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LOCAL LEADER/Matt McKinnis - One Matt. One Client. One Goal.

Posted on Nov 21,2008
Filed Under Local Leaders , Community,
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Photos by John Arundel/Local Kicks-
"Matt's absolutely terrific," raved Susan
Lichtenstein, a 64-year-old retiree from
Old Town. "I'm in the best physical shape
I've ever been."

The slight frame and shy, warm smile of Matt McKinnis belies the complete jock he was in his  school days.
 
The 39-year-old owner of Old Town's Fitness Together packs a compact, well-toned physique, one that he began nurturing while growing up in Battle Creek, Mich. and Atlanta, GA.
 
In kindergarten, pint-size McKinnis could pump out 24 chin ups (still a school record). By the eighth grade, he could run the 400-yard dash in 52 mind-blurring seconds. "When I was a kid I played every sport imaginable: football, soccer, golf and track," he said. "I started working out when I was 11."  Eleven, huh?
 
As a running back and corner at a suburban Atlanta high school, imagine a gazelle sprinting down the football field. He lettered in football and the more serene game of golf, a sport which sent him to the state championships.
 
McKinnis majored in Communications at Michigan State before landing his first job, as a corporate sales rep for phone giant Bell South, which is now AT&T Mobile. During its nascence, McKinnis opened up the first retail store for Bell South's wireless division, spending six years there before moving to Alexandria 10 years ago to become a corporate headhunter for telcoms at Korn Ferry International in downtown DC.
 
After three years at Korn Ferry, McKinnis bolted to work for Virgin Mobile, helping them open up their retail channel at Target Stores, 7-11 convenience stores and Best Buy. He taught spinning classes on the side, helping to keep his mind alert and razor sharp.
 
However, one day McKinnis experienced an epiphany. "I realized that fitness was my passion," he said. "A couple of friends convinced me to do this instead, to follow my passion of getting others in shape."
 
So, McKinnis flew out to Highlands Ranch, Colo. to meet the franchise gurus of 600-outlet Fitness Together, and he was hooked. "I was impressed by their passion for the industry," said McKinnis, who financed his business with a home equity line of credit.
 

Photos by John Arundel/Local Kicks-
"This has got to be part of a total lifestyle change,"
said Matt McKinnis, owner of Fitness Together Alexandria

His own passion for staying in shape propelled his Old Town franchise from its early start three years ago with 24 clients in his first month to over 130 clients today.
 
The model of "One Client. One Trainer. One Goal" is simple: The first workout is on Matt, and then if they're hooked by the endorphins usually created by a professionally-designed workout regimen, they'll come back in for a package of 45-minute sessions led either by Matt or one of his six trainers. All of his trainers are either Certified Trainers or hold degrees in Exercise Science.
 
In the first session they'll receive a full body workout. Once signed up, the trainers will perform a complete, top-to-bottom health evaluation to check their resting heart rate, body measurements and body fat, with a cardiovascular test performed on a treadmill. There's also a strength test performed on upper and lower body, with push-ups, sit-ups and an assortment of flexibility tests. "It's a very complete fitness evaluation," he said.
 
A computer then digests the Fitness Assessment readings and spits out a 15-page printout, rating fitness ability on a scale of one to 100.
 
"Matt's absolutely terrific," raved Susan Lichtenstein, a 64-year-old retiree from Old Town. "I'm in the best physical shape I've ever been."
 
Previously, Lichtenstein, a grandmother of two, said she didn't feel healthy at 140 pounds. "I felt like I had bricks in my shoes," she said. After cycling through a succession of personal trainers, she started coming to Matt's Fitness Together shop on S. Washington Street two years ago. "Matt's routine is never rote," she said. "I have much more energy...My whole persona changed once I started coming here." 

Photos by John Arundel/Local Kicks

During a recent trip to San Francisco, Lichtenstein said she felt energized enough to walk 22 miles from Knob Hill to Sausalito. And back. These days, she walks about five miles each day and weighs in at a healthy 116 pounds. "I'm able to do much more with my six-year-old grandson," she said, triumphantly.
 
"We've had clients come in and lose 40 or 50 pounds..But it's not about 'The Biggest Loser,'" McKinnis said. "Susan didn't have to come here, but she did and now she comes in regularly and pushes her limits."
 
A lot of people think they need to lose weight before they come into Fitness Together, McKinnis said, but "We disagree. Just like every fad weight, they gain it all back. We emphasize a start-to-continuing regimen of weights, cardio and proper nutrition."
 
This might translate into turns on the Lita Fitness Treadmills, Paramount Functional Trainer, the parabody fitness sled, squat racks, dumbbells, medicine balls, stability bars, kettle bells, or even the punching bag to relieve stress.
 
"No matter what's going on in the economy, if you don't have a healthy body, you might not have a healthy mind...If you ignore your health it will go away. This has got to be part of a total lifestyle change."
 
If you're going...
 
Fitness Together Alexandria
Matt McKinnis, Owner/Personal Trainer
300 N Washington Street, Suite 106,
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 683-0777
www.ftalexandria.com



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