Joe Vennare, co-owner of "Hybrid Athlete" and contestant on "Fit or Flop: America's Next Fitness Star"
When I first moved to Pittsburgh and started elementary school I encountered what most feel when they are uprooted: nervousness, apprehension, and concern that I wouldn’t make any friends began to flash through my mind. I was lucky because I happened to meet Joe Vennare upon my arrival. Joe is a guy everyone likes. He is always polite, jovial, active and most of all selfless. Some of these qualities were more evident as we got older. Going through junior high and high school everyone begins to evolve, mature and learn more about themselves through situations that are presented as we grow from adolescence to adulthood. However, Joe’s character and personality never changed all the years I have known him. He is one of those people that you can’t help but describe as genuine. When he asks how you are or if there is anything he can do to help, you know that he means it, and that can be a rarity today. A hero is said to be one that fights for a cause. Some causes that are fought for, may not deemed noble or even notable enough to elevate the person to hero status, however this hero today we meet has a worthy cause.
We are born with some intangible qualities – but our scruples and ethics are learned and cemented by the ones who raised us. Joe and his younger brother Anthony were raised by parents who taught them about hard work, keeping your word, and being respectful. Joe and Anthony’s father told them something that I think everyone should read: “No matter what happens in life, no matter what you are confronted with you have to maintain the courage of your convictions…” Clearly Joe’s father had instilled the right words of wisdom as both Joe and his brother Anthony began putting the work in to starting their own respective careers. After graduating from high school, Joe attended Seton Hill and earned a degree in History. Joe said that he was on the fast track to just living a life he thought he would be content with, and was already in progress of attaining said goals. He envisioned teaching, getting married, having kids and settling down. While teaching in North Carolina, Joe received news that no child wants to be told. His father was diagnosed with brain cancer.
It was with a heavy heart that after high school, the next time I saw Joe was at his father’s funeral. Everyone knew how special his father was and the relationship both sons had with him. When I saw my friend it was one of the most difficult things I had experienced. Here was someone who was always there for others, who gave more than he ever wanted in return, and above all, always admired his father, and he and his brother were in pain; something that anyone who knew them or their family would ever want them to experience. While grief never just skims the surface and there aren’t enough words of comfort to be encased in that can erase losing a loved one – Joe and Anthony did what only two guys who were raised by exemplary parents could do, they lived by Joe’s mantra…they endured, overcame and dominated.
Both Joe and Anthony had previously worked as Director of Programming for different YMCA’s in Pittsburgh, but felt that while they were pursuing fitness, they wanted to take the reins with what they could offer the public. Anthony had attended Northern Arizona University and a United States Marine. While training in the military to become a Marine, his fitness passion expanded. Joe recounts, “Here was my younger brother guiding me to take on bigger obstacles and start setting dreams that weren’t in place before.” The brothers had experienced loss, but it altered their state of mind for the better. It made them want to be even more aggressive with taking every opportunity life had to offer and changed their convictions. Anthony wanted to start a business with his brother. The brothers did just that – they founded Hybrid Athlete.
I don’t know about you, but to me sometimes the fitness world can seem cliquish. How many people are discouraged from making fitness apart of their life because the memberships are too expensive, you get a trainer who you just can’t connect with, or the fitness clubs look as if only Greek Gods should be in attendance? “The goal for Anthony and I was to make fitness accessible to everyone and to always be accessible to our clients.” Hybrid Athlete is a nationally recognized fitness brand that focuses on kettlebell, endurance and obstacle training. They opened a 12,000 square foot facility where they gave each individual a personal training experience but within a group setting and introduced Kettlebell Cardio. If you have ever worked out with a Russian Kettlebell, you will understand that what I say next is true – it is intimidating upon first encounter, it is challenging and it requires that the user must have knowledge of what they are doing or things can go very wrong, very quickly. Hybrid Athlete provides you with a program that can take the kettlebell and turn it from your biggest fear to your best friend. The brothers also created Race Day Domination; a program that is designed to help people who participate in obstacle course races and can use the program to take their training to another level. All the while Joe also earned a Masters Degree from California University of Pennsylvania in Sports Management, became a Performance Enhancement Specialist, became certified in CrossFit, and quickly started getting attention nationally for what he was doing.
Photo courtesy of atlargenutrition.com
Currently Joe is a finalist for 2013 PFP Trainer of the Year. He is also in a competition to search for America’s Best Personal Trainer. Joe is in contention and if I have any say (because this is not unbiased journalism right now), he will win. So I will ask that everyone who reads this article go to www.fitorflop.com , sign up (it’s easy just give your name and an email address) and vote daily. All you have to do is select “fit” for Joe, and “flop” for everyone else. While this writer doesn’t take the time to vote for other reality competitions because I don’t feel invested in the competitor, even if you have never met Joe, if you go to the site and check out his interview, and if you took the time to read what I just wrote, you will quickly understand why he is worthy of 3 minutes of your day. Joe Vennare is a man who will look you in the eye, make a promise and keep it, who will help you not to get recognition for him; but because he wants to see you flourish and thrive. If you can pick up the phone for Hines Ward during his Dancing with the Stars run, I would expect the same dedication and support for a true hometown hero who can impact your life by teaching you how to attain a healthy, active and fitness focused life, and if you are lucky, maybe, just maybe those innate qualities that are so transparent in him will rub off on you.
For Information on the Fitness products that Hybrid Athlete and/or Race Day Domination offers visit:
www.thehybridathlete.com and check them out on Facebook/Twitter
To Vote for Joe in the Fit or Flop Competition visit: