ACAC Fitness & Wellness Center’s Personal Training Director, Michael Wharton
Interview by Kate Chadwick, Photo Andrew Hutchins
How long have you been with ACAC? Thirteen years.
You’re going to have to bear with me, Michael—I’ve set foot in a gym approximately once, to interview someone. Oh, well, we’ve got to get you in here, then.
I’m pretty active and fairly fit. Talk me into going to a gym instead of taking a walk after dinner. One of the things we really strive for is establishing relationships here. You’ll see lots of the same people at the same time when you’re here, and the exercise becomes almost secondary to the social atmosphere. You’re getting a great workout, but also having fun.
Do you have a fitness background? Yes, I have a bachelor’s in exercise science from West Chester University. I’ve been living and breathing this for a long time, and played sports my whole life.
So it’s part of you? Yes, it’s part of my life, my routine. It’s like people who start their day with coffee. If you don’t have your coffee, it feels like something’s missing. That’s what it’s like for me and exercise.
Does that happen with clients? For someone just starting out, they’re thinking, “You must be crazy doing this every day.” But two or three months in, they get some momentum, and start finding it’s become part of their day. They even find themselves exercising on vacation.
What’s your exercise preference? I do a lot of resistance, CrossFit and elliptic training. I’m not a runner, per se. I have a football and baseball background. When I run, it’s because I’m trying to get someplace; not running for the sake of it, but I do fun runs with our team.
How do you assess what I’d need to work on? We start with conversation: figuring out what the client wants to achieve. Then we discuss any past injuries, and have you do basic moves to assess whether you can do them with or without compensation, and score you on that. The assessments are crucial, because overcompensation leads to injury. New members get a discover session, to try different aspects of the club and figure out what works.
What do you when you’re off? A big passion is golf, I try to get out a couple of times a week. Then let me ask you this: is golf a sport or a game? If you’d asked me this nine years ago, I’d have said it’s a game. Now that I’m into it, I’d say it’s a sport. It’s both physical and mental. My wife makes fun of me, because even though I exercise for a living, I come home from playing 18 holes and I pass right out.
What’s your favorite aspect of your job? How every day is different. I have fun with my clients, and hopefully they have fun with me. The relationship gives them motivation. If they miss a day, there’s accountability— I’m looking for them. I’ve attended social events and weddings of clients and they’ve attended mine. It’s like a family. That’s what it’s all about. If you’ve worked out hard and you’re laughing when you leave, I’ve done my job.