In March 2020, the world was caught off guard by what health officials later labeled as the COVID-19 pandemic. Before we knew it, our schools, sports events, restaurants, shops, and fitness centers closed. Not just here in California and in almost every part of our country, but across the world. Although I was cautiously suspicious at first, I decided to take the officials’ word for it and temporarily shut my in-studio business in Orange County, California (OC Fitness Coach). I wrote an article back in March about this pandemic (if you missed it, find it here). I wanted to see how the following weeks would play out, and so did most of our clients who were now sitting at home, standing by and hoping for life to return to normal. Then, in early May, I re-opened my fitness studio to allow my customers to exercise in our gym, but many of our clients still avoided going out and preferred to stay home. As every news network continued their 24/7 coverage about COVID-19, people all over, were seeking ways to protect themselves from the virus to stay healthy.
But I became very concerned about what some of my clients, who were staying away from the gym, were doing to avoid getting sick and dying from COVID-19: They sheltered at home, worked from home, never left their home, and always stayed inside – which severely limits Vitamin D. They went so far as to avoid any human contact, including delivery drivers and personal grocery shoppers. Stuck at home and deprived of any normal communication, they also started to rely on fast food and restaurants. The 1980s idea of “Stranger Danger” celebrated it's stronger-than-ever comeback as people avoided crossing paths with strangers and even acquaintances. Of course, I did not want to be insensitive to the elderly or those with weakened immune systems during that time. I never thought of it as a hoax. Because not only did several of my family members contract COVID-19. My wife also battled breast cancer in 2019 (read her powerful story here) and had only just finished conventional treatment a few months prior to COVID-19. She was one of those people with a weak immune system. I also had elderly family members that I was around often as well. So, yes, it is a real virus. And yes, it can kill you. However, I questioned the extent of the whole situation that we were in, from very early on.
Despite potential problems that could arise from the virus, and instead of hiding from it in their homes, I started to suggest that people prioritize and optimize their health to put them in the highest state of wellness in case they were to contract the virus. But people were confused, and the guidelines put out by health officials led some of my clients to gain weight, eat more crap foods, lose muscle mass, and even become depressed – the exact opposite of what people should have been doing to combat COVID-19.
How it all started…
Over the course of 2020, my friends and family members located in various parts of the country started to ask me for a workout routine and a nutrition plan. So I began to develop a digital system of online delivery for those interested. My in-studio business, OC Fitness Coach, was open as usual, but we saw an almost overwhelming amount of new clients calling us for virtual training sessions, in-home workout plans, and nutritional advice. Stressed out and stuck at home, people needed help, so I decided to create Patriot Fitness Academy to satisfy the new demand for a new health solution, and to reach a wider range of people that I could coach on everything I knew about health and fitness, much in the same way I did for the previous 11 years with my business. The only difference would be that this time, my clients met me online in their homes and not at the studio.
But why name it "Patriot Fitness Academy?" As my in-studio training began to thrive again, I brainstormed catchy names that would attract people to work with us and trust us. If I was to keep my new online business name as OC Fitness Coach, people outside of Orange Country would assume the reach would only be to the local population. So I needed a new identity for marketing purposes. The word “Patriot” came about from my military background. I served as an Infantry Paratrooper in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and I chose “Academy” because, as a fitness coach and nutritionist, I have always emphasized that it’s not enough for people to focus only on the exercise component of wellness. Our coaches are not here just to put you through a workout. Instead, we encourage all clients to look at their training experience as an opportunity to educate themselves on how to become their own coach as it pertains to their overall health and wellness.
A Crash Course for Your Health
We program people to look at their experience with us as a crash course to health optimization, and not just a quick program to get bigger biceps or legs. Our clients know that this does not compare to the “personal training” at your local commercial gym. Yes, our personal training studio rates are not the cheapest in town. But unlike most personal training services, OC Fitness Coach and the Patriot Fitness Academy focuses on all five Pillars of Wellness, not just the workout. We stress daily movement, nutrient-dense nutrition, optimal sleep, stress management, and toxin avoidance.
These basic wellness fundamentals can easily be passed on through online training in the Patriot Fitness Academy. In fact, I believe that the online platform leads the way to a more seamless exchange of knowledge and how to apply them to your unique individual needs.
The entire process and training can be done on a smart phone. Patriot Fitness Academy clients receive specific workout routines and exercise schedules from their personal coach, so they know exactly what to do each day of the week. They are advised on exercise form through video demonstrations as well as on what weight to use and on the number of sets and reps that best suites them for their goals. That’s because we don’t believe in a cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all approach to fitness.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. So not only do we track workout progress, but dietary tendencies as well. So many people have deficiencies in their diets, which sooner or later can lead to dysfunction and disease. With our nutrition coaching, we help clients manage and consume the things that their individual bodies need most and correct anything that may be lacking. We look for trends and ratios over time and make sure that clients are not only consuming the right amount of nutrients, but that the body is digesting and absorbing properly as well.
Clients are given the task to fill out weekly surveys that recap their last 7 days – which are then reviewed by us to provide you personalized feedback on your progress via email or FaceTime (your choice). This ultimately leads to small improvements that add up over time. Your weekly survey will report to us your average daily water consumption, processed food consumption, hours of sleep, stress levels and more. To make your life easier, we also supply you with shopping lists, recipe ideas, PDF handouts, and troubleshooting guides for various health topics, and nutrient reference charts to educate you on optimizing wellness. And to get your competitive juices flowing, we give clients individual and group challenges to keep you motivated and engaged throughout the whole process.
Where to go from here
By now, you’ve probably noticed that this isn’t just another single workout video or personal training session. This is a fully customized, comprehensive approach, tailored to your individual needs and goals, based on your unique circumstances. I chose Tihana from my group of coaches at our fitness studio to help with this process, because she has a long history of successfully changing peoples’ lives. We do not classify ourselves as Personal Trainers, but rather try to live up to the idea of Health and Wellness Coaches. Here at Patriot Fitness Academy, we not only deliver the best exercises for you, but aim to give you the most valuable advice when it comes to nutrition and lifestyle habits unique to you as an individual. With or without a pandemic, Tihana and I are here to help you overcome the craziness of a busy life. So far, the response to Patriot Fitness Academy has been incredible.
If you’re interested in learning more about our holistic online program, fill out our survey and tell us you're story. Because of the type of clients and price points we serve, we don’t do high-pressure sales. We’re simply here to answer any questions by email or on the phone, and would love to coach you on the path to a healthier you that lets you live life well.
Dan Tatro, M.S.-CSCS, CEO Patriot Fitness Academy