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Posted on November 12th, 2015

Most fitness programs are designed with the goal of helping you to lose weight and body fat, to make you look better. The majority of people certainly want this in their fitness program, but it also doesn't make sense to ignore the importance of being able to move freely, without pain. 

Beating up your body with overly long sessions and not enough recovery between sessions for your joints and muscles, might help you lose inches and look better, but you will eventually get injured and feel like crap.  Simply programming bodybuilding exercises and elliptical machine workouts might make you leaner, but might not make sense for long term health and happiness.

My recent focus has been to offer the most well-rounded program I can, within the constraint of only having contact with clients for a few hours a week. I include a lot of core exercises to make your lower back stronger and less susceptible to injury. Our dynamic warm-up part of the sessions is designed to make your body move better and move pain free. To ensure that clients don't "skip" mobility work, I have also started to insert mobility exercises into the main portion of our workouts.  So a circuit might consist of step ups, chest press, a core exercise, followed by a spiderman crawl for some mobility work.

We still do a good deal of strength training that will add lean muscle to your frame, while melting some body fat along the way.  We will do some tough cardio and interval work which will improve your fitness level. But we will also always emphasize our ability to move freely, without pain. Better mobility will help you get better results in your training due to more range of motion, and better mobility just feels good!

Posted on November 12th, 2015

This is a letter I wrote to some prospects I contacted this week. It reflects my current thoughts about our program and how good I feel about the work we are doing at Thrive Fitness.

Dear Future Thrive Client:

Thrive Fitness is an exercise and wellness program that is much like personal training, but in a small group format. You get the customization and guidance of a personal training program, with  the energy and social environment of a group class.

​I have been working with clients for over 12 years, so I have a great deal of experience working with all types of clients. In a previous life, I had stressful and long work weeks while working in a few corporate “desk jobs”, so I can also relate to real life issues that often pull people away from exercise.

My main focus is to take into consideration each of your needs, limitations, and goals, and to develop an exercise plan that makes you FEEL BETTER, MOVE BETTER, and LOOK BETTER. The real skill is helping you make progress without getting you hurt or walking around miserable and tired the rest of the day! We all need consistent movement and exercise, but it needs to be done in a way that makes you feel good and not beaten up.

Here are a few key points that make Thrive Fitness special:

Customized. I make sure that each person is doing the correct level of exercises, with proper technique and the right challenge so that you make progress, pain-free.
Flexible Schedule. Sessions can be scheduled Monday - Saturday each week, and you are not restricted to one time slot. I will work with to make a schedule work.
Balanced. I take great care to make sure your program has a balance of all muscle groups, as well as areas of balance, strength, core, cardio, and mobility/flexibility.
Value. You have other options, like hiring a personal trainer and paying a high hourly rate that is not sustainable long term, or you could find a cheaper bootcamp and get hurt, burned out, or not receive the right level of instruction. But Thrive Fitness offers the best value in combining great instruction with a reasonable monthly rate.
Long Term Partnership. Our retention rate is about 90% year to year, and our program is really a partnership between coach and client. I provide the program and guidance, and you do the consistent work to get the health that you desire. The more I know about your life, the more I can help you.
Good People. I am constantly amazed at how friendly everyone at our facility is. Everyone is on a first name basis and is helpful/encouraging to each other. We workout pretty hard, but it has a nice “balanced” feel to it.

If you are interested in coming in for a meeting and perhaps a couple of trial sessions, you can contact me at 512-296-6229, or john@thrivefitnessgeorgetown.com. Once you get over the difficult part of committing to that first meeting, you will understand how this program is what you need. Your quality of life will improve and you will turn back the clock a few years.  
See you soon,

John O’Connor
Owner/Coach at Thrive Fitness

Posted on November 12th, 2015

I stole this blog post from another fitness training facility's website, and thought it made good sense. I think once you try a small group session, you will see the big difference between us and your typical bootcamp class.

