Train Your Trainer raises money for Special Olympics


Every pushup, pullup, burpee, squat and plank.

Every stride on the treadmill, lift on the bench and movement with a kettlebell.

Every bead of sweat, grunt and deep breath.

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It all was worth it for the eight personal trainers at Anytime Fitness in Seymour.

That’s because their hourlong workout designed by club members meant money was being raised for a cause close to their hearts: Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County.

For the second year in a row, club staff members chose to support the local not-for-profit organization to benefit from the Train Your Trainer fundraiser.

Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for people with intellectual disabilities ages 8 and up. State and local fundraisers are conducted throughout the year to keep the program free for athletes to participate.

In the summer of 2018, Anytime Fitness joined local athletes and unified partners at a unified fitness club meeting. Since then, trainers have visited once a month to lead a workout.

With the COVID-19 pandemic this year, though, Special Olympics activities have been limited and currently are on hold in Jackson County due to the rise in community cases.

Knowing the organization has been impacted fueled Anytime Fitness’ fire to choose it for the fundraiser again. Along with the local partnership that has been established, Anytime Fitness is a global sponsor of Special Olympics.

“One of the things we do at Anytime Fitness is make sure that we give back to our community,” said Alex Cazares, personal training manager for the Seymour club.

“This has been a crazy year, no doubt,” he said. “One of the things that we can’t lose sight on is making sure that we don’t get away from our core values. One of our core values is to give back, and Jackson County Special Olympics is a great partnership for us. We figured, ‘Hey, if it was a big bang last year, we might as well make it a big bang this year.’”

The initial goal last year was $2,600, but around $4,000 wound up being collected.

This year, $2,115 was raised through the night of the fundraiser Nov. 24. Donations continued through Nov. 30, and the total came in around $2,300.

At the beginning of November, club members started raising money to have a chance to turn the tables on their trainers.

A large chalkboard inside the gym’s entrance listed the names of the trainers on one side and time slots across the top. Members wrote their name and the amount they wanted to donate for a time slot to lead a trainer through exercises for 10 minutes.

Cazares said member Roger Wessel is a huge contributor to the fundraiser, buying up the last 10-minute time slots for the trainers to do a variety of exercises.

Again this fall, Cazares said members began asking when the fundraiser was starting and were excited to see their trainers work up a sweat.

“It’s very humbling to see people in a challenging time like this still be able to give back,” he said.

“That’s what gives me hope, that’s what gives us hope, knowing that our partnership with Jackson County Special Olympics will continue to rise even when we’re in a situation like we’re in now,” he said. “We want to make sure what we can do goes a long way and is able to help people such as these athletes make sure that 2021 is a lot better than 2020.”

One of the Jackson County athletes, Dale Hickman, helped emcee the event. He recently joined Anytime Fitness and is doing weekly workouts with Cazares.

“The biggest thing we want Dale to understand and the other athletes is it’s got to be more than just a workout,” Cazares said. “You’ve got to have fun, you’ve got to have relationships, you’ve got to see results and you’ve got to be able to know that whether it’s a small achievement or a big achievement, we’re all doing it together.”

Cazares also appreciated his fellow personal trainers for participating in the fundraiser. He was joined by Drew Carpenter, Corey Lynch, Michael Powell, Mitch Hunnicutt, Cass Sharpe, Allison Mau and Kirsten Lutes.

“It’s not even a question of whether they are going to do it or not,” Cazares said. “They are more than coworkers, they are family, so to see them participate and know that every single minute and rep and sweat, blood and tear goes to a great cause, that’s why we do what we do, honestly.”

After spending most of last year’s fundraiser serving as emcee, Cazares was glad to hand over that duty this year and get to work out.

“It’s honestly like Christmas to me. It’s one of the best times for me, and it’s also one of the reasons why I stay in shape,” he said, smiling. “I’ve got to be ready for it, for sure.”

Lutes and Mau are new trainers, so this was their first Train Your Trainer.

“It’s for a really good cause that’s really close to me because I worked with kids with autism for the last five years before I came here, so I was really excited to hear that’s what the money was going for, Special Olympics, this year,” Lutes said. “I’m always up for a challenge, and I definitely was challenged today.”

She said seeing members support the effort was a positive, especially during a pandemic when many people are struggling financially.

“It’s really good just to see people coming in supporting us because our job as trainers is to support other people in their health, so it’s good to see them reciprocate that support,” she said.

Like Cazares, Lutes was happy to join her coworkers in the workout.

“It has always been a fantastic atmosphere here,” she said. “Everyone is always supporting each other. Even when we were getting our butts kicked, we were still there cheering each other on. If any of us were struggling, we pushed each other through it. I tell them every day it’s the best place I’ve ever worked. We’re just a big family. We’re always here to support each other.”

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