Home Sweat Home
Josh Rogers’ Anthem gym burns calories and inhibitions
By Madison Rutherford
Josh Rogers has never had a “real job.”
He played arena football for five years in Canada, started coaching and rolled right into opening his own fitness facility in Anthem with his wife, Laura, in 2005.
“Once my career was done, I was like, ‘I’m going to open a gym,’” he says with a shrug. The rest is history.
The first space that Sweat occupied was in Laura and Josh’s casita at the Anthem Country Club, where Josh started small group training sessions. The name came next.
“I named it Sweat because that was kind of the key factor. I wanted to work out a signature for us,” he says. “You’re going to come out sweating.”
Over the course of the next few years, Josh and Laura accumulated over 100 clients and could no longer run the business out of their home, so they moved into a facility across the freeway. They operated in that space until 2012, when a summer storm ripped off the roof. That didn’t stop them; they quickly moved into the 4,000-square-foot former Blockbuster that has housed Sweat ever since.
When it comes to its staff, Sweat keeps its circle small, and potential trainers undergo a relatively strict screening process. According to Rogers, multitasking is a must here, and he knows better than anyone that handling small groups and managing multiple people isn’t as easy as it seems.
“When you come in here and work out, not everybody’s doing the same thing,” he explains. “Our motto is ‘Individualized Fitness,’ and it’s because we could have 13 people out there and they could be doing 13 different things.”
If you scroll through Sweat’s online reviews, you’ll notice “support” is a recurring word.
Upon entering the gym, the sense of support is as palpable as the pulsating pop music. According to Rogers, nearly everyone at Sweat knows each other by name and has developed relationships beyond their daily workout.
“For a lot of people here, it’s like a second home,” he says.
Marisa Johnson, Sweat’s general manager and VP of Operations, has worked at the gym for nearly nine years. She credits Sweat’s loud music for keeping the energy levels high, but the sense of camaraderie comes from somewhere else: “Everyone here has had a personal journey… so during the workouts, they all kind of encourage each other and help motivate each other.”
Although high-intensity workouts are a significant part of the Sweat ideology, Rogers says staying knowledgeable about nutrition is just as crucial to a healthy lifestyle as cardio. Trainers guide new clients on how to grocery shop and put together meal plans, and provide pointers on supplementation, portion size, macronutrients and calorie consumption.
Johnson is also responsible for mixing personalized post-workout drinks for each client based on their individual fitness goals and the type of exercise they did that day.
“About 30 minutes after their workout, we recommend having some sort of protein shake because you’re burning a lot of calories and you’re really hungry, so it helps curve that, and it also helps build muscle, too,” Johnson says. “I explain everything to the client and keep everything here for them after their workout and have it all ready to go so they don’t have to worry about it at home.”
Sweat specializes in small group training sessions of 15 people or less. Clients put together their own training package based on how often they work out and create a profile with their starting measurements, weight and personal fitness goals. They then go through a cursory nutrition course, so they’re well-versed before they even start their workout regimen.
Though the gym is known for its group sessions, Rogers spends most of his time doing private training. One of his clients is John McSwain, who has already lost 50 pounds through the Sweat Challenge and plans to lose 100 more.
McSwain initially tried Sweat several years ago, but a move to Michigan threw him off track. When he moved back, he immediately made it a point to see if Sweat was still open.
“I could’ve moved anywhere I wanted to, but I chose to come here. I thought, ‘I have to go back to Arizona. I need some light, I need the sun and I need to go back to this gym,’” he says. “This was the first gym in my whole life where I really got involved and wanted to go back. When I was here in 2015, I did really well and felt like I was part of a team. When I left I became so depressed, like, ‘I miss that.’”
Sweat has not only helped McSwain drop 50 pounds in 14 weeks, but it has also markedly improved his mood. He also struggles with hyperthyroidism, arthritis, anxiety, depression and high blood pressure. Reducing his medication is part of his motivation.
In the three and a half months that McSwain has been back at Sweat, he has also improved his upper body strength and increased his joint flexibility.
“I do like the environment because it’s not a typical gym; there’s a lot of support in this gym,” McSwain says. “You get to know people here because it’s a smaller environment… they all support you. The trainers encourage everybody and people are also encouraging each other.”
McSwain is a self-proclaimed introvert, but he says the constant encouragement and sense of community at Sweat have helped him come out of his shell.
Progress Makes Perfect
Sweat offers a series of eight-week challenges geared toward toning and weight loss. Naturally, there is a nutrition aspect that helps participants stay on track.
“They have me check My Fitness Pal, and they review what I’m eating daily,” McSwain explains. “I never got that from any kind of gym.”
McSwain also takes picture of everything he eats, so Rogers can monitor his meals, make sure they’re balanced and give him recommendations. In the past, McSwain says he was both apathetic and misinformed about what he was eating.
“At one point I was kind of stuck and eating the same foods over and over, but they taught me I can eat other foods,” McSwain says. “It’s the portions, and that was part of my problem. I could have pasta and sauce, but I was avoiding it because I thought it was bad… I feel more educated about food, I feel more educated about portion control, about a balanced meal and about eating more kinds of things.”
McSwain goes to weigh in, as he does every week before picking up his post-workout shake and heading home. He’s broken a steady sweat, but he also cracks a wide smile.
“Everything we do here is about progression,” Rogers says. “What he’s doing right here, he wouldn’t have been able to do that a month ago.”
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