The Formal Fitness Training Story: Why We Do What We Do

The Formal Fitness Training business launched because I saw things in the fitness industry that could be improved upon. The business would have never happened but a client believed in me so much that she wrote me a $3000 check and handed it to me at LA Fitness. She said “Mike you don’t belong at this gym, you have so much more to offer, take this money and start your own business”. To this day I don’t know if I would have ever taken the shot if it wasn’t for this remarkable human being! Formal Fitness Training specializes in weight loss, muscle-building, and athletic performance. Our motto is to “Strive for the best version of yourself”. If you emulate someone else you will fail, because there is only one you. Be your best by competing with yourself daily. The battle is the one with the person you see in the mirror only!

The Story

My name is Michael Hartman and I am the owner and founder of Formal Fitness Training LLC. The beginning of this business came from years on the field and years in the gym!  Throughout my life I played baseball from five to eighteen years of age and football from thirteen to seventeen. Activity was never an issue, more so nutrition. My parents involved me in as many sports as they could think of as well as kept me active off the field.  Despite the involvement in activities and sports I was still overweight and I was truly tired of being called fat.

When I made it to high school I participated in tennis and volleyball class, strength and conditioning class, and you could find me working out before and sometimes even after school.  These activities allowed me to lose my middle school and early high school weight and put me around 180 pounds. I looked good and felt as though I had some muscle. Unfortunately this is where the story just begins.

Playing high school football I was fielding an onside kick and took two helmets to the small of my back. This caused movement in my L3 and L4, developing a condition called Spondylosis.  This injury caused a bend forward at the waist and caused the inability to continue  football that season. Later I found out my football journey was over forever. The doctor told me “this condition is manageable, if you put your mind to it and workout, the muscles will stay strong, and you will be able to manage this for the rest of your life. If you choose not to work out and keep the muscles fit you may have serious problems as you age.”

That was all I needed to hear. I went to physical therapy two or three times per week for around eighteen months  to get myself standing tall again and get my back almost back to normal. After those eighteen months I was going to get myself back into the gym and back in shape and that is exactly what I did. The only trouble was only being able to do an hour and a half of physical therapy per week with minimal exercise otherwise due to pain caused some serious weight gain. This left me at around 245 pounds. Tastykakes, soda, gummy Bears, and rice krispie treats were normal along with cheddar popcorn, pizza, and the hoagie of the day at school.

So here I was between sixteen and seventeen years old (2003) with a back injury and around sixty more pounds than I had prior to the injury. I started to put in the work!

I started doing 2-3 hours of exercise a day (this is not the way to do it) but over the course of about a year I was back to 180 pounds, however I was very skinny. My diet was primarily chicken, salad, protein shakes and some fruit. I spent my senior year of high school and freshman year of college putting on thirty pounds of muscle. I did this following a typical bodybuilding split and bodybuilding foods.  During this time I also took a job at LA Fitness and enrolled in Penn State University for a B.S. in Kinesiology. (2006). As with anyone who has done a bulk sometimes the bulk goes a little too far. Due to late night appetizers , beer, and pizza (typical college diet) I found myself with a lot of muscle, and a lot of fat.

Two hundred and thirty pounds was second time I allowed myself to get out of shape. This wasn’t due to an injury this was simply lack of self-control. Remember I always made sure to workout no less than five days per week from the day I talked to my doctor about my back injury until today.  I was a trainer at this time and I let myself go again. I spent six to eight years bouncing back and forth between 210 and 240 pounds.

I spent seven years at LA Fitness before I decided to go out on my own. I had many clients lose over 100 pounds with me and many clients gain more than 30 pounds of muscle with me. The clients from 2006- today have really inspired me to keep growing as an individual and keep working towards my own goals. My clients mean more to me than they will ever know from both a personal and professional perspective!

Arguably the best shape I ever achieved was when I lost about 33 pounds for my wedding which occurred on September 13th of 2014.. This final weigh-in on the day of the wedding was 197 pounds.

I now stand at about 215 pounds and I’m really focusing on keeping my diet clean these days. I do more cardio and continue to lift weights. I have found positivity in my life which really helps because the people in my life are very positive as well. I think that is a KEY to success.


The Chapter Yet To Come

My commitment to Formal Fitness Training and my clients is one that will never stop. I believe that I am on this planet to make people feel good, and to help people meet their goals.

There is a quote:

I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say “because of you I didn’t give up”

If I have more people not giving up because of what I teach them, I will continue be inspired to be better and help more people!


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