Journey to Wellness
A local man reclaims his health and his life after receiving startling news at a routine doctor’s appointment
by Katie Gantt
Red Effect Infrared Fitness
130 Forum Dr #4, Columbia
Chris Wallace lives a happy life. He’s a devoted husband and father and works hard as an Architectural Designer for an international firm. His family celebrated the purchase of their first home in June of this year and enjoys spending time together taking walks, watching movies, and attending his youngest’s Tae Kwon Do competitions. But this idyllic life was threatened just under two years ago, when Chris was faced with serious news at a routine doctor’s visit.
“I stepped up on the scale, and it was a moment when you stop and realize that this is really not good,” Chris said. He was shocked to learn that his weight had reached 400 pounds. It was apparent the time had come to act. “I started working from home in March of 2020 and that gave me an opportunity to focus on losing the weight,” he said.
Chris overhauled his diet and began to exercise, walking and jogging in his neighborhood. “Gyms were closed because of the pandemic so I did whatever I could to be active,” he said. Remarkably, he lost 110 pounds within one year’s time. “I did it for myself and for my family as well. I want to be healthy for them,” he said. He is continuing that success by sticking to his diet and intensifying his workouts with the trainers at Red Effect Fitness located in Northeast Columbia.
Red Effect is unique in that it offers trainer led, high intensity, group workouts – all in an infrared heated studio. Infrared heat is gentle, soothing, and therapeutic. Studies have shown its various benefits to include weight loss, detoxification, pain relief, relaxation, improved cardiovascular health, lowered blood pressure, improved cell health, and anti-aging. Chris has noticed it helping in muscle recovery too.
“With all the high intensity workouts we have done and with this being my first foray back into the gym, I’m shocked I haven’t had sore muscles or aches and pains,” he said. One of his favorite Red Effect trainers, Emma, is also a resident physician in psychiatry at Prisma Health and mentioned the research being done in the medical field that backs up the added benefit of the infrared lighting. She also stressed the importance of exercise on mental health.
“In the mental health field, we promote holistic ways to take care of ourselves because medicine can only do so much. Not only is the workout good for your body, but a workout family is great for people who may not have a biological family, or a church family, etc.,” Emma said. “What makes our gym special is that we are building a strong community here.” Chris is a familiar face in her early bird 5 a.m. class.
“What attracted me to Red Effect is that it’s trainer led,” Chris said. He doesn’t have to think about what workout he will do, and he likes that. “I’m able to focus on doing what I need to do, physically, while I’m here. I don’t have to come up with a plan or strategy; I just do the work.” And Emma readily demonstrates modifications to the routine as needed to meet Chris at his ability level. Chris is totally game for modifications and doing what works for his body while still allowing me to challenge him,” Emma said. “He’s also an epic power walker! You’ll never see his treadmill below a 15 incline! He’s inspiring and makes it work for himself.”
Overall, Chris reports feeling a lot stronger since working out at Red Effect and encourages others to give his gym a try. “At first when you go in, it’s intimidating and you think everyone is perfect and knows what they’re doing, but they don’t. Nobody is judgmental and everyone is on their own individual journey, and everyone knows that,” he said.
Follow Chris’s fitness journey on his Instagram account @21day2lifechris. “I tell a little bit of my story on there and share good information and support and encourage.”