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  • Writer's pictureSimon Zryd

Interview with Bariatric Surgery Fitness Expert Geof Shuford

Sharon: Hello, everyone, this is Sharon Heller with Network in Action in Denver, and today I'm here with Geof Shuford with Phoenix Fitness. Good morning, Geof.

Geof: Hi! Good morning.

Sharon: Thanks for joining me.

Geof: Sure. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Sharon: Absolutely. And why don't you share a little bit about Phoenix Fitness and the kinds of clients that you serve?

Geof: Sure. Phoenix Fitness is a business I started about six years ago. It's focused on working with two kinds of people, people that have gone through weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery, and are looking to have the most success possible with their weight loss, in terms of the journey that goes on. And what I do think to help them along that journey.

Geof: And also, work a lot with people that are looking to lose a lot of weight. And what I mean, is people that want to lose 75 plus pounds of weight and are just having a difficult time doing it, building habits, being able to have exercises that work best for them. So that's what Phoenix Fitness is all about. That's what I've been doing with it for about six or seven years now.

Sharon: Awesome. Thanks for explaining. I think it's a very unique niche and you have something really special to contribute to that population.

Sharon: So, can you talk a little bit about how this period of time that we're all in, with a couple of months in quarantine and starting to open our doors a little bit, and how that's affecting your clients and also how you do business, how you work with them?

Geof: Right. So the big thing, I'll start back before the quarantine, sort of having business all built was around working with people. And what I have at Phoenix businesses is one on one kind of gym space. So I decided when I built the business, it needed to be a gym space that wasn't open to the public and the fact that people have memberships to come in and out whenever they please.

Geof: I wanted to be more of a space that felt more comfortable or as comfortable as a gym could feel, in terms of getting people to come in and do these workouts and feel more comfortable. So that's how I started my business. And of course, as the pandemic came along and we all went to quarantine, I closed my gym along with other gyms.

Geof: I noticed there is that obvious shift on what do I do now? How do I work out when I can't go to the gym? And I did a lot of, fortunately, my business had a setup where we could start working with my clients to keep them going in an online fashion.

Geof: So a lot of what I did with them in person, I could then do it online, which was not just Zoom meetings, which I did with a lot of my clients, will have Zoom meeting training sessions that way. But I also work with them by continuing to build their workouts for them, have videos associated with all the exercises. I can still interact with them on that part.

Geof: So it's a great resource to have, and I love that people that have used it, have really liked it, because it has opened up the ability to do workouts now that their schedule is going weird on them, would fit their needs better, especially if you have kids at home and you have to do things along those lines, to fit all that in. But you still have someone who is looking over your shoulder

Geof: So if it's having a good effect on that? I think if you're going to go broader view on just the effect that this has had overall, what I've noticed a lot with my clients is even though they still work out a lot at home, it's more difficult. Working out at home, I think, is the more difficult thing to do. Because a lot of people, including myself, feel home is a place to relax, a place to unwind from your day, not to go pick up some weights or bands and start doing exercise.

Geof: You want to look over your family. So that has been a difficult transition for a lot of people. And I know for even when I've had my clients, they're keeping it going like, "Hey, you got it, let's do this workout, even if it's only half the time that's fine do something".

Geof: So I know that's been a big deal and I know that we can all probably have found our comfort food over the past six weeks. I know for me, I found that, funnily enough, peanut butter, I noticed I was eating a lot more for some reason.

Geof: But that was the other thing that I think a lot of my clients are having a hard time, in fact, that they're bariatric patients. They're trying their hardest to stick on these very specific kinds of diets and meal plans and things like that. But not having that same habits that you had in the past, it makes it difficult for them to do.

Geof: And it gives the opportunity. It opens a lot of opportunities around eating poorly or just making bad choices or being stressed and not eating at all, which can be just as bad as eating poorly. So there are all of those things, components that have kind of gone together with my clients that this is really hit. And I think that's probably more universal than just my client base. Like I said, peanut butter and a pair of pants didn't match anymore.

Sharon: Right.

Geof: And I had to stop the peanut butter. So as I said, the online thing has helped me a lot. I have opened up, a little bit since then, so I've had some of my clients come back in, but some don't feel comfortable yet. So we still doing the online Zoom stuff. And I found that is effective to be able to work that way.

Sharon: Yeah, and I think, from what I understand about the work that you do, you're also providing a level of like coaching and accountability and support that's not just like an online exercise class. Suddenly having like a coach to help during these kinds of times seems pretty important for people.

Geof: Right. And that's one of the things I do with Phoenix Fitness, I'm not just a fitness place. I'm trying to help people build those habits into their lives. And it's difficult, like I said, to do so. Yeah, it's a little bit more than just like online fitness. It's all very specialized to that individual on how that works.

Sharon: Yeah. And, I've also been thinking about, when I would be returning to a gym. My daughter is a fitness buff, so when are we comfortable having her go back to a gym? And I've been to your gym and I personally would feel a lot more comfortable being in a more private space like that, with less traffic and kind of a more intimate workout environment. So I imagine some people are going to be looking into kind of smaller, more personal gyms like what you offer.

Geof: Right. And I would love to be able to maybe open that up a little bit more and offer that space in limited time quantities to people that may want it, that are sick of going to their basement, or their spare bedroom, or whatever to work out, and maybe have a bigger gym space, but still, feel like they have to have that level of comfort around cleanliness and everything else to go with it.

Geof: So, yeah, that's something that I'd love to do, open up a little bit more of as well.

Sharon: Yeah. And can you talk a little bit more about how you're making sure that your environment is safe for clients who do come in in person during this time?

Geof: Yeah. So from the interaction with people side of it, typically all my clients, they come in with a mask on. I don't have them wear the mask to the whole workout, we do social distancing. The gym floor is big enough that I can stand at least ten or fifteen feet away from them and still be able to do what I can.

Geof: So that aspect of it, I do a lot of social distancing and making sure that people have their space and we can all work that way from a more practical cleanliness standpoint. I have a couple of really big bottles of hand sanitizer, which I left out was of like the Fort Knox.

Geof: I had hand sanitizer and toilet paper when this all went down, I felt like I was the Fort Knox "don't tell anybody I have it", but so I have all that available to people. I never felt offended by someone cleaning a piece of equipment. I just cleaned that. My philosophy is "it's your comfort level". So I clean everything before someone gets there, and then usually my clients come in and grab Clorox wipes that I have and clean it again at the end. And then I have a mop every other day, all the things that you have to do.

Geof: So my goal it's, I want myself to be safe in there. I want everybody that comes in to feel safe and feel like they can do a workout without that feeling of contracting something horrible.

Sharon: Yeah. Good. Thank you for speaking on that, because I imagine that somebody might have that question.

Geof: Of course. Yeah.

Sharon: And if someone watching this video is curious and wants to find out further whether you might be a good fit for them, what would be the best way for them to find out more about what you offer and how they might be able to work with you?

Geof: Right. So my web page is, and I have a lot of information on there. You can contact me as well. That contact information on the web page. Oh, it's Geog G-E-O-F because I spell my name funny,, if you want to contact me that way.

Geof: And I'd be more than happy to talk to whoever about what they need. But typically, I can consult with people freely all the time just to make sure that they know what they're doing and hopefully. Get the most from that first conversation.

Sharon: Great, good. Well Geof, thank you so much for your time today, and wish you and your clients well and not too much peanut butter. Thank you.

Geof: Thank you. I appreciate it.

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