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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Vitality Personal Fitness: Training People for Real Life, Fewer Injuries, and Better Performance

Jun 30, 2011 07:28AM ● By Kim Childs


Shayleen Pastick is a licensed physical therapist and personal trainer who spent eleven years working in local fitness clubs and specializing in injury prevention. Unfortunately, many clients came to her after they’d already hurt themselves while trying to get in shape. “I saw people who spent lots of time training in traditional facilities on machines, and there’s not a lot of translation from that kind of fitness to their sport of choice or lifestyle,” Pastick recalls. “They’d fall or get severely injured and hire me to learn how to do it right.”
Now fitness enthusiasts of all ages and abilities can work safely and effectively with Pastick at her own facility, Vitality Personal Fitness, in Newton. It’s a state-of-the-art functional training studio where Pastick prepares people for athletic challenges and the challenges of everyday living. Functional training is the preferred method of Olympians and professional athletes, she notes, and it’s essentially an approach to fitness aimed at improving someone’s execution of the body’s basic movements.
Vitality offers one-on-one training and small group sessions. Those experiencing pain are directed to a corrective exercise program and individual training until they are ready to join a small group. The studio features the TRX suspension training system, which consists of straps and bands that can be attached to a wall or pole and used as a home gym. The system uses a person’s body weight for resistance and trains the body as a whole, rather than in isolated muscle groups. This reduces the risk of injury, Pastick notes.

“We train in three dimensions—forward, sideways and twisting,” she says. “A lot of people aren’t trained to stabilize for rotation, which can result in injuries like ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears and herniated discs.”

Pastick, who enjoys mountain biking, hiking, and triathlons, reports that she tore her own ACLs in the past, and hopes to prevent others from doing the same. “I choose to practice in a fitness environment so I can prevent injuries and help people with injuries,” she says. “There are tens of thousands of physical therapists out there, and personal trainers who aren’t physical therapists, so it’s a really important combo to understand injuries and help people prevent them. That’s a lot more exciting to me.”
Pastick says it can take a while for her clients to learn corrective strategies and movements, but the payoffs are well worth the investment. “This kind of training translates to all sports and all walks of life,” she says. “We have grandmothers who can now get down on the floor and play with their grandbabies, women bragging about beating their husbands at 10K races, a 92-year-old client who’s here to become a better ballroom dancer, and another person who’s training to become a Navy SEAL.”
Vitality’s motto is “Be well, get fit, stay vital.” Pastick practices what she teaches by balancing her administrative duties as a business owner with regular functional training. “I exercise at least an hour a day using these kinds of skills,” she reports. “After you start doing this kind of training, your body craves it and you feel good, so it’s a positive feedback loop. It’s great for the mind-body connection, too; when people start to exercise they just feel better mentally and physically. We see that quite a bit.”
Vitality is hosting an open studio on Thursday, July 21, from 5 to 7 p.m. Pastick is also organizing summer demo sessions at the studio and in local parks, where clients can display the training methods that are making them stronger and more flexible.

Vitality Personal Fitness is located at 118 Needham Street in Newton. For more information and class schedules, call 617-620-3585, email [email protected] or visit


“You want to have a fitness repertoire that includes lunging, jumping, getting up from the ground, pushing, pulling, and twisting,” says Pastick. “Many traditional fitness settings don’t cover all those primal movement patterns. We watch clients doing things like squats and push-ups and, if we see dysfunction in the way they move and clean that up, they’re less likely to get injured.”