6 reasons why Small Group Personal Training is better than an outdoor bootcamp:

1. Exercise Progressions: Everybody is different. Some people can do push-ups, some people just can’t. Our experienced personal trainers have the knowledge to make any exercise more challenging or less demanding depending on the needs of each client. Regardless of which exercise progression you do, we will make sure that your form is correct and your chance for injury significantly minimized. Work hard, but work smart.
2. Experienced, Certified Personal Trainers: Most personal trainers seem self- absorbed, somewhat flaky and unprofessional. John has been coaching clients for the past 12 years, and has the life experiences needed to understand the needs of each client. I am prompt, professional, and believe this is my career, not a hobby.
3. Assessments: We’ll record some benchmark measurements using our Tanita Ironman Body Composition monitor: weight, body fat percentage, metabolism and lean muscle. These measurements will give us some accountability as we move forward with your training. Results do matter.

4. Safe, controlled training environment: Running around outside during the heat and humidity of a brutal Austin summer doesn’t motivate me to work out. It probably doesn’t excite you either. Doing some sit-ups in your local park seems like a great idea until you realize that you plopped right down next to some dog poop.
If you like to do your personal training in a clean, climate-controlled environment where safety is the top priority and clients have easy access to a wide-variety of strength, cardiovascular and agility training equipment, then you’ve found your gym: Thrive Fitness.
5. Total-body workout programs: Running, jumping around and doing push-ups are great, but there is so much more that you could be doing to be to improve your overall fitness and make your workouts more fun.  Our total-body, cross-training workouts will focus on the 7 key components of general fitness: strength development, aerobic conditioning, flexibility and mobility, balance, agility, core stability, and power/quickness.
We’ll use all kinds of cool equipment like dumbbells, medicine balls, kettlebells, agility ladders and hurdles, plyometric boxes, training ropes and elastic bands.
Our workouts change every other week so you’ll never get bored.
6. Better relationships: Do you even know the name of the person working out next to you at your bootcamp? When you work with just four other people, then you develop closer relationships with the other people in your group.
If you prefer to hide in the back of a large group and work out in utter anonymity, then perhaps an outdoor, fire ant-infested bootcamp is more your style. Our trainers learn more about you, your strengths, weaknesses and how to motivate you better. This high-level of support and camaraderie will get you through those days when you need a little extra motivation.

Posted on July 14th, 2015

With the growing influence of the internet, mobile technology and a world economy, people are expecting to get higher quality services for less money. We can see that in nearly everything around us, from McDonald's being under pressure to deliver higher quality at a low price to software making our lives more efficient.

As a business, you either continue to evolve or you disappear. In the fitness business, customers are looking for customization of their exercise plans to meet their schedule, their goals, and their fitness levels. 

With our MODULAR Fitness model, I will be delivering customized fitness routines at a reasonable price. Gone are the days when you will have to spend $70-$100 an hour having a personal trainer watch over you. With the help of technology and an innovative program design, I can give you the fitness program you need and at the schedule you want. 

Every 15 minutes, a new group workout will be starting at Thrive Fitness. Gone are the days when you had to wait until that 5pm class started to get your workout in. If you have a break after dropping kids off at school, you can come to Thrive for your workout. If you want to get out of the office early on a Thursday afternoon, you can get a workout in before heading home for the night. 

I will design your workout program so that it is balanced between FOUR 15 minute exercise modules:  Strength, Core, Cardio, and Interval modules. Each workout, we will choose between these modules to design your custom workout. If you only have 30 minutes, then we will just choose two modules. If you have more time, we can pick three or four modules.  Some days you will do more strength training, and some days you will do more cardio.

Each 15 min module can be customized to your fitness level and goals. The basic format of the modules is set, but we can choose between several exercise options at each step. 

During your first month of membership, I will evaluate your ability to perform the various types of exercises and will assign a "level" for your workout. The trick is to exercise just enough and with just enough effort to get great results without causing injuries. 

My goal with MODULAR Fitness is to provide a personalized fitness routine, at a schedule that is convenient for you, and at a price that is sustainable. 

