Tara Notrica is your typical 49-year-old mother of two. Along with her husband Barry, the Merrick mom is kept busy by her 14-year-old son Jared and 10-year-old daughter Samantha. One more thing: she has been battling Mast Cell disease in addition to other autoimmune diseases for the past eight years. Josh York, the CEO and founder GYMGUYZ, an in home personal training company that comes to the home of clients all over the island, has been working closely with Notrica to help her cope with her disease.
“GYMGUYZ is all about the three C’s: convenient, creative and customizable workouts,” said York. “We come to the setting of your choice from homes, offices, churches, and bring our fully loaded van, which has 365 pieces of equipment,” he continued.
In what first began as a vision and a laptop in York’s parents’ dining room, GYMGUYZ set a goal to become the largest personal training franchise in the world. Some of the services include weight loss, body building, senior fitness, pre and post natal, nutritional counseling, and professional sports conditioning.
“We have over 30 employees, including our fitness coaches,” said York, who added that GYMGUYZ works with individuals with MS, muscular and nervous system disorders, cancer and other issues. “Tara is under the care of our head coach Matt, but I always see her on follow up visits. She’s a very special person and has been with us since day one.”
Notrica is battling Mast Cell disease and has been diagnosed with Mast Cell Activation Disorder. She was finally diagnosed with the disease five years after becoming gravely ill, and has been undergoing a strong treatment plan for the last three and a half years, including antihistamine medications, leukotriene blockers and stabilizers.
“The doctors traced it back to my twenties,” said Notrica, who began having anaphylactic types of reactions. “I would start to experience a lot of abdominal pain, have facial swelling, constricted airways, which induced vomiting and diarrhea.”
Notrica was taken to the ER and treated with an Epi-Pen and Benadryl, as doctors believed she had an allergy attack. After her daughter was born, Notrica began having episodes up to three times a week.
“On March 31, 2006, I woke up and clumps of hair were just falling out of my head,” said Notrica, who was still working full-time. “Within five days, all of my hair was gone.”
As time progressed, Notrica’s body continued to reject all forms of therapy. She then started rounds of seemingly infinite visits to facilities, hospitals and doctors. It was after seeing an advertisement when she reached out to GYMGUYZ.
“I danced for a while up until my teens, but I think back to things I could have done to be more active,” said Notrica, who found it difficult to exercise with kids and a full-time job. “GYMGUYZ is a workout that is important for me to stay with,” she said, now looking forward to visits from Matt, who comes in the early mornings.
“Tara’s workout routines are based on her body fat, BMI, muscle percentage and most importantly, her own goals,” said York, who uses a body analysis machine to assess where Notrica is from a fitness standpoint. “She started very low and now she is at a very high level, we couldn’t be more proud of her.”
In the beginning, Notrica began with very minimal types of exercise. As she got stronger, GYMGUYZ introduced a custom circuit regimen for her. Now, Notrica uses a yoga ball, resistance bands and ankle weights. She has also taken up boxing as part of her routine.
Unfortunately, Notrica believes that insurance does not cover the cost of her workouts. According to York, clients similar to her have to pay out of pocket.
“We’ve been trying to accomplish this for years, but insurance companies won’t offer anything. I’m hopeful one day that will change,” said York.
Notrica enjoys writing, and shared that she keeps a journal of everything she has been experiencing over the years. She is also a patient partner with Running for Rare Diseases, where runners team up with rare disease charities to raise awareness and funds. As for her own support system, Notrica has a big one.
“I am very fortunate and blessed,” she said, her biggest supporters including her husband, children, parents, sister, friends and the crew at GYMGUYZ. “With chronic illnesses like these, sometimes marriages fall apart and families can’t handle it. It’s not an easy process for them either.”
Notrica’s children were very young when she got sick, but she made sure to include them in everything.
“I remained pretty strong, and when my kids saw I was ok with it, they felt safe,” she said. “The police, fire rescue, and EMS have all paid visits to my house, which allowed my kids to see that these people would take care of mommy.”
Notrica credits GYMGUYZ with making her feel so special and taken care of.
“GYMGUYZ truly cares about its clients,” said Notrica, who added that York always remembers her birthday. “They put a lot of effort into helping me feel better, and what they do for me impacts my whole person physically, emotionally, psychologically, medically and socially. GYMGUYZ targets all aspects of a person.”
York could not agree more. With the goal to expand worldwide, recently landing in Georgia and Kansas, GYMGUYZ hopes to build more special relationships with its clients.
“GYMGUYZ is all about wowing people,” said York. “We are all about the customers, following up with them and providing excellent services to make them the best they can be.”
Notrica has remained very strong and positive throughout her journey.
“I have two young children. I have to fight, what other choice do I have?” she said. “My life is not what it used to be, and although my treatment plan controls my symptoms, it is not a cure. But I am always hopeful for the future; I have to be.”