Exercise and nutrition are inseparable, and Shay Jilek has a business that incorporates both.
Jilek recently launched The Fit Foodie and has been conducting classes in Tomah since June, including one at last month’s Monroe County Fair. She has taught group fitness in the Tomah area for more than 10 years and was ready to add nutrition to her private classes, which end with a sampling of a healthy dish.
“It’s about finding the balance between food and nutrition,” Jilek said. “Food is therapeutic, it’s medicinal. If you start and you continue with good nutrition and feed your body properly, it will keep you from getting sick and keep you from having to turn to medicine.”
Jilek focuses on dishes made from scratch as an alternative to processed foods. She said her recipes put “a value on whole food, cooking from scratch, staying away from things that are pre-packaged.” She offers tips such as a cutting up vegetables a few days in advance for meals later in the week.
“People are on the go, and everyone is very busy,” Jilek said. “I understand you can’t do it every single night of the week, but pinpoint when you can sit down and eat as a family ... to bond and chat and talk about your day.”
Jilek’s other main focus is providing a workout setting for various fitness and comfort levels. The Fit Foodie, she said, caters to people “who want to start paying attention to themselves and make (fitness) a priority but they’re not comfortable in a gym or a studio.” Class options include yoga, pilates-yoga fusion, kettlebells, resistance bands, body weight training and kids fitness.
In addition to the private classes, she also conducts “popup” classes in city parks and other public places where there is no structured schedule. Classes last 45 to 60 minutes and include child care services. She said many parents have told her, “I don’t anyone to watch my kids.”
Jilek said her work evolved into a community wellness initiative after Derek Burnstad of Peach Storage approached her about a private class and encouraging physical activity. Since then other local businesses have begun to show interest in sponsoring her free-to-the-public classes.
“It’s really exciting,” she said. “It’s really about local businesses getting behind the wellness of a community.”
Jilek said people who complete her workouts will “feel sweaty and tired, but they are also going to feel amazing − they’re feeling stronger, they’re feeling confident. I don’t think people realize how strong they are until they take the class and move.””
She said the first step in her program is promoting physical activity, regardless of age or physical condition.
“It’s about getting them to move,” she said. “Physical fitness is for everyone.”