There’s a certain catch-22 when going to the gym. Fears of inadequacy, embarrassment, and failure get stuck in your throat as you watch tightened and toned gym-goers do their thing. You can’t go to the gym while you’re this out of shape, but you can’t really get into shape unless you go to the gym. So when I was headed to PAC Fitness to get a glimpse of their young adult class, I became acutely aware of that second muffin I had for breakfast and my jiggling thighs. “Oh no,” I thought, “even kids have more motivation than I do.” 

However, walking into PAC Fitness felt less like walking into a workout class and more like walking into a giant jungle gym. It was a big open room with ropes, tires, and a huge, wooden monkey bar structure. Though the obstacle course-esque setup was large, it wasn’t imposing and I didn’t feel that pang in my stomach and burning in my calves when looking at a smug treadmill. As kids arrived, they were completely at ease in what seemed to be their natural habitat, effortlessly bouncing basketballs and playfully swatting at each other. Eventually, they took places behind battling ropes and footballs, anxiously waiting for class to begin while Perry spoke to me.

 It was encouraging to hear of trainer Perry Coolbaugh’s “work to failure” policy, which challenges absolute potential use in an age where kids are rarely prompted to exceed their comfort level. “Go until you can’t,” not “go as much as everyone else does”. The kids were totally among one another, doing all the same activities, just at different progress levels. They were working to overcome their own boundaries, at their own pace. 

Perry shared with us his beginnings, and his son’s wrestling which inspired him in his fitness and entrepreneurial journey. Over the past 25 years, Perry has coached many kid’s sports teams- giving him an understanding of kids, and the fitness strategies that work for kids. Today he works as a personal training coach, a circuit training coach, a strength and conditioning baseball coach, all while maintaining his work in the printing industry. 

Perry teaches the members of the “pack” the skills necessary to survive and prosper in even the most desperate conditions. When I first heard of this philosophy, I immediately imagined a deserted island or zombie apocalypse scenario- not your average, everyday life challenges. But then Perry introduced us to Timmy, the student who has been with him the longest. Timmy represented a different kind of prosperity- not starting fires in the rain or outrunning the living dead, but rather persevering through challenges to reach a goal that can be used in everyday life. Timmy shared how PAC has changed his life and helped him become the prospering athlete he is today. 

 So not only is PAC Fitness showing kids a healthy lifestyle full of energy and well being, it’s pulling them out of the world of electronics and teaching them healthy habits- endurance, perseverance, and dedication, which is a whole lot more than the elliptical can give.