gyms are ways that Grimes finds inspiration for her class exercises. She mixes routines up at the six-week mark to make sure that participants do not plateau their work, injure themselves, or lose enthusiasm while exercising. She explained, “First, I identify the purpose of each exercise and its effectiveness. I make sure that each exercise can be performed safely using proper alignment. Last, I ensure that each exercise is appropriate for the population that I instruct. Then, I start doing my research and brainstorming my goals for the particular routines.”

Grimes has taught several classes at the RWC, including Power Pump, Core Fusion, Zumba, and a Step Class. As a student, Grimes began attending the group fitness classes, and she eventually became a Zumba instructor. Her first positions at the RWC were teaching Zumba and Dance & Sculpt classes. She was also a substitute instructor at the Mark Twain Athletic & Fitness Center. Having taught Zumba classes for three years, she recently took a break from teaching those classes. She networked and developed her professional relationships with some of the instructors, and she believes this helped pave the way to her position at the RWC.

Grimes’ passion for fitness instruction comes from her childhood. She explained, “I have a passion for health and fitness but that’s not always been the case for me. I’ve struggled with obesity during my childhood years and lost the weight at the age of 21. I eventually gained most of the weight back, so then I was a woman struggling with obesity. I developed a passion for helping others who struggled with weight loss and that’s why I decided to become an aerobics instructor.”

That zeal is evident in her enthusiastic classes. What sets Grimes’ class apart from other classes is more than just her choice of exercise routines. Grimes said, “I send a message that fitness is more about how you feel versus how you look. I’m different, I don’t look like the typical fitness instructor, but I consider myself to be very fit and healthy…Being fit has nothing to with size and I hope to inspire others. It’s more of mind of matter. When people leave my class, I hope that they feel good and stronger.”

Grimes hopes to hear that participants are reaching their goals. She smiles when she hears people in her class exclaiming that the class was a good workout. “To hear people say that is like music to my ears. It never gets old and it keeps me motivated to push them harder,” she said.

As is the case with other exercising routines, Grimes also wanted to make sure that joiners know that they might not see instant results by going to one class. She said, “I would also encourage the beginners to be consistent in coming, and they will become stronger, build endurance, confidence, and will eventually see some results.”

For a complete list of Total Body Blast classes taught at the RWC this semester, check out the group fitness schedule webpage.