By Hillarie Zoe Scannelli, Founder/Owner !MPACT Training:
I am going to start the story of IMPACT’s journey with “my” journey . . . since I am the owner and founder of IMPACT Training, and this started as a dream of mine. Growing up, I was always interested in being active. I was a gymnast by the age of eight years old and a cheerleader beginning at the age of ten and continued right through high school. While attending business school, I tried out for a professional cheerleading squad and was delighted to be chosen (out of 900 young ladies) as one of the NJ Generals Brigadiers. The New Jersey Generals were a franchise of the United States Football League (USFL) owned by Donald Trump with well-known players like Doug Flutie and Hershel Walker. It was there I learned the benefits of rigorous dance rehearsals and challenging weight-training sessions at a gym near Giants Stadium. Through this experience I found a passion for personal training.
When the USFL folded in the late 80’s, I wanted to continue my quest to become even more fit. And in the early 90’s, I met someone who would change my life forever. Alicia Vacchiano was my very first mentor . . . a smart business woman who in addition to a full-time job at Prudential, was running her own corporate fitness company — and she was also actively competing in fitness/figure competitions. Through Alicia’s friendship and guidance, I found what I thought to be a fun “hobby” and I began to travel the fitness/figure competition circuit with her and her wonderfully supportive husband, Bob. This is where I learned about the importance of hard training and your daily diet: You ARE what you eat!
FITNESS COMPETITION – 1996
When I first started preparing for fitness competitions in 1995, my bodyfat was in a healthy range of about 18-20% – but with a methodical diet plan, I was able to “safely” drop my bodyfat down to 8-10% so that my body looked lean and defined. I was training daily (weights or cardio) while eating a healthy and balanced diet. My diet consisted of lean proteins, plenty of fibrous carbs (vegetables and some fruits) with moderate to small amounts of grains & starchy carbohydrates along with some healthy fats. I couldn’t believe how quickly I could re-shape and transform my body just because of what I was eating. I saw beautiful lines and muscles develop in my upper body, abs and legs that I never thought were possible. Of course, the workouts contributed to this transformation as well, but I was always a “gym rat” prior to this experience and loved to work out. When I started competing, the only thing I really changed was my daily diet . . . amazing.
FITNESS AMERICA PAGEANT – NY REGIONALS — 1997
FITNESS COMPETITION – 1998 — Please enjoy this 2-minute video that demonstrates strength, flexibility & endurance:
Due to my popularity on the competition circuit as well as my professional background at Prudential, I was given the opportunity to write training and nutrition articles for Natural Bodybuilding & Fitness Magazine as well as Best Body Magazine. Here is a copy of my very first article – February Issue 2000:
This part-time journalism gig exposed me to top-notch athletes and bodybuilders who were quick to share their training and nutritional secrets during interviews. I also began fitness modeling and appeared in several fitness magazines – which really was a lot of fun. It seemed I was starting to inspire some of my friends, co-workers and family, who were now starting to ask me for dieting and training tips. This is when I knew I needed to get certified in Personal Training and Nutrition. I wanted the opportunity to make a positive “IMPACT” in others lives . . . to share the information that would help people get healthier, fit, and happier. I wanted to make people smile and feel good about themselves.
That summer I had a magical “beach” engagement (1997) when a plane flew over the beach with the words “Hillarie Will You Marry Me? Love, Michael” – and I knew at that very moment, I would have a partner for life . . . now my partner at !MPACT Training.
OUR BEACH ENGAGEMENT – WITH OUR PARENTS – WILDWOOD, NJ 1997
Michael and I married in 1998 and he was extremely supportive of my passion for fitness and training. I received my W.I.T.S. (World Instructor Training School) certification in 1998 and began working as a part-time personal trainer and fitness instructor while maintaining my full-time job at Prudential. Who knew the managers for my part-time personal training job (Brian Martin and Kevin Dunn) would ask me to quit my full-time job to help them open their own training facility in Martinsville, NJ? I loved personal training and found it so rewarding, so I took a leap of faith, and I quit my full-time job at Prudential to take this journey with them. Whether Brian and Kevin realized it or not, they became mentors to me and inspired me every time I walked into their facility which they named the TEST Sports Club. Through our friendship and long hours working with clients together, they taught me the business of personal training and sports training. They also taught me the importance of staying “cutting-edge” with regards to training techniques and brought new meaning to the term “continuing education” through the Perform Better workshops we attended. Perform Better is a reputable organization that travels throughout the US to educate personal trainers and fitness instructors with their Learn-by-Doing Seminars. What an experience!
