INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT

Building Animal House Fitness: How the End of One Dream Led to the Discovery of Another

Upper hand – upper hand – adam wright coaching a youth athlete outside at animal house fitness

Success – in any capacity – starts with a dream.

In the words of Adam Wright, “it starts with a dream to be well, a dream to be strong, a dream to be fast, a dream to leave a legacy.”

For Wright, that dream was to play professional football. And, he was on his way.

A talented and successful football player who rose from the JUCO ranks to ultimately land at NAU, Wright was no stranger to hard work and athletic success. But, when his hamstring snapped days before his NFL Pro Day, Wright was left to figure out “what’s next.”

For many athletes, if the stars don’t align to continue playing at a high level, the next step is coaching, sports administration, or skills training.

But, athlete development was something that just happened for Wright.

The Journey to Determine "What's Next"

After college, Wright leveraged his chemistry degree in multiple capacities. He also returned to college to become a teacher, which landed him in a middle school moderate to severe special education class. This isn’t where he thought he would be, but looking back, it’s exactly where he needed to be.

This experience gave him perspective and purpose.

"Those kids didn't care if I didn't play football. They didn't care if I had failed at a thousand things. They were just so stoked to see me. I needed that jovial love; I was in a bad place thinking I was just the biggest failure because I didn't achieve a goal I had set."

When Wright had an opportunity to get back into football as a coach for his former high school team, it felt natural for a couple of reasons: He was familiar with the school, the staff and the community, and was welcomed with open arms. And, having been an athlete dealing with a rocky home life, he related to the athletes and their stressors, understanding how sports could be an outlet.

A few years later, Wright reconnected with a good friend and college roommate who introduced him to the sports training realm. As he got more involved, he found himself leading a group of 130 girls soccer players. Based on the results he achieved and rapport he built with the athletes, he was asked to step in as the Director of Performance.

For Wright, who had developed a deep passion for this work, this decision was a no-brainer.

But, the imposter syndrome started to creep back in.

“I was really good with the athletes, but lacked any credentials outside of being a former athlete. I had worked with trainers when I was preparing for my Pro Day, but I didn’t have a background in kinesiology or performance.”

But, leaning on his experiences and ability to communicate and connect with athletes, Wright committed to improving at it.

Upper hand – upper hand – coach adam wright working with youth athletes at animal house fitness facility

Taking the Leap: Building Animal House Fitness

Backed by his college roommate, Wright took a leap of faith to start his own business; Animal House Fitness.

Instead of opening a brick and mortar location, Animal House Fitness began in the backyard of Wright’s home, which featured an old firehouse-converted barn. They laid down turf, bought some equipment, and transformed this old structure into a training space. Here, Wright would open his doors to athletes and parents from all over Riverside and the surrounding area.

In addition, Wright was determined to add some credibility behind his name. While it didn’t change his approach and how he trained his athletes, Wright studied and passed the tests needed to become a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). This added credibility that helped him overcome his mental obstacle, as well as give him some additional qualifications when marketing to new clients.

 

Growing a team of coaches

As the business grew, so did the need for additional coaches and training space. In 2019, Wright moved into a new brick and mortar training facility and hired some additional staff and coaches to help Animal House Fitness reach athletes of all levels. To build confidence and rapport as coaches, this often starts with new staff coaching in a sport they are confident in or previously played. But, Wright is sure to provide opportunities for them to expand their coaching portfolio and find their passion.

“We’ve brought in a handful of interns that are enamored by the programming aspect. So, they have been tasked with learning and building out their own training programs for athletes,” said Wright.

At the end of the day, this stems from his commitment to bringing in the right people to complement the business and their athletes’ needs.

“I have been so tremendously blessed to have the group of coaches that came in. All of them are just stellar human beings, and it’s grown into such a strong community. The quality of the relationships makes it feel like a really big family that I inherited through this training space.”

Upper hand – upper hand – coach adam wright working with youth athlete at animal house fitness
Upper hand – upper hand – adam wright, owner of animal house fitness

Animal House Fitness: A Movement and Performance Center

Today, Wright’s focus has shifted from exclusively youth athlete development to being a “Movement and Performance Center.” Here, athletes of all ages and abilities can achieve their fitness and lifestyle goals.

