When you meet Martin McLoughlin, it’s clear he’s passionate about fitness and helping people. A Master Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Extreme Fitness in Fallsington, he coaches his clients on all aspects of physical fitness and nutrition.
The work day doesn’t end when McLoughlin, and his wife, Linda Stout – who is also a personal trainer - close the doors at Extreme Fitness. Off hours while cooking dinner and relaxing at home are spent exchanging follow up text message with clients to see how they’re feeling post-workout, to inquire about what they had to eat and to answer questions ranging from “what should I buy at the grocery store” to, “it’s 10 p.m. and I’m hungry, what do I do?”
“They know coming here we’re going to attempt to make them accountable,” McLoughlin said. “We don’t really have much of a life. Linda and I text people every day. You’ve got to know that I’m there. I will absolutely answer your question.”
Before becoming a couple, Stout, who had worked as a paralegal, left the gym where she had been working out because she had “no direction” and started training with her future husband. At 121 pounds, Stout’s body was comprised of 38 percent fat. Now, at age 60, she has 18 percent body fat.
“It is not about how much you weigh it's about how much body fat you have. Nothing that the scale tells you matters. What matters is what makes up your weight,” she said, adding that McLoughlin helped her replace body fat with muscle mass. “We do not support dieting. We live in a clinical environment where we put our practice to use every day and work from those results, not what the current fitness magazine says to do.”
With the legal world behind her, Stout has been working as a personal trainer for five years and teaches six group fitness classes a week.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s just invigorating.”
McLoughlin, who had worked in landscape architecture previously, was encouraged to pursue a personal training career. At the time, he was working out at LA Fitness and in 1999 he became head trainer, overseeing the gym’s 22 personal trainers. His training style didn’t mesh with the gym so McLoughlin left to set out on his own path.
He converted an 18x30 space in the second floor of his Levittown home into a gym and began training people there. About 10 people trained in his home and McLoughlin joked that his 6-foot-tall clients hit their heads on his ceiling during every session.
“I had a brand of how I wanted to train people and nobody else was doing it,” he said. “We eat like kings. We push our bodies. We work out hard.”
His home would serve as his training facility for five years. In 2007, a day before he was supposed to sign the lease on a commercial space, McLoughlin was hit by a drunk driver while riding his motorcycle. His neck was broken and the left side of his body was paralyzed. A trauma doctor informed him, “your personal training days are over.”
McLoughlin had to learn how to walk again, first with a walker, then with a cane. The man who had been squatting 300 pounds just a week before the crash now struggled to curl a two-pound dumbbell. It took a year to recuperate. During that time, his clients generously paid his mortgage and cooked meals for him.
By 2008, McLoughlin opened his first commercial space. In 2011, Extreme Fitness had outgrown it and relocated to its current location in Fallsington. The gym uses a functional method for physical fitness, relying on people’s ability to push, pull, climb, run and jump.
“There’s less risk of injury when you’re pushing with your own weight,” McLoughlin said.
Clients range in age from 12 to 76 and are enticed by “the idea of them never knowing what’s going to happen next. We never repeat workouts,” according to McLoughlin. About 200 people come in weekly for personal training sessions and approximately 300 come in for weekly group exercise classes, including boot camp, fight club, HIIT, yoga/mobility.
Reflecting on how people helped him following his motorcycle crash, he pays it forward every chance he can, organizing annual 5K runs to benefit Falls Township nonprofit organizations, local sporting organizations and community programs.
“We’re here,” he said. “All of our bills are getting paid.”
McLoughlin, Stout and the four other personal trainers at Extreme Fitness also work to help obese people adopt healthier lifestyles. Most recently McLoughlin brought Tim O’Neill, of Levittown, under his wing. Within the first six months with McLoughlin, O’Neill, who had weighed more than 500 pounds, lost 160 pounds.
“Everybody would hammer me for it,” O’Neill said of his weight. “I was literally stuck on a couch.”
McLoughlin pushed him to climb steps, something O’Neill had stopped doing, instead crawling up the steps in his home.
“It was painful to watch,” McLoughlin said. “The things that happen to people when they get out of shape. They find ways to modify what they’re doing.”
After a few months of training with McLoughlin, O’Neill is strong enough to flip a large tire throughout Extreme Fitness, lift weights, do crunches and take up jogging again for the first time in 20 years.
“Everything’s totally different,” he said. “It’s been a lifestyle change.”
To learn more
Extreme Fitness is located at 6 Headley Place in Fallsington. Group fitness classes are available daily. Check Website for schedule: extremefitnesspa.com. To learn more or to schedule a session with a personal trainer, call 267-799-5622 or email extremefitnessPA@gmail.com.