The beginning of Rock City Fitness 04/07/20
What is Rock City Fitness? Yes, Rock City Fitness is a newly formed personal training company. But what defines Rock City Fitness? What does it mean to train with Rock City Fitness?
I guess it starts with me, the owner of Rock City Fitness. My career in fitness really began when I was 12 years old. That is when my father brought home a set of weights and a bench. I began working out at least three times a week following the chart that came with the weight set. Even at that early age I became hooked on exercise. I felt guilty if I missed workouts. That’s not very normal for a teenager.
What can I say? I was committed to the process. I took the all or nothing approach. That is a personality trait I have to this day. If I am going to do something, I am going to go all out. Also, it didn’t hurt that I was seeing really cool results. My body was changing and I was proud of the strength and muscle I was building.
Well, my personal workouts progressed from the home gym in the basement to the high school weight room. That is where my passion for exercise really went to a new level. I had access to new equipment, heavier weights, more intense workouts and a motivating atmosphere. I loved playing sports, especially football, and I was excited to train so I could improve my performance. I did workouts prescribed by my football coach to the letter. I didn't cut corners. I even followed the workouts in the summer. There were many times that the football coach opened the weight room up and I was the only one there for the workouts. And that was after a hard day of working for my father and uncle building houses.
The hard work and training really did pay off. I went from weighing 160 lbs as a freshman to 205 lbs as a senior. I was able to bench press around 300 lbs, squat over 400 lbs and a 30+ inch vertical jump. I was an All-State football player and had the opportunity to play at Albion College. The highlight of my career was being part of the 1994 NCAA Division III National Championship team. I speak about these accomplishments, not to brag, but to explain what I bring to the table as a trainer and business owner. This is how I got started. This experience helped mold me into I am today.
While my first plunge into fitness was fueled by my desire to increase my sports performance, this evolved as I finished up college and began working in the fitness industry. My first instinct as to how to use my Physical Education degree was as a college strength and conditioning coach. A strength and conditioning coach designs and implements training programs for each of the sports teams in a college. The typical route to make this a career is to be a graduate assistant. Graduate school really wasn’t appealing to me at the time, so I took the approach of getting an internship at a fitness club in downtown Chicago. This was really my first exposure to the commercial fitness industry and the career path option of personal fitness training.
The internship was a great experience and led to my first job in fitness. One of my favorite career milestones was achieved during this time. I obtained my first training credential: National Strength and Conditioning Association – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. I was very excited and proud to accomplish this.
Additionally, I was very fortunate to meet and work with many fitness industry leaders in the Chicagoland area. This included Tim Grover who was Michael Jordan’s personal trainer and owner of Attack Athletics. I had the pleasure of observing Tim work with MJ and many other NBA stars. I even helped Tim with his book Jump Attack by being the model that performed all of the exercises that are illustrated in the book.
A New Chapter
The other significant fitness mentor I worked with was Michael Schwartz. This is where my fitness training knowledge really went to a new level. I got to know Mike through the regular continuing education programs he provided to the fitness club I worked for. Mike was an instructor for the American Council on Exercise, National Academy of Sports Medicine and Resistance University. He specialized in teaching exercise biomechanics and how to train with technical excellence. It was through my relationship with Mike that my fitness career opened to a new chapter.
Mike opened a private fitness training studio in a loft building in the River North area of Chicago. I ventured from the gym where I got my feet wet into my first experience as a business owner. I formed Pro Fitness and Strength and operated out of Mike’s training studio. Well, I was really young and inexperienced from a business standpoint. My business was not very successful. This led me to again search for employment and I landed with Life Time Fitness as the large health club chain entered the Chicago market.
Even though I didn’t have the business success I wanted working for myself, the time I spent with Mike was invaluable. When I started with the new health club, I immediately gained the reputation of being the most knowledgeable trainer. I give credit to Mike for this. I had instant success as a trainer at this gym. The reasons for my success were my passion for fitness, attention to detail, unmatched work ethic and systematic approach to training my clients.
Once again, as I did with my own workouts in high school and college, I didn’t cut corners. My clients deserved by best effort and, honestly, I needed to do it for myself as well. I really believe in doing everything to the best of my ability. They had goals and it was my job to get them there. And I had the desire, knowledge and experience to make it happen.
Rock City Fitness Emerges
My career with Life Time Fitness lasted just over 9 years. My work with Life Time started in Chicago in 2000 and ended in Rochester Hills in early 2010. The experience I gained during this chapter of my career was vital. I had the opportunity to attend hundreds of hours of continuing education programs and obtained four more certifications through the American Council on Exercise and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. My years at Life Time were great, but I had the desire to do something more. I could keep moving up the ladder and achieve success within this huge corporation or I could take the leap and build something for myself – something that represents my style and philosophy.
I had definitely developed my own system and style of training at Life Time. I had built a great reputation and a strong clientele. I decided it was time to make the break and take all of my years of experience and commitment to excellence and build my own company and brand. Rock City Fitness was officially formed in February of 2010.
It’s definitely still a work in progress, but I have formed a great foundation and have a long term vision for the future. I am excited about the possibilities that this future holds!