While employed with TEST I received my certification in Sports Nutrition, since TEST worked with a lot of local athletes, and I felt I would be able to service the athletes better if I had both a training and nutrition certification. I found it very difficult to help people achieve their fitness goals WITHOUT incorporating nutritional training.
In 2001 I gave birth to my first son, Anthony Michael . . . followed by Joseph Michael in 2002. Michael and I coordinated our hours so I could continue to work at TEST on a part-time basis while raising my two young boys. It was a great time for family as well as for building my fitness career.
HILLARIE, MICHAEL, ANTHONY (TONY) & JOEY – WILDWOOD 2004
I renovated my basement into a great little personal training studio so I could work from home in addition to working at TEST. This was a wonderful way for me to make my own hours and care for my boys while continuing my passion for personal training and nutrition. I named this business “Fitness by Hillarie” and slowly built up my client base through word of mouth and through local people who found my website. And I continued to gain an education in training, earning certifications in various areas (Fit Kids, Sports Conditioning and Improved Performance, Basics of Yoga, Strength & Conditioning, CORE Training, Kickboxing, Speed & Agility, Bootcamp Techniques, Exercise during Pregnancy, Seniors’ Strength Training, Running Techniques, Mind/Body Connection, and more! I love to keep learning!
As busy as I was with my family and training, I was also “itching” to get back into Fitness/Figure Competitions. I had been out of competition training for 11 years – and was now married with two children. I was wondering if I would still be able to compete with the younger girls – now that I was in my 40’s – and then I heard I could enter in both the Figure Division (for all ages, as well as the Master’s Division for women over 35). In April 2009, I entered the NPC Suburban Bodybuilding, Fitness & Figure Competition and took 1st PLACE in the Master’s Division and 2nd PLACE in the Figure Division (for all ages)! What an exciting time for me to have my husband and two boys cheering me on – and this experience allowed me to show others that you can do anything you want if you believe in yourself and work hard!
FITNESS/FIGURE COMPETITION 2009
I continued to work for TEST and as their business exploded, so did their popularity among elite athletes who were preparing for the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Through their knowledge, experience and networking, TEST built a million dollar facility with a 60-yard indoor turf field in Martinsville — and became one of the top three training facilities in the country for Combine preparation. Since the owners of TEST recognized the importance of nutrition, they hired me to handle the sports nutrition for the Combine athletes every year – in addition to handling weight-loss programs for their regular club members and clients. Many of their NFL Combine athletes needed to either gain weight or lose weight, based on their position. So targeting just the right food plan was essential. The calories had to be figured out, food service companies had to be contracted to supply the athletes with balanced meals, and nutritional supplements had to be ordered for about 30 athletes with different training goals. These athletes come from all over the US – and their NFL agents pay for them to move to New Jersey for eight weeks to train @ TEST.
In 2009 TEST expanded to include a Florida location for NFL Combine athletes, and I was blessed to be part of that expansion as well – so I would travel to both locations to make sure the athletes learned how to “fuel” their bodies properly. This was an incredible experience . . . I would handle the sports nutrition and in this process, I was exposed to working with top-notch orthopedics, physical therapists, trainers and former NFL pro’s who were hired specifically to work with the Combine athletes. Each athlete had different goals and specific conditions to be taken into consideration so networking amongst the professionals allowed us the opportunity to create a customized game plan for each elite athlete. Some of these great athletes I had the good fortune to work with were Baltimore Ravens Quarterback, Joe Flacco, who was drafted in 2008 andVladimir Ducasse, drafted by the NY Jets in the second round in 2009 – and Arthur Moats, who was drafted in 2009 by the Buffalo Bills and is currently the well-known linebacker who ended Brett Favre’s career (Don’t cross the Moats!).
