Formerly vice president of Accell Fitness North America, John Trigg recently realized his lifelong dream of owning a business. On January 10, he opened Fusion Training Center in Philadelphia, a personal training center for people of all ages. And he added a personal twist: The champion boxer who was once bullied now wants to teach kids how to ward off bullies without violence.
The gym combines a little bit of self-defense with functional fitness. You won’t find a lot of gym equipment that doesn’t help people work in the way their bodies naturally move. Trigg is proud of his new venture, and wants his old buddies in the fitness industry to stop in for a free workout if they happen to be in town. SNEWS catches up with him.
How does the reality of the Fusion Training Center differ from your dream of it?
It’s better. I always wondered what it would end up being like to have my own business. For about seven years I hated waking up and going to work every morning. I was miserable; I hated the way I was treated. Almost every year my New Year’s Resolution was that I was going to change things whatever it took. That was my promise to myself I just finally made it happen. I get to go and do something I love to do every day and I work with people who appreciate what I do every day. I’ve got an incredible group of members.
Philadelphia has a lot of gyms but the concept of Fusion is totally unique and different — it’s a combination of so many different variables. We have people as young as 14 and as old as 63. Men, women and teenagers are all really excited. I get to have fun doing what I love to do I’m training people every day getting in good shape losing weight having fun with the workout. And it’s mine.
How has your fitness industry background help with this new venture?
It has in the few ways. I got a chance to meet some of the most brilliant business people I’ve ever had a chance to know. I’ve had opportunity to travel all over North America and meet these geniuses who taught me so much. Mark Rush out in Chicago, that guy sat with me for hours for no other reason than he’s a good guy. He gave me advice for a business that he has nothing to do with him and that he can’t benefit from in any way. Becky Raynor at Fitness Concepts was just phenomenal. I got to learn what to do and how to do it from people who already have done it.
The flip side is I learned how I don’t ever want to treat anybody and I learned how to really handle customer service the right way. I watched so many mistakes in judgment and so many errors. As an employee you only have so much you’re allowed to do or say or change. As an owner, when there’s something wrong I could make an immediate snap change.
Why is teaching children the Bully-Proof program so important to you?
I was severely bullied in high school. I spent every stinkin’ day my freshman year of high school hiding under the stairs in the stairwell at the back of the school because I got beat up for lunch. Everyone just picked on me. I was small. I was 150 pounds. I was skinny and I was scared. Instead of these big people deciding not to pick on me they kept doing it worse and worse.
After high school I started hitting the gym. I’m 250 pounds now. I’m a fighter and I haven’t lost in the ring yet. But when I was getting bullied, I didn’t know where to turn and I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t talk to my parents. I was embarrassed.
When I first started doing the [Bully-Proof] program, one of my members came into me and said, “I wish you had been around six months ago. My 13-year-old nephew committed suicide after being bullied.” He had a twin brother and his twin had no idea because he never said anything.
For me to be able to offer something like this, I have the building, space, the background and knowledge. It would be disgusting to charge money for this and I’m going to continue to offer it because I don’t want anybody to be able to tell me a story like that ever again.
How would you describe the Bully-Proof program?
The first thing that I do is work with kids individually to build up their self-confidence. Building them up by helping them identify the things that make them special and unique.
They feel comfortable opening up because I’m not somebody that’s going to get them in trouble with their parents I’m a stranger that they don’t know in my gym when they come in. And though I’m a big guy, I’m somebody who understands exactly what they’re going through and came out OK. It helps them to be able to open up a little bit. It’s very easy for them to not be embarrassed in front of me because I’ll tell my story. I’ll share with them things that happened to me and tell them not to not be embarrassed or shy.
I do not teach striking; I do not teach a kid to hit. What I do teach them is how to stop from getting hit and stop an attack from coming. At some point in time you’re going to have to stand up for yourself — hopefully you can walk away. If that bully decides to hit them, I teach those kids to handle that situation how to maneuver themselves, how to stop the attack from happening by using basic jiu-jitsu and basic control.
What’s the significance behind the name?
The name Fusion came about because it’s a melding of a lot of different styles of fitness. It’s a mixture of boxing, kickboxing, self-defense, athletic-style training, functional training, flexibility and yoga. It’s a combination of all things.
Tell me about why you dedicated the center to your friend Andy Schmitt?
Andy died when we were 29. He was my best friend in the world the only person that was that close to me who I trusted with 100 percent of all of my baggage growing up. I was the only one that Andy really trusted growing up and during our 20s he and I worked out together. He was my training partner and my best friend. Working out was something we did to share our time. He died on Jan. 10, 2004, our grand opening day was Jan. 10 2012. I dedicated it to him because I love him and I miss him.