Category Archives: Excel Fitness News

2nd Annual Excel Fitness Wine Tasting and Open House!

We are gearing up to kick off fundraising for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 2012!!! Last year we raised over $8,000 for the cause. Come celebrate and support a great cause again this year and bring your friends and family along with for the fun!

Wine donated by Wine Cellars Rt. 4. Snacks from Hartford Baking Company.

Over $1500 in door prizes from local businesses…Silent Auction and Raffle!  

All are welcome…bring your friends and family!!!

Thursday August 23rd 6:30-8:30pm

Auction Packages Include:

Fitness package:  3 personal training sessions, Excel Fitness t-shirt and water bottle!  $350 value!

Spa Package: Massage from Nurturing Hands, $100 gift certificate to United Artists Hair Salon, and spray tan from Tan Lines! $250 value!
Mind/Body Package: Gift certificate to Lucy, 5 Pilates group matt classes, 2 private dance classes at Arthur Murray Studio and dinner @ Arugula!  $275 value!

Excel Fitness Achieves Fund Raising Goal for Cancer Research, AGAIN!

Excel Fitness Raises Money for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 

By: Shawn M. O’Brien, Co-Owner of Excel Fitness


Making Strides Success TEAM EXCEL 2011
Making Strides Success TEAM EXCEL 2011

If you haven’t heard of Excel Fitness in West Hartford, CT, we don’t blame you; we are a small, but award winning fitness center with close ties to the local community.  Excel Fitness, which opened in 2007, has two owners, Jeff Roux and Shawn O’Brien, along with a great mixture of 5 to 10 full and part time employees.  In these four years, we have seen some of the worst economic times, the home financing debacle and a variety of worldwide national disasters and during this time we have committed ourselves to our local community with clothing drives, school supply drives and food drives.  Although, we have a deep rooted commitment to the local community, our dedication and effort is even greater during The American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” our only true dollar raising event.

Excel Fitness got involved in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in 2009 and at that time we raised over $4100 and Mr. O’Brien became a Pacesetter (one who raises $2000 or more) for The American Cancer Society.  We felt very proud of this effort and thought it would be a great thing for the business and our staff to continue this in 2010.  During the months to follow our event, Mr. O’Brien’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, her treatment and double mastectomy was successful.  She is now in remission.

The year quickly passes and Excel Fitness gets a jump start on the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event for October of 2010.  We attended the kickoff breakfast and got emails out early, while Mr. Roux and Mr. O’Brien pledged to paint themselves in pink body paint if they hit their aggressive goal of $7000.   We hit goal again and yes we looked fabulous in pink body paint running outside in Bushnell Park in Hartford, CT at 9am.  Team Excel Fitness hit this goal and WE were more than happy to celebrate with some fun at an event dedicated to saving lives.   At this point we had raised $11,100 for cancer research and as a team, Excel Fitness finished in the top 3 for companies and Mr. O’Brien, a Pacesetter again, was in the top 3 for participants in total fund raising dollars.



In the months to follow Mr. O’Brien’s father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December of 2010 and died weeks later.  The events while tragic only recommitted Shawn’s efforts to find a cure for ALL cancers.  Welcome 2011’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Kickoff Breakfast and Mr. O’Brien is now a keynote speaker for “How to Fund Raise” at the event.  With his wonderful and supportive girlfriend, Holland, accompanying him, he spoke about the emotional drive behind committing to this cause and the deep emotions of not only survival from cancer, but loss from cancer.  He gave the very emotional “How to Fund Raise” speech with not a dry eye in the audience of a few hundred people.

Excel Fitness was deep in the fund raising protocol for 2011’s event.  Excel Fitness had a wine tasting  event sponsored by Wine Cellars4 in Farmington, CT and massages from Nurturing Hands in West Hartford, CT along with numerous raffle prizes and a door charge.  2011’s efforts were the most successful fund raising thus far.  We hit $8141.  Mr. Roux and Mr. O’Brien are both Pacesetters, Excel Fitness #2 as a company and Mr. O’Brien was #2 as a participant.  Our goal of $8000 was hit on the last day of fund raising and all because we have a great team, wonderful friends, supportive family and most of all passion for this cause.  Now finishing our third year raising money for The American Cancer Society we have raised over $19,000.

Excel Fitness may be a small business, but we have a large impact on our clients and community.