Every year the caliber of athletes at TEST Football Academy got better and better – including two top pics in 2011, Patrick Peterson (cornerback out of LSU) who went #5 in the draft to the Arizona Cardinals – and Stevan Ridley (running back out of LSU) who went in the 3rd round to the New England Patriots – along with Derrell Smith (running back drafted by the Houston Texans), Jeromy Miles of the Cincinnati Bengals, Michael Lockley of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Shaky Smithson of the Green Bay Packers. And there are at least 20 other TEST athletes in the NFL today . . . and I’m so proud of each and every one of them – many whom I still keep in touch with. I’m always happy to receive their emails, facebook messages and text messages when they need a few tips to get back on track with their diet and training.
Hillarie with Derrell Smith (front), Stevan Ridley (left),and Patrick Peterson (right).
Another great experience for me (summer of 2011) was the nutritional guidance I provided for some of the NY Jets who were training at the TEST Football Academy during the NFL lockout. I’m not star-struck in the least with well-known athletes . . . they are just nice people like you and me. But I was thrilled to provide some guidance for Kris Jenkins and Damian Woody (recently retired from the Jets), as well as Bart Scott (Captain of the NY Jets). Even though they are professional athletes, they were still up for the challenge to take a refresher course on nutrition. I reminded them that food is not just food . . . food is fuel! So these pros needed to realign their present eating habits in order to achieve their goals. I love teaching this to athletes – no matter what age! And I’m also grateful that through my affiliation with TEST, my two growing boys had the privilege of meeting some of their idols and role models like Mark Sanchez.
ANTHONY & JOEY WITH MARK SANCHEZ (NY JETS) – SUMMER OF 2011
I continued to build my home-based personal training business while working for TEST — and my dreams began to unfold as my home-based business grew, and grew and grew. In early 2010 I now had a client base of about 25-30 personal training clients, in addition to a good handful of young athletes (ages 7-16) who were coming for both training and sports nutrition.
From 2007 to present, I’ve had the joy of running a SOLD OUT (1/2 day) fitness camp for children (ages 6-13). At Fit & Fun Camp we play fun, group games like dodgeball, but also break up into age appropriate groups for strength & conditioning exercises and speed & agility drills. Space was limited while I was running this camp out of my home studio and backyard, so I’m excited to say that the new !MPACT Training facility will allow me to welcome the kids who are on my waiting list along with their friends!
Our famous water-balloon toss every Friday!
Tony running an obstacle course to beat his time!
Some of my favorite kids in the whole-wide world!
My NEXT VENTURE: In the summer of 2011 I started Fitness by Hillarie Bootcamp Training, where I rented space from a local/reputable physical therapist’s office. Sports Physical Therapy, located at 1 Jill Court, provided me with a bright, clean training space where I began to build this part of my business. I decided to put a different spin on my bootcamp training and surprise my bootcampers by bringing all kinds of personal training equipment like weighted ropes, kettle bells, medicine balls, truck tires and more!
This type of group personal training was so well-received so people were constantly asking me if I was going to add more of this training to my weekly schedule. This was going to be hard to do, since my calendar was already booked solid with one-on-one personal training clients at my home studio. And then came the game-changing move in my career . . . I applied AND WAS ONE OF 25 APPLICANTS ACCEPTED into a mentorship program in San Diego, produced by a well-known trainer named Todd Durkin. I met Todd at one of the Perform Better Seminars back in 2010. Todd Durkin is an internationally recognized performance-enhancement coach, personal trainer, massage therapist, author of “The Impact Body Plan”, and speaker who motivates, educates and inspires people worldwide. Todd trains dozens of NFL and MLB athletes, and is currently the Head of the Under Armour Performance Training Council. I knew I desperately needed guidance from the mentorship program, but I was so hesitant to leave my husband, my two boys and my clients for 5 days to go to San Diego. Once again, I had to step out of my comfort zone and MOVE forward, even if I felt anxious or uncertain about doing so.
