Here’s how Fitness Together helped one local couple grab midlife by the collar and show it who’s boss

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The training team at Fitness Together in Highland Heights includes, from left to right: Jenny, Rachel, Matthew, Leah, Seth, Dawna, Sean (owner) and Brooke.

By Patricia Nugent

As successful trial lawyers with a bustling practice and four busy kids ages 10 to 17, Todd and Susan Petersen were starting to feel as if their lives were running them instead of the other way around.

“Age 50 is around the corner and we wanted to hit it running instead of sitting,” says Todd. “It had been a long time since we had exercised in any meaningful way and we were primed to get back in shape.”

A friend suggested they try Fitness Together.

Studio Manager Dawna Natale says the dynamic duo came to them with very different goals. Todd sought to lose weight and build muscle tone. Susan, who is thin, wanted to build her core and use exercise as a means of de-stressing from her hectic job.

“After our initial assessments, we were able to custom-create programs to fit their unique needs,” she says. “They seem to enjoy our private, fully equipped exercise suites.”

Todd says he pays more attention to how he looks and feels than the number on the scale. “The clothes never lie,” he says, and notes that his are fitting quite nicely now.

“Even though it wasn’t Susan’s goal to lose weight, she did as a side effect of the training, and her BMI went from 29% to 21%,” says Dawna.

Todd (pictured) and Susan Peterson came to Fitness Together with very different goals, but both wanted to ambush their midlife crises by getting into the best shape of their lives.

Meet the Training Team

  • Sean Sullivan, owner, trainer – “I enjoy helping our clients achieve their goals and improve every facet of their lives through science- and research-driven training. We celebrate every big and little success with them.”
  • Dawna Natale, studio manager, trainer – “I grew up in a highly competitive environment. Being a collegiate soccer player taught me discipline, but also made me love fitness. Getting to share that with others is very rewarding."
  • Jenny Farinacci, lead trainer – “Health and fitness have always been a part of my life. Every day I am grateful for one person saying how much I impacted their life. I love strength training, good music and my family.”
  • Leah Barnett, trainer – “The feeling after an awesome workout in the gym or a long run is what I live for, and I always keep coming back for more. Showing others that exercise can be fun is my favorite part.”
  • Matthew Miller, trainer – “Throughout my life, exercise and wellness have been at the core of my identity. Being able to share my passion with people of all groups is a dream come true. I believe that exercise works best when enjoyment and necessity meet.”
  • Seth Calhoun, trainer – “I have been training consistently since the age of 11 and every day I’m thankful that I have the health and opportunity to be able to train and help others. Fitness is not about where you are, but where you are headed.”
  • Brooke Kozlowski, trainer, regional manager – “I love taking fitness outside, whether on my bicycle, climbing or kayaking. Keeping up with strength training—especially TRX suspension work—keeps my body strong enough to handle all that.”
  • Rachel Pekarski, trainer, regional manager – “Fitness has always been a part of my life. I enjoy spinning, hiking and strength training. I love helping others reach their goals and feel good and make sure they have fun while doing it.”

Fitness Together is located next to Chipotle, just off 271, at 6267-A Wilson Mills Road in Highland Heights. Trainers wear masks at all times, thoroughly sanitize the suites between sessions and take temperatures and ask Covid-related questions of everyone coming into the studio. Other studios are located in Concord, Brecksville, Bay Village, Medina and Fairlawn. Call 440-426-2800 or visit for more information.