Interview with Jim Patterson, Director of Personal Training at Fit Athletic Club in Solana Beach

We recently became members at Fit Athletic Club in Solana Beach, and it is awesome! It has been voted as one of the best gym in San Diego by San Diego A List for a reason.

Over the last several years, we have been members of a couple different country clubs here in San Diego North County, but we recently moved within the San Diego city limits, which gave us access to all the wonderful public golf courses in the City of San Diego at massively discounted prices. In addition, we get access to the advanced reservation system for these courses. Although this is really awesome, we no longer had a gym membership that was part of our country club membership.

We looked at several gyms near our new home and our office, and set out some criteria for selecting a new gym:

  • A club that gets us fit and healthy
  • Great member service, so we don’t feel like a number
  • Convenient to home or work
  • Wide selection of equipment and free weights
  • Skilled and knowledgeable personal trainers
  • Group exercise classes
  • Convenient parking
  • Not over crowded
  • Price of membership
  • Convenient hours
  • Child care
  • Nice locker rooms and shower facilities

Also, as part of the preparation for our wedding, we wanted to hire a personal trainer to whip us into shape over a three month timeframe.

Fit Athletic Solana Beach

We visited four different clubs/gyms that varied in pricing, service, hours and amenities. We down-selected to three options:  Crunch in Carmel Valley, Bay Club in Carmel Valley, and Fit Athletic Club in Solana Beach.

Crunch is nice new club close to our new home. It has a very reasonable joining and monthly fee, and it is brand new. However, the demographic is heavily weighted to people in their teens and early 20s, and the personal training staff wasn’t very experienced.

Bay Club is between our home and our office. It is an awesome club, similar to one of the country club where we were a member. However, the membership, even without the golf (Fairbanks Ranch Country Club) was pretty high relative to the other gyms. I think if you are looking for more of a country club experience, with a restaurant, lots of kids activities, wonderful tennis facilities, and couple of pool area (one exclusively for adults), it is a great club.

Fit Athletic Solana Beach

Fit Athletic Club in Solana Beach provides a balance of being a true service gym with experienced personal trainers, great hours, and a member demographic that ranges from early 20s to people in their 60s. They offer a variety of group fitness classes ranging from spin to yoga to Zumba to core to beach bootcamps. The are always improving the gym and recently installed new equipment in the Solana Beach location. The Solana Beach and Carmel Mountain Ranch locations of Fit were previously owned by Frogs Club One, but they have been totally renovated and seem brand new. The location is convenient to our office, and it has everything that we wanted in a gym at a reasonable price. We have been working out there for over four months now, and we love it! Although we don’t always need the child care, it is great to have it. Fit has a mobile app that replaces the need for a member ID and it also provides updates on classes and activities.  A nice benefit of the club is that they also have lots of tasty food and beverages for both pre and post workout.

The downtown location of Fit is primary and 20s and 30s demographic that you’d expect in an urban area, and the Carmel Mountain Ranch location has a of families that you would expect in a suburban area. The downtown location also hosts adult pool parties for its members during the summer months, some of which are available to the members from the other locations.

We were recently able to get an interview with Jim Patterson, who is the Director of Personal Training at Fit Solana Beach. As it turns out, Jim was also our trainer for the three months leading up to our wedding. We loved that experience and he continues to be a great resource and good friend to us.  Check-out our interview here:

Amanda:    Hey everyone. It’s Amanda with the San Diego Lifestyle. I’m here today with Jim Patterson from FIT in Solana Beach. It’s in amazing gym. I met Jim a few months ago when I was getting ready for my wedding. My fiancé and I were looking all over for a good gym in San Diego where we could train.

We were looking for something personalized and private in a great setting, but also a good community. We came to FIT and it was a great place. I’d like to ask you today about the location and the people here. Tell me about FIT and why it’s in Solana Beach.

Jim:           The original FIT club was in Houston. We moved out to San Diego and opened up downtown next to Petco Park. It’s a really beautiful gym. The cardio there is easy to do, because you’re looking out at one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in the world. We then acquired two of the former Frog’s locations. We did a full renovation with all new cardio equipment and weight resistance.

Amanda:    When was that?

Jim:           That was in 2013. I came on about four months after the start of the renovations. We went from orange and green walls with broken down equipment to top-of-the line weight resistance equipment, cardiorespiratory equipment, a full sports performance area and all-new paint. We got rid of the orange and green.

