Living Well

Fitness training gets personal

Eileen Corbin (left). Donated photo Eileen Corbin (left). Donated photo

While the benefits of regular exercise are well known, most people think the only way to stay in shape is to join a gym. 

But that doesn’t work for everybody, all of the time; busy lifestyles can compete with limited hours, the gym can be intimidating for some and a general lack of knowledge can leave beginners wondering where to turn. 

Luckily for Waynesville-area residents, there are a number of fitness professionals ready to lend a personal touch to your fitness regimen — whether you’re young or old, in great shape or just getting back into it, looking to maintain strength and flexibility into old age or seeking to push the limits of mind and body in competitive endurance challenges. 

“I had gotten into a lot of problems with some osteoporosis and bone issues,” said Eileen Corbin, a registered nurse originally from Minnesota but an area resident for more than 35 years. “Blood pressure issues, pain, I mean I was losing muscle, and I didn’t even realize it.”

That was before Corbin encountered the teachings of Navy Seal Randy Hetrick. While deployed in the late 1990s, Hetrick was looking for a way to stay in shape, without the impractical implications of relying on fitness equipment like free weights. 

He settled on resistance training, and began working out using only a jiu-jitsu belt and some parachute webbing. Hetrick went on to earn his MBA and began selling a product he calls the TRX Suspension Trainer out of the trunk of his car. 

Related Items

In 2004 he launched his company, Travelfit, and a year later began holding courses meant to teach fellow fitness instructors how to implement the system, which is really only a few simple nylon straps and rubber handgrips mounted to a wall or ceiling. 

“It’s only been out there probably 15 years,” Corbin said. “It’s still young, and a lot of people don’t know about this thing yet. It’s called TRX, total resistance exercise.”

Resistance training differs from other fitness exercises in that resistance is provided only by one’s body weight, not by free weights or traditional rack machines. 

Corbin became a certified TRX instructor a few years ago, and since then has operated her personal training service out of a small gym in downtown Waynesville. 

“So as you angle, as you go deeper in your angles, you pull harder, you experience more strengthening. It’s all about strengthening, building muscles so that your core gets strong,” she said. “And this mode of mobility, they have over a thousand variations of exercises you can do. I know about 75 of them really well.”

Resistance training is one of the lowest-impact forms of exercise, and is thus great for people with joint issues. Unlike free weights, it also works all quarters of the body — upper, lower, right side and left side — independently, which can reveal where, exactly, people “cheat” by compensating for a bum shoulder, or a bad knee. 

“We work on weak sides,” she said. “I pay attention to where they’re going with that kind of problem. I find a lot of issues. I don’t consider it physical therapy, I’m just saying it’s a way to strengthen the weaknesses that people have, that they don’t know they have.”

New clients can expect a complimentary assessment by Corbin, who suggests two 45-minutes sessions a week, because proper rest and recovery is just as important as exercise itself. 

Some of her clients, though, don’t even need to see her that often — TRX systems are also sold for home use, so many people come to Corbin just to learn the ropes, and then work out at home because they don’t want to be tethered to an in-demand instructor, or a an inconvenient gym. 

Remaining “untethered” is also a core component of Andre Vandenberg’s coaching practice. 

“The cool thing with endurance coaching is it’s all done remotely,” said Vandenberg, who holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Appalachian State, with a concentration in clinical exercise physiology. 

Vandenberg started off in competitive cycling about 15 years ago, but said he got “burned out” on it, so he transitioned into an even more demanding arena, triathlons. Although he does still do some personal training, his passion lies in the foundation that underlies all the events he takes part in — endurance. 

“Training for a triathlon is really involved, and trying to put it all together, swim, bike, run, how much to do, how hard to do it, when to do it, can be very intimidating for a new person or even someone that’s been doing it for awhile,” he said. “It’s good to have somebody look from the outside in to help progress them along.”

For his clients, Vandenberg creates and then loads personalized weekly workouts onto his website.

“The thing is, you can just go online and get what I call a ‘canned plan’ for free,” he said. “My plans, they take into account your lifestyle, your family obligations and your work obligations, so it’s tailored to you.” 

The unique web-based model allows for constant communication between athlete and coach; Vandenberg also takes phone calls and texts from his athletes, advising them every step of the way. 

“Let’s say a triathlete for example, on Monday they’ll see the plan and I’ll have a swim workout in there, and have their warm up, their main set and their cool down,” he said. “And then if they have to do a run that day, it’ll show the run, whether it’s an easy run, a hard run, or a moderate run. They can use a Garmin watch or a fitness watch and it will send all the data, and I can look and see exactly what that individual did as far as pace. Based on their feedback I’m making my decision on what they need to do going forward.”

Having that “coach” in your corner is essential, says Vandenberg, who despite his own expertise uses a Virginia-based coach to keep him on track. 

“Consistency is king,” he said. “It’s not one big workout that gets the job done. It’s a bunch of small, simple workouts over the course of time that gets the job done. So I always preach that: consistency, consistency, consistency. You won’t see these massive big workouts for people to do once in a while. With small, achievable goals, we’re going to get you to where you want to be down the road.”

Even though Vandenberg can advise clients anywhere in the world, he finds most of them in this region — for a very good reason. 

“Western North Carolina and Asheville, believe it or not, is like the Boulder of the east coast,” he said, referring to the Colorado mountain town that has for years served as a prime training destination for the world’s top endurance athletes due to its altitude, climate and topography.

“We have pro cyclists that live here. We don’t have as many pro triathletes, they’re more on the west coast, but we have a few,” said Vandenberg. “It’s just the mountains, the cool weather. You have gravel roads, you have flat roads, you just have everything here. Bike shops. Trails. The culture is here, in this area. There’s an endurance community in Waynesville, believe it or not, and in Haywood County.”


Train and gain

Two very different personal trainers — geared toward drastically different personal training goals — are currently accepting new clients in Haywood County. 

Elaine Corbin’s TRX (total resistance training) 

60 S. Main St., Waynesville

828.421.8566 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Andre Vandenberg’s endurance coaching This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Leave a comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.