Lifestyle changes the heart of fitness program

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Kitsap’s KAIA Fit is the first in the state of its kind, blending exercise, diet and adventure.

By Kimberly Rubenstein
For Healthy Living

POULSBO — Multiple days a week, the pavement of a Poulsbo business park parking lot is transformed into a circuit training center, with women slamming out sprints, squats, push-ups and sit-ups.

In pairs, they’re timed by coaches, who instruct them on proper form. The stopwatch beeps, and they’re moved along to the next station, where they resume exercises that range from jumping rope to hoisting up a homemade kettlebell weight.

The parking lot workouts are just one aspect of the body makeover program the women working out at the Kennedy Business Park off Minder Road have committed to. As part of a new program called KAIA Fit, they’re keeping food journals, following a nutrition plan and three times a year performing a weeklong cleansing “detox.” On Saturdays, they gather together for a weekly “KAIAventure,” where they meet up at a local trailhead or park and run, walk or hike.

The women’s fitness program comes to Kitsap County by way of Melissa Bruce, 36, a new mom from Suquamish who was motivated by her postpartum sleep deprivation to get in shape and get her pre-baby energy back. While pondering different personal training certifications, a friend in her hometown in Nevada introduced her to KAIA Fit (Kaia means beautiful body in Hawaiian. The FIT is for “Functional, Intense, Training.”) The program has taken off since founder Nikki Warren, a gymnastics coach and trainer, introduced it to women in Nevada five years ago.

“When I first saw KAIA, I knew there was something very special about it,” said Bruce, who has started the franchise in Poulsbo. “KAIA is a full lifestyle change — that’s the message we try to get across.”

Now the program has spread beyond Nevada to 25 locations, many in California. KAIA Fit Poulsbo is the first in Washington.

Here’s how it works: 

Though women can sign up at any time, the program spans a year. Throughout the year, there are three “BRIK” sessions. The six-week-long BRIK sessions start with a weeklong detox and are followed by five weeks of eating a plant-based diet that aims to cleanse the body (no alcohol, no sugar). There are five workouts each week, an hour long at each shot. “This is where the major changes happen,” Bruce said. “In the BRIK sessions, you learn the healthy living skills that carry you through.”

Between each “BRIK” session are two five week-long “CORE” sessions, which are focused on maintaining the changes achieved during the BRIK sessions. Warren calls it “a reprieve,” though participants still workout four times a week.

The workouts through both sessions are circuit-based and focus on “muscle confusion,” or keeping the body guessing about what’s coming next. Bruce said some of the exercises are akin to those done in military boot camp, others hearken back to elementary PE. One workout a week is devoted to “KAIA Flow,” KAIA’s version of power yoga.

“We’re working the total body in each workout,” she said. “The full range of motion helps get our bodies back to the way they used to move when we were children.”

Though the exercises and diet plan are at the core of KAIA, Warren and Bruce said equally important is the stress on camaraderie and building up the women who participate.

“You’ll see some women who do their first push up in their life, and the girl right next to her who is an elite athlete and working on her five-minute mile,” Warren said. “We’re a bunch of women who get together and believe in each other and don’t criticize each other.”

The program pounds on the importance of women being fit and taking the time out of their roles of wives and mothers for an hour five days a week.

“It’s our job to be the nurturers of loved ones, and to do that we need to be healthier ourselves,” Bruce said.

Membership in the program is monthly and more expensive than the typical gym membership, but Bruce said that’s because of the holistic nature of the program — individual coaching and nutrition plans are part of the program.

“These ladies are our babies,” she said. “You take care of them. It really is like a family. It’s not like being inside and being stuck on a machine.”

In addition to being certified through KAIA, all coaches have varying personal training and nutrition certifications.

Cyndi Freeman of Seabeck is one of the Poulsbo KAIA Fit coaches. Her fitness journey includes going from 200 pounds after having her third child to becoming a certified personal trainer. The former “Curves” trainer said she signed on to coach KAIA because of the results it produces. During her weight loss journey, she faced plateaus and “feeling stuck.”

“This has more staying power because it is forever changing, you don’t feel stuck,” she said, comparing it with other women-focused gyms and groups. “You can be an athlete or you can be older and still make it work for you.”

Kim Rubenstein is local news editor at the Kitsap Sun.



What it is: A year-round fitness program for women that cycles through BRIK segments, which are intense six-week sessions focused on cleansing and remaking your body, and CORE segments, five-week sessions that maintain the changes made during BRIKs.

Where it’s at: Participants work out at Zero Gravity Athletics, 5686 Minder Road, in Poulsbo, and participate in Saturday “KAIAventures” at various locations.

How much it costs: Prices vary for the BRIK sessions and the CORE sessions, and packages are available. A list of prices can be found at

For more information: Visit and, or call 877-717-KAIA.

To sign up: Visit the website and click “Sign up now,” or call 877-717-KAIA.

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