Amanda:    It looks amazing. You have art from local artists hanging on the walls.

Jim:           Yes. One of the finer galleries here in Solana Beach has showcased art here. We change it out every month. If you have any questions about the art, you can also purchase it from here.

Amanda:    Tell me about the trainers, what you specialize in and what people come here for.

Jim:           I’ve been in the industry for about 18 years. I grew up here in San Diego and went to Colorado for school. I came back and immediately started working as a trainer. I’ve been doing this for 18 years now. This is the most solid, educated training staff I’ve ever created. It’s a fantastic group of people. They are highly educated.

No one has anything less than five years of experience. The majority have degrees and multiple nationally recognized certifications. It’s a buyer beware industry. You have to make sure that you interview your trainer, make sure they know what they’re talking about and they have a good level of education. You’re the product. You want to make sure that you’re safe and getting good results.

Fit Athletic Solana Beach

Amanda:    Do you work with younger people or older people?

Jim:           All across the board. It can be a little intimidating because we have such top-of-the-line equipment and we are considered more of a boutique type gym. We have a culture of fun and support. Everyone knows each other and supports each other. There are people in amazing shape, and instead of being intimidating, it’s highly motivating.

Amanda:    There is such a motivating vibe around here. I know you have a lot of cool classes. You also have a spin room. What is spin all about?

Jim:           They like to call it cycle. The word “spin” denotes that you’re spinning in circles and wasting time. These people are serious business. We cater to them as best as we can. The bikes are always perfect. There is a towel waiting for them when they get there. We have an amazing industrial sized AC system here. We don’t keep it too cold. We keep it on just enough so that you can still get a great sweat, but you’re not dying in there. You’re not doing yoga, you’re cycling.

Amanda:    What room are we in here?

Jim:           This is our group exercise room. This is a huge room. You can do anything in here from pilates to barre classes to the usual cardio funk, which people love. We highlight it over at the Belly Up with Carrie. She has a cardio funk class and she has a dance troupe as well. We put on a party over there. We sold it out in about five minutes. There was a line around the block. We were blown away.

Amanda:    Tell me about the other areas. I know you have the turf area.

Jim:           That’s our sports performance area. We’re working with sleds, TRX, physio balls, kettlebells and FreeMotion, which is a pulley-style piece of equipment. We have a sled simulator. We have a parachute simulator. Anything you want to improve on sports performance, corrective exercise or the old “functional” training. You can put functional into any type of exercise. If you’re moving your joints, it’s functional.

Amanda:    On the other side, you have free weights and weight equipment.

Jim:           Yes. I like to call it the meathead section. That’s where we have all of our heavy weights. I’m a recovering meathead. We have chest press, squats and leg presses. We have all of the good stuff that you can stack weight onto and bounce around.

Fit Athletic Solana Beach

Right outside of there is our outdoor area. We have a full CrossFit rig with another complement of dumbbells as well as two Muay Thai bags and boxing bags. We have a really good boxing class that’s held twice a week out there.

Kim Brutzman, one of my master trainers has a misfits class. That one is women only. We have that two times a week. It’s gotten so popular that she’s had to let the guys in and create a co-ed class as well. That’s just as supportive as the women only class. It’s impressive to see when women are in that situation how much they support each other. With guys, we’re sizing each other up and saying, “I’m going to beat that dude down.” There’s a lot of support in there. It’s good to see.

Amanda:    You also have a dedicated stretching room. This is something that I don’t see at very many gyms. I’m always wandering around, trying to find a little spot where I can stretch. You have so many things in there.

Jim:           Yes. There is really good padding in there. It has mirrors all around so that you can watch your form, especially if you’re doing something like yoga. It also has a full-length bar along the wall. You can use that for attaching pieces of equipment to or to help you stretch out. There is a whole set of foam rollers. There are different types of rollers. There are racquetball and lacrosse practice balls, which are really good to get deep into the muscle.

Amanda:    Tell me about the FitKids. That was a huge selling point for me.

Jim:           There are a lot of toys in there. It’s the size of two rooms. You can come in and drop them off. You can do monthly or daily, whatever works best for you. If you think you’ll be bringing them here three times a week, you want to do it on a monthly basis. It helps a lot of people with busy schedules, like moms with a lot going on. It’s great to be able to drop them off and get your sweat on.