Posted on September 2nd, 2014

My last column discussed our obsession with the bathroom scale and how it can sabotage our efforts to stay engaged in a fitness program long term. While I truly believe that it is best to focus on overall health rather than how much someone weighs, I do understand the reality that most people are concerned with their body weight. I also realize that as a fitness coach, I need to help people lose weight or I will lose some business.

I typically get to spend only two to four hours a week with a client, and the last time I checked there were 168 hours in a week! Thus it is not realistic for people to expect quick weight loss simply by adding in a few workouts a week. While we did talk about the numerous health benefits of exercise in the last column, we also noted that weight loss in a different game altogether.  We know that both sides of the calorie equation need to be attacked – both input and output of calories.

In my quest to provide a more holistic lifestyle solution than simply offering great workouts, we also monitor what people are doing outside of the gym. We put together a new client “toolkit” that includes nutrition journals, healthy food lists, and “meals-to-go” delivered onsite, as well as the Fitbit pedometer and a heart rate monitor. I have found that many people need the accountability of these lifestyle tools – as well as a coach who is “watching” – in order to make the lifestyle changes needed to get results. Now on to my story about my Fitbit obsession!

The Fitbit is a fancy wristband pedometer that connects via Bluetooth to any new smart phone or through Wi-Fi to any home computer in order to automatically update your step and mileage data. The reason why we recommend this particular pedometer is that we formed an online “challenge group” so that I can monitor everyone’s movement. This may sound Big Brother creepy, but it really does work to motivate people. All of our clients share their daily and weekly step data with each other in order to encourage everyone to move more every day. It is also fun to look at all of the pretty charts and graphs of your hourly/daily/weekly movement information.

And it really does work. In fact, it works almost too well. As the coach and the one who should be setting the lifestyle example, I decided to purchase a Fitbit for myself and take part in the step challenge. It made sense to understand what all of my clients were going through and to understand how difficult it was to get 10,000 steps a day.

I placed my order and waited impatiently for my black Fitbit to come in the mail a few days later. Once it arrived on a Thursday at 4pm, I hurriedly set it up for tracking of my steps. I was excited to compete against my clients to see who could get the most steps in each week. I was confident that my fitness coaching job would provide me with enough movement to blow away the competition. You see, I have a job where I am moving for a large part of the day; setting up workouts for clients, picking up weights, and demonstrating exercises. This is in stark contrast to my days behind the computer at my tech job, where I was slowly accumulating body weight as well as an aching lower back. It is also a lot different than what my typical client faces when they go into the office in our modern office world.

My competitive juices immediately kicked in on day one. I was upset when I realized that due to my late day setup of the Fitbit, Thursday would only be tracking my steps from 5pm to midnight, thus showing that I only walked 5,000 steps that day. The rest of my day was “lost” and in the Fitbit world it appeared as if I was lazy that day. It would take weeks to smooth out the low step day – before my average would appear respectable. I had already become Fitbit “friends” with my clients and it was time to start moving more. I was upset that I hadn’t waited until 7am the next day to setup my Fitbit and my obsession was in full effect.

I immediately noticed that wearing the wristband pedometer was a constant reminder that I should be on my feet and moving. I frequently checked my step count during the work day and it was an entertaining and fun addition to my day. But like most Americans I am probably prone to ADD tendencies – checking email too often, getting frequent text messages, and looking at the latest sports, news, and weather updates. Now I would be adding Fitbit data to my overloaded brain. Would this be too much to handle?

A few days into my adventure, it was 11:30pm and I noticed that my step count was below my goal of 15,000 steps, so I decided to take Stella (my gym dog) for another walk. By this time, even she was getting tired of the Fitbit. After a few days into our summer “two a days” schedule, she wasn’t as excited when I reached for the leash. With the heat of the Texas summer, it was difficult to find a good window of time to get our outdoor steps completed. We either had to walk before 9am, or after 8pm, to avoid baking in the sun. This probably plays a part in why Texans are a little heavier these days, as it isn’t always a very outdoor exercise friendly climate. It seems as if it is either brutally hot for six months, or rainy and cold for a few months, with a couple of pleasant months thrown in the middle.

