The ever-changing ‘Booty Buster’ class gives a 5 a.m. troupe of women an opportunity
to forge personal connections and strengthen abs
By Matt White | Photography by Briana Brough
On a Saturday morning, just inside the red brick front of Ladies’ Fitness Center of Pittsboro, the music was loud and Kelly Bolejack, in a pink tank top and black leggings, was louder. While House of Pain suggested she “jump around,” Kelly instead was jackhammering her knees into the air like a sprinter and yelling into her headset at the dozen or so women behind her: “Come on, faster!” She then launched herself into a set of burpees, an exercise in which she flung her body to the ground and then launched back to her feet with arms high overhead, then straight back to the ground, over and over.
Behind Kelly, several women matched her pace or nearly did. Others fell a step or two behind, and a few were barely off the floor once by the time Kelly had rebounded three times.
No matter. They all knew what they were getting into. Kelly did not name her class “Booty Buster” because it was easy.
“It’s something cute,” she says of the name. “But it also says, ‘I’m really tough, and I’m gonna kick your butt.’”
Kelly teaches Booty Buster Fit Camp three times a week at Ladies’ Fitness, each at the same high tempo but ever-changing in specifics. “You never know what you’re gonna get with me,” she says. “Could be Tabata, deck of cards, anything. It’s never the same workout.”
A Pittsboro native, Kelly began teaching workout classes three years ago after nearly two decades as a member. She became a certified trainer and started charging a premium above the gym’s regular rates. Even though Booty Buster starts at 5 a.m. on weekdays, she quickly developed a devoted following.
“She is a natural,” says Audrey Burleson, who owns Ladies’ Fitness. “She just took to it like she was born to do it.”
“Honestly, Ladies’ is like a family,” Kelly says. “Everybody feels loved, everybody knows everybody. When I see people in my class, it’s, ‘Hey, how’s your family?’ It’s actually my second home.”
Audrey bought the gym 10 years ago. She’s updated equipment and now offers 25 classes a week, but she has kept the gym’s mission to be, at its heart, a place where local women can gather and work out together.
“People ask, ‘Why not make it co-ed? You’re cutting off half of your possible membership,’” says Audrey. “But you do lose something. There’s not quite an ease of connection when there [are] men around. We’re doing crazy stuff in there, laying down and jumping up and you can feel comfortable in your sweats or whatever.”
Audrey bought the gym when she was pregnant with her fourth of what would be five children. Now she invites members who are moms to bring their young children, who can stay in a supervised playroom.
“We don’t have the newest equipment,” she says. “There [are] no TVs on our treadmills. But our instructors are all on the level you’d find at those big-box gyms, and the connection that people make here makes it special.”
Kelly says ties among the women at the gym are why her classes stay full. “We hold each other accountable,” she says.
“I’m gonna be here at this time, you gotta come
and do it. You can’t make a change until you get out of your comfort zone.”
Most members, Audrey says, live in or near Pittsboro, though she has some women who come for classes from as far as Siler City, Apex and North Chatham. She still has some original members from the gym’s early days who are now in their 70s and 80s. And anyone who wants to work out during off-hours gets their own key to the building.
“It’s still not the numbers we’d like,” she says. “It’s such a great community of women that everything is kinda word-of-mouth. I want to keep our rates accessible to everyone, and if husbands work out other places, they can afford both. I couldn’t support myself with it, but on the other hand, it’s [a] way to make a little money and do what I love.” CM
This article originally appeared in the February/March 2018 issue.
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