Dre’s Studio: Heartfelt fitness

By NANCY WILSTACH / Community Columnist

If you’re looking for a personal trainer who really knows what makes you tick, you are in luck.

Undrae Lilly, 38, has opened Dre’s Studio at 603 Main St. When he is not in his studio insisting that his clients can do just another pull-up, pushup, lift or what-have-you, he is at Shelby-Baptist Medical Center assisting with open heart surgery.

Lilly encourages his niece, Alasha Reed, an MHS basketball player. (Contributed)

You look at your food intake totally differently, Lilly said, “when you see what fat looks like and what lean muscle looks like.”

I confess that I have known this young man since he was an adorable 5-year-old diligently swinging a bat in tee-ball. The dimples, the warm smile, the big deep-brown eyes—those are all still there, but now he’s hitting it out of the park. Lilly is a grown man making good in his home town.

The business is a perfect fit, you might say.

“I always liked working out, and I liked helping people,” Lilly said. Lilly was a standout basketball player. “I thought I wanted to be a coach,” he said.

The coaching part he could handle, but coaches have to teach, too. “I wasn’t too interested in that.” After graduating from Montevallo High School, Lilly went to Shelton State where he played basketball.

When he started working at the hospital, he discovered his deep interest in how the human body works and what can be done to make it work better.

For the last 10 years Lilly has worked at his true calling—fitness training—part-time.

“I went back to school in kinesiology at (the University of) Montevallo,” he said.  He interned with Michael Dias in Alabaster;

Lilly had discovered a way to “coach” without spending all day in a classroom.

“This is what I love. This is my ultimate goal, sharing the love here at home,” Lilly said, nodding toward his studio.

Assisting a heart surgeon during open-heart surgery gave him a whole new appreciation for nutrition, exercise and all-around healthy living, Lilly said. He eats mainly fresh fruits and vegetables through the day “with a carbohydrate and a protein.”

“People come to me and say, ‘I want to get skinny.’ No, you don’t want to get skinny—you want to get healthy,” Lilly said. “You don’t want to lose weight—you want to lose inches.”

Lilly gets serious when he talks about health because he lost his mother to a massive heart attack, and very recently, a brother to diabetes.

His local popularity as a personal trainer enabled him to run “Dre’s Fit Camp” outdoors in Orr Park until now. Yes, people endured heat, grass and gnats for the sake of fitness.

In the much more comfortable surroundings of Dre’s Studio, beginners’ fit camp is at 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Intermediate and advanced students work Tuesday and Thursday nights and Saturday morning. Anyone who wants to join can contact Lilly through Facebook or just show up at the studio after 3 p.m. daily.