[SPOKANE, Wash.] Kat Tylock grasps two metal bars and slowly lifts herself into a handstand. Her body is in a perfect vertical position, pointing skyward. Donnie Kissick looks on, making sure that she is safe.
Tylock is a member and personal trainer-in-training at Torq Personal Training, which is owned by Kissick. She is just one of the members that exercises at the space under the supervision of a trainer. Torq is unique to the Spokane area. Its model co-opted straight from Los Angeles, Calif. At a typical gym, members either work with a personal trainer, exercise on their own or take classes that are open to any member, sometimes resulting in a roomful of sweaty bodies. But at Torq, only six members can exercise at a time, and all are under the supervision of a trainer. Instead of a class, members can use any of the equipment that they want. This affords them the safety of a personal trainer and the freedom of individual exercise based on their goals, all at a lower cost than with a single coach. Plus, members get tailored fitness goals through Torq’s app that include at-home exercises and meal plans with recipes. And there are individual check-ins every week to keep them on track.
“We’re creating this system of a semi-private environment with people going at once,” Kissick said. “It’s the best of both worlds with the personal training. It’s really everything that someone needs to be successful.”
Kissick started his fitness journey at an unlikely place: Pizza Pipeline. His manager at the pizza spot had a weight set in the back of the shop. Kissick’s manager motivated him to keep training. After two to three years, he started seeing big changes.
“I hated exercise, so I’m able to relate to people if it’s their first time at the gym, or they don’t have an athletic background,” Kissick said. “I’m empathetic to that and help them develop a good relationship with it.”
“He believed in me when I was very self-conscious and didn’t believe in myself,” Tylock said. “All of the people are so appreciative of what he’s doing.”
After seeing results in his own body, Kissick became fascinated with anatomy. He took classes at Spokane Falls Community College for two years, earning his Associate of Science for health/fitness technician. Kissick credits his education at SFCC with preparing him for the National Strength and Conditioning Association certification, which he received in 2013.
“Some ways that I would describe the benefits of the program have to do with its uniqueness,” said SFCC health/fitness technician Travis Warner, who was Kissick’s instructor. “For a two-year program, it has all the important essentials of a four-year kinesiology degree, such as human biology and anatomy, biomechanics, physiology, etc. But it also has copious amounts of the hands on/practical elements that the four-year schools do not offer. This includes extensive experience in exercise technique and programming, movement modification and other essentials to a carrier in fitness coaching. No other program in the area allows for that kind of hands-on experience.”
After graduating, Kissick held down numerous personal training jobs, the first one out of his home gym. After a decade, he decided to open his own place and took classes with a business coach based out of L.A., who taught him Torq’s model. The fitness center opened last April.
“If it weren’t for him and this gym and the people that he has brought here, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today,” Tylock said. “When I started in April, I could only do 10 modified pushups. Now I can now do handstands and five pull-ups. Before, I couldn’t even do one pull-up.”
Currently, Torq has around 60 members. Kissick just hired more trainers, including Warner, Jason Borgman. Warner still teaches at SFCC, and Kissick went to the college with Borgman.
“It’s cool because we’ve all known each other for over a decade, and we’re now under one roof,” Kissick said. “It’s going full circle with some of my friends. It’s like a dream come true.”
The community of trainers extends to Torq’s larger community of members. Sometimes the trainers and members meet up for outdoor activities, such as skateboarding, paddleboarding and rock climbing. According to Kissick and Tylock, some members get together outside of the gym on their own.
“He’s building this community,” Tylock said. “He’s brought so many people together as a unit. It’s family.”
CCS provides education and services in a six-county region of Eastern Washington, operates Spokane Falls Community College and Spokane Community College and is the largest provider of Head Start and Early Childhood Education in the region. Each year, nearly 30,000 people – from infants to senior citizens – are provided educational services by CCS.