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Fotion’s Gym owners are stronger together

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By Megan Tackett
Sopris Sun Staff

There’s always another goal on the horizon for Steve Fotion. It hasn’t even been a month since winning the coveted America’s Strongest Man 50+ title at America’s Strongest Pro and America’s Strongest Masters competitions, and he’s already training for the future.

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“Now we’ve gotta repeat, that’s all,” he said about his victories in Phoenix. “That way it’s not a fluke.” The Oct. 14 and 15 events were not Fotion’s first — he’s competed four times in as many years. The first time, he came in 13th place. Each year, he placed a little higher before earning the first-place title, jumping from seventh place last year to the 2017 champion in his age bracket. “[It’s] just persistence,” he said of his trajectory.

That persistence has served him well, and it’s the lynchpin of his philosophy as a trainer. He owns and runs Fotion’s Clubhouse Gym, 989 Hwy 133, with his wife, Joelle Fotion. The two have operated out of their current space off of 12th Street for eight years. During that time, they’ve attracted clients from orthopedic surgeons to NFL athletes.

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“My biggest thing is, make the rep count, don’t count the reps,” Steve said. “So many people get caught up with getting their numbers. Make what you’re working on work for you. You’ll last longer.”

Steve typically invests about 17 hours a week on his own training regimen, though he rarely does so alone. Nick Dimond, one of Glenwood’s newest lacrosse coaches, trains with him every week. He also spends considerable time working with his good friend and four-time World’s Strongest Man winner, Brian Shaw.

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While he certainly doesn’t expect that same time commitment from the typical gym goer, he does hope members make their routines a regular part of their schedules.

“I want it to be fun; I want people to stay at it for a long period of time. It’s a lifestyle. It’s not a fly-by-night thing. Consistency — even if it’s only a little bit — it’s that consistency that adds up over time that equals big gains,” he said.

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Another aspect of training with the Fotions that can add big gains? Having access to the myriad logs, Axle stones and circus dumbbells to more accurately mimic Strongman contests.

“If I need something, I figure out how to make it,” Steve said of the eclectic collection housed at the gym. “It’s odd to pick up, so it becomes a grip exercise, a back exercise… it’s weird.” Athletes also can experiment with kegs, waggon wheels, and tires that weigh up to 1,010 pounds.

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That kind of strength training has become increasingly attractive to Crossfit enthusiasts, Steve said. “We have the weight stuff, so they need the implements that we already have,” he said.  

Joelle, a certified fitness trainer and nutritionist, manages most of the gym’s personal training services and runs the gym during the day while Steve works in Aspen as a homebuilder. In the evenings, Steve takes over for Joelle at the gym. “Construction is my profession,” Steve said. “This is my obsession.”

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“My next big tackle is truly getting Bryan his fifth World’s Strongest Man title,” Steve said. While he’s hoping for an invitation to the Master’s Worlds contest, he’s not waiting around, either. “You’ve got to have those intermediate goals,” he said. “And with the gym, if you don’t have a goal, you just kind of wander.”

Not that he’d let that happen — or his family and training partners, for that matter. Their son Austen calls theirs a “good cop, bad cop” dynamic, referring to his parents’ differing training styles. “We make a good team… he’s the mean one,” she said with a smile.

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