Hawaiian turned South Dakotan offers memorable fitness instruction

Feb. 14, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness.

The electricity at the front of the room comes by way of Honolulu and Singapore and Denmark and a few other stops for GreatLIFE fitness instructor Karen Hashimoto, a native Hawaiian who never saw a day – and that includes the bitterly cold ones we’ve been slammed with recently – that she didn’t like.  

Her commitment to exercise begins with her own fitness but advances well past that to a spirited endorsement of the  GreatLIFE motto. 

That is, “To enrich the lives of families, children and individuals through golf, fitness, nutrition and healthy lifestyles.” 

Hashimoto, an adventuresome sort who counts competitive inline skating and pool – the kind with pockets and cues – among a great variety of pursuits she takes on at a hundred miles an hour, finds great satisfaction in providing encouragement and inspiration to others. 

And if there is apprehension about trying something new? Well, there are ways of getting past that. 

“It’s about seeing the light in their eyes when they start really getting it,” she said. “Exercise should be something you enjoy doing.” 

It all starts with showing up, she’ll tell you. Pack a bag of exercise gear, and even if you’re tired at the end of the workday, go park your car in front of your fitness facility. Then decide. Maybe tell yourself you’re just going to do a short workout and then go home. Do anything you have to do, she said, to get inside the door and open yourself to the benefits of an active lifestyle.  

“After five minutes, you’ll feel better,” Hashimoto said. “The endorphins kick in – they’re happy hormones. It’s not about being tired. When you trigger the happy hormones, you’re in a better place.” 

Hashimoto has been trying to put people in better places for a long time and has done it from a lot of different parts of the world. Among her moves was deciding to leave Honolulu to join a friend in Sioux Falls in 2004. 

What people don’t understand about Hawaii – particularly when it’s February in South Dakota – is that living on an island comes with its own set of challenges. There are only so many places to go, and any time you want to leave, it’s going to cost you a lot of money.  

And meanwhile, those 48 states sit nearby, many of which have great varieties of climate and terrain. Plus, you can reach all of them by car.  

“Sioux Falls is a great central base,” she said. “You can drive to Bangor, Maine, if you want. You can drive to New York and California. In Hawaii, you can’t imagine driving for six hours and being in the same state.” 

She moved to Singapore and lived there for several years before returning to South Dakota, where she now works on a full-time basis for Forever New International, a laundry soap company with its headquarters and manufacturing facility in Sioux Falls. She also serves as an instructor in TRX  classes at EmBe and RealRyder at GreatLIFE’s Woodlake Athletic Club. 

Both of these fitness activities demand at least a little explanation. TRX, which she taught to full-capacity classes in Singapore, is beginning to catch on in Sioux Falls. It’s short for Total Resistance Exercise, a form of suspension training designed by a Navy Seal that provides an all-encompassing package of motions that help develop core strength and flexibility.  

She leads classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Woodlake involving RealRyder, an indoor “unstationary” bike that moves from side to side much like a normal bicycle. It increases calorie burning by more than 30 percent over that of a stationary bike, eliminates the unnatural stresses associated with conventional indoor cycling and boosts the amusement factor immeasurably, according to its devotees. 

Her TRX classes are every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at EmBe and the RealRyder classes begin at 12:15 p.m. at Woodlake on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She is also regularly a part of Saturday classes. 

More information is available at GroupFitness@JoinGreatLIFE.com or by calling 605-275-0999. 

“I tell people I’ve never had any friends to work out with so I figured if I started teaching some classes I’d solve that problem,” Hashimoto said. “I tell them they’re now obligated to be my friends – and that I guarantee we’re going to have a good time. I don’t want to scare people – I mean, I’m 5-foot-zero – there is no way I’m going to be able to kill you in 45 minutes.” 

With humor and an underlying passion for getting people moving, Hashimoto’s motives are quite the opposite, in fact. She wants you to help you live a better life. 

“I think (GreatLIFE CEO) Tom Walsh is a visionary in bringing fitness to the forefront in this community,” Hashimoto said. “Fitness brings people together. It fills us with happy hormones. Isn’t that what it’s all about?” 

Join GreatLIFE today for $0 down, no enrollment fee and no payments until March. To learn more, click here.

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Hawaiian turned South Dakotan offers memorable fitness instruction

“After five minutes you’ll feel better.” Actually, you’ll smile sooner than that reading Karen Hashimoto’s story. But you probably will want to take her fitness classes when you’re done.

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