Doing What You Love Takes Guts: GUTS Founder Shares Story

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(Guest View by Paul Turner, Team GUTS, March 27, 2015)

In 2006, after 15 years of operation, I closed the doors on my marketing firm, Andrew Joseph & Company. It was not the Great Recession of 2007/08 that did us in. Rather, our decline started much earlier during the recession of 2001. At that time in our industry, many similar marketing firms were getting swallowed up by major advertising firms trying to shore up their revenue stream. We were not so fortunate.

I tried desperately to find employment. After a lengthy search, I finally landed a spot with a sidebar016growmarketing firm in Clawson. Ironically, my marketing company hired this firm for several projects and, quite honestly, it’s the only reason I got consideration. The job lasted all of about seven months. I simply wasn’t a fit, and I found myself back in the unemployment line.

There was little demand for someone of my age and background. I knew I had to create my own opportunity. So, I turned to my brother, Todd, who left corporate American years prior to start a personal training company. Todd and I sat down and discussed our interests, passions and talents. We discussed how we could possibly incorporate our skill sets. Todd and I both are into health and fitness, we both grew up loving and playing sports and, most of all, we both enjoy working with children. In fact, we both have been involved with youth sports for most of our lives. Todd and I have always gotten a great deal of satisfaction helping kids grow in self-confidence and self-esteem through athletics.HowesLocation

Soon after, we developed a business plan based on a training philosophy of building a strong core, or foundation, from the ground up. This philosophy is based on sound science and, of equal importance, it is applicable to any age group, athlete and non-athlete alike. We took the acronym for ground up training system, naming our proposed location GUTSTM Training Center (we trademarked the name).

Our plan focused on several demographics, especially the middle-school aged athlete and the Baby Boomer segment. However, several friends and acquaintances would ask us why we were not including the special needs audience in our plan. After all, Todd’s daughter, Amarissa, was born with Down syndrome and there was few, if any, options for children like Amarissa.

We knew this was a great idea and we incorporated the special needs demographic into our Red Door Realty Ad _own_your_dreambusiness plan. We called our special needs element, Team GUTSTM, and we immediately started the application process with the IRS for 501(c)(3) status. We received tax-exempt status in September of 2014.

In brief, Team GUTSTM plans to improve the lives of the special needs population by providing one-on-one training, fitness classes and sports camps for the special needs community, children and adults alike. Team GUTSTM’s goal is that no family will be turned away due to inability to pay, and Team GUTSTM will provide financial assistance to those families in need.

While there is no shortage of programs centered on physical, speech and occupational therapy, fitness options for the special needs community are virtually nonexistent. The following services, among others, will be provided: Team GUTSTM will offer sports programs designed specifically LibraryFriendsADpicksfor the special needs community, including one-on-one training, fitness classes, sports camps, strength training, yoga, Zumba, and boxercise, as well as organized team sports like soccer, football, baseball, and cheerleading.

These activities are especially important for the special needs community given the unique challenges they face in remaining fit. With respect to the Down syndrome community, research indicates low fitness levels and obesity despite data that indicate physiological gains from physical activity and exercise interventions. Low fitness levels and obesity in individuals with Down syndrome are thought to be related to sedentary lifestyles, the lack of social and recreational opportunities, or low motivation to be physically active (Volume 12, Issue 1, July 2007, Down Syndrome Research and Practice). Consequently, there is a prevalence of obesity in new way 03 honky tonkchildren, adolescents and adults with Down syndrome.

Todd and I are not alone in our efforts. We were introduced to and met with Dr. Dale A. Ulrich, PhD Professor, School of Kinesiology Director, Center on Physical Activity & Health in Pediatric Disabilities, University of Michigan. Dr. Ulrich has spent the better part of his career studying the impact of exercise on special needs children, especially those children with Down syndrome. Our relationship with Dr. Ulrich and his department has proven extremely valuable in formulating the initial services we will offer (Team GUTSTM intends to implement the best-practices determined by Dr. Ulrich and his doctoral and undergraduate students). For example, infants and toddlers with Down syndrome develop much slower than ordinary children. Dr. Ulrich engaged in a clinical trial to ascertain the benefits of treadmill training for infants. The developmental evidence generated from this randomized seed019_Cherie_Rolfeclinical trial involving treadmill training of infants with DS provides support for its use as an early intervention approach to facilitate earlier onset of independent walking.

Todd and I know it will take time to identify good instructors for the various classes we envision. We also know that it will take time to educate families with special needs family members on our programs and services. Even so, we do know that our proposed activities for the special needs community are desperately needed.

We plan to open our doors in April of this year and we look forward to positively impacting the lives of all those that train at GUTSTM Training Center. The center will be located at 1008 Orchard St. in Ferndale. Learn more at


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