January 2021

LAVA 24 Fitness: Your Hilton Head family for fun and fitness

Author: Cheryl Alexander | Photographer: M.Kat Photography


The LAVA 24 Fitness Team

Let’s be honest. The abundance of gyms, workouts and fitness options can be overwhelming, especially to someone who is a beginner, new to the area, or even just scrolling through social media. That’s why keeping things simple, user-friendly and goal- and lifestyle-oriented are the cornerstones at LAVA 24 Fitness on Hilton Head Island.

Nate Dixon, DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) and owner of LAVA, has a lifelong interest in health, exercise, and rehabilitation as well as a lot of first-hand experience with the formats and programs he leads at LAVA Fitness.
“As a high school football player, I tore ankle ligaments playing football, which required surgery and physical therapy to enable me to return to sports,” Dixon said. “I was also a gym rat and became the Ohio state powerlifting champ my senior year.”

Dixon went on to play two years of college football as a walk-on and graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. He earned an associate’s degree in physical therapy at Kapiolani Community College in Hawaii, then his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.

In 2001, Dixon moved to Hilton Head Island and began his physical therapy career working in nursing homes. Soon after, he opened his first business on the island, LAVA Physical Therapy. In 2005, he opened LAVA 24 Fitness, with a mission to provide a great gym where people can learn to work out properly and feel comfortable whether they are just getting started or are well into a routine.

“LAVA’s goals are to provide both physical therapy as needed, and fitness programs that are fun and help to make people strong and happy,” Dixon said. “Chances are you don’t live to exercise. We understand that, for many people, exercise is a way to maintain or improve their quality of life. And that’s why our focus at LAVA is functional fitness.”

Functional fitness exercises are designed to train and develop your muscles to make it easier and safer to perform everyday activities such as carrying groceries or playing a game of basketball with your kids. Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports. While using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability.

“For example,” Dixon explained, “a squat is a functional exercise because it trains the muscles used when you rise up and down from a chair or pick up low objects. By training your muscles to work the way they do in everyday tasks, you prepare your body to perform well in a variety of common situations.”

So how does LAVA accomplish its mission and manage to stand out from the competition? “Primarily, we offer the cleanest, most optimal gym experience with over 15,000 square feet of great equipment and padded floor space,” Dixon said. “And we offer a brand-new cycle program with Life Fitness ICG-7 bikes, because we know cyclists like the best.”

LAVA 24 Fitness offers Hilton Head Island a wide range of programs that meet the needs of every experience level. “Our Gold program offers clients access to a class called LAVA Fusion, which is our new cross-training fitness program designed to rev up your heart rate and build muscle with a fun variety of machines,” said Myranda McAfee, LAVA’s general manager and CPT (certified personal trainer).

Those machines include: Technogym SkillMills, the first versatile and complete functional training product that can simultaneously train power, speed, resistance and agility; Marpo Ropes, designed specifically to increase strength and conditioning, cardiovascular condition and anaerobic conditioning with virtually no impact to the joints; SkiErgs, which make the sport of Nordic skiing available to everyone—one of the toughest workouts around, developing both strength and endurance, and exercising the legs, arms and core; TRX, suspension training that makes gravity your resistance, so adjusting the level of difficulty is as easy as moving your hands or feet, and progression is limitless; ElevateRows, the only rower that emulates a rowing movement on an incline using adjustable bodyweight resistance to produce a full-body workout, integrating a strength component into a traditional cardio machine; Life Fitness Assisted Pull-ups/Dips, provides assisted resistance to allow for the user to perform dips or chin ups. The loaded weights act to counterbalance your own bodyweight; and much more.

“Those who engage in this program can count on a full-body workout, customized daily to target different muscles throughout the week,” McAfee continued. “All the exercises are adjustable and customizable, and clients can monitor their heart rate on the big screens throughout the workout.”

Due to the current climate driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, LAVA now also offers an extremely successful and popular virtual program. This option includes livestream classes, a library of on-demand workouts, meal plans and nutrition guides. New clients can start with a free virtual assessment.

A unique focus on nutrition is another strength at LAVA 24 Fitness. “In 2014, we transitioned to a plant-based, whole food lifestyle focus, which is important for those who are working to reverse the effects of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, and other diseases that can be prevented or reversed using plant-based nutrition,” Dixon said.

“With our first round of Power Plant Health Coaching, we helped three individuals each lose more than 30 pounds in 12 weeks,” McAfee shared. “Throughout the program, each client was monitored by their doctor and able to be taken off blood pressure and cholesterol medications.”

A big element of the LAVA success story comes from the fact that they offer more than just a workout or a weight-loss plan. They work daily to create a lifestyle and a community led by what they consider to be the best staff of trainers on the island.

“Our team of personal trainers and certified coaches keeps the adrenaline high, the motivation unmatched, and the party never-ending,” McAfee said. “We look for professional individuals who are committed to all aspects of health and fitness including nutrition.”

That professionalism translates to LAVA clients as unwavering motivation and support, professional feedback and guidance, on-going analysis of client success, and accountability every step of the way.

“Our trainers are awesome,” Dixon said. “All of our staff members are accountability coaches in the sense that we make sure our members continue to push toward what they originally walked in our doors to achieve by offering monthly coaching check-ins.”

Further, Dixon invites all trainers on the island to come work at LAVA. “We provide a supportive environment. Just like we help our clients transition to a healthy lifestyle, we also help our trainers transition to our methodology and formats.”

LAVA 24 Fitness works with the intention to build and maintain a community where members become the best version of themselves. One of those who can attest to their success is client Caitlyn Livingston. “My favorite thing is the feeling within the gym. From the trainers and staff to the others in the group fitness classes, LAVA feels like a close family where everyone wants the best for each other. I love how the trainers push, encourage, help, and hold me accountable. I love the group fitness classes where I get to be social and have fun while working out,” she said. “Physically, I have lost some weight, but overall, I have toned up and gained strength.

Mentally, I am so much happier, more positive, and have less stress and anxiety. Lifestyle habits I have cleaned up include my diet. I have formed a healthy relationship with food, drink tons of water, get more sleep, and have overcome my bad habits.”

If you are looking for a community that will push you to your limits so that you can be the best version of yourself and become the next LAVA Fitness success story, visit Lava24.com or call (843) 842-3225 for more information.

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