The path to health and wellness begins with finding happiness through fitness.
Local owner of Salvation Studio Health & Fitness Center, Rusty Roussel, is a native New Orleanian. He was born and raised on the Westbank, and he currently lives there as well. However, he says that opening a fitness studio on Magazine Street has been a great way to become fully indoctrinated into the culture of our city. “We’ve been here for almost 20 years,” he says, “and now feel like a mainstay as you drive through the Irish Channel and Garden District.”
Although Roussel has a long history in health and wellness, his path to becoming a personal trainer (and gym owner) was not direct. While going through extensive physical therapy after lower back surgery in his mid-20s, he became aware that if he did not take care of himself, his life would become inactive, passive and painful. “I took what I learned about spinal alignment and back strength from my therapist into the gym,” he says. “From there, I re-taught myself how to train properly for the post-surgery body I now had and the life I wanted. That change in training styles made me the most fit (and happiest) I had ever been. I started getting all kinds of questions about training and requests to work with people. The opportunity was there, so I took it!”
Roussel started off as an instructor and trainer at Salvation Studio, and, in 2003, when there was talk of the studio possibly closing, he made an offer to buy the business. “When I took ownership, I kept the original concept of offering cutting-edge group fitness exercises classes, while using the opportunity to create a top-notch training center to expand my personal training business, as well as give clients a space to train on their own, outside of their fitness class routine,” Roussel says.
Salvation Studio, which was the first gym to bring spinning and other fitness staples (such as body pump classes) to New Orleans, also offers TRX and indoor bootcamps. Within the last year, the studio has also added a traditional boxing class, where each individual works with gloves and a heavy bag.
“In an industry where single program pop-up clubs are opening all over, Salvation Studio remains one of few multi-program facilities that also offers its clients full gym amenities — treadmills, elliptical trainers, free weights and machines,” Roussel says. “While you can find great programs all across our fitness class schedule, one-on-one personal training is just as big a part of our success. We take a personal approach to introducing new clients into our workouts, and we want their experience to be fulfilling and long-lasting.” 2917 Magazine St., Suite 202, (504) 896-2200, salvationstudio.com
ON STAYING MOTIVATED
“I’ve always felt that fitness goals (while primarily physical) must be attached to something emotional,” Roussel says. “Accomplishing something worthwhile should produce some sort of feeling that says, ‘Yes, I did it! I worked my butt off, and it shows. And it feels damn good!’ The past three years, I’ve become involved with the Pablove Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research, of which an annual fall seven-day cycling event is their largest fundraiser. To date, our NOLA Pablove cycling crew is responsible for raising over $135,000 for this incredible organization. Tip to stay on track: Find something that you love to do; let it bring you happiness through fitness; find a way to use that passion to help others.” pablove.org
“I am always conscious of eating foods that will fuel my training, athletic events and recovery, as well as meeting (and surpassing) all of the standards for preventative nutritional health,” Roussel says. “I try to avoid heavy, rich foods (or meals) that will send me looking for a nap. My protein intake comes mostly from chicken and fish and I am a huge consumer of fruit and veggies. When I’m off of my game, you can find me enjoying gourmet pizza or a good hamburger; I’ll order anything on a dessert menu that has chocolate!”
“My favorite recent moment is seeing a client continue to use her spinning classes and our training sessions during her chemotherapy and radiation treatment for breast cancer,” Roussel says. “It was a combination of using exercise to retain her strength and energy, and her refusal to let this illness take away any part of her life that she enjoys. While she may have used this to motivate herself, it was her determination that would motivate and inspire everyone around her. She is now in remission and continues her workout program at Salvation, being a role model for overcoming obstacles through exercise.”
“Whether you want to go into one-on-one personal training or jump into a group exercise class for your program, our industry (and the NOLA area) has some phenomenal fitness talent that will motivate and guide you into a lifetime of goal-setting, achievement-reaching, and challenging and fun workouts,” Roussel says. “Do your homework on who you wish to have guide you — not just for one class or workout session — but, for your long-term fitness.”