Wearing shirts with “Coach” written across the back, Diana Morton and Laura Poole blew their whistles as they stepped onto the mat at Anytime Fitness in Seymour.
There, they met their personal trainer, Mitch Hunnicutt.
On this day, though, they weren’t doing a workout. Hunnicutt was going to be working up a sweat.
On Nov. 23, Anytime Fitness hosted its annual Train Your Trainer fundraiser, which for the third year in a row benefited Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County.
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 six trainers down the left 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.
Morton and Poole, who meet with Hunnicutt on Mondays for workout sessions, learned about the fundraiser and knew they wanted to join in on the fun for a good cause.
“We give him a hard time all of the time, so it just seemed fitting, and it’s a great cause, so we come in, have a little fun, turn the tables on him a little bit,” Poole said.
As he did pushups, star jumps, mountain climbers, jumping lunges and burpees, Hunnicutt received encouraging words from his two clients, including “Keep that pace up,” “You’ve got this,” “There you go,” “Beautiful form” and “Finish strong.”
At the end of the 10 minutes, Hunnicutt laid flat on the mat. While he was tired, he felt good knowing his effort was helping a good cause.
“Oh man, I am beat,” he said, smiling. “But I say it every year, this event is so awesome. Even though it’s completely exhausting, it’s so worth it, it’s so much fun, not just for us as staff but for everyone else that comes and obviously for the cause that we’re supporting, Special Olympics, for three years straight. I love it, love what we’re able to do and raise.”
Hunnicutt was joined by fellow personal trainers Michael Powell, Cass Sharpe, Kirsten Lutes, Allison Mau and Maycee Hahn. Club Manager Drew Carpenter served as emcee, and Director of Personal Training Operations Chad Wallace assisted.
At the end of the hourlong fundraiser, Wallace announced $1,000 had been raised for Special Olympics, a not-for-profit organization that 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.
New to the club’s fundraising efforts this year was the Burn the Turkey virtual 5K that could be completed any time anywhere between Nov. 25 and 30.
“The 5K, everybody is already doing them around Thanksgiving because people are eating a lot and they are looking for extra events, so we figured this one, A, it’s going to a good cause, a charity, and then B, the members and clients can do it on their own schedule and don’t have to worry about making it to this day and time only,” Carpenter said. “They can literally come in here and get on the treadmill, time themselves and put in the 5K.”
Also, $10 from every club membership started in November and 100% of enrollment fees — give what you choose — for the last two weeks of the month will go to Special Olympics.
“One new guy did $100. He just joined that day and doesn’t know us or the charity. He just appreciated that we support the community,” Carpenter said.
On an annual basis, Anytime Fitness staff members and clients make it a priority to help local causes as much as they can.
“We love to be involved with the community,” Carpenter said. “Our mission is to get the self-esteem of the community better. One of the things that has to be in that component is giving back to the community that we get to have a business in. We’re blessed to still be open after 14 years, and the community supports us, too.”
Wallace, who works with 20 Anytime Fitness locations, said the company really tries to be a part of the community.
Experiencing Train Your Trainer for the first time, he was happy to see the staff members be ready and willing to participate.
“I think it’s so great that they are willing to sacrifice their bodies for charity,” he said, smiling. “The thing I love about it is when we announced it, we make them do it, but there was no pushback. They are all so willing to give of their time and their energy. Three of them aren’t even supposed to be here right now. They are off work, but they came back just to do this. They are willing to give.”
During a staff meeting a couple of months ago, Carpenter said the trainers unanimously decided to support Special Olympics again this year for Train Your Trainer.
And once again, the club members jumped on board, too.
“Our members love to give back. They want us to do something,” Carpenter said. “This is an event where the trainers get trained by their clients and it goes to a good cause. Money is going to go somewhere that maybe without us, they are not going to get those extra funds. Our clients really chip in and put all of their chips into this basket.”
The annual fundraising goal is between $4,000 and $5,000, and Carpenter said they will know this year’s total soon.
Morton and Poole said they were happy to be a part of Anytime Fitness’ fundraising effort.
“I think it’s great. They do a lot of things for the community,” Morton said. “I feel like they are always giving back to the community. It just makes you want to be a part of it.”
Poole said the club has a family feel, which is why the fundraiser is a success, too. She previously trained with Hunnicutt at Anytime Fitness in North Vernon and then switched to the Seymour location when he moved there.
“He has a great way of getting the most out of you, and you don’t even realize how hard he is pushing you until it’s all over, said and done,” she said. “He just brings out the best in people. He has a great way about it.”
Pushing his clients but having fun at the same time is Hunnicutt’s goal.
“We all want that push. That’s why they want that service because they want to be pushed more,” he said. “I think we can all agree that we work a little bit harder when there’s someone there pushing us a little bit further.”
Hunnicutt definitely was pushed by Morton and Poole during Train Your Trainer, but he was fine with it.
“It was awesome. They were having fun with it, brought their whistles, got their coach shirts on and really took on the role,” he said, smiling.