Brent Gallagher is the owner of Avenu Fitness with locations in West University and River Oaks. As we head into 2019, I interviewed him to get his take on fitness and those infamous New Year’s Resolutions. He has a great perspective, so read on!
What do you think makes a good New Year’s Resolution as opposed to a bad one?
What makes them bad is that we wait until January 1! We put all our hopes and dreams into a specific day, and believe it’s the day when everything will change. What happens is that you get there on Jan 1 and decide that I’m going to follow this crazy workout and eating plan that’s not truly sustainable. We forget to take into account our life, kids, work and all the additional stressors that make up our day. As we collectively build up to New Year’s, we become overwhelmed and blame the program for being to complicated. We don’t blame it on biting off a little more than we can chew. We focus on the outcome rather than the small foundational and focused daily behaviors we need to change that will lead us to finally accomplishing the big New Year’s Resolutions.
It sounds like you’re describing the emphasis is on the process rather than the goal or outcome. It’s the decisions you make today, which mirrors what we do in mental health.
You made an interesting point about blame and needing something to blame when a goal isn’t reached. If it’s too easy and too manageable, then I become responsible for my health. Being mature enough to own your health choices is hard.
We have to be mature enough to own our choices and our story. We all have stories, which I see every day when people come to Avenu. They say they have a weight problem, a health problem or a food problem. It’s not that they don’t know what to do; it’s that, for instance, food has been used as a supplement to comfort oneself. This lack of taking care of ourselves might be a control thing: Maybe a person was too controlled and manipulated by someone and then said, “I’m going to go the exact opposite, and no one is going to control me.” And then you have others who take working out to the extreme. You wonder if they are running or trying to outwork something. Maybe there’s a troubled marriage or a dispute in the family or business partners that are bailing on you. What we need to do is slow down long enough to ask “Am I addressing the root of the problem or am I just putting a band aid on it?”
What do you see as the connection between mental health and physical fitness?
Our bodies are designed to move, and you see that from a young age. You watch kids hop, skip and jump. It’s crazy how many kids have so many more issues today than they did back in the day. We’ve removed physical activity from their school day. We’ve changed their eating and sleeping behaviors in favor of profits and fitting more in. We, as adults, have failed to slow down long enough to question whether it is the right thing to do. What happens when these kids are in their 20s, 30s and 40s? Hopefully we can reevaluate and make the changes sooner rather than later. I just know that when you move more as a kid, the wiring in our body tends to calm down. And instead of looking at the bottom of the medicine bottle for help, let’s look at the end of our fork, knowing that is what fuels us in the long run.
Our kids need someone to look up to. We are in a perfect position to role model a healthier lifestyle and say, “I used to battle with depression or anxiety or ADHD as well. And these are the steps I began taking to help me.” It’s time to show them the best way to take healthy and positive steps. Let them know you met with a therapist and started walking, lifting weights and connecting with friends on a regular basis.
Creating healthy social connections does such wonders for the body as well. Even though you’re not physically moving around, you’re connecting in a way we are designed to. Life is all about relationships – relationships with loved ones and colleagues at work, but it’s also about the relationship with the food you eat and how you move and take care of your body.
Let’s assume someone has been making good choices: they’ve been getting good sleep, making reasonable food choices, moving some and they’re ready to go to a gym. How can they tell a good gym from a bad gym?
Aside from doing your own research, talk to friends and see what people are saying. Think about this: if you’re someone who’s a low-key person and go to a gym with bright colors, loud music and big groups of people, obviously that’s not going to be something for you longterm.
Is it convenient? You can find a gym that’s 20 minutes away but if it’s not on your commute to work, then it might not happen.
Is it program realistic? Is the equipment in good shape? You can also tell a lot by the way people greet you at the door. Are you another number? Or is someone engaging with you? It mostly has to do with your personality and your style and your way of wanting to feel when you walk into a place.
What makes Avenue Fitness unique?
I’m an introvert at heart, very low-key and have never felt comfortable in a big gym. So I asked myself “If I’m setting Avenu up for a person who’s looking for a low-key facility, how would I want it to feel?”
I knew creating a sense of comfort was going to be key. So we took out the front desk to make it feel warmer when you walk in.
Familiar faces creates a sense of comfort for our community who walk in and know that they’re going to see the same faces when they walk in. We’ve just celebrated 12 years for one of our employees, 10 years for another two, and multiple others have been with us 5 years or more.
Even though it’s for just 30 minutes (we hang our hat on working out 30 minutes at a time) we want to create that small sense of assurance and community in someone’s life.