Ann Gross, 37, of Amherst, a physical therapist and nationally certified personal trainer, opened Crunch gym two weeks ago in the Sheridan Plaza, at Sheridan Drive and Sweet Home Road in Amherst.
I spoke with her this week for a "What are you eating?" segment that will run Saturday in WNY Refresh.
Before I tell you a little bit about the new gym, I wanted to share her favorite healthy breakfast recipe.
"It’s a healthy French toast," she says. "I make it with five egg whites, and I do a tablespoon of vanilla, about a teaspoon of cinnamon, a dash of almond milk, one pack of the sweetener Stevia, and then I scramble it up and into it I will put two pieces of Udi’s gluten-free whole grain bread. Then I’ll use my non-stick cooking pan with a little Pam and I will make my French toast.
"You feel like it’s a cheat meal but it’s not. It’s actually amazing."
Gross has a "balanced eating" philosophy and tends to eat five meals a day. She says it’s alright to cheat a little – she will take one or two chocolate chip cookies, no more, when baking with daughters Ava, 7, and Nadia, 5 – but portion control is key, with meals of no more than about 300 calories.
"I eat a lot of egg wheats, I’m a huge believer in eating oatmeal in the morning, so I can fuel my workouts and fuel my day," she said. "I’m not someone who believes in eating no carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are a main source of fuel and energy for the body and for the brain. To get that energy is so important. I’ll do a lot of whey protein shakes for a supplement after a workout.
"Mid-day, I usually like to eat a lean choice of protein, lean turkey with vegetables. I really like seasonal vegetables, so I’ll do a lot of Brussels sprouts or asparagus or broccoli. And my lean meat will be chicken, turkey or mid-day fish. I’ll also do a carbohydrate at that meal. I’ll insert a cup of brown rice or corn tortillas, trying to avoid as much flour as possible.
"And later in the day, I’ll eat a really measured source of protein, 4 ounces of meat, and I believe in eating some healthy fat at a meal, doing some almonds, but again, a portion of almonds. Even doing some potato, some sweet potato or Russet potato, but again, it’s a portion of it, 3 ounces.
"Later in the day, around 6, 6:30 with my family, I like to curb my carbs. I do a lean meat over a huge salad with healthy monounsaturated fat, like avocado. ... I eat organic meat. I think that it’s a clean, healthy source of meat, avoiding antibiotics that are often put into meats and all the hormones...
"I don’t really drink alcohol that much. I’d rather fuel my body with good foods, but in general I don’t eat sweets on a daily basis, or white bread. One thing I would never eat is white bread."
Back to the gym.
Gross has the lone Crunch fitness franchise in the region.
The fun-friendly, non-judgmental gym chain is based in Manhattan. It first spread to big cities in Florida and out on the West Coast, and now is expanding into mid-sized markets, Gross said.
She has revamped 18,000 square feet in a former Crawford Furniture store.
The franchise location offers a no-contract, $9.95-a-month membership that includes weight and aerobic equipment, as well as cardio and strength training classes. Premium memberships that include unlimited tanning, hydro-massages and guest privileges, run $19.95 a month, and can be cancelled anytime.
For more info, see her website, crunchamherst.com, or call 836-3200.
– Scott Scanlon