O2 Modern Fitness Gets You Pumped For Your Whole Day

January 10, 2013

by Teya Vitu

O2 Modern Fitness, 186 E. Broadway, has been a work in progress for its first three years.

Susan Frank believes strength and conditioning should involving the entire body and improve every aspect of your life.

Susan Frank believes strength and conditioning should involving the entire body and improve every aspect of your life.

Susan Frank opened her Downtown gym in November 2009 as a place for cyclists to get workouts on stationary indoor bicycles.

“I just thought it’s going to be a bunch of cyclists coming in. What I found out is cyclists don’t come here for their cycling workouts. They cycle outside,” Frank said.

This realization coincided with her chatting with Sergio Giardini, who at that time two years ago owned Naked Food & Fitness. Fitness training is Giardini’s real métier.

“We were bringing his food here,” Frank said. “I told him I was thinking of doing cross training. He said: ‘I’m ready.’”

Giardini joined O2 in Dec. 2010 as the power fitness program director for cross training.

From that day on, O2 Modern Fitness has been in transition, even down to the name. Frank is thinking of honing it down to O2 Fitness.

She has already honed the space O2 occupies in the 1917 Julian-Drew Building.

O2 Modern Fitness originally had five rooms, and her husband, Kurt Rosenquist, had his Fitworks Cycling Support in a back room. The walls are all gone now, and Fitworks has moved across a small courtyard into the Carriage House portion of Julian-Drew.

O2 has transformed into a one-room, 3,300-square-foot gym with 20 stationary bikes up front, a group training floor behind that, and a few weight machines at the very back. Weight machines is not what O2 Fitness is about.

Frank and Giardini favor hand-held equipment, above all the kettlebells that they offer in weights from 3 to 88 pounds.

“Kettlebells force you to integrate your whole body in whatever exercise you’re doing. You don’t have a crutch,” Frank said.

The kettle bell plays a central role in strength training at O2 Modern Fitness.

The kettle bell plays a central role in strength training at O2 Modern Fitness.

Frank herself started kettlebell work about three months ago. She can now lift a 35-pound bell to her shoulder and then press the weight straight up above her head.

“What we are doing now is offering a program that I consider to be foundational fitness,” Frank said. “What that means is we’re offering our clients a set of training classes that provide them with the tools to prepare their body for whatever activity they want to do.”

O2 Modern Fitness has evolved from just stationary cycling to strength and conditioning workouts. Giardini has built a program that improves your body for the entire day, down to the most mundane activity of lifting a bag of groceries.

“It’s about making people move better all the time,” Giardini said.

Think the bag or groceries line is prosaic? Frank recounts an elite woman cyclist who could pedal hundreds of miles but her endurance fitness did not necessarily translate to household chores, including hefting up the groceries.

“I had a cyclist, a woman, come in,” she remembered. “She was a very respected athlete. Her overall life improved, she was able to move more freely after training with us. She was stronger and more mobile. She physically felt so much better. She was surprised.”

The gym spans the generational spectrum and the fitness spectrum. Young and old, high-performing athletes and someone completely unconditioned. It’s mostly group training but with individual attention.

“We’re training each person. We’re addressing them as individuals. We train them almost as if they were one-on-one classes. It is for everyone. We get people from all over town,” Frank said. “We can provide improvement for all types of people. ”

Linda Pansing drives Downtown from the Northwest Side for her personalized workouts at O2  Fitness. In one year, she’s dropped two jeans sizes and 15 pounds and her outlook has brightened.

People of all ages and fitness levels take part in group training at O2 Modern Fitness.

People of all ages and fitness levels take part in group training at O2 Modern Fitness.

“I’m more engaged in life. It’s happy,” Pansing said. “I’m more in control. I’m a lot stronger and leaner. I feel like it’s a community here. I feel like I’m not lost in the shuffle.”

O2’s general fitness preparedness regimen involves indoor cycling and what Frank and Giardini call High-Intensity Interval Training or H.I.I.T. This is interval training with full-body exercises – activities close together with little rest time: push ups, body weight squats, lunges, jumping jacks – and the kettlebells.

“This is geared toward very specific results,” Frank said. “We guide them to areas of weakness. The results are improved health or performance for sport.”

The O2 Modern Fitness concept started as an indoor cycling studio with some yoga classes.

“We spent the last 18 months continually reviewing our fitness program,” Frank said. “I grew in my own journey. What I realized is I wanted to step back from being just cycling. You’re catching us at a point where we’re reintroducing classes that have been honed and refined.”

Frank’s fitness philosophy is as much, if not more, about improving your day-to-day life as it is to hone the elite athlete’s physical attributes. Frank said much of the gym world focuses on flexibility. Frank and Giardini would rather center their training on mobility.

“Most people don’t know the difference between mobility and flexibility,” she said. “Mobility increases the range of motion in every joint in your body. Flexibility has to do with stretching muscles.”

Frank welcomed one man whose knee was pretty much bone-on-bone. Going up stairs had been an ordeal for 20 years.

“In two months,” Frank recalled, “he was back to hopping up the staircase. He realized when he got to the top, he didn’t think about it until he got to the top. We made him more mobile all around his body and his knee.”

From the outset, O2 Modern Fitness has had robust community outreach.

O2 is the promoter for the Optum/Tucson Medical Center Old Pueblo Grand Prix bicycle criterium race Downtown in March. The race has been part of the USA Championship Criterium Series, but this year has been elevated to USA Cycling’s National Criterium Calendar.

O2 fields the O2 Modern Fitness/Maynards Market cycling team with 53 members.

O2 also has an indoor cycling program twice a week for 35 students at Imago Dei Middle School and City High School, both just a few blocks from O2. This has become a research project for University Medical Center.

O2 Modern has about 85 members and 60 a la carte participants.

“We need to grow,” Frank said. “We’re a third to our capacity.”

Gym hours are Monday to Thursday 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 5:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday 8:30 a.m. to noon.

“What sets us apart is what you choose to do at O2 will make you better at everything else you want to do in life,” Frank said. “It’s improved lifestyle when you feel better every day.”