Barry McNamara  |  Published February 08, 2024

The Personal Touch

Alumni team up to help their clients reach their goals at two Peoria-area Anytime Fitness location.

THOMPSON AND TEAM: Chief Operating Officer Patrick Thompson (left) is pictured with four of the other Monmouth alumni who w... THOMPSON AND TEAM: Chief Operating Officer Patrick Thompson (left) is pictured with four of the other Monmouth alumni who work at Anytime Fitness in Peoria. From the left are Tyler Dugan '21, Francois Boney '23, Jeff Tucker '06 and Linsey Turner '23.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Part of the Monmouth College mission statement reads to “empower students to reach their full potential … and shape their communities.”

A group of Monmouth alumni, led by 2014 graduate Patrick Thompson, is helping to shape the Peoria, Illinois, community by guiding people toward their fitness potential.

Thompson is the chief operating officer at Anytime Fitness, which has a location on the north side of Peoria, as well as nearby Germantown Hills. Monmouth alumni on staff include trainers Francois Boney ’23, Tyler Dugan ’21, D.J. Frank ’18 and Jeff Tucker ’06 and office assistant Linsey Turner ’23. Current student Skylar Garey ’24 of Germantown Hills has interned at Anytime Fitness and has a position waiting for her after graduation.

The Monmouth-centric team is doing outstanding work. Thompson reported that both Peoria-area facilities are ranked in the top 20 in terms of personal training operations among more than 2,300 Anytime Fitness locations in the United States. The Peoria location has been ranked inside the top 10.

“When a Monmouth graduate comes here, we know what we’re going to get. They understand the science behind it, and they’ve also been set up well by the College from a liberal arts standpoint.” – Patrick Thompson


“When a Monmouth graduate comes here, we know what we’re going to get,” said Thompson, who noted that more than half of the fitness center’s coaches are fellow alumni. “They understand the science behind it, and they’ve also been set up well by the College from a liberal arts standpoint. Because of the Monmouth education they’ve received, they know how to relate with people, talk with people, and they make it easy for our clients to understand what we’re doing with them.”

Doug Pinter, who owns the Peoria-area gym locations, hopes to keep drawing from the College’s talent pool.

“We’ve really lucked out with our connection to Monmouth,” he said. “They get a great education there and have gone on to do great work here. We’ll take more.”

Pinter and Thompson go all the way back to the very first days of Peoria’s Anytime Fitness, just weeks before Thompson graduated from Monmouth.

“I remember trying to get people to sign up for memberships, and there wasn’t even any equipment here yet,” said Thompson. “It was kind of wild. There were a lot of learning experiences. I’d never opened a gym before.”

“We’ve really lucked out with our connection to Monmouth. They get a great education there and have gone on to do great work here. We’ll take more.” – Doug Pinter


One of those learning experiences, he said, was that Monmouth preparation is solid preparation.

“That experience got me out of my comfort zone,” he said. “I learned that you may not feel prepared, but after all your experiences at Monmouth, you are. Things I use out in the world like public speaking or leading a group workout with multiple individuals – those are all things that Monmouth teaches you.”


Getting healthy and stronger

A recent CNN article reported that having a personal trainer has become more mainstream, and it also cited a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics prediction that the fitness training market will grow by 14% from 2022-32, a much faster rate than the average for all occupations.

“We meet our clients where they’re at in life and help them reach their fitness goals through dedication and effort,” said Thompson. “Our clients range from single moms, to people working two jobs, to parents with four kids. We teach them that small steps forward can pay off over time, helping them stay healthy and get stronger. Unless you’re a high-performing athlete, people don’t need to do anything special to see results.”

“We meet our clients where they’re at in life and help them reach their fitness goals through dedication and effort. Our clients range from single moms, to people working two jobs, to parents with four kids.” – Patrick Thompson


Coming to college from Monmouth-Roseville High School, Thompson knew he wanted to head down a path in athletic training. A key moment in his career preparation, he said, came at the beginning of his sophomore year, when kinesiology professor Sean Schumm joined the faculty and the College’s exercise science major was created.

“Professor Schumm is really good, so once he came aboard, he helped make it so easy for us to teach exercise to other people,” said Thompson. “Through my classes at Monmouth, I was able to describe what I’d be doing for people in a very simplified way. Today, I pass that along so that our coaches and staff know why they’re doing what they do. Some coaches can make exercise too scientific, but we teach that a little bit goes a long way. It’s the KISS principle – keep it simple.”

