Always impressed by members who consistently show up to class, even if that means rearranging their schedules, GX24 instructor Alex Kattar says his passion for teaching only grows stronger. His home club is 24 Hour Fitness Central & Royal Sport in Dallas.

“When I hear of the things members do to make it to our classes; when I see members run in, even if it’s a few minutes late, and get right into the workout; when I see them sweat, smile, grind their teeth, laugh, and they keep coming back; when members approach me and share how they feel while in my class: strong, fast, agile, empowered, challenged, loved, appreciated, treasured and happy,” Kattar says. “All these make me love what I do, knowing that I can make an impact in both their physical and emotional fitness.”

And while Kattar is impressed by all his attendees, he is particularly wowed by member Joni Sakamoto. Sakamoto first started taking GX24 classes with Kattar in 2013 when he was still teaching at the Addison, Texas, location. After that first class with Kattar, Sakamoto felt so inspired, empowered and joyful that she knew she needed to continue attending classes.

“I felt something inside of me,” she recalls. “I was so shocked that a person could be so powerful with perfect form and know how to teach so well. … Since the first time I met him, I knew he was the person I wanted to be.” This overwhelming sense of gratitude and pure enjoyment through movement even had Sakamoto contemplating becoming a certified GX24 instructor.

After Kattar began teaching at other 24 Hour Fitness locations around Dallas, Sakamoto made sure she invested the time in her health and wellness, following Kattar’s schedule from gym to gym. Though Sakamoto’s job required her to relocate to New York, the dedicated member still manages to find time to make it to Kattar’s classes whenever she visits Texas for work.

Joni Sakamoto and Alex Kattar

“That’s quite some mileage and traffic time invested,” Kattar says jokingly before adding that he always loves when Sakamoto shows up to class because “she will be present and invested the whole time.”

Even after rupturing her Achilles tendon, Sakamoto slowed down a bit but found a way to participate with the same level of enthusiasm and kindness, always doing the best she could.

“It was rough for her to take time off,” Kattar says. “Needless to say, she bounced back. … [Joni is] supportive, super positive and always wears a smile on her face. She’s just a joy to be around, to watch in class,” and she inspires other instructors and members to reach their full potential.

But Sakamoto thinks nothing of it since fitness and helping people are her two passions in life.

“I enjoy recruiting people to join the gym. … I like to motivate others in Les Mills classes and have recruited several new participants,” she says enthusiastically. “I have made a lot of friends [at 24 Hour Fitness and] … I enjoy being in the classes with instructors and friends who I love the most.”

Photo credit: Alex Kattar