Anything is Possible: The Story of Matt Martin-Hall (And His Quest for Running Success)

Anything is Possible: The Story of Matt Martin-Hall (And His Quest for Running Success)

I’ve always had a strong academic and metaphysical fascination with what makes us human. So much so that while studying digital video and audio production in college, I also majored in Anthropology- the study of human beings.  Fast forward five or six years after graduation and I find myself sitting behind a desk well into the “cushy corporate gig” phase of my career, still making videos and producing a wide range of audio projects for LA Fitness; feeling like I’m only using half of my education; that question still relatively unanswered and still burning.

What makes us human?

If asking that question is ultimately asking, “What makes us unique from other mammals or creatures with whom we share the condition of possessing vertebrae?”, then the answer is simple: Bipedal ambulation (walking on two feet) and our brains ability to create and operate abstractions (imagine a cat composed of various citrus fruits with a baby shark for a tail. That thing you see in your head, that’s what I mean. So far as we know, only humans can conjure that up).

After a few existential breakdowns into my job here at LA Fitness, I had resigned myself to the reality that these partial answers to such a big question would have to suffice. There was no sense in pursuing them further. I worked for a gym. The place people go to get fit, not answer big questions. In my mind, those two things were forever incongruous.

Then a few important things happened that changed my mind quite profoundly:

  1. I read a book titled Born to Run by Christopher McDougall to learn more about the indigenous Tarahumara of Mexico’s Copper Canyons.
  2. I fell in love with a long-distance runner (whom I originally bought that book for).
  3. I succumbed to the unbridled peer pressure to try and be fit at work. Something that naturally exists in a place whose primary function is to promote and provide an environment to do just that.
  4. I agreed to be a part of a spotlight series at work where I go from the couch to accomplishing some athletic feat.
  5. I fit into a pair of jeans.

I think the most magnificent abstraction we’ve created as humans is linear time. The idea of seconds begetting minutes begetting hours begetting days and so on as if a series of incremental points on a timeline. None of this existed until the 14th century, whence the clock prevailed as a timekeeper. It’s from the invention of the clock and the hours and seconds contained within it that we have this perception of time. What makes this seem like such grand ruse of an abstraction is that: it wasn’t until I fit into some jeans yesterday that I realized or felt like all these things happened FOR something. I mean, of course, I knew sequentially when I had read and finished the book; what made me fall in love with my girlfriend and when; why I had agreed to do the spotlight series; when I walked into the gym and started forming that habit; when I fit into the jeans; and in what order these all occurred. But some genie was released from the bottle when I clasped the top button and didn’t feel like I should face away from the mirror out of fear of that button bursting off and shattering my reflection. A genie that couldn’t be returned after I needed a belt to fasten those same jeans to my waist.

All at once past, present and future, happened to me; The book I read piqued my interest in long-distance running; it taught me about our adaptation to sweat and endure beyond that of any other vertebrate. I was standing at the finish line of her marathon, the first one I attended, filled with pride as she caught her breath. I was walking into the gym for the first time at 29 running a 5k on the treadmill to see if I could (I could). I was poised and excited to pounce on this opportunity at work to serve my (until now unadmitted) vanity. I was attaining the great sense of accomplishment after fitting into three older pairs of jeans. And I was standing there, at the end of my own first race, dead tired but proud beyond comprehension.

The last of these events hasn’t happened yet. But it will. Past, present, future: All at once. I intend to explore the depth of the answers to my initial question. Though, presently, I find myself in a familiar dilemma: exploring and challenging the nature of human abstraction is only one part of the answer. If I’m to truly dive into this journey, I must do one more thing. That thing will require me to not just push myself, but figure out how to push myself, and what it means to push myself to do it. It’s no big reveal, you see, I’ve already told you what it is. It all happened at once, remember?

I. Must. Run.

And I will. A half marathon at first, a full marathon at last, and I’ll tell you all about it.

*Matt is a current employee of LA Fitness.  While the opinions herein are Matt’s own, Matt receives a free membership in connection with his employment. 


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How to Train Like an Elite Athlete – Podcast Ep. 12

How to Train Like an Elite Athlete – Podcast Ep. 12

Welcome to the 12th episode of the Living Healthy Podcast, presented by LA Fitness.

On this episode of Living Healthy, we speak with Matt Harrison, LA Fitness member and elite athlete, who shares how you too can become an elite athlete with just a few changes made to your lifestyle. 

