1) Tell us a little about yourself! How did you get started in fitness industry?
I grew up playing sports: tennis, baseball, basketball, football. I was active all through college and graduate school. During graduate school was when I started getting more into the fitness industry, instead of just being interested in fitness. That’s when I got NASM-certified. I was doing it for myself, more than anything. NASM was very science based and dug more into anatomy and kinesiology, and those were interesting to me (they weren’t my fields in college). At the time, I was working with a personal trainer for myself, and he actually suggested, why don’t I become a personal trainer since I was at the gym all the time. I was like, “Alright!”
2) How important is your nutrition to you being someone in the public eye and in the fitness industry? Do you have any tips for someone looking to start and maintain a beneficial health and wellness routine?
As a gym owner, nutrition is important to me, as well as in my life in general. Additionally, as a gym owner, that is sort of a form of accountability. Who wants to go to a gym whose owner is not healthy? So that helps keep me accountable, which is really awesome! On an individual level nutrition is hugely important. It impacts our well-being and our health much more than anything that we do here at the gym. Nutrition is what gives you longevity of life, what can give you better joint health by not being overweight, helps to keep disease at bay. It’s just as, or more, important than working out. Although, I don’t mind telling people that part of nutrition to me, and part of being healthy overall is balance. You know, a cheeseburger every now and then is definitely part of that balance (for me).
One tip for starting is: understand that slow progress is still progress. It’s a journey, it’s not going to happen overnight. You’re not going to be able to pop your goals in the microwave and come out with everything you want the next day. Tips to starting is, really just have that mindset, understand it’s going to take some time, and then... just start. Where? Depends on where you’re at. It’s hard to answer that for everybody. But wherever you are, if you just take that first step, and then the second, then the third, and keep moving forward, you’re going to be much farther along in your health and wellness routine than if you don’t. Time is going to pass regardless, you might as well make some progress on the way!
People have asked me, quite a bit actually, what’s my motivation to be healthy, what’s my motivation to be fit? It’s a difficult question for me, because what motivates me is such an ingrained part of my life, that I consider it more of a non-negotiable than purely motivational. Regardless of where I am, my commitment to my health and wellness is non-negotiable. So to maintain a beneficial health and wellness routine, first find your motivation, find your why: what does it mean to you? Write that down, literally write that down, post it somewhere if you can, on your mirror, something of that nature. Some of my whys and how it becomes non-negotiable, would be… I want to be able to play with my kids; play with my grand-kids; roll around on the ground (literally); be free from pain; and enjoy my life on my terms, not on the terms that an aging body might give me. How could I ever deny myself that opportunity by not maintaining a beneficial health and wellness routine? So that’s what I would suggest for everybody: find your whys, really dig deep into yourself, and be honest. Then instead of being motivated, it’ll just become a non-negotiable. Makes it a lot easier to maintain.
3) Can you tell us a little bit about the challenges you have faced
over the years from just starting out to coming into where you are today?
When I first started out as a personal trainer, much to many people’s surprise, I was more of an introvert than an extrovert. So as a personal trainer trying to acquire clients, it was scary. I didn’t really want to go out and meet people. That’s paradoxical to obtaining clients: the thing I needed to do was reach out to people, and the only thing I didn’t want to do was reach out to people. So how did I get past that? It took an acceptance of rejection, being okay with hearing no, and being okay with moving forward anyway. I had to get comfortable being uncomfortable. In my life, I’ve viewed challenges more as opportunities to grow than obstacles in my way. So I just re-framed my mindset from “being uncomfortable meeting new people” to “being excited about the opportunity to grow my business.” As a gym owner working to grow our business, now I’m completely comfortable reaching out, talking to anybody in any kind of setting.
4) What is your life motto?
I really believe in those Bob Marley words (from “Three Little Birds”): “Don’t worry about a thing/ ‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright.” I also like “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” There is so much good in the world, in our lives.. and if that’s what you focus on, there’s so much more good to be found! But, if you focus on what’s wrong, what’s going wrong, and what could go wrong? Wow.. Then that’s all you see and that’s all you are. Just focus on the positive and life will get better. Especially in your health and wellness journey! Remember, slow progress is still progress!
5) Do you have a favorite go-to healthy snack?
Cashews. I keep a jar of organic, unsalted, raw cashews from Whole Foods. I keep sandwich baggies of them around everywhere I frequent: in my car, in my gym bag, at home, etc…
6) What's a day in the life of Harrel look like?
Normally, I wake up about 7am. Get to Innovative Results shortly thereafter. Here at the gym, I’m meeting, greeting, being. I meet as many of our clients as possible every day, jumping into different hour classes. I’m constantly working with the coaches. I like reaching out into the community, to local businesses and charities that we work with. I’m trying to leave a positive footprint in our actual community. Then I go home - and daily - spend as much time as possible with my wife. When I get home, it’s really only about family. I kind of shut off a lot of the rest of the world, and really focus on just being present with my wife; and try to have some fun, doing whatever it might be, wherever we want to go.. just do something fun and/or new!
7) Are you a goal setter? If so, has it helped you in your career or in any other areas of your life and do you find it important to have goals?
Yes, I’m a goal-setter. And yes, I find it hugely valuable and important to have goals. It’s helped me in every aspect of my life. I’ve always been goal-oriented; I’m predisposed to that position. It’s why I did well in school, because there was a goal - “Get an A”. It’s why I did well in sports, there was a goal - “Be better than your opposition”. It’s why I’ve done well in business, and those goals are more specific. The more specific your goals, the more attainable they are. Some people tell you to write down your goals and I’ve found that to be valuable. I also think, though, that sometimes our goals are more of a painting than they are words, so it might not always be possible to “write them down.” Nonetheless, when you have goals , you then have a target to hit. When you don’t have goals? Well, hard to play darts without a dart board.
8) Do you have a favorite exercise routine?
That’s difficult to answer. There are probably several that I loooooove. I do believe routine defined by a schedule is important to me, so I try to work out around the same time every day. That definitely helps keep me on point. In terms of actual exercises or tools, I love kettlebells. I compete in Kettlebell Sport, we have a Kettlebell team here. It’s fun, it’s honest; kettlebells will always give honest feedback. It’s much more difficult to dog a kettlebell workout than many other tools. So in terms of exercise routines, I do enjoy kettlebell. I enjoy really anything that has to do with power, explosiveness, Neanderthal-like strength, anything that gets my inner caveman’s attention, I guess. Part of an exercise routine to me, too, is that it’s not so routine. So, I’m an advocate of constantly changing and mixing up your workout progressions.
9) In three words describe your mission in life?
Be Better, Always
10) Where can we connect with you and what is a project that you are currently working on that we should keep an eye out for?
We are currently developing a mobility, strength and conditioning class geared towards the AARP crowd, but everybody is welcome. We’ll be working primarily on balance and fall prevention, while increasing strength and cardiovascular conditioning.
The reason why I’m personally so excited about this idea is that I’m at the age where my parents and father-in-law would be the target market! I’d like - on many different levels - to give my dad, my father-in-law, and others in this group, I want to give them back their mobility so that they regain parts of their life. When we get old too, we’re going to be worrying about when we lose our mobility, lose our independence. So let’s take some of that fear away, give you some of your life back, give you your independence, your mobility. And on then on the second level, my wife and I are constantly worried about our dads, and that’s stress on us too. That’s also hey, give us our dad back, give us our grandpa back, whatever it might be: the one that I grew up with, the one that I remember; that he wants to be! So, yeah, definitely excited about this next project.