- Published on Wednesday, 22 June 2011 01:00
- Written by Ginny Babbitt - Special to the Town Crier
Three years ago, Los Altos resident Pratima Rao saw an ad for Team Fitness Inc. in the Los Altos Recreation Department Guide and decided to check it out.
“What a lucky find,” she said. “Not only is it a great workout, but it’s such a fun group of folks.”
Team Fitness, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last month, sponsors programs that meet weekdays and Saturday mornings in Los Altos at Blach and Egan Junior High schools and in Menlo Park at the new Arrillaga Family Gym. Members of the Los Altos group travel from as far as Half Moon Bay.
Making fitness fun
Run by Los Altos resident Tom Gordon, Team Fitness aims to break the mold of boring, lonely fitness regimens by providing workouts that emphasize fun, variety and camaraderie.
It’s a diverse group with a wide range of ages and capabilities – all with a great sense of humor, Gordon said. Classes are small – averaging 12-14 participants – so no one is lost in a crowd of flailing arms and legs. At the same time, the workout space is large – some days workouts are in community gyms, others are outside in nearby parks and fields.
“Wherever we work out, we always bring all the elements of fitness together into one-hour classes, rather than focus on a specific area or skill,” Gordon said. “To have successful fitness, a program must create the environment that causes members to remain fit for decades.”
According to longtime participants, the classes are well designed and well proportioned, the coaches are high quality – and they’re simply fun. Inspired by the formula, nearly one-third of the Team Fitness members have been with the group for more than 10 years – the average tenure is eight years – with six members approaching their 20-year anniversaries.
From building homes
to building people
“Coach” Gordon’s life has always centered on sports. He played baseball, football, basketball and rugby at Stanford University and has coached sports from T-ball to baseball and softball, from children to college level. Gordon sold his custom-home construction business to dedicate his career fully to fitness in 1999. After joining Team Fitness in 1996, he moved from head coach to part owner, and then became sole owner in 2005.
“I’ve always been about building things – now I get to build people,” Gordon said.
Team Fitness members range from beginners to well-conditioned athletes. Its coaches, some of whom started as participants in the program, ensure each member’s success by working with their individual fitness levels, providing coaching and driving accountability. Gordon said members steadily improve conditioning without boredom or frustration by using energetic indoor and outdoor workouts that integrate variations of aerobic and agility training, core and muscle toning with and without weights, sports and stretching.
Rao said the coaches and her fellow classmates make working out – even at 6 a.m. – enjoyable and fun.
“We even have an after-class coffee tradition,” she said.
An avid tennis player, Rao said she finds the variety of exercises offered by Team Fitness helpful on the court, making her quicker, stronger and more agile.
Class members claim that amid serious fitness training, the lighthearted touches make workouts enjoyable – like the guy who plays air guitar through the abdominal exercises.
Gordon sets the tone by wearing a plantation hat and Hawaiian shirt to mark the winter solstice. Halloween is always a scene. Birthdays, births and personal accomplishments are recognized. And a lively atmosphere replete with hoots and hollers abounds.
“Statistics say that around 80 percent of the people who start a fitness program quit within six months,” Gordon said. “Invariably they haven’t had any fun, they have become bored or they didn’t have anyone to work out with to keep them motivated and accountable.”
Gordon said he hires coaches who understand the importance of creating an amiable yet professional atmosphere while building community.
“Our coaches excel at knowing when to work hard, when to not take the workout or themselves too seriously, and how to do it all with a good sense of humor,” he said. “Really, what club or gym measures membership in years and success not only in fitness, but in fun?”
For more information, visit www.teamfitness.com.