Hey there! Is there something you’re interested in hearing about? Do you have a fitness topic of interest? How about nutrition? Or maybe you have a fitness success story (or know someone else who does) and want to share it with us? Tweet, message or email us your thoughts and opinions. We love hearing from our listeners and thank you for being a member of the Living Healthy Podcast community!

How Are We Doing? 


This podcast should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.


Timecard Markers – How to Train Like an Elite Athlete – Podcast Ep. 12

Intro 

Begins at 0:01 

Elite Athlete, Matt Harrison, joins the show 

Begins at 0:23 

What Does Elite Athlete Even Mean? 

0:28 

Have You Always Been an Athlete? 

0:56 

What is the Foundation Someone Needs Before Becoming an Elite Athlete? 

1:18 

What Changed Your Mindset? 

2:18 

What Sparked the Change? 

3:09 

How Do You Find the Time to Train and Balance Life? 

4:40 

The 3 Personal Commitments 

5:50 

On Living More in the Moment 

6:53 

What Are the Causalities of Having Laser Focus? 

8:36 

On His First Ever Spartan Race 

9:34 

Nutritional Component of an Elite Athlete 

12:11 

On Getting Cravings 

14:20 

Snapshot of Daily Nutrition 

15:50 

On His Workout Regiment  

17:45 

What Does a Rest Day for You Look Like? And Cutting-Edge Technology 

19:36 

What Was the Hardest Adjustment to Make? 

21:15 

On Setting Goals 

22:08 

Actionable Advice  

24:07 


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Member Spotlight | Understand Your Body and Change Your Life

Member Spotlight | Understand Your Body and Change Your Life

What are your current fitness goals?

My number one fitness goal, now and always, is to keep my autoimmune disease under control. Additionally, it is always a goal of mine to live a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle. I like to find the balance between enjoying my time in the gym and enjoying other activities, like eating out and having popcorn at the movies or a hot dog at a baseball game. It is so important to me to maintain a long-term and sustainable healthy lifestyle. Being too restrictive with my diet does not work for me!

How has training helped shape/change your fitness lifestyle?

Training has changed my mind, body, and soul! I remember how uncomfortable I felt in my body before I began my fitness journey, and before I started lifting weights. I hated the way I looked and I had to change my outfit 500x before leaving the house because I couldn’t stand the way I looked in my own clothes. Through weight training and proper nutrition, I have been able to shape a body that I truly love and enjoy. This has absolutely transformed my mindset. I am more self-confident and comfortable in my own skin. This transformation not only has an impact on my relationship with myself but also has leaked over into other aspects of my life, such as my job and relationships with others.

Left: July 2017 | Right: July 2018

What got you to join LA Fitness? How has it influenced your life?

I had tried different things to try to get in shape and lose weight in my young adult life, from Weight Watchers to diet pills. None of these options worked for me because they were not sustainable long-term. The turning point for me was my diagnosis with an autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s (SHOW-grins) Syndrome in March of 2017. Autoimmune disease is a condition in which the body mistakes its own healthy cells as foreign invaders and attacks them. In my case, Sjogren’s Syndrome mainly affects the moisture-producing glands, such as the nose, mouth, and eyes. I was 23 years old and the doctors told me I had to be on medication for the rest of my life. Fearing the implications of what a long-term medication might do to me, I started seeking out holistic treatment options. First and foremost, I researched foods, proper nutrition and how I could use food to heal. I eliminated gluten and dairy from my diet to see how I would respond. Although I wasn’t eating those “unhealthy” options, I still struggled to lose weight because I didn’t know much about general nutrition and hadn’t learned proper portion control. Within two weeks without dairy, my cystic acne disappeared. I knew that I was on to something with food for healing and eating for health. I reintroduced gluten successfully, with no issues. When I reintroduced dairy, my stomach was very upset and my acne returned. I am still eating a dairy-free diet to this day. It was such an empowering experience to get to know how my body responds to certain foods.

Around the same time, my boyfriend and I decided to join LA Fitness in hopes of getting into shape. We realized we had put on some “relationship weight” in our first year together, but it wasn’t until we started actually getting into the gym that we realized how bad it had gotten. Between his knowledge of weight training and my knowledge of nutrition at that point, we began to learn and share with one another. We decided to start tracking our macronutrient intake and weighing out our foods. It was during this time that we learned the proper portion sizes for our bodies and the nutritional value of different food options. It was the perfect combination and it started to actually work. I have lost a total of 30 pounds and my boyfriend lost a total of 75 pounds, leaving us with over 100 pounds lost between us!