Excel Fitness Trainer – Matt Knight – Finishes Hartford Marathon

Marathon Follow Up


Matthew Knight, B.S, CSCS

Excel Fitness Personal Trainer

Matt Finishes Hartford Marathon
Matt Knight Finishes Hartford Marathon

Recently, I just finished my first marathon and I am very pleased with my results.  I finished the 26.2 mile run in 3:40:55 which placed me 458 out of 2,314 people.  I was able to maintain a 7:49 mile pace thru the first 13 miles then miles 13-20 my pace dropped to 8:10 per mile and thru the last 6 miles my pace dropped to 8:27 per mile.

The run was very difficult; I experienced bad chafing about half way during the run so ended up just losing my shirt.  But the hardest part of the run was definitely the muscle cramping.  Throughout the last 3 miles I had to battle thru severe muscle cramping in my hamstrings which definitely showed in my results.  Around mile 16 and then again around mile 22 I took a sport  gel packet which gave me some carbohydrates and replenished some electrolytes, also threw out the run I tried to drink water to prevent dehydration.

Overall I had a great experience training and running the Hartford Marathon.  Now that the race is over my body is very sore, not just my lower body but my shoulders, biceps and back too.  A goal of mine would be to eventually qualify for the Boston Marathon.  In the future I plan to keep on running and improving on my results.

To see my results and an online video of myself crossing the finish line follow the link below…


Get your Two-Week Guest Pass and Free Personal Training Session to Excel Fitness

Another Endoresment for Shawn O’Brien and Excel Fitness

Another Endorsement for Shawn O’Brien and Excel Fitness

by Martha Price Miss Hartford County 2011


I had the pleasure of working with Shawn O’Brien at Excel Fitness in preparation to compete in the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Pageant.  He helped me reach my goals of slimming down, toning up, and most importantly, living a healthy lifestyle.  After several personal training sessions, Shawn has provided me with a wealth of knowledge about health and fitness which I am sure to use for the rest of my life.

One of the most valuable things that Shawn taught me was how to challenge my body using a variety of equipment and techniques.  He tailored my workouts to accommodate the equipment I had at my school’s gym.  Before working with Shawn, I usually played it safe by containing my workouts to the treadmill, elliptical, and stretching area.  Now, I’m confident and comfortable using every piece of equipment, lifting weights in the weight-room, and lunging across the room with 10 lb dumbbells. Needless to say, I am now much better equipped to stay in shape.  Since I typically travel to Connecticut on the weekends, I was wary about not being able to keep up my workout regimen at home.  Shawn provided numerous creative alternatives to maintain my workouts using the limited equipment I possessed.  The variety of exercises I learned was not only effective, but it also made my workouts interesting and continuously challenging.  From this experience, I have taken away a wealth of knowledge about how to get fit no matter where I am or what equipment I have.

Martha Price - Miss CT Top 10
Martha Price - Miss CT Top 10

Before I started working with Shawn, I assumed that his role would simply be to help me get in shape.  After our first session, I knew that Shawn was more than a personal trainer.  His genuine words of encouragement helped me not only persevere through challenging workouts, but also through the stress and pressure of competing in a pageant.  Shawn constantly reminded me to stay positive and keep working hard to achieve my goals.  His optimism is contagious, and made me feel as if I could accomplish anything I set my mind to.

I am very blessed to have had Shawn on my support team as I prepared for the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Pageant.  I took the stage feeling confident, healthy, and focused.  With Shawn’s help, I was a top 10 finalist.  I am excited to continue using the knowledge that I have gained from working with Shawn not only in preparation for future pageants, but also in my everyday life.

Forever Grateful,

Martha Price, Miss Hartford County 2011


Excel Fitness 2-Week Guest Pass with Free Session (click here)


Testimonial for Excel Fitness by Kaitlyn Tarpey

Dear Shawn,

As a pageant girl I’ve attempted numerous diet and exercise regimes: Some great… some not so great. It’s imperative that I live a lifestyle promoting healthy habits, and I couldn’t seem to find the perfect niche. Working with you helped me find not only my inner-fitness-guru, but also the habits and workouts I needed to maintain my preferred body image.

You made sweating glamorous and kept me smiling through all my rigorous routines.  You kicked my butt into TOP shape and I felt like I had one of the most competitive swimsuit bodies at Miss Connecticut; I would not have made top ten without your help.  You not only were supportive in my preparation, you ensured I had the tools necessary to maintain this body for the rest of my life. I’m so proud to say that I’m at the same weight today- 4 months after Miss Connecticut- that I was the day of my swimsuit competition.  I would not be as healthy as I am today without you.

