The Sporting Life: Keeping Tucson fit - Tucson Local Media: Import

The Sporting Life: Keeping Tucson fit

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Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2005 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:49 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

July 27, 2005 - When it comes to being healthy in the Northwest, it could be that nobody embodies fitness better than Ron Holland.

The owner of S.W.A.T., an acronym for Strength Wellness Athletic Training, at 4235 W. Ina Road in the SunCreek Plaza, Holland has made his life fitness. And his passion is infectious.

After bouncing from place to place when he was young, Holland has found a home in Tucson. For the past two decades, those looking to get fit have also found a welcome place to get trim and healthy with a personal touch.

"They can expect to feel good," Holland said about his clients, "and look better, and that's not to say they don't look good in the first place. They'll start feeling different after one or two sessions, but it takes a little time to change the body."

The same concept plays into every personal, small-group, partner and on-line training group offered by Holland and his wife Jana Beutler-Holland at the couples' three fitness locations founded in 1993. The other S.W.A.T., found on the east side of town at 7649 E. Speedway Blvd., specializes in the same routines as the Ina location while also offering self defense classes, krav maga, karate, kickboxing, tai chi, Pilates and yoga.

For Holland, it only made sense to capitalize on something he loves to do.

Wherever he would go, physical fitness training - whether or not intentional - always seemed to follow. Holland's foray into personal training began while the 57-year-old Missouri native was enlisted in the United States Air Force. While he was serving in the military, Holland's peak physical condition landed him a role as an instructor teaching mostly survival tactics through physical training. His hard-nose style, replaced now by his easygoing nature, eventually got him in charge of the "Fat Boy" program for the military's overweight.

The 90-day program mostly involved running his men upward of 20 miles a day and hitting the gym.

"It wasn't really that much about diet," Holland said. "It was about moving and sweating it out."

After leaving the military - which took him to Vietnam, the Philippines, England, California, Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand - Holland took a job in Tucson, a city he fell in love with during one overnight stay in 1986 en route to his final station in Albuquerque, N.M.

In Tucson, he joined the University of Arizona Police Department where, before long, he found himself once again assigned as a fitness instructor, this time for the college's police force.

Less than two weeks after returning from getting certified at the Cooper Institute of Aerobic Research in Dallas, a retired colleague of his phoned asking for help in shedding some weight. It was then that Holland began to move away from law enforcement and toward private fitness training.

"I wasn't going to do it as a job," remembers Holland. "I didn't even know what to charge the lady."

More quickly than she lost the weight, word spread and Holland began getting similar requests. As the calls came flooding in, S.W.A.T. was formed. Today, he and his wife have parlayed those humble beginnings into a burgeoning business with three Tucson locations, two of which are in the Northwest.

Business has surged to the point at which the 1,400-square-foot Ina facility isn't big enough to hold classes, a dozen or so Cybex and elliptical machines, and free weights.

In about 10 to 12 weeks, S.W.A.T. will move to a new facility near the Northwest Medical Center in conjunction with Skin Spectrum, 1845 W. Orange Grove Road, and anti-aging doctor Frank Comstock.

Despite the move, Holland's days will still start at 5 a.m. with the first wave of exercisers at S.W.A.T. and will last until 8 p.m. when the last of the clients are shuffled out the door. An average day will see Holland and his eight trainers each work out eight to 10 people, switching back and forth between both spots. Clients range in age from kids training for high school sports to 70-year-old married couples.

For clients such as John Hogg, one week working with Holland one-on-one is all that is needed to see results.

"You tend to rest more in the group fitness waiting for others to finish," said Hogg, who added that within several weeks of working out with Holland his shirts don't fit the same "He won't let me rest."

When typical clients such as Hogg sign on with S.W.A.T., Holland sits down with them and to tailor a workout to their individual needs.

When not trimming up Tucson's adults, the Hollands are building a physical fitness foundation for the city's youth and doing so in a fun way.

During the summer, Jana runs the Jump! Fun Camp for kids at the couple's third facility at 7620 N. Hartman Lane. The camp offers a wide variety of activities for adolescents, the most popular being Aeroball, a Holland original that combines basketball and volleyball and is played on a trampoline.

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