Hanging out with Patrick Avon, also known as Sarge, is an exercise in itself. His enthusiasm and connection to the kids are visible from afar, which is how you will see him unless you can keep up with his high energy! Sarge is hands-on with the kids, encouraging faster and harder, and receiving high-fives and smiles from them as we try to capture a bit of his attention. It was easy to see why he and his program are so successful when we learned a little from the heart of Sarge.
Were you always passionate about good health?
As a kid, I ate healthily. I just naturally enjoyed healthier foods like yogurt and fruit. I was really hyperactive and was crazy about being outside. Often, I was simply dressed in shorts without a shirt and earned the nickname," Nature Boy." I was continually running, climbing up trees, and jumping out of the tree into a lake or pond. It was the 70's, and I think the best time to grow up. We had freedom, and our parents allowed us to hang ourselves, and we never did. It was a wonderful time to be a child.
From where does your passion for physical fitness come?
Being active came easy for me and naturally. I was born innately muscular. And as I mentioned, my hyperactivity led me to be very physically active and also competitive.
Was this a natural progression for you to own a fitness business?
Well, I was struggling in my early 20's with my purpose. Working full time, but uncertain as to what I was going to do professionally. So, I began to ask God to reveal my purpose. I wanted to use my passion and an opportunity kind of dropped in my hands. I started working for another boot camp type of program, which was an exercise program for adults. We would have men meeting in parks early in the day to work out. It was an excellent fit for me. I found that working for an hour a day, I made more than my full-time job. So, I left my job and put my energies and passion into that. And that eventually brought me here today.
When did you realize you had a passion for youth fitness?
My kids were in youth sports, and I became aware that all the kids were on those Gameboys and electronic devices and that they weren't playing outside. Kids were not being physically active.
So much has changed with this generation of children. Can you speak to that?
Children playing doesn't exist anymore, and the genie isn't going back in the bottle. Name a tree in Urbana that kids can climb! Playing and climbing and riding bikes builds confidence and muscular strength and contralateral movements. They want to participate in a team sport, and they have two weeks to prepare. When they show up for the sport, and the coach tells them to run laps, they can't do it because they haven't built the strength from traditional playing outside. So, sometimes people find us, and we help prepare the kids. Ultimately what we do is confidence building in both kids and adults. We accomplish it by using the tools of a small coach to student ratio, but our program ultimately is for building confidence.
Beyond the physical effects of the program, what other benefits will the child reap?
Early on, I read a book called "The Outliers," which had a significant impact on me. The book looked at factors that contributed to a higher level of success. One of those factors is the "10,000-Hour Rule," which claims that the key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill is a matter of practicing for somewhere around 10,000 hours. At this magic number, a kind of tipping point occurs, and that is when you go from good to great. I supposed that if I had these kids for three days a week, and if I could have six years working with them, it wouldn't be 10,000 hours; however, those kids are going to learn how to take care of themselves. Nutrition will be important. They will increase mobility, and their health will become important. These kids may never make a pro team or division one team, but they are going to be a lot better off in the next part of their lives, and that's what matters to me. SargeAthletics.com