When I was crowned Miss Rocky Hill 2011, I was skeptical to have to drive to Excel from Stamford, CT but you ended up being worth every mile!  I’m so thankful for all of your tips and support through my journey and I can promise you I will be in touch not only for future events but also for everyday lifestyle questions.
All the best to you and everyone at Excel,

Kaitlyn Tarpey

Miss Rocky Hill 2011

Excel Fitness Team Builds

Excel Fitness took its staff and advisory board on a TEAM BUILDING event at Saint Joseph College on August 16th, 2011.   Saint Joseph College’s Adventure Course leader, Justin McGlamery took us through a three hour highly organized and educational course on learning and Team Building Tools.  Using such terms as: TRUST, COMMITMENT, Communication and Success.

After two hours of passive tasks and some drills to encourage communication and sharing, we attempted “The Helium Stick!?!?!?”  I would love to explain more, but let’s say it took someone in our group to do modified “lamaze breathing” techniques to finally get a rhythm going .  Justin said, “Every group has their own way to learn “The Helium Stick, aka The Stick of Death,” why this was ours I do not know.  The third hour we did a tire swing relay with our group.  Wow, was that harder than I thought it would be!   All of the events built upon one another and we succeeded with this task as a group, not as individuals.

I encourage all businesses both big and small, institutional departments or other groups to participate in something like this to not only get out of the office, but to learn about one another.  Want to be successful?  You got to try something different.

One of our trainers told me they were so happy to work for a company who really wants to keep getting better.

Shawn O’Brien – twitter  @shawnexcelfit

The Last Year Revisited

When you are looking for something new, Don’t just change EVERYTHING look back at what you did first!! 

Make something you are doing better OR revisit something that worked well in the past and tweak it.

This week I revisit this past year’s accomplishments and how looking for something new really means tweaking how you do something.

Here are a few posts from last year-

Growing and Learning – The First Post

Knowing the Facts – Shawn O’Brien’s First Knowledge Based Post

Jeff Wins 40 Under 4o with HBJ

Excel Fitness Goes Pink!

Miss Hartford County, Martha Price and Her Workout

Lynn Sweet-Dobrow Testimonial for Matt Knight

A year later, as we look to what we can do to grow as a business and become a greater asset to the community Team Excel Fitness looks to where we can TWEAK things.  Since last year, we have won or been nominated for a few more awards, the entire staff has contributed to our blog with great testimonials and fitness advice, we had multiple successful charity drives for food, school supplies, and clothes and one of our greatest moments was raising over $7000 for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides for Breast Cancer (look carefully in this photo I am the only guy Pacesetter in this photo).


  • Wine Tasting Open House For Charity

                   Supporting the American Cancer Society

                  at Excel Fitness, Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 from 6p to 8p.

                  Wine Cellars of Farmington, CT will be donating 10% of its sales here that night

                   Excel Fitness will be donating a portion of its sales from July 13th, 2010 to July 27th

  • Continued Expert Fitness Advice From Our Trainers
  • Excel Fitness Brings Staff to St. Joseph’s College for Adventure and Team Building
  • Helping Local Charities
  • Making Hartford County a Healthier Place to Live

We will continue to move fitness and the community in to a good direction.

Thank you for all your feedback and referrals.

Shawn O’Brien

Testimonial- Lynn Sweet-Dobrow for Excel Fitness and Matt Knight

In April of 2010, I came to Excel Fitness hoping to make a change in my life.  Over a period of two decades, due to personal responsibilities and health issues, it had become increasingly difficult for me to engage in a number of activities that I had enjoyed in the past.  I had spent 20 years trying unsuccessfully to return to and maintain a healthy weight, I had knee issues from my youth, and I was experiencing varying degrees of pain in my neck and upper back daily from a whiplash injury. As I approached a time in my life that would allow me greater freedom to pursue my own interests once again, I came to the conclusion that I did not simply need to lose weight.  I also needed to become stronger and more physically fit.  With knee, neck, and back issues, I knew I should not attempt this on my own.

Matthew Knight was the first person I met at Excel, and helped to form an incredibly positive impression.  He was professional and courteous from the start.  During our first meeting he took care to understand my history and my lifestyle as well as my goals, and helped me to understand how Excel could help me reach those goals.  He explained what a reasonable rate of improvement might look like with my commitment and Excel’s support.  I decided to join Excel and to sign up for some personal training sessions with Matt.  It has proved to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I had never imagined working with a personal trainer before, but the first sessions with Matt were so helpful that I decided to continue.   Matt’s positive and supportive manner enabled me to focus during my visits instead of feeling ridiculously self-conscious about what I couldn’t do.  Within a short period of time I noticed decreased neck and back pain and increased strength.  In the course of the coming months, I went from taking muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory medications regularly to taking them rarely.  In addition, thanks to Matt’s further guidance regarding cardio work and diet, I was losing weight.  In the first four months, I had lost 20 pounds. 

