Unlike most coaches, Andrew Fenton wasn’t interested in medals, proper form or high scores. What he did like was the strength he acquired while training as a gymnast. Being strong gave him confidence, pride and a sense of identity. Even today Andrew can recall his reputation at school being contingent on whether he won the latest arm wrestling match. “I just remember that being important to me,” he said.
Strength training and conditioning has long been a part of Andrew’s life. At the age of 12 years old, Andrew’s dad decided to bring him to the gym and taught him to weight lift. From there his love of fitness began to evolve, focusing on eating healthy, pushing himself for personal bests, and ultimately getting his personal training certification. Eleven years later Andrew still lifts weights every day.
Now as a gymnastics coach, Andrew likes to teach the kids how to be strong and push themselves. Not just physically, but also mentally. He finds ways to motivate them and cheer them on. He shares his passion for fitness, hard work, and gaining strength with athletes in all of his classes.
“I want to teach them how to discover the enjoyment of effort.”
As a Balance 180 certified adaptive coach, Andrew works with children of all abilities. He leads them in activities and helps children feel unique and important, throwing them his signature smile and an encouraging comment as they give their best try and accomplish a new milestone. Andrew has enjoyed learning to work with kids with special needs and has taken his skills outside of the gym to help children in other settings.
In the summer of 2017, Andrew traveled to Nairobi, Kenya where he volunteered with a group of physical therapists treating children with disabilities in a facility called Heshima. Heshima is a children’s center in Kenya that helps children with special needs get the resources and attention they require.
“In Kenya, children with special needs are treated as though they are diseased or cursed. Mothers are viewed as being responsible for these disabilities and are ostracized from their communities and families,” Andrew said.
During his trip, it was Andrew’s job to assist the physical therapists, get the right equipment and socialize with the children. He enjoyed spending quality time with the kids, helping them during their physical therapy exercises and engaging in thoughtful conversations with their mothers.
“It was the perfect way to marry what I’m passionate about and being able to help other people.”
Andrew is one of a kind and is determined to have an impact on everyone he meets. His passion for fitness and wellness of others will serve him well as he pursues a career in physical therapy. Thank you, Coach Andrew, for sharing your story.
Written by Julie Walter.