Fit for Life is a Program Driven by Personal Experience (Part 2)

Kelly Bowe, Project Coordinator, is passionate about Fit for Life, because she has personally benefited from it.

“I was one of the first participants of the Fit for Life program that started classes in 2006,” Bowe said. “I had just begun working at Trinity Hospital Twin City in the Laboratory and heard about this program and wanted to see what it was about, so I signed up.”

Bowe was impressed that founder and director Dr. Timothy McKnight, a full-time primary-care physician, was constantly researching the newest wellness studies and findings and spending countless hours learning up-to-date treatments with the intent of making the community healthier.

Once I took the class I understood what the ‘hype’ was all about,” Bowe said. “This doctor truly cared about the overall health of our community and wanted to help people learn how to stay healthy for life.”

Fit for Life participant Erica Van Pelt gets weighed in by Kelly Bowe. You’ll read Erica’s testimonial in the third and final installment of this series.

The Fit for Life program is not only a fitness/weight-loss/wellness program, she said. It is an overall lifestyle-changing program.

“Once you have learned the tools that Dr. McKnight gives you, it is easy to ‘live’ the program for the rest of your life,” Bowe said. “Dr. McKnight teaches the program in a way that every learning style is covered. Some people learn best by reading, some by listening to or watching a video, and others need to hear the information in-person. All learning styles are included in the program.”

Bowe accepted the position of Fit for Life Project Coordinator around the time she began working in the program’s Marketing Department in 2011, five years after she herself had completed Fit for Life. Bowe said she wanted to help Dr. McKnight make this program the very best it could be and to help as many people as they could.

“I knew this was not a fad program. I knew this was honestly the program that would keep people healthy,” she said. “People of all ages were having success. I wanted to be part of that. My goal was to work side by side with Dr. McKnight to assist him in any way I could. I wanted to help him reach the most people he could.”

Initially, they held classes in a conference room at Trinity Hospital Twin City. They quickly had to expand the locations to hold classes in Steubenville, Carrollton, New Philadelphia, and Dover.

COVID challenged the program

As with most activities and events, the COVID-19 pandemic challenged Fit for Life’s ability to continue in an effective manner.

“We knew we needed to ‘roll with it’ and create a way to still reach our participants,” Bowe said. “The momentum was strong, and we didn’t want to ease off the gas even for a minute. We put our heads together with Trinity Health System Market Director Laurie Labishak and came up with the idea of offering the class virtually. Everyone, at that time, had to take the class 100 percent virtually.”

A private Facebook page was created, where Dr. McKnight presented the chapter lecture live on Tuesday evenings.

“We opened up registration to the Steubenville area, and Dr. McKnight and I personally invited out-of-state people we knew to join the class,” Bowe said. “Once we started inviting out-of-the-area people, the ball started rolling, and we started getting calls from their friends and family.”

Bowe and McKnight have since discovered the successes of virtual participants are equal to the successes of the in-person class.

“The virtual participants feel included in all activities,” Bowe said. “I call them each week to counsel them and to see if they have any questions for us. They participate in the Facebook page regularly and ask questions.”

The future of Fit for Life

Bowe feels the program has only scratched the surface of its potential.

“Now that we have opened up the program virtually, we can reach anyone and everyone, and we still have so many people to reach,” she said. “This fall class is our largest class to date. We have a full in -person class plus an additional 23 virtual participants. We have participants from all over the United States. We even had one couple watch from Scotland while on vacation. I am so excited about where Fit for Life is headed.”

Debbie Angel, a former participant in Fit for Life who now assists with the program, gets a sample healthy snack from current participant Patricia Beadle. We’ll include Patricia’s testimonial in tomorrow’s installment of this series.

“Dr. McKnight deserves all the applause for this program,” Bowe added. “I am honored to be working beside him.”

Dr. McKnight holds Bowe in equal esteem.

“Kelly is the greatest coach and cheerleader for our participants,” he said. “Her role is key. In fact, I would love to see the program have an international reach with cheerleaders like Kelly Bowe and [former student] Debbie Angel serving the critical role of personal connection and encouragement with each participant.

“I would love to see online groups forming to support one another as they do on our Facebook page. I would be thrilled to dedicate more time and energy into updating the content and making more information accessible online, including videos and other learning and inspirational resources.”


Tomorrow: Testimonials from past and present participants. If you would like to register for the January 2023 sessions, please click here.

You can read Part 1 of this series here.