If you could give others one piece of advice, what would it be?

My biggest piece of advice would be to be patient with yourself and stay committed to your overall health. It’s not just about how you look, it’s about how you feel in your body, and how your body is functioning. By staying committed for the long haul, you will experience sustainable, long-term health and fitness. There are no quick fixes. Just keep going to the gym, keep fueling your body with healthy and nourishing options and the rest will follow.

Summer S.

LAF Member

IG: @summersenna 


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Member Spotlight | Aim for Progress, Not Perfection

Member Spotlight | Aim for Progress, Not Perfection

I have been a member of LA Fitness for the last 4 and a half years – I joined the LA Fitness Vanderbilt Beach location in January of 2014! Over the last 4.5 years, I have used my gym (my second home) to do countless things including lose fat, build muscle, gain self-confidence, train for a bikini competition, prepare for a mud obstacle course race, and just plain get my endorphin fix!

Right now, my fitness goals are to continue to beat my personal records, try new things, whether it is a fun Zumba or Cycle class, sign up for my first marathon that I need to use the cardio equipment to build stamina for, and last but not least continue living healthy and staying as active as possible.

When I joined LA Fitness, I had never lifted a weight or even stepped foot in a gym, I was actually the girl who opted out of PE and team sports in high school for fear of failure. I was self-conscious and shy at the time, but the other members of LA Fitness and its employees welcomed me with open arms. I enjoyed learning about the different machines, experimenting with different workout routines, and of course, rewarding myself with a delicious shake from the smoothie bar after a hard work out! I’m not sure of how much weight I lost or how much muscle I’ve gained, I’m only sure of how my transformation has made me feel.

I’m much happier in my own skin and I have a sense of confidence today that I never knew prior. LA Fitness has felt like a home away from home for me for close to 5 years and I’m excited to see what amazing changes the next 5 years bring! Thank you, LA Fitness, for changing my life!

My piece of advice to others would be – its progress not perfection that matters! Set little goals for yourself and pat yourself on the back when you conquer each one. If you focus too much on the long-term goal you may get discouraged and feel like you’ll never get there. Continue making progress on your short-term goals every day and every week and I promise you’ll blow your own mind when you look back at how far you’ve come!

Left: January 2014 | Right: January 2018


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Member Spotlight | The Sunshine of the Gym

Member Spotlight | The Sunshine of the Gym

Let me introduce myself. I am Donna S., and this is how my fitness journey began. On January 6th, 2016 I joined Weight Watchers and Curves for Women. At 198 pounds, I knew I had to take charge of my life. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Polymyositis, in which I was prescribed Prednisone for 4 years, my weight started creeping up and up until it was out of control.

I began this fabulous journey towards a healthy way of life. I used a different weight loss program to learn how to eat healthy and by tracking what I ate, my weight started going down. However, after 7 months I realized that it wasn’t giving me the results I really wanted. After my daughter had taken me to an LA Fitness club, I knew that I would get better results going there.

I should tell you that my daughter has been my biggest mentor and supporter during my weight loss and fitness journey. I was apprehensive at first to join LA Fitness, but my husband and I joined together in August 2016 when it opened here on Hollywood Road. We walked on the treadmills, rode the stationary bikes, and did some of the machines.

Pictured from left to right: Mary N., Donna S., and Cassie S.

Then on August 28th, 2016, I had a fitness evaluation with Mary. At that time my weight was down to 160 lbs., but I was still overweight for my health. My body fat was 41.7%, BMI (body mass index) was 31.3%, and I could only do a plank for 31 seconds and a wall sit for only 43 seconds. I trained with Mary for over a year every week, and then once a month for 6 months until I decided that she taught me all the skills I needed for me to meet my fitness goals.

On December 4th, 2016, my weight was down to 120 pounds, my body fat went to 27.5%, and my BMI was down to 22%.

I started going to the classes. I started with Zumba®, then added Body Works, Kickboxing, Power Circuit, and Boot Camp. I have a regular routine schedule for each day of the week. I go to the gym 6 days a week now.

Mary has always called me the “Sunshine of the Gym”. Yes, I do dress in colors and for all the holidays.

It’s something that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember since I taught primary grades for 40 years, and my students always loved the colors.

I feel younger today than I did 20 years ago, and I owe it all to the support, help, and confidence that everyone, especially my daughter, has given me and still gives me. I have met a lot of people here and have fun every day.

I’m living a very healthy and happy life.

Some slight adjustments have been made to the member’s story for grammatical reasons, length, and/or clarity.


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