Category Archives: Local Happenings

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 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

Excel Fitness Clothing Drive

Excel Fitness Clothing Drive

Warm Clothes Donated by members

Next time you think one person can’t make a difference, get a bunch of people together.

As a company, Excel Fitness is continuously making a difference in our community and will make ever effort to help those around us.   We have finished a clothing drive to support a local Hartford Shelter.  These clothes will go to those in great need of additional help.



Our Biggest Loser [Season 2]

Last year, Excel Fitness ran its first Biggest Loser type program.   We gave away a 40 inch flat screen tv to the Byron Kidd our Grand Prize winner.   Byron had the greatest percent change in body fat reduction (16lbs of fat in 3 months).   The contestants who finished Season 1  lost an average of 12 pounds and the most weight lost was almost 50 pounds during the 3 months February, March and April.  What at great event!!!!

We are starting Season 2 of Excel Fitness’s “Our Biggest Loser” contests.  New rules. New prizes. More Training. Female and Male Grand Prize Winners. MORE Exercise Testing.

Visit us at

Will you make this your healthiest year ever?


Excel Fitness Goes Pink!!!

October 17th, 2010 was the American Cancer Society’s- Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.   Excel Fitness started it fund raising campaign for this event about a month ago.  Last year we raised over $6000 and Shawn O’Brien raised over $3000.  This year we committed to raise $8000 and Shawn committed to raise $4000.  Team Excel Fitness has raised $7500 and is #3 as a Team and Shawn has raised $4500 and is #2 as a participant.

Our pledge to you was to paint ourselves PINK for the race.  Mission Accomplished!!!!!  Thank you everyone for your donations.  See the photos below.


Excel Finishes School Supply Collection

After only a few short weeks of collecting school supplies for local students, we successfully collected book bags, single servings of cereal, pencils, pens, glue sticks, notebooks and all those fun Arts and Craft items we had to bring to school as kids.

Nutmeg Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Circles of Meriden will receive these supplies this week.

Thank you so much to those of you who donated.  If we can help your cause in anyway, like donated memberships or training for your charity’s auctions, please contact us.

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Jeff and Shawn finish up school supply drive for local students
Jeff and Shawn finish up school supply drive for local students
Supplies will go to Nutmeg Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Circles of Meriden
Nutmeg Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Circles of Meriden will get Supplies!!

Client testimonial – Kate Ottavio

After seeing my post last week about the need for women to embrace weight training, client and friend, Kate Ottavio, asked if she could post a testimonial here on our blog. Of course we said yes!
I grew up a dancer and horseback rider – constantly active and always on the muscular side. I always ate what I wanted in any proportion healthy or unhealthy, but stayed at what I thought was a comfortable 145 pounds at 5’7” tall.

I was introduced to Shawn O’Brien, co-owner of Excel Fitness through my business manager. I am the reigning Miss Rocky Hill 2010 and at the time, was prepping for the big Miss Connecticut pageant. Sticking to a regular routine of weight training and a little cardio on my own, I was about 23% body fat.

Then Shawn started working with me. I had regular hour-long session each week with him covering a variety of exercises and muscle groups. Unlike trainers I had before, Shawn didn’t make me feel tired and utterly worn out after a workout. I felt refreshed and energized. Not only that, but I craved healthier foods and my appetite decreased (and trust me when I say I like to eat!).

Seven percent body fat later, I competed in the Miss CT pageant and won the preliminary and overall swimsuit award and placed first runner-up in my first year with the Miss America Organization – and I feel fantastic.

Thanks to Excel Fitness and Shawn for everything – I am so appreciative of your help!

Photo credit: Mike Orazzi

Kate Ottavio, Miss Rocky Hill 2010