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The Club Inside the Club

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Everybody can use support when trying to reach their goal. Joe Matz, 43, of Chicago Ill. agreed to run a marathon with his friend. “My friend asked me right around January if I wanted to run a marathon with him, and I said, you know what, I will.” To ensure his success, Matz joined Fitness Formula Club’s marathon training club — and for Matz, it has made a huge difference.

“I know if I did this by myself, I would skip a day,” Matz said. “Then maybe another. But with the group, I’ve made a commitment and I know I’m going to stick with it.” He is scheduled to run his first marathon in October.

Previously, Matz was a little bit of a jogger, but not wanting to call himself a runner. Running for health and as a way to clear his mind, but never running seriously or competitively.

He has been a member of Fitness Formula for about a year and half. When the time came to get serious about training, Matz knew that his club had a training group. He likes his small running group of about 8–15 participants, and that he can get more attention if needed. Within the group, he is not the only first-time marathoner, and jokes about the safety in numbers when training with others.

“The trainers have been absolutely outstanding,” Matz explained. “There are three trainers that help us out on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. They have a lot of experience themselves and they can answer any question we have.”

After Matz signed up for the marathon training club, he got an e-mail outlining what the schedule would be and where he should go to meet his new group. There is always a trainer present on the group’s runs to give encouragement and motivation along with strategies and tips.

The group runs long distance runs on Saturday mornings. “What the trainers are trying to tell you is Saturday is a practice for the race. Practice getting up; practice what you’re eating. How you’re fueling during running. You should be working on these things and implementing them. The trainers are there to give advice. We can take something away from their experiences — they’ve all tried everything.”

In addition to nutrition, runners need to think about things like sunscreen and Body Glide, an anti-chafe stick deodorant — something Matz had never learned about. He joked that he definitely doesn’t want the bleeding nipples that can occur after a long run in the heat. The trainers have also taught the group of runners about the importance of cross training with strength equipment or yoga, along with advice on their running form.

“It’s such a mind shift now that I think about it as practice. I pick up something new every time we get together from either a coach or a cohort. A simple example of that is, if we are walking on a track you should be on the outside and runners on the inside. I never knew that.”

Matz’s goal for the marathon is to focus on finishing — he will worry about his race time later. As far as his future running plans, he wants to wait and see how this one goes.

He didn’t know anyone at his Union Station club prior to joining the marathon training club. “I used to just go in to the club, do my work out and leave. Now I see the other people in the group — friends, people you wave to.”

What clubs or groups can you offer to members? Brainstorm a list of ideas and then find someone to lead them. Tap into your staff’s various interests and put them to use. Empower your staff to lead members in an area of their interest. -CS

By Ali Cicerchi

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