Fit Athletic Solana Beach

Amanda:    You also have amazing facilities in the back. The women’s bathroom is amazing. It’s like a spa in there. What else do you have?

Jim:           We have executive style lockers. We completely gutted it. Everything in there is brand new, all the way down to the wood in the sauna. Every tile is new. All of the fixtures are new. It’s very modern contemporary. You get a good feel when you go in there. It feels like a high-end hotel. You can make sure all of your things are safe in the lockers.

It’s a selling point with a lot of gyms. You want clean, friendly and well-maintained. Clean really starts with the bathrooms. No one wants to go into a gas station toilet.

Amanda:    I know that you have some upcoming and ongoing events.

Jim:           We always have something going on. It does kick up a notch in the summer time. If you’re working for that summer body, you’ll want to show it off. We have downtown pool parties that we sponsor with different high-end hotels downtown. We also have a monthly barbecue, resort style at the Carmel Mountain Ranch.

They have a very nice pool over there with gazebos and a lot of open space for barbecues and pool parties. It is a little more family oriented in parts of it because that is more of what Carmel Mountain ranch is versus downtown. There are not a lot of kids at the pool parties downtown.

Amanda:    There’s something for everyone.

Jim:           Yes. We’re also sponsoring a golf tournament to benefit Urban Angels, which feeds the homeless downtown. Each gym puts on things with its members. There are beach barbecues and bootcamp workouts.

Amanda:    The beach is less than a mile, maybe a half mile from here.

Jim:           It’s not even half a mile. It’s right across the street and down that path about 75 yards.

Amanda:    Thank you so much for talking about what it’s like here. It’s such an incredible gym. I know there are a ton of people in Solana Beach right now wondering where to go. Do you have any final words of wisdom for those people looking to get in shape but don’t know where to go?

Jim:           These are things that apply outside of the gym as well. If you come to FIT, you can utilize them here, but you can also do them anywhere. It’s all about motivation. Everyone has in the back of their head, “I have to lose 10 or 20 pounds.” When it goes from your head to your heart, that’s when you get the motivation to do that. It can happen in a lot of different ways. It could be a doctor’s office visit. You get an EKG and it’s not good.

Don’t let it get to that point. If you have some pounds to shed, you know it’s affecting your heart. Our heart is our ticker. You have to start doing something. You can walk on the beach, go for a small hike or go for a bike ride. Then start to investigate what you’re eating. That’s the key.

Find out your calorie intake and how many calories you need. Once you determine that, based on your activity level, body fat percentage and lean muscle mass, you get that number. You can go as far as you want to go with body fat reduction. Once you follow that, you will get to your goal. If you don’t do this, you will not reach your goal, no matter how hard you work out. You can work out as hard as you want, but if you eat a breakfast burrito afterwards, you negate that calorie burn.

You might feel better in your muscles. You might have a little more endurance. But dropping that weight is all around calories. You don’t have to suffer. Find out how many calories you need and you can eat the foods that you enjoy in the right amounts.

That way, you will stick to a nutrition plan. It becomes a lifestyle change. The other thing that I mentioned earlier when it comes to trainers is the safety component to exercise. You can go into any gym and pick up weights. Every time you walk out, you say, “Did I just get closer to my goal?”

Or you can talk to a professional. I’m not saying that you need a trainer for the rest of your life. You can have four or five sessions. Get a program designed for you. Then you can walk into any gym in the world and say, “I know exactly what I need to do to get myself to my goal.”

Fit Athletic Solana Beach

Amanda:    People don’t want to put that on a trainer. They don’t want to say, “I’m only going to use you for a month.” That’s good to hear that a trainer appreciates that.

Jim:           Yes. Especially at higher end gyms, you won’t have to worry about that. Maybe at other gyms, it’s a bit different. They look for volume. With FIT, you are our marketing. We get you great results. We give you a fantastic gym. We give you a good experience. You’re going to tell your friends. We don’t want to plaster it all over trucks and buses. We want people talking about it. We give you the best possible product. We get you the best possible results. You go out and tell your friends. They come and see us.

Amanda:    I can’t wait to tell my friends at my wedding when I’m fit. Thank you so much for everything that you’ve done for me.

Jim:           Just bring me some cake. Thank you.