We are a performance facility,” says Wright. “You can come here and find an answer to all of your wellness needs.

The collection of coaches offer a wide range of perspectives and areas of expertise, and athletes are often pointed to the coach (or coaches) that are best suited to meet specific goals or weaknesses. It’s a very unselfish approach that prioritizes the athletes’ needs above the egos of the coaches in order to most effectively achieve success.

Animal House Fitness sees a wide range of athletes with varying fitness goals – from 75 year olds recovering from a stroke looking to be able to confidently move through daily life to middle and high schoolers eager to make their first school sports team.

"The self-efficacy that comes from strength training and making sure you're able to do some hard stuff...our approach is deliberate. Success will not be accidental."

But, not only is Wright concerned about improving his athletes on the pitch, field, or court. He has taken a genuine interest in building relationships that support the whole athletes.

In particular, he has taken a special interest in the mental health aspect. Because at the end of the day, vulnerability and mental health helps performance both in sport and in daily life.

“I can ask an athlete ‘How are you?’ and they can respond with ‘I’m fine,’ then their vertical jump is 4 inches lower than it usually is. So I ask again, ‘how are you, really? Have you been sleeping, do you have a lot of homework, is something going on at home?’”

By diving deeper into the athletes’ lives outside of the marks they are posting in practice, Wright is able to reach athletes on many different levels, contributing to their overall health and wellness.

An athlete will leave Animal House Fitness an entirely different athlete than when they first arrived – whether that be in terms of skill development, mindset, strength, or whatever goal they have set. This success has continued to drive new business through word of mouth marketing for Wright and his team. This, coupled with a growing coaching staff has led to a successful and sustainable business that is a major asset for the Riverside area.

 

Related Content: Tips for Avoiding Athlete Burnout

The Vision for 2024

As Wright looks ahead to 2024, he is also eager to invest in a new area of Animal House Fitness: coaching education and development. As he’s grown his community of coaches within his sports training facility, Wright is committed not only to providing space for them to coach their athletes, but also to build confidence and credibility when it comes to building their brand.

To do this, Wright has begun hosting educational seminars where coaches can learn different modalities of coaching as well as share their ideas. In these sessions, coaches can learn from each other and talk about their respective discipline, ultimately empowering coaches of all levels to better understand how training decisions should be made, assess the quality of movement, and more.

“I want to give my coaches a platform to share their ideas,” says Wright. “I want to present this platform that people can be a part of and be successful at and will help them along the way. My goal is to help more people – not just athletes – but also coaches and make sure that people that are working with this population are doing the proper things to yield the proper results.”

In addition to the investment and elevation of the coaches who attend these sessions, Wright also recognizes that these seminars positively impact the credibility and brand of Animal House Fitness – a win-win situation.

“We want to be a beacon of light to help promote long term health and wellness, mentally, physically, spiritually, all of it. We want to make sure we’re giving back to the community in every way, shape, and form.”

As Wright continues to make waves in the athlete training industry, his grit and innate ability to persevere has paid off in more ways than one. And, while he never had an opportunity to play in the NFL, his impact and career have had an even more lasting impact – both on himself and the athletes and coaches he serves.

Upper hand – upper hand – adam wright, owner of animal house fitness
Upper hand – upper hand – adam wright coaching a youth athlete outside at animal house fitness

About Animal House Fitness

Animal House Fitness is more than just a training facility. Our mission is to teach and guide young people how to optimize their existence. It all starts with a dream: a dream to be well, a dream to be strong, a dream to be fast, a dream to leave a legacy. At Animal House Fitness, we’ve been making dreams come true since 2016. Our Riverside facility had humble beginnings. Animal House Fitness launched from the home of the owner, Adam Wright. Transforming a 2800 square foot space into a unique training experience focused on more than just athletics. Animal House Fitness has been designed to provide an outstanding environment for athletes of all levels and abilities. Whether you’re a novice or a professional, reach your optimal potential with Animal House Fitness. Learn more at animalhouse.fitness.

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