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Health & Fitness

Fitness First Takes: Equinox Highland Park’s Tier X Personal Training

More than a workout, this program will redefine total body wellness and change your outlook on life. Seriously.
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I’m no stranger to the gym. A couple of hours spent leaving behind the day’s stress and challenging my muscles relaxes me. But what if you could unlock a new potential for your body and learn a more effective way to exercise? Equinox Highland Park claims to offer just this through its Tier X personal training program.

The Appeal

Long-term results are the focus, and initial fitness level doesn’t matter. The program gives you one-on-one coaching and a personalized program that combines elements from multiple types of workouts to give you a well-rounded experience. 

The Coaches

Tier X coaches must complete more than 270 hours of Equinox Fitness Training Institute education and have a degree in kinesiology, health and fitness management, or a related field. 

The author and her Tier X coach Erin Williams.

The Program

Before the program begins, you’re given an EquiFit Assessment, two non-training sessions where coaches perform tests that evaluate everything from flexibility to movement. I met my coach, Erin Williams, in the second session. Our 30-minute consultation started with a discussion on the comprehensive online questionnaire I completed before our meeting. From sleep to stress, the questionnaire covered nearly every aspect of my life, giving Williams an overall view of my lifestyle. Next, she took my blood pressure and pulse before I stepped onto Fit3D, a platform that slowly rotates while taking 3D imaging scans. The scan records shifts in body parts, so I was able to see how my alignment was impacting my posture and everyday movement.

Next, I mounted a scale that printed a one-page report detailing body fat and muscle for each body area along with hydration levels and weight. Don’t be concerned with the numbers—as I learned, they don’t matter. Then, it was time to get moving. Williams measured my strength, aerobic capacity, and flexibility with exercises that assessed balance and core control. Scribbling notes in a binder, Williams marked areas for improvement, and—from there—built my program and sent me a monthly calendar outlined with goals. At every session, my trainer assessed my movement, breathing, and aerobic activity. If the right muscles weren’t working, she knew. If my core wasn’t activated, she knew. The trainers fine-tune and meticulously guide your muscles, and they assess your progress every four weeks.


Packages start at $2,040 and vary based on how many sessions you want. (Three sessions a week are recommended to see trackable results.) You’re in control of how much time you dedicate each week, the results you want, and—ultimately—how much you want to spend.

I never expected to learn as much as I did about exercise and how physical and mental wellness transcend into our daily lives.


I learned a great deal about myself in my five weeks with the program, but there were three main components that stood out.
1. Maintain good habits by setting small goals.

From the beginning, Tier X teaches how to develop new habits and break old ones. Little by little, add and tweak goals to begin new habits for each area you and your coach agree to improve. For me, this was adding breakfast into my weekly routine. We started with four days a week.
2. Use breathing to manage stress.

We all have stress, but the key is finding ways to relieve it. When we did my initial measurements, my blood pressure and resting heart rate were high. The on-going stream of to-do lists in my head coupled with a busy lifestyle prevented me from calming down. You should burn a certain amount of fat calories in a resting state. But I was burning carbs, which isn’t beneficial for building muscle. To fix this, Williams introduced me to breathing—a novel idea, right? I learned how to breathe in a way that soothed my body. By concentrating on 4-7-8 breathing on the four days I was eating breakfast, I created a habit. I would breathe in for four counts, hold for seven, and exhale for eight counts, making sure to connect my abs to my hip flexors. When we did my final consultation, my heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse had decreased, putting my body in the right mode to burn calories.
3. Learn to workout … again.

As a collegiate majorette for Auburn University, I led an active lifestyle for years. Through Tier X, I learned that I wasn’t activating the correct muscles while working out. Push ups? I was using all shoulder muscle and zero core. Squats? I wasn’t using my hamstrings and glutes to come up, putting all the strain on my quads. Using my back and ab muscles correctly changed my body movement in and outside the gym.

The Bottom Line

The program revolves around three elements for a healthy lifestyle: movement, nutrition, and regeneration. I was deeply lacking regeneration. In my case, this lifestyle kept me from progressing to the next level in fitness and personal wellness. I never expected to learn as much as I did about exercise and how physical and mental wellness transcend into our daily lives. Tier X doesn’t add to existing stress or overload your current responsibilities, so it makes a healthy lifestyle easy and attainable.

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