The first week with my Fitbit motivated me to move probably a little bit more than normal due to the constant reminder and the friendly competition with clients. It is amazing how powerful it is to have other “eyes” on you. The only negatives for me was that I think I got too obsessed with checking my steps during the day, and on some days I think I “forced” some extra steps in to meet my goals. This made me a little less productive on work tasks such as writing and researching exercise programs. The good news is that the obsession slowly wears off and I am now settling into a normal routine that is balanced and manageable long term. Stella even seems more relaxed now that the initial burden of having to achieve 15,000 steps per day is over.

I did quickly come to the conclusion that it was pretty easy for me to get to 10,000 steps, which is commonly the goal for weird people who track their steps. 10,000 steps equate to about 4.5 miles for my stride, and I can get to this number during the course of an average work day at the gym. I also was noticing that my clients were having a much more difficult time getting to 10,000 steps, especially those who had jobs which required many hours at the computer. So depending on your job, the 10,000 step goal is either very easy or very difficult to attain. My desk job clients only got about 2,000 steps on many days at work, which meant they would have to find the time for a 3-4 mile walk before or after work to get in the right amount of movement. As I am writing this column and sitting for the past four or five hours, I have accumulated only about 500 steps.

So what does all of this mean? Well, if you have a job that requires a lot of driving, sitting behind a computer, attending constant work meetings, or traveling, it is likely that you are not getting anything close to 10,000 steps a day. The average American gets about 5,000 steps a day and this has a direct impact on our growing waistlines. Think about the difference between my average of 13-14,000 steps and the normal 5,000 steps a day. That equates to me burning an extra 300-400 calories a day, and while that may not seem like a lot, it does add up over time. Assuming that the calorie equation is perfect and I don’t eat a piece of cake each night due to calorie overconfidence, I would be 20-30 lbs. lighter over the course of a full year. (You know, the whole 3500 calories equals a pound of fat equation?)

Finally, I leave you with a few parting words of wisdom that will hopefully lead to some positive actions. If you are concerned about losing weight, then you probably need to do more than just exercise at a gym a few days a week. My most successful clients are both consistent with me at the gym AND they get 8-10,000 steps in a day. This just means that you have to move more during the rest of the day. The workouts are very important as they make you stronger, increase your metabolism, make your brain work better, and make you feel better and younger.  The workouts should be focused with good intensity, but not so long and draining that they leave you couch bound the rest of the day

If you have the normal job where movement is not required, then you really should get a pedometer like the Fitbit. You should try to build in 10 minute walks every hour or two during the day, take a walk at lunch, and consider switching to an adjustable desk that allows for sitting and standing. There is even a Georgetown company that makes an awesome adjustable desk and you can view their products at www.nextdesks.com. With more movement at work, not only will you shed pounds, you will also fix nagging back pain, improve flexibility, and be more productive during the time you are actually working.  Management should also be encouraging employees to move more, rather than strap them down to their desks all day. The research is piling up to show that more movement is the key to long term health, and the good news is that it is a very easy problem to fix, with a little bit of Fitbit obsession.  Just don’t walk too much and get yourself fired. That would make me feel very guilty.

Type your new text here.

Posted on August 26th, 2014

It is a typical Monday morning at Thrive Fitness, and five clients are working out hard and wearing their MyZone hear rate monitors.  Up on the wall, a large TV screen is projecting their respective heart rates and effort levels.  Both client and coach keep a close eye on their progress as the heart rate stats tell them when to push harder and when to take a rest. 
Our clients find the MyZone system fun and motivating as they compete against themselves to push harder and burn more calories in a given workout. For the coach, the Myzone system is invaluable since it helps to set a "cadence" to the workout and makes it more obvious who is working too hard and who could use a little motivation to go harder!  MyZone is just the latest way that Thrive FItness is creating the most innovative workout experience available. 

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