Flower Mound coach builds green fitness studio

In the middle of the night early in September, personal fitness professional Kelli Calabrese had a vision to convert her 800 square foot garage into a gym, and not any gym, but a “green” gym.

At first, it seemed simple enough to pull out all of the clutter, clean the floors, slap on a fresh coat of paint and move equipment in, but this was going to be no ordinary gym. 

She began researching building materials that were non-toxic.  She quickly found out that “green” can be deceiving.  For example when paint says 100% non VOC (volatile organic compounds), that is not the full story. When the tinted color is added, the toxins are put back in.  Also, if paint says odor free, harmful chemicals can be used to reduce the smell that are more toxic than the chemicals that created the original odor. 

Kelli was used to uncovering deception in the food industry such as fat free cans of oil or sugar free bags of cookies; however this was a whole new education in green building materials.  What she uncovered was that “green” actually means it’s good for the environment, not necessarily human health.  For example, green cleaning products can still contain harmful allergens.  Also, manufacturers are not required to list all of their ingredients, unless they are known to be hazardous.  It can be a challenge to find the truly non-toxic materials.

She contacted a friend of hers who has severe multiple chemical sensitivities and has been researching clean environments for the past 6 years.  He turned her on to Green Building Supply where she learned about creating radiant barriers, blowing in cotton insulation, using ductless heating and cooling, plant based paints, non-florescent lighting and natural flooring materials. 

Kelli says, “When you have awareness for finding non-toxic materials, you can find them, it just takes a little extra time and you need to be sure what you are purchasing is actually non-toxic. You don’t want to go to great lengths creating a healthy environment to find out the window calking was toxic.” 

After talking to Joel Hirschberg at Green Building Supply, she decided on Marmoleum flooring that is made with natural ingredients, is durable and beautiful.  Marmoleum has no odors and is the first flooring to be Asthma & Allergy Friendly certified safe and it’s SMART certified as a sustainable product.  Marmoleum has no adverse health issues whatsoever, either during production, its useful life, or disposal. The linseed oil prevents micro-organisms, it’s easy to clean with a mop, resists dust, doesn’t stain, can be used in commercial settings, is soft and reduces the risk for shock.

Next Kelli headed to The Greener Good store in Fort Worth where the ladies helped her choose Safe Coat paint colors, called Strength and Fertility.  “Both the names and the colors attracted me to the plant based paint which rolled on beautifully without any smell and was easy to clean up,” said Calabrese.

“A friend asked me if it cost more “green” to build a green gym and the answer is Yes, about three times more, however it’s worth it knowing my young children will be able to work out in a toxin free environment and it’s also energy efficient”. 

“When I think back to going into commercial gyms, I remember starting to sneeze or my nose beginning to run from the cleaning chemicals, rubber, perfumes, deodorizers, and even the new construction materials which “gas out” toxins for 7 years.  Thankfully we are all healthy, but we want to do everything to keep it that way.”

Volatile Organic Compounds can come from water, carpeting, cleaning fluids, paints and varnishes, deodorants, cosmetics, dry cleaning, air fresheners, bug repellents, air, food, heavy metals, PCB’s, pesticides, myotoxins, Phthalates, chlorine, dioxins, asbestos and chloroform.  Many we don’t have control of, but we do have control over our home environment.

When you consider that over 77,000 chemicals are produced in North America, over 3,000 chemicals are added to our food supply, over 10,000 chemical solvents, emulsifiers and preservatives are used in food processing and 1,000 new chemicals are introduced each year, you have to acknowledge that there must be a connection to the increase in cancer and all inflammatory disease that adversely effect our health. 

A study by The British Medical Journal says that 75% of most cancers are caused by environmental and lifestyle factors.  A report by the Columbia University School of Public Health estimates that 95% of cancer is caused by diet and environmental toxicity.  Most Americans have between 400- 800 chemicals stored in their bodies, typically in fat cells. Some of the short and long-term effects of toxic exposure include neurological disorders, cancer, hormonal imbalances, enzyme dysfunction, altered metabolism, fatigue, headaches, allergies, vision problems, obesity, headaches and more.

Kelli invites people to consider any unusual signs and symptoms that they may have been experiencing which may be connected to their environment.  An environment engineer can do an air quality test to uncover the health of your environment – or lack of it.

Ultimately Kelli says, “Whether you are working out, sleeping or having family time, you want to ensure the best environment possible for you and your family.”  You can bet Kelli plans to clean her new gym with sustainable non-toxic products.


Kelli Calabrese is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Fitness Expert for Montel Williams, International Master Trainer with Adventure Boot Camp, Isagenix Consultant, author of the 30 Day Detox Meal Plan, Coach for Argyle Boot Camp, Keynote Speaker and Partner of Living Slim & Fit.  Visit www.KelliCalabrese.com, e-mail [email protected] or call 817-490-1296.

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