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Calkins found forte in fitness, but first, his career path took detours

The Enquirer

Reprinted from The Cincinnati Enquirer | Sunday, September 30, 2007


Brian Calkins spent many years dragging himself to his job every morning before he found the career path that gave him a good reason to get up and go to work every day.

Calkins, who grew up in Fairfield, was a sports enthusiast from his youngest days and a soccer star at Badin High School in Middletown, where he graduated in 1987. He discovered his true calling in the fitness industry after years working with a family construction business that he said never fulfilled his ambitions.

"I found myself frustrated," said Calkins. "I hung in there for five years, but I became more and more miserable."

So, with the support of his father, who owned the construction business, and his wife, Carolyn, Calkins started taking career assessment tests and reading career counseling books about how to find the career he was meant for.

"Every time that I took an assessment, it would come back that I should be a coach," said Calkins.

With a business degree, not a teaching degree, from Thomas More College, Calkins believed that a career in the fitness industry was probably better suited to his skills and training than coaching.

"I knew in my heart that this is what I should do," he said.

He went back to Thomas More and took classes in exercise science, which eventually led to his first fitness instruction experience at a senior center where he filled in for another instructor.

"After my first class I knew that this is exactly what I wanted to do," he said.

With renewed enthusiasm for his future, Calkins said he opened his own personal training gym in the basement of his home in Maineville in 1999. By 2001, he moved to a bigger house in Golf Manor that had more basement space for his gym, plus a separate entrance for ease of use by his clients.

As business continued to grow for his new venture, HealthStyleFitness, he moved to a former office building on Montgomery Road in Pleasant Ridge, where he has been located since 2005. He is preparing for yet another move in just a few weeks to a larger space on Red Bank Road in Fairfax that will put him in a bustling new retail corridor.

With about 140 active clients now taking three different types of fitness training, Calkins said his sales have are almost double what they were just a year ago.

He expects that growth trend to continue as his gym moves to its new larger location, and as he expands some of his most popular programs, such as Adventure Boot Camp for Women, an early morning cardio and weight training routine.

Calkins said he attributes some of his success to his enthusiasm for sports and exercise which he hopes motivates others to enjoy it.

"My philosophy is: Fitness needs to be fun," he said.

He incorporates a little fun into each of his programs, with clients doing even silly maneuvers to get their heart rate up. "Anything they can do to keep it fun is fine with me. I even have them doing the wheelbarrow walk as a way to get in some cardio work."

Susan Gray of Clifton, who started Calkins' Adventure Boot Camp program last April to get in shape after delivering a baby, said she found it addictive. She looks forward to the 5:30 class every morning. The class brings together about 80 women who work out together under Calkins' leadership in the parking lot of Crossroads Community Church in Oakley.

"I just couldn't not go to boot camp,'' Gray said. "Brian is an excellent trainer and he runs an excellent boot camp. It's far more motivating than I ever thought it would be."

John Burger of Mount Washington has been using HealthStyleFitness for one-on-one personal training for more than a year. He's pleased with the results that Calkins' program of fitness and diet counseling achieved for him.

"He brought all the pieces together into a coherent whole," said Burger, who said he wanted to lose weight when he started the program.

"I wasn't looking for just acres and acres of equipment," Burger said of his choice of personal training versus a traditional gym. "I wanted a teacher."

Calkins also spends time giving nutrition advice to clients because many of his customers are trying to lose weight. Even with the general diet information available in the media, he said there are a lot of misconceptions about how to eat right.

Calkins said starting HealthStyleFitness has been the fulfillment of a dream, and has made him realize how much exercise and sports are a part of who he is.

"I never realized how much fitness was a part of my life," he said. "This is what I was meant to do."

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