Having a well-rounded approach is the key to helping someone recover from an injury or maintain an active lifestyle, said Todd Lutz, Get Fit program coordinator at Splendido at Rancho Vistoso.
After working almost a decade at Oro Valley’s premier retirement community, Lutz has remained committed to keeping his clients living at their highest potential.
“I want to help them enjoy the activities they appreciate as long as possible,” said Lutz. “And I think fitness is big first step in a lot of those things.”
Some Splendido residents moved into the community in order to take advantage of the fitness programs and facilities, and will often act as role models for their neighbors, Lutz said.
Conversely, some of Lutz’s clients are affected by a life event like a fall or heart attack.
No matter the circumstances, Lutz said staying fit can keep folks on the hiking trails, traveling or maintaining their independence.
There’s an unofficial requirement penciled into Splendido’s various fitness training classes: laughter. Lutz said he keeps the mood light whenever possible.
“I don’t want people to think fitness is a serious thing. We can have fun and still be fit,” he said.
Personal planner goes pro
Lutz, 36, is a licensed professional trainer certified with the American Council on Exercise and earned his aquatic fitness specialist certification from the International Sports and Fitness Trainers Association.
He earned his Bachelor of Science in health and physical education from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in 2006. And he played collegiate baseball throughout his undergrad career.
The native Tucsonan moved back to the Old Pueblo that same year, landing a fitness specialist position at the YMCA of Southern Arizona.
Starting in 2007, Lutz spent three years playing professional baseball as a pitcher for the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings in Harlingen, Texas. The WhiteWings were one of the six founding pro teams that played for the United League Baseball association, a professional circuit not affiliated with Major League Baseball that shuttered in 2015.
In 2010, Lutz was at a crossroads. His baseball career was neither advancing nor declining, so he returned home with physical fitness in his sights, landing a job at Splendido.
He began his tenure at Splendido as a fitness assistant and program assistant, teaching three exercise classes per week while organizing trips and planning lectures for residents.
He became a Get Fit instructor in 2012 and was promoted to program coordinator in May 2015. Get Fit is Splendido’s branded term used to describe its fitness program.
In December, Lutz earned his master’s degree in business administration from Grand Canyon University. Although he said his career goals haven’t changed, knowing the backend of how a business is run can only help his professional path.
As he chipped away at his latest academic achievement, Lutz said he realized how demanding balancing college classes and a full-time job can be; the luxury of scholarships helped him circumvent that type of workload during his undergrad.
“It was interesting to see how difficult it is to intermingle all of those things in life,” he adds with a smile.
Lutz interest in becoming a professional trainer stemmed from his own athletic career. Throughout the years, he would develop a fitness program that would help him advance in baseball, educating himself in the best nutritional habits and training regimen.
While his early aspirations of professional coaching didn’t materialize, Lutz said, “I knew in a way I wanted to coach, or help lead people to reach their wellness and fitness goals.”
Before he signed on with Splendido, Lutz said he wasn’t considering working with a specialized community like senior citizens or young people. But he knew rather quickly that he has a knack for connecting with retired folks.
Having the appropriate temperament goes a long way, he explains. But engaging in active listening is the cornerstone to either nursing his clients back to health, or helping along their fitness goals, he said.
“Instead of reacting to what you see going on with them, a lot of it is taking things in stride and really listening to what’s going on,” Lutz said. “Then, using critical thinking to find out the proper way to address their issues.”
Most people’s fitness goals change from when they’re in the 20’s compared to retirement age, Lutz said. Whether someone is recovering from an injury or trying to maintain their strength, Lutz has implemented different techniques to keep people on track.
A few years ago, he asked the people he trains to fill out “I Will” commitments, which are casual fitness contracts that state general or specific wellness benchmarks.
While simply stating a goal is a passive exercise, creating a pact is direct and can yield better results, he said. But Lutz wants his clients to look at health from a balanced vantage, so many folks will join a social group, attend religious services or sign up for art classes.
When it comes to nutrition, Lutz typically recommends a plant-based diet to his clients. He’ll also urge them to eliminate processed foods. But if someone won’t walk away from the burgers and fries, Lutz will suggest they consider smaller portions or cut back on how often they indulge.
“It’s more about reminding them that diet is a choice, rather than educating them on how to do nutrition on their own,” he said.
Lessons from his surrogate family
Most Splendido residents chose this community because they’re motivated stay healthy, relocating to Southern Arizona from around the world, Lutz explains. Through thick and thin, they rally around one another and have created a sense of family, which Lutz feels a part of.
“Everybody cares for each other and there’s a lot of love here,” said Lutz.
Lutz said he never had the opportunity to develop adult relationships with his grandparents, who passed away before he graduated college. When he started at Splendido, he felt that getting to know his clients provided him a second chance to do that.
Today, he said he’s constantly reminded to keep your worries in perspective and try to enjoy life’s journey.
And he’s learned to balance his professional and personal goals. Lutz recalls missing out on spring break vacations, as a young competitive athlete hyper-focused on the outcome of his pitching aspirations.
More important, Lutz has taken up multiple activities that would have fallen by the wayside years prior, which is inspired by the people he serves every day.
“I’m digging into what kind of experiences can I create for myself, and a lot of that is learning from them,” he said.