Upon arrival to the mentorship program, I met the other mentorees, and then we immediately went into “business mode” and spent the next 3.5 days learning about how to expand our business (everything from putting together a solid Business Plan to taking advantage of free social media networking as a way to promote your business). We also learned some amazing new training techniques using the latest equipment that is often featured in training magazines. It was also a very (unexpected) spiritual journey . . . We had to make time to really examine our hearts and our souls – and think about our destiny as well as our legacy . . .what would people remember about me when I’m gone? It was a true test of our faith, and one of the most enjoyable features of the mentorship program. The time I spent with Todd Durkin and the mentorees changes my life forever.
Hillarie with “mentor” Todd Durkin, Fitness Quest 10, San Diego, California
I immediately knew I needed to come home from San Diego and start looking for space for my training business. I realized I had out-grown the personal training studio in my home. Parents of young athletes from our town were contacting me more and more about doing sports training and sports nutrition for their teams – and more and more fitness enthusiasts were finding my website and coming to me for training and nutrition. I needed about 5 more “Hillarie’s” working for Fitness by Hillarie (ha-ha!)! And although I can’t duplicate myself (personally) I understand that I can duplicate my philosophies and my training techniques – and this could be done with careful interviewing and staffing AND a bigger space. I also love networking with other experienced trainers. We all have something to bring to the table, as long as we all have a true PASSION AND PURPOSE for what we are doing. So I wanted to “build” an establishment that would be like a second home to some talented trainers and also one for our clients.
WELCOME !MPACT TRAINING!
Let’s build something amazing that can help change lives . . . Let’s bring an awareness and education to our community about proper nutrition, a more active life-style with cutting-edge training — and teach people of all ages to reprioritize so they take better care of themselves. Treat yourself WORLD CLASS! Make people smile and feel good about themselves ! Let’s do this!!!
My husband, Michael, and I started to coordinate how we could make this dream a reality – and after we worked with some trusting investors and found just the right location here in Hillsborough, New Jersey, we burned the mid-night oil until we passed our final inspection and could open our doors. We were also extremely fortunate that we found other passionate and dedicate trainers to help us build our business at !MPACT. My husband, Michael, helps me manage the facility and got his certification in Group Training & Bootcamps so he could really dig in the trenches here at !MPACT. Michael has been an amazing coach to our boys’ football teams (Jr. Raiders Organization), and I loved being one of his assistant coaches helping on the side-lines and with their conditioning. The parents and kids really respond well to Michael, and he has such a great way of bringing out the best in EVERY kid. I’m happy to have Michael on my TEAM at IMPACT Training! And even happier to announce he recently got certified to help out with our Bootcamps. Way to go Mike!
Jr. Raiders Division 3 Tackle Team – LSU (2010)
A dear friend and client named Kristyna Barbella, who recently graduated from Rider College, started to work on my !MPACT Training logo and website. I met Kristyna while she was doing her internship at TEST Sports Club in Martinsville – and she handled all their photographs and videos for their NFL Combine athletes. I knew she would bring her creative juices to help get !MPACT Training off the ground. Thank you, Kristyna! Please check out her website for similar services: www.kbarbella.com. She does it all!
Now you’ve got to come into !MPACT Training to see this inspiring facility – and to meet me the rest of our staff.
!MPACT Training continues our journey with a TEAM of fitness professionals – where passion and purpose unite. Come and start your journey with us! Let us help you discover your own greatness . . . and teach you how to treat your body WORLD-CLASS! Call us today: (908) 428-7978.
DEDICATION: Besides my husband and my two boys (Michael, Tony & Joey), I’d like to dedicate this JOURNEY to both my family and Michael’s family who are always so supportive in whatever we do. Thanks for everything, Mom & Dad McGovern and Mom & Dad Scannelli. Love and thanks to our brothers and sisters (and their spouses): Billy, Kathy & Tom, Susan & Mike, Brian, and Patty & Jack. And love and thanks to all our nieces and nephews too – who are growing up to be wonderful friends to us: Alexa, Justin, Karleigh, Christopher, Jackie & Pete, Jackie & Nicky – and Nicky and Brianna too!
Love and blessings to all!