Ryan Ketchum in USA Today!
HUNDREDS OF HOOSIERS ARE KEEPING OFF THE FAT AND FEELING AND LOOKING GREAT THANKS TO WEIGHT LOSS AND FITNESS EXPERT RYAN KETCHUM, WHO LAUNCHED THE BLOOMINGTON BASED FORCE FITNESS AND PERFORMANCE WITH FELLOW COLLEGE ATHLETE WIL FLEMING IN 2008
By Jonathan Widran
Ryan Ketchum, co-owner of the Bloomington, Indiana based Force Fitness and Performance, has a special connection to all of the 425-plus clients currently signed up for programs with the facility.
Whether he’s conducting boot camps or semi-private training sessions, Ketchum empathizes with everyone who comes to him hoping to burn and keep off the fat, increase muscle tone and strength and develop a lean body with definition. People may come in thinking he’s always had the athletic body he boasts now—but he’s never shy about telling them the truth.
During his high school days and college years at Indiana University he was right where they are, very overweight at 335 lbs.
Some of this was “athlete weight,” which was natural for a three sport star who was a football lineman, a basketball player and so proficient as a shotputter (he was an All-American at IU) that he was once ranked #75 in the world by the International Athletics Federation. Yet Ketchum had developed some poor eating habits trying to bulk up and definitely carried a lot of extra fat on him.
Ketchum’s expertise in the field of weight loss and fitness came from his years of training as an athlete and the incredible knowledge he gained from his own experiences, combined with his studies of kinesiology at IU (with an emphasis in fitness) and his ability to transform his own body from his top weight to a much healthier 220 lbs. in just a year’s time. This incredible transformation required tremendous will power and self confidence, both qualities that he instills in all his clients.
Since launching Force Fitness and Performance in mid-2008 with fellow IU track and field star Wil Fleming (who was a hammer thrower), Ketchum has become the premiere weight loss and fitness expert in the region. The training system he has developed has resulted in large number (yet very healthy) weight loss of 50, 60 and even 100 lbs. in some clients. But his expertise does not end with weight loss. Ketchum’s functional fitness programs are employed by some of Bloomington’s finest adult athletes and his tactical strength programs are utilized by the Bloomington Fire Department to train their incoming recruits.
Having personally designed workouts for hundreds of clients, Ketchum says, “I look forward to helping people meet and then defeat the challenges that stood in my way for so long. I want to be the catalyst for dramatic weight loss, for improved fitness and for accomplishing lifelong goals. When Wil and I began putting our business plan together, we knew the kind of training that we wanted to focus on.
“A lot of what’s out there is athletic based fitness and movement based training,” he says. “We took the principles we used as athletes and essentially modified them for our fat loss population. We really want to help people do it all, from helping them choose a healthy grocery list to getting them to the point where they can run their first half marathon. Most people want an athlete’s body, but the key is developing one that’s a happy medium between the withered and emaciated typical marathon runner and the hulking body builder. That’s what we’re here to do!”
Ketchum shares his wisdom on a weekly evening rush hour radio program called The Force Fitness Power Hour on the Bloomington pop station B97 (WBFM), which he co-hosts with on air personality Kevin Stockbridge (who is one of his clients). Each week the two discuss a new fitness or nutrition related topic—from current events that relate to a daily fitness routine to outdoor activities (when the weather is warm) to staying on track and resisting temptation during the holidays.
Each boot camp is limited to 30 participants on a first come, first serve basis. In addition to achieving better fat loss and increased fitness results with just 45 minutes of intense work than most people get in an entire week at a traditional gym, the camps are designed to increase motivation and accountability. Force Fitness is also open to clients who simply want a great workout written out for them and some simple guidance. Their semi-private training programs use a social support system paired with individually designed workouts.
The process begins with a consultation with one of the facility’s coaches. They take the time to get to know clients personally and understand their goals and what needs to be accomplished with their training. After the free consultation, those who sign up will be taken through a complete assessment. The coach will then show them how to “foam roll” before starting a dynamic warm up and performing a body composition analysis, which is followed by a complete movement screen—all before ever giving a workout! During the assessment, the coach will review the results with the new client and cover appropriate nutritional information as needed.
As their website promises, Force Fitness and Performance doesn’t just offer workouts—“We give you a complete success system designed to get you results.” Every training membership includes one, two or three sessions of training with your coach each week; an individual training program; “Done For You” meal plans; nutritional Support; access to the facility for off day workouts; and “at home” workout programs. Force provides the programs, guidance and support, but it’s up to the client to push themselves during their training. Ketchum believes the only way to get great results is to work for them.
Having grown by word of mouth and unique marketing efforts (including the radio show) since they launched, Ketchum and Fleming truly have an exciting entrepreneurial success story. Ketchum had worked as a trainer out of another local facility for several and brought a large client base to Force Fitness. To leverage his time at his previous company, he had ventured from one on one training to group training. When he and his partner launched the new venture, he essentially took his existing business and renamed and rebranded it.
This merged perfectly with the background and expertise Fleming brought to the venture. Fleming, Force’s Director of Sports Performance, had grown up in the Bloomington area and had developed strong relationships with the local athletic community. At Force Fitness, Fleming works with many youth athletes, some as young as nine or ten, as well as pro athletes. Sports performance programs are the third major piece of the Force puzzle behind the boot camps and (the largest revenue generator), the semi-private training programs.
Ketchum says, “Here I do something similar to what I was doing before, just on a wider scale and with more control over how we grow the business. There’s always evolution. Our programs are always changing on a weekly or daily basis, because we’re always trying to be better and stay on the cutting edge. It’s great to have the opportunity to offer so many different services. I think what makes us unique is that we use a highly efficient yet effective training program that not only helps people move better and feel better, but also gets them the physical results and appearance they want. It’s one thing for them to feel better but getting them to look the way they want is a key. The art of coaching lies in knowing how to give them what they need and want.”
Mastering this has led to a doubling in clientele over the last year alone. Ketchum sees this as a result of their dedication to customer service and caring more about the individual than just numbers and income. He is proud of the fact that Force Fitness and Performance has clients ranging from ten year old kids who need some form of physical activity to a pro basketball player – and on the fat loss and fitness side, former collegiate athletes, a client who is 89 years old and high level runners who are training for triathlons. They come here for accountability and motivation, sure, but in the end, a lot of Force’s success is due to the “Cheers” effect – it’s a place where everybody knows their name.
“We’re dedicated to finding the best possible solutions to the client’s problems,” Ketchum adds. “We don’t just try to sell them the longest term package, but simply find what’s best for them. We really care about our clients and treat them like family. For many of them, we’re like their third significant place beyond work and home, and as a result we try to create a friendly, at home atmosphere. We go over the top to be as accommodating as possible and offer them the best possible service we can.”