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The Rio Linda News

Coach Meek Inspires Boot Camp Participants

Jun 05, 2024 09:14AM ● By Krista Christian
Coach Mikko “Joy” Gillison celebrates her birthday during a special Academy Bootcamp class. Photo by Debra Ledsinger of Delephoto


RIO LINDA, CA (MPG) - Fitness coach and Rio Linda resident, Mikko “Joy” Gillison, also known as “Coach Meek,” helps Rio Linda Fitness Center members begin their weekdays with Monday through Thursday 6 a.m. workouts.

Her Academy Boot Camp circuit-training class participants are her "tribe," a term used in fitness communities to promote unity among enthusiasts who share common fitness goals and aspirations.

Rio Linda Fitness Center Mar-Val grocery store

 The 80,000-square-foot Rio Linda Fitness Center was converted from the building formerly occupied by the Mar-Val grocery store in 2018. Photo by Krista Christian



Gillison’s personal training sessions are so popular that many of her clients followed her to Rio Linda Fitness Center when her former gym, Elements Health Club, in Natomas closed.

Certified by National Academy of Sports Medicine, Gillison completed courses in anatomy, biomechanics, nutrition, new client assessment, program design, exercise technique and training instruction, professional development and ethics.

Rio Linda Fitness Center was established in April 2018 when Steve Tresner bought the former Rio Linda Mar Val Plaza from Mar Val Food Stores. The former 80,000-square-foot grocery store now hosts two fitness classrooms; equipment rooms with free weights and state-of-the art weight machines and cardio equipment by Precor, Octane Fitness and Lifecycle; locker rooms; a heated pool; a sauna and a jacuzzi.

Gillison joined the Rio Linda Fitness Center in November 2023 and 100 of her clients followed.

Gillison’s classes are held in the back fitness room that contains a plethora of free weights such as dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, medicine balls, battle ropes and aerobic step platforms.

Gym art and motivational phrases such as "Challenge yourself, Get Results" and "Train Insane or Remain the Same" grace the walls. On one wall is a mural of a menacing-looking character reflective of Optimus Primal from the '90s "Transformers: Beast Wars" series. It is accompanied by the term, "Beast Mode," a phrase meaning the state of performing something, especially a

difficult activity, with extreme power, skill or determination. The term was popularized by the gym community in the early 2000s and trademarked in 2008 by former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who acquired the phrase as a nickname.

Class participants represent a diverse set of backgrounds, ages and body types. Most are women but a few men are regulars.

Gillison's personal fitness story has inspired her students.

“Everyone has a journey. I have always been interested in fitness but after I acquired injuries and a major health problem, I could no longer work out and my weight rose to 206 pounds," Gillison said. “Since recovering from these problems, I jumped back into my fitness routine with the goal of attending a bodybuilding competition. Seeing the growth in my clients and students is my favorite part of being a fitness instructor. I love working with all people and seeing their progress excites me and fuels my passion.”

Gillison invests considerable energy to ensure her students receive instruction and suggestions appropriate for their level of skill, training and fitness.

“She is a wonderful support system and her classes have helped me gain both strength and confidence,” said Leticia Camargo, who followed Gillison from Elements Health Club.

Other class members are just as appreciative.

“Heading into my 35th year living with lupus, I’m taking the time to acknowledge how far I've come and why I work toward living a healthy lifestyle,” said Emily Lyons-Brooks, another follower from Elements. “I don't want to just get out of bed and trudge through my day. I want to
actively take part in life. I don't want to sit on the sidelines or say no to the things that I really wanted to do. Coming to the gym and working out with Mikko and all of its dedicated members is a big part of that. I am grateful to have found Mikko. She has a passion for helping others. Her vibe is infectious. She truly makes you want to work harder.”

Melanie Lo also followed Gillison from Natomas.

“Her passion and dedication, not only to us but to her own journey, is inspiring and unmatched. Every day she comes with top-tier energy, shouting encouragement and fully supportive of everyone she encounters,” Lo said. “Her classes are exciting and interesting, and I've seen everyone elevated across the board. It's evident in the number of members who followed her to Rio Linda Fitness. She's such an enthusiastic cheerleader, always challenging us mentally and physically and cheering all our wins. We're all so blessed to have her in our corner and I can't wait to see where we go."

Said class participant Debra Ledsinger, “Coach Mikko is the best. She really makes it rain on the mat. Oh wait, that's just our tears and sweat."

Each day has a specific theme: Monday is strength training, Tuesday is HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), Wednesday is legs and Thursday is core strength.

A brisk warmup could include jumping jacks, high knees, burpees, squats, twists and plyometrics. Then class members disperse to stations that include a series of timed or repetition exercises for a total of approximately 45 minutes for the full workout.

Gillison also offers a 5 p.m. class that mirrors her morning sessions and a “Super Saturday” class at 8 a.m. where she surprises participants with a variety of exercises. She dedicates one or two Saturdays a month to “Fit Test” workouts where students can track and record their skills and performances to monitor their fitness progression.

Rio Linda Fitness Center also offers a variety of other classes, including yoga, an Aqua Boot Camp, Zumba and a senior fitness class.

Gillison can be contacted at Rio Linda Fitness Center at 970 Oak Lane. The center is open 24 hours daily Mondays through Thursdays, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Call 916-991-8465 for more information or to book an appointment to see the gym.

A Rio Linda resident since 2003, Gillison said, “I've always been a city girl. I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Brooklyn. Later, I moved to Oakland, California where I met my partner. When I became pregnant with my son, I wanted to move to a quieter, more rural community that would be a good place to raise my son. Rio Linda seemed like the perfect fit.”

Academy Boot Camp

 Academy Boot Camp participants work out. Photo by Debra Ledsinger of Delephoto

 


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