Fitness Manager Meleena Littlejohn has returned to The Centre in Rolla, but she didn’t come empty-handed. Many might remember her as a trainer and fitness instructor at The Centre from 2011 to 2014. The Ala. native now has an opportunity to introduce a comprehensive exercise plan for not only the members, but also a plan that will use the building to its full potential.

The damage is done. Those plates of succulent turkey? Gone! Those sweet slices of pumpkin pie-goodness? Disappeared! And boy, weren’t they delicious? Not a left-over in site in the Frigidaire, but there is a lingering feeling of guilt that maybe we overdid it—again—this year, and the Christmas goose is right around the corner. For those of us that indulge a little more than outside of these two holidays, Rolla is fortunate to have lifestyle professionals that can get us back on track.  

Fitness Manager Meleena Littlejohn has returned to The Centre in Rolla, but she didn’t come empty-handed. Many might remember her as a trainer and fitness instructor at The Centre from 2011 to 2014. The  Ala. native now has an opportunity to introduce a comprehensive exercise plan for not only the members, but also a plan that will use the building to its full potential.
“My goal first and foremost is to get to know our members,” she said, in her office just off of the workout area. “Secondly, we’ve done surveys where they’ve (the members) told us what they want and need here. 75 percent of our members want more strength training and cardio classes.”
Based on that information, one of the first things she did was create an opening on a Friday morning at 5:30 a.m., for a “cardio-strength mashup” class. But the community facility was designed for so much more than how it has been used, according to Meleena.
“There are so many things this facility has the potential to have—and to be,” she commented. “We just needed a fitness manager that was passionate enough to get those changes made.”
She cautions however that she doesn’t want to bring in a seachange all at once. She says her mission is to use baby steps, such as changing her group fitness schedule to monthly, so the members will know if there is a cancellation ahead of time. The Centre will also be a retailer for Titan Nutrition.  She recognizes some of the strong points of the program—“the great personal trainers on staff” and “some really good group fitness classes.” Still, she recognizes there are many potential members that might be intimidated to start an exercise program.
“I would help them figure out what their goals are—to think of three positive things they can think of, so when they walk through the doors of The Centre, ‘could those three positive things be helpful in their every day lifestyle?’” she explained.
As an example, she said if someone is on a weight loss journey, they could possibly meet someone else in a group fitness class that has the same goal to lose weight.
“We all have our reasons for walking into a fitness center and my goal is to take away that “gym-intimidation.” “Once they walk through that door, I think they’ll realize that we’re here to inspire then to help them reach their goals. We’re all super passionate about helping them get to where they want to be.”
Meleena stresses the social aspects of The Centre. “Some of the best friends I have, I met through the fitness world,” she shared. It’s all about coming, spending time here, and walking the track, or talking to a personal trainer or taking one personal fitness group class just to get moving.”
She says new members aren’t on their own when they get started. “Every member gets a free fitness consultation with a certified personal trainer,” she explains. “The trainer will walk them through every single piece of equipment, so they know how to use it.”
The benefits of exercise are well-documented, but Meleena doesn’t discount nutrition. “People come up to me and say, ‘Meleena, how do you get your abs (well-defined abdominal muscles)?’” she shares. “Abs are made in the kitchen,” she said only half-joking; but the point is well-taken. Well-documented exercise research shows body fat to muscle mass index are primarily determined by what you eat, not by how much you exercise—as much as 80 percent nutrition and 20 percent exercise.
“I don’t want people that see that 20 or 30 percent exercise [figure], to say ‘exercise does no good,’” she said. “It helps with your longevity of life, it relieves stress . . . it keeps you heart healthy.”
Meleena said to be looking for a possible nutrition seminar in January or February.

Currently, The Centre has 23 instructors and trainers on staff. More trainers are slated to be added, since the current trainers have full schedules. Aquatics programs with senior fitness classes are big at The Centre, but the indoor track gets a workout, the group fitness classes are for all classes of members and there is a basketball court for lunch-time noon hoops. There’s something for everyone here,” Meleena stressed.  “It’s all about family and community here. “I think one reason I’m so happy is that I can be there for other people—that’s what it’s all about.”