Boney, who often works outside the facility at Bradley University and at area nursing homes, appreciates the opportunity to pass along that knowledge.

“My favorite thing about working here is the relationships I’ve built with the clients and just knowing that I can help change the path they’re on in life through health and wellness,” he said.

Like Thompson, Frank had a good idea of what he wanted to do when he enrolled at Monmouth.

“My favorite thing about working here is the relationships I’ve built with the clients and just knowing that I can help change the path they’re on in life through health and wellness.” – Francois Boney


“Growing up, I always knew I wanted to do something in the health and fitness industry, but a health scare when I was in high school drove me toward helping people and becoming a personal trainer,” he said. “My goal is to help individuals achieve their fitness and health goals.”

Dugan, a wellness administration major who found out about Anytime Fitness through kinesiology faculty member Jen Braun, wasn’t able to intern the summer before his senior year thanks to a COVID shutdown, but he eventually connected with Thompson and found a job he’s passionate about.

“I love the clientele I’ve built and the relationships I’ve built,” he said. “There’s nothing more rewarding than helping clients hit the fitness goals they’ve set for themselves.”


It took some convincing

While Thompson, Boney, Dugan and Frank had their sights set for a while on working for a business such as Anytime Fitness, Turner and Garey took more convincing. Turner, in fact, didn’t consider such a career until a meeting with Dugan’s mother, Marnie Steach ’95, director of the College’s Wackerle Center for Careers, Leadership and Fellowships.

“Tyler’s mom helped me figure out stuff I like to do, and we came up with Anytime Fitness as a place I might be interested in working,” said Turner, who is in the process of earning her personal trainer certification. “I kind of dismissed it at first, and I had another job for a short time after I graduated, but I quit that one and came to work here. I know about 50% of the staff because of Monmouth, so to see a familiar face made it a lot easier.”

CHRISTMASTIME FITNESS: Pictured in December at the company's holiday party are, in front, D.J. Frank '18, Tyler Dug... CHRISTMASTIME FITNESS: Pictured in December at the company's holiday party are, in front, D.J. Frank '18, Tyler Dugan '21, Linsey Turner '23 and Skylar Garey '24. In back are Francois Boney '23 and Patrick Thompson '14. Garey, too, was steered toward her hometown business after seeking career ideas.

“I went into Jen Braun’s office for advice in the spring of my junior year,” she said. “I knew I needed an internship credit to graduate. I said I did not want personal training. She said she knew that Patrick wanted an intern and that she could reach out to him and put my name out there.”

Despite her reservations, Garey followed through and interned with Anytime Fitness last summer.

“I did office work, follow-ups and messages to members and clients,” said the exercise science major. “I did work on the personal training side, one-on-one instruction, set up appointments, created workouts and tracked a six-week run/bike training program.”

Garey also worked with intellectually disabled individuals, was in charge of a youth program and conducted Silver Seniors workouts. In short, her immersion into the position opened a door she hadn’t considered.

“I feel you can get your mind fixated on something, but you have to be open to new experiences,” she said. “You can think you don’t like something, but you end up enjoying it. Just say ‘Yes’ to opportunities that are given to you. Last year, during the fall semester, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Now, I’ve found something that I’m really passionate about.”


A winning culture

In addition to rewarding work, Garey credits the culture that Thompson has created as a reason she and other alumni are drawn to Anytime Fitness.

“My internship was a fantastic experience,” she said. “It’s the first work environment I’ve been in where all the co-workers and staff were very welcoming, communicative and supportive. They encouraged me to ask questions. They were just awesome.”

The new kid on the block, so to speak, is Tucker, the oldest alum of the group.

THE PERSONAL TOUCH: Thompson spots a gym member's lifting session on Jan. 31, 2024. THE PERSONAL TOUCH: Thompson spots a gym member's lifting session on Jan. 31, 2024.“I’ve known Patrick for almost eight years,” he said. “I was one of his first clients. We bonded over our shared Monmouth connection.”

An insurance agent, Tucker has gradually made the transition from client to team member, helping to teach classes. He said he finds the work to be “incredibly rewarding.”

“I didn’t think I’d be good at this, but Pat kept telling me, ‘I absolutely think you can do this,’” said Tucker. “I think of Pat like a mentor. He’s excellent at what he does. The goal is to keep doing this and to have my own place, like Pat.”

And Thompson has expansion plans, too, as he’d like to bring a gym that offers personal training back to his hometown area. If that dream is realized, he won’t have to look far for capable staff.

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