Scotti Mullen keeps a Spartan calendar in her office.
Three pictures on her walls also show her in races, one in which she’s crawling through the mud.
Spartan Races, if you don’t know, are 3-mile to marathon-length obstacle courses that test people’s strength, endurance and will to finish. Mullen, when she isn’t working as an instructor and general manager at East Coast Health and Fitness in State College, does as many races as possible.
“The adrenaline rush and the feel of accomplishment when you finish one of the obstacles is the best,” Mullen, 53, said. “The strength ones are usually pretty easy for me. I’ve lifted since I was in high school, and I’m still pretty strong. I broke my wrist, though, mountain biking, so I have some grip strength issues I’m working on. But, you know, when you finish something that you didn’t think you could do, it feels so good.”
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With the New Year in full swing, she hopes to help others get in shape, too.
There are, however, some challenges involved.
Q: How did you get involved with East Coast Health and Fitness?
A: They opened here in 1991. I ended up here as a member in 1994, and I’ve (worked) for eight years. I started as a trainer and front desk manager. Our manager left in January of last year. I became interim manager and then general manager.
Q: Has the business been impacted by increased competition?
A: There’s definitely more competition. It’s definitely diluted the market. We’ve lost some people, and some of those came back. A lot of the places in town are niche gyms. We are general. Our demographic here is one third student, third professional, third senior. It’s very evenly split. We have a wider range than most places.
Q: Do you feel the impact of people making New Year’s Resolutions to get in shape?
A: Yep, Resolutionites. Compared to years past — and I’m assuming because of the more diluted market — it used to be a big influx at the beginning of the year. We would keep some, but sadly a good number fade away. Unless you really, really enjoy coming to the gym, it’s hard to do it. There’s more of a trickle-in effect at the beginning of the year now.
Make small changes to your routine. Don’t do anything drastic, because you’ll burnout really quick. Make small, reasonable goals.
Q: Selling fitness can’t be easy. How do you keep people coming back both for themselves and for business?
A: Sometimes you can’t. I’ve had a few people that will stay with me even though they don’t enjoy it. But, because they have a trainer here for them, they will come. It’s a lot harder to do it on your own. Some people start training on their own and become curious about the classes, and they find out they work better in a group setting. But, you know, it’s not for everyone. What’s so nice to see is the people who have never done it before and then watch them develop. The best feeling is seeing them coming in regularly and enjoying it.
Q: Can you relate to people who want to work out more, but have trouble committing to it?
A: Oh, definitely I can. You try to be as encouraging as you can, so I’m a big proponent of leading by example. There are also some people that come in, because their doctors told them they’ve got to start working out. I can relate a lot to the older members, especially the older women. I know their aches and pains and what they’re going through. Hopefully they can say, “If you can do it I can do it, too.”
Q: Aside from joining your gym, what are some quick, easy tips for people to live a healthier lifestyle?
A: Small changes. Don’t dive into the deep end of dieting and exercising. Work your way up to it. If you change your diet completely, you’re going to miss things. Fitness, some people go in the gym for every single day for a week for two hours a day when they haven’t done anything for a long time. They suddenly can’t move at the end of the week, and think they don’t want to go in Monday. That starts the downhill slide of not wanting to come in. One day becomes a week and then a month. Make small changes to your routine. Don’t do anything drastic, because you’ll burn out really quick. Make small, reasonable goals.
Q: Do you have a favorite workout?
A: Spinning. I love the music. I love the camaraderie of the people in the class. We have a good time. You can mix up the routines. It took one of the spinning instructors, Tom, a year to get me to try it. I was all about the lifting, but I finally committed to it. I tried it, and the very first day I was hooked.
Q: We all have one of these: What is your cheat food?
A: Pizza. I like any brand of pizza. Spinach, broccoli pizza. Brothers down here actually has a stromboli named after me. It’s got spinach, broccoli and tomatoes in it. Pizza is my go-to cheat.