by Ciro Festa
When one thinks of a gym, often the stereotypical dungeon-like granite bare walled space filled with grunting human beings who all look like pro wrestlers or comic book characters comes to mind. Even to those more in the know, a gym still usually evokes images of a place where the focus is on how good the people exercising there look. Achieve Fitness is a place that takes that concept and turns it on its head. The focus is on how people feel.
When owner and head trainer Claudio Boni (now 39) was young, he had self confidence issues. He was skinny, and because of his last name (pronounced “bony”) he would often get teased. He started to work out to reverse this, and he admits that at first it was a lot of hard work but eventually he “caught the bug”, and it became his passion.
This transitioned him into making personal training his career. However, he did go to school for physical therapy and he realized there was a bigger market for people who needed to deal with pain and discomfort rather than being primarily concerned with their looks. He began to delve into the study of “corrective exercises”.
It culminated in 2012 when he won Mr. CT and then 2015 the Heavyweight division in a regional competition. He was gearing up towards National level competitions when disaster struck and he injured his right knee.
He went to see a physical therapist and they told him it was because he was “working out too hard”. He did not want to accept this. Another told him to “strengthen his quads”, which seemed ludicrous considering his level of fitness.
He decided to take matters into his own hands. He researched and found out the issue stemmed from mechanics related to his foot and the type of shoes he was wearing. This led him down a rabbit hole of corrective exercises and body mechanics, with the end result being that this is what would truly benefit people who were trying to achieve a higher level of fitness.
Claudio opened Achieve in 2014, started with just himself alone in the studio. In 2019 it grew to a staff of 5 trainers under him and he expanded to a new/larger location. He became a licensed orthopedic massage therapist and biomechanics specialist above having his corrective exercise and mobility certifications.
Recently a bigger misfortune occurred to Claudio, one that has had a remarkable outcome. One day late in June he was out in his yard and he was feeling uncharacteristically tired. He began to notice that he was wheezing, and it became more pronounced when he laid down. He decided to go to a walk-in where they told him he was in A-Fib (ATRIAL FIBRILLATION – the most common type of irregular heartbeat that often causes the heart to beat too quickly) and that he had to immediately go to the ER.
Upon admission to the hospital, they put him on fluids, which was the worst possible strategy for someone with his issue, because he was retaining fluids. His body took a quick downward turn and they thought he would not make it through the night.
Once they realized the error and corrected it, he stabilized. They began a series of blood work and a barrage of testing that lead to the discovery that not only was he in AFib, but that he also had congestive heart failure. It was discovered that his heart actually had several birth defects that lead to the condition.
Teams of doctors came in over and over again to interview him, because they said that with the level of function that he had, he should have been in organ failure, yet everything in his body was functioning optimally. They suspected that he should have needed a heart transplant 15 years ago, but could only assume that it was his lifestyle choice and exercise routines that kept him alive and allowed his body to adjust and calibrate itself to live a productive and relatively performance based lifestyle.
Two months after leaving the hospital he has already doubled his ejection fraction in record time based on further modifications he has made to adjust to this new found condition that he is living with. This is truly a remarkable story of having a full commitment to a healthy lifestyle can literally save your life.