Interview with a Gym Owner

An Interview with Eliot


When and why did your fitness journey begin?


            It really began when I started college. I took fitness classes and began to play sports more competitively. Prior to college I knew I liked playing sports and being active but I was pretty shy in high school so I didn’t get very involved. Once I got to college and started doing more activities, I gained the confidence to further pursue fitness.


How long did it take you to get to where you are now?


            Well I was 18 then and I’m 39 now, so 21 years.


Are you still on your fitness journey?


            Of course! Everyone is still on their fitness journeys. It’s not necessarily something that stops at a certain point. There’s no final destination, other than your own goals, so you never really arrive at fitness, you just progress.


So, you’re saying one can never get fit?


            You can get to certain point where you’re at a high level of fitness but you won’t stay at that level with no effort. To maintain it you must keep working out.


What made you go from your fitness journey to helping others on their fitness journeys?


I needed a job and while I was at the beach with friends they noticed how happy I was running around the beach and playing in the ocean. That made me realize that some of my happiest moments were being active, playing sports, and working out. I thought, if I like that stuff why don’t I look into becoming a personal trainer so I can do something I enjoy.


Are you enjoying your decision to pursue personal training?


            Absolutely, I like helping progress. I’m happy to enable people to workout in a way that makes them feel safe and comfortable.


What is your current fitness goal?


            I’m working on having a combined total of 1000lbs in the squat, deadlift, and bench. I’ve been in a bit of a lull as far as working out goes though. I tested what I can do on Friday and I got 335 squat, 245 bench, and 385 deadlift. That amounts to 965 so I’m not too far off.


Is this the first ‘workout lull’ you’ve experienced?


No, it’s not.


How did you get through it before? Do you have advice for anyone currently in one?


            Start slow when you get back into it and don’t expect to be at your peak. Try not to get frustrated, especially if you’ve been gone awhile. Give yourself some grace to get back into form.


Are there any business goals your working on? Where is Advantage trainers headed?


            I see personal training and exercise as park of a continuum in health care. When people get sick or injured they typically go to their doctor and/or physical therapist. Often, the advice they’re given post-treatment is to exercise but there isn’t much help after that. Doctors just tell you to do it as if you’re supposed to know how to do it on your own. Something I’ve noticed is that a lack of knowledge usually leads to a lack of motivation, which affects people’s recovery ability and rate.

            I intend to create a fitness facility that’s has a broader care model. It will be a gym with a physical therapist, nutritionist and one or two general practitioner doctors. That way, clients could be seen and if they had any health concerns, for instance high blood pressure, then we would help people recover via proper exercise and nutrition along with any necessary medication. We’re going for a more wholistic approach.


How are you going to make this happen?


            Well, I need this business to be more successful before I move on to the next step. This business is quite big enough to expand yet, it needs to be more profitable before I can merge it with another business.


Are you working on being more community-centered?


            Yes, I am because the gym membership model needs to be more that taking people’s gym membership fees and not caring whether they show up or not. That’s sort of the standard business model right now.


The standard business model for all gyms?


            For most of them it is. The economics behind having a different model are tricky, however I think a place to exercise shouldn’t be solely about making money. A gym is a place to assist with helping improve people’s health.


Have you considered crowd funding?


            I’m working on becoming well-versed enough on the medical side of things to know what it would really take to combine that with a gym. I may need a knowledgeable partner to help with that.


Why not work with an already existing office?

            I want them to be attached with one entrance so that when people walk in they walk into both a gym and a doctor’s office. I see that there’s a disconnection between going to a doctor to improve your health and using exercise to improve your health.


What would you say is the most beneficial exercise one can begin with?


            Move. The key is that any movement is better than no movement. There’s no one “best” workout for everyone, otherwise I would put it on a DVD and sell millions of copies. There are movements and exercises that will be best for an individual’s specific needs.


What is the ideal amount of exercise one should get per day?


            The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate to strenuous exercise per week so I use that as the baseline. What you’re asking varies by age, health, and fitness level. Moderate and strenuous are relative from person to person. 150 is good for everyone but what you’re doing during those 150 minutes will vary.


Are body fat amount and health related?


            Yes. The numbers are based on age and sex. For women, an acceptable body fat percentage is about 30% and under and for men it’s 20%.


What aspect of your health does body fat affect?


            It affects your overall body mass, which is the most challenging part for your heart and lungs, as well as making your heart have to work harder. Also, a higher body fat percentage can affect cholesterol and how your body metabolizes sugars.


How come I never see you with a protein drink?


            I don’t use them because most people get enough protein from their everyday meals. I only recommend protein drinks for people who have trouble meeting their bodies protein requirements with a supplement. That tends to be people with extremely large muscle mass, like bodybuilders and powerlifters, or people who are on low calorie diets.


Who is your training ideal for?


            I make my training adaptable. I tend to attract a lot of clients who are new to working out or who have an injury that changes their workout needs.


What can one expect at Advantage Trainers gym?


You can expect a cozy, supportive, inviting environment without the pressures typically present at larger gyms.


What do you mean by ‘pressures’ at larger gyms?


            It is common for people to be put off from working out due to the feeling they have to have already attainted a certain level of fitness. They can feel quite unapproachable and less personable.


Thanks Eliot, it was great chatting with you.