Amanda Gerla
Ruth Shrader-Grace is fitness coach and owner of Keys Core Fitness in Key Largo. CONTRIBUTED

“Bring the phone up to your head — the phone moves. No one thinks to do that, and I see so many people whose heads and shoulders are slumped. I am seeing this more and more. And it’s not about age; even teenagers are doing this.” 

That’s a typical conversation with Ruth Shrader-Grace, fitness coach and owner of Keys Core Fitness in Key Largo. The tips and ideas just naturally roll off her tongue, and you end up amazed at the common “mistakes” we may be making as we go through our day.

Shrader-Grace and her husband, Eric Grace, moved from California, but she grew up in New York. They originally meant to settle in Broward but fell in love with the small-town vibe in the Keys. They have two sons, Maxwell, age 21, and Zachary, age 24, who graduated from Coral Shores.

Keys Core Fitness was founded eight years ago. “I was always being led back to health and wellness but never had found something that really stuck with me,” said Shrader-Grace. “I was working out with someone, and they used something from someone else’s studio. They introduced what they called TRX, but it wasn’t TRX. Regardless, I was having fun, so I looked into it.

“People started asking me about my physique, and since TRX resonated with me, I took a course in Boynton Beach and experienced an explosion of excitement,” she continued. “I could wrap my head around this fitness program. I wanted to learn more and more. I took every course there was because I wanted to go from qualified to certified.”

Shrader-Grace is the only certified TRX trainer in the Keys and is also a barefoot training specialist, and is  trained and certified in other holistic modes.

“I wanted to take my skill set, love of pilates, exercise and health in general and then put a little more into it. I was able to meld it together. I like being a people’s coach, understanding when I can challenge someone, and some days when someone says ‘I don’t want to do this.’”

She didn’t know if it would fly because no one else was doing it, and it’s not a piece of equipment in a gym. 

So what’s a workout like? “I don’t have a workout of the day,” she said. “Instead, I use four whiteboards to jot down ideas for my clients. But we do that when my client comes in and has something else they wish to work on. However, each time we work on the whole body.”

“To experience the best results, you should aim to come two times a week,” she said. “If you don’t come more than once a week, it’s like starting over. Sessions are an hour, and most people come twice a week, but three times is even better. I encourage people to do what they have time for.”

Results may be different for everyone, but people generally experience improved strength, posture and balance. TRX can be high or low impact and is also great for stretching. The exercises are functional and meant to keep your muscles strong.

“Exercise isn’t just about losing weight. It’s also about bone loss and muscle tone. You can build bone mass with exercise, and resistance training helps,” she said.

As a coach, she often shares mindset shifts in conjunction with the training. “Some people say to me, ‘I can’t do squats.’ But, you do them every day: do you sit on a toilet? At a table? On a couch?” Her motivational style shows you that being aware of your body in conjunction with your everyday movements can be transformative.

Shrader-Grace is also passionate about being a barefoot training specialist. “Everything literally starts with our feet, and there are so many receptors in our feet. Start first by connecting to the ground, pay attention and see what your feet are doing. Feel the vibrations from the earth. When you pay attention, you will start to walk properly and stand properly.”

Longtime client Jill Kuehnert said, “We have to invest in our fitness the way we invest in our relationships, business, retirement, etc. Find something that works for you, spend the money and show up. What’s important for me is how I feel.”

Shrader-Grace charges $65 an hour for a single one-on-one, in-person session. You can purchase a five- or 10-pack, which has a discount. A multi-pack helps hold you accountable. You can also work out with a friend or family member, and she can meet with you virtually. 

“My love for this was because of its simplicity, and it’s also fun. I believe in my clients, and I tell them you wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think you could do this,” she said. More information is at or on Facebook @KeysCoreFitness.


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