The workouts that I do with Matt are completely different than any I could attempt on my own.  Matt uses his wealth of knowledge and expertise as a trainer to tailor my sessions to my personal needs, and to work multiple muscle groups at a time.  It’s obvious that he keeps my neck and knee issues in mind and that he plans my workouts around strengthening these areas without stressing them.  This individualized approach is just one characteristic of Matt’s training that helps me to meet with success.

I am continually amazed that while Matt has trained professional athletes, he is also able to be incredibly patient and thorough with those of us who have little or no experience at all, and to maintain a positive spin on things in order to keep us motivated.  Matt’s energy and enthusiasm are contagious and keep me looking ahead to meet my goals, while his calm and steady demeanor keep me from ever feeling overwhelmed.  As a teacher, I encourage my students to work toward and celebrate those small, steady improvements that add up to larger achievements over time, but hypocrisy strikes when I sometimes expect great leaps from myself.  Matt puts this in perspective for me.  At Excel, I am the student and Matt is the teacher.  He reminds me of how far I have come, educates me regarding his choice of exercises for me, and offers me unwavering guidance and support through each step of the way.

At the end of this month it will be one year since the day I first walked into Excel.  I cannot believe the progress I have made.  Thanks to Matt, I have lost a total of 38 pounds so far, and I have more living to look forward to every day.

Lynn Sweet-Dobrow

Spring and Summer is Here!

Wow, did the Northeast have a heck of a Winter or what?!?!  It does feel like this past Winter season was a little colder, a little longer and a little less tolerable.  Ahhhhh, but there is relief as we speak.  It is 80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky here at Excel Fitness  in West Hartford, CT, so I decided to take break (recess) and shot some hoops for 30 minutes.  My basketball shooting burned 188 calories, but it did so much more for my mind to be outside and relax for a few minutes.   See how many calories you burn doing your favorite outdoor activity here  Calorie Counter.

The point is go outside for some type of activity.  Staying fit and getting mentally refreshed can be easier than you think.  My next activity is hiking up to Heublein Tower in Avon, CT (120 minutes is 900 calories burned).

Results – Excel Fitness Biggest Loser Season 2

John Soucy Owner Complete Sound Solutions presents Leona Gwaz her Biggest Loser Overall Winner Prize

3/17/11 marked the end of the second installment of “Our Biggest Loser, Season 2” the awards night was held on Thursday 3/31/11.  With 14 prizes totaling over $2200 this year, many contestants took home more than one prize from our Sponsors Complete Sound Solutions, The Connecticut Science Center, Uberdog, We Care Computers, Nuturing Hands, Celestial Massage, Market Square Wellness, and Envy Salon.

Taking home the overall biggest loser title and 5 Personal Training Session Package sponsored by Complete Sound Solutions was Leona Gwaz whose children were also on hand to celebrate with her. Leona lost a total of 18lbs which also earned her most weight lost in the two month contest (2.25lbs/wk) in which she chose the prize package from We Care Computers.  She had also lost 25lbs in last year’s Biggest Loser and kept most of it off.  The Biggest Loser for the Men was Steven Adelstein also winning 5 Personal Training Session Package from Complete Sound Solutions.  Steven lost a total of 10lbs and won the category for increase in Flexibility improving by 6.5 inches in reach.

After talking with the participants this year we are looking forward to holding an even bigger and better Contest next year.  If you have any ideas or suggestions feel free to leave a comment or let us know at Excel Fitness directly.

Women’s Category Men’s Category
1.  Leona Gwaz                                            1.  Steven Adelstein
2.  Tara Cappa-Roby                                2.  Devon Adams
3.  Jackie Adams                                       3.   Mark Buskey

Individual Category Winners
Wt Loss –                              18lbs                                                      Leona Gwaz
% Fat Loss-                          5.8%  change                                      Mark Buskey
Cardio Vascular-              84%   increase (11 points)             Devon Adams
Flexibility –                         59%   increase (6.5 inches)          Steven Adelstein
Muscular Endurance-    76%   increase (13 push-ups)      Devon Adams