Get in Shape for Women: Improving health and lives

Juliet Harker, co-owner of Get in Shape for Women, demonstrates one of the fitness machines at her new fitness center. Sheila Hageman photo.

Juliet Harker, co-owner of Get in Shape for Women, demonstrates one of the fitness machines at her new fitness center. Sheila Hageman photo.

Now that the new year is upon us, it’s time to follow through with those New Year’s “get in shape” resolutions. Peter and Juliet Harker are eager to help you keep on track with your goals at Get in Shape for Women in the Sportsplex at Fairfield. This fitness franchise offers small group personal training for women.

The Harkers’ main objective is to create a supportive environment for women.

At Get in Shape for Women, the premise is simple: One personal trainer works with up to four women at a time during each one-hour session consisting of 30 minutes of weight training, 25 minutes of cardio, plus nutrition coaching for a complete program. Holding members — the target demographic is women 35 and older — accountable to someone other than themselves is designed to set Get in Shape for Women apart from other personal training and fitness programs.


Manager and former fitness trainer Adriana Spears.

Manager and former fitness trainer Adriana Spears.

Those who walk through the front door are welcomed by manager and former fitness trainer Adriana Spears’s smile and energy. Before joining the gym she worked as a professional basketball player in Ireland and Spain. After a knee injury, she found working at Get in Shape for Women a great way to stay in the fitness world she loves.

The center’s philosophy focuses on four principles: cardio, weight training, nutrition, and accountability.

“No matter your fitness level, the trainer will adjust the level to fit you. The circuit training is personalized,” Spears said. “And the more committed you are, the less expensive the price is.”

In Part 1 of the program, the client begins with a weight-training workout. During Part 2, the certified personal trainer helps clients achieve their goals through expert cardio training. As part of the program, a client is introduced to interval training. Part 3 involves learning how to eat properly and enjoyably as part of a healthy new lifestyle. The nutrition plan is a key component of a successful body transformation. Part 4 of the complete program is the accountability factor; the personal trainer holds clients accountable for their progress toward their health and fitness goals.

“We try to work with the client if they hit a plateau; we just try to work with the different principles to see what can be adjusted,” Spears said. “Basically you have four women in a group splitting the cost. We cut out the intimidation you get in the big box gyms,” Spears said. “We try to create a great environment for women.”

Co-owner Juliet Harker exudes her passion for fitness. She loves working in a business where she’s benefiting the community and getting people healthy.

“It’s a program, not a gym. We check body fat percentage and weight once a week. People have a commitment. That gets women here — gets them to make it a priority,” she said.

“We are results-oriented. We want to make sure you’re committed to your success and your goals. If you’re not ready, you’re not going to be successful,” Harker said.

With that idea of success in mind, not everyone who applies to Get in Shape for Women is accepted. Prospective clients are helped to determine a measurable fitness goal and interviewed to see if they are ready to make the commitment to achieve it.

Get in Shape clients are set up for success by coming up with measurable goals when they join, so that they can track progress.

“We put it on them to step up to the plate. We’re here to help them get over the hump,” Harker said.

Peter Harker said that it’s easy to know if someone is ready to make the commitment needed.

“We’ve created a culture of transformation and accountability here, and women are going to be supported,” he said.

“We always bring you back to your goal. We get you back on track,” Juliet Harker emphasized.

A trainer works with clients, adjusting and giving corrections. The trainer tailors each individual’s program to her unique needs.

Most women work out for a one-hour session two to four times per week for the initial three-month commitment.

“We provide good support and a foundation and tools to do it on their own,” Juliet Harker said.

The nutritional aspect of the program is tailored for every client and starts with very specific plans. From the original general plan people move on to ways to actually change behavior.

“Nutrition is a long-term plan. There are different methods for different people. It’s custom-tailored from such things like eating in a certain calorie range to making sure you’re getting enough protein,” Juliet Harker said. “We also make adjustments for vegetarians or people with allergies.”

The Harkers are committed to helping women feel good about themselves, promising that clients receive the personal attention and motivation they won’t receive in big gyms.

“A sense of consistency. A sense of high energy. When you walk in, you know you’re going to get that attention, and there’s someone with a passion about you achieving those goals. We’re positive and helpful,” Peter Harker said.

Also helping clients stay on track is the need to schedule workouts in advance so they can make them a priority in their weekly schedule.

The fitness studio is almost at capacity, with roughly 160 members served by three trainers: Eugene, Joe and Gloribel. Clients have ranged in age from 14 to 85, with the average age of clients being between 35 and 60.

Appointments are available between 5:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., and from 3 to 7:30 p.m. Information may be found at

The Harkers are in no hurry to expand; they’re willing to wait for the right space and the right community. But they have their eyes on Trumbull, Wilton and Darien.

“We’re here as a business that wants to be part of the community,” Peter Harker said. “We support local causes. We’re small business — very in tune with having women coming through with success, improving women’s health and lives. We’re so thankful to be in this great community.”

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