Survivor Fitness wouldn’t exist without the dozens of trainers, nutrition specialists, and fitness center managers who work with participants every day. Brandon Holt, Trainer at Personal Best Fitness in Brentwood, TN, has been there since the very beginning.
After surviving an aggressive form of testicular cancer at the age of 23, Survivor Fitness Founder, Aaron Grunke, had the idea for a nonprofit that would empower survivors to truly overcome cancer through health and wellness. He took the idea to Brandon to discuss what the program could look like and how they could raise enough money to get the idea off the ground.
“This is Going to Change So Many Lives”
As a certified fitness trainer, Brandon helped design a training template that participants could follow while Aaron worked on the organizational details. With the framework in place, it was time to start raising awareness and funds.
“In early 2013, I had this crazy idea that we should walk 24 straight hours on a treadmill to raise the money,” Brandon recalled. “24 hours (59 miles), $10,000, and too many blisters to count later, we had the money to take our first client.”
Our very first Survivor Fitness Participant was Cheryl. She had recently finished treatment and was looking to “feel like herself again.” Brandon began training Cheryl through a 12-week program. About halfway through the program, Brandon got a visit he’ll never forget.
“I’ll never forget the day that Cheryl’s husband and children walked into my office unexpectedly just to tell me ‘thank you,’” Brandon shared. Cheryl’s family had already recognized a difference in her and wanted to express their gratitude for helping her gain back her confidence.
Brandon immediately called Aaron and said, “This is going to change lives!”
10 years later, that’s definitely true.
Impacting More Lives With Personal Best Fitness
In 2018, Brandon joined the team at Personal Best Fitness. Getting Survivor Fitness going at Personal Best was a priority for him, and their team quickly started training participants.
To date, the team at Personal Best has trained more than two dozen participants. Their stories continue to inspire Brandon and the other trainers at Personal Best to tell as many people about the program as they can. Like many trainers and dietitians who partner with Survivor Fitness, Brandon described how he always gets more from the participants than he can ever give to them.
“Survivor Fitness participants are some of the most grateful, hardworking, and motivated clients I have ever worked with in my 20+ years of personal training,” Brandon recalled. “Each participant has such a unique story full of highs and lows but with a victorious ending.”
“Getting Your Life Back is a Marathon, Not a Sprint”
After training more than 20 cancer patients over the years, Brandon has learned some incredibly insightful lessons when it comes to regaining strength after treatment. One of the first things Brandon often encourages participants to remember is that getting your life back is a marathon, not a sprint.
“The first step is the hardest,” he shared. “Once you walk through that door and meet your trainer, you can have confidence that everyone is working very hard to make sure you have a great, safe experience. The community that surrounds you wants nothing more than for you to be successful.”
After more than a decade of working with participants, Brandon is still excited every time a new Survivor Fitness participant walks in the door, and he continues to be one of the biggest advocates for post-treatment training.
“Whether you are a trainer or gym thinking about if Survivor Fitness might be a good fit, or if you are a potential participant, just do it,” Brandon said. “You will not regret it.”
We’re incredibly grateful for all the work Brandon and the team at Personal Best have put into making Survivor Fitness what it is today. He has been involved in everything from designing our training template, participating in our very first fundraising event, and continually advocating for our mission.
If you’re a trainer, dietitian, or health professional interested in joining the Survivor Fitness partner network, we’d love to share more information with you. If you’re a cancer survivor in Tennessee, connect with our team today to learn how you can get started with our program!