A Tribute to Champions
It is with a heavy heart that I write this tribute. Sadly, Coach John Colman’s Champions Fitness in Fountain Hills Arizona has closed. John has been battling some health issues in recent years and has reached the point where it is impossible for him to continue operating this once great gym. I first met John in 1994, when I administered his SuperSlow trainer certification. At that time, Champions was housed in an adobe building on the outskirts of the small town of Fountain Hills. The gym itself was “rough”. Locally fabricated benches, racks, and assorted free weight equipment, an old-school Universal multi-station, and a line of Kaiser (pneumatic) machines. John liked to refer to himself as “Kaiser Colman”. The moment I met John, I felt like I had found a long-lost father/brother/best friend. We became very close over the years, and shared many misadventures together.
Coach Colman eventually moved his gym into a wonderful building on one of the main avenues through Fountain Hills. Although this may sound somewhat immodest, I’ve probably forgotten about more gyms and weight rooms than most will ever see. I have visited, worked, and trained in gyms in the NFL, NCAA Division I, commercial fitness facilities, hardcore bodybuilding/powerlifting gyms, and even prisons. Champions was an absolute gem!
John spared no expense in his effort to provide the finest training facility. Champions was divided into two sections. The personal training area, which was called “Focus 21″ was absolutely beautiful! The room was a clean, cool, quiet area where truly hard work was carried out. And it was carried out on a vast array of equipment which would make any HIT/BBS geek salivate. It was all there: MedX, SuperSlow systems, Nautilus, etc. Aside from my own facility, it was my favorite place in the country to train.
The “commercial” side of Champions received the same care as the personal-training facility, thanks to John’s wife Amalia (”Yaya” to her friends and family). Untold numbers of bars, racks, and benches offered enough resistance for anyone. The usual “cardio tools” (bikes, eliptical trainers, etc.) sat at one end, and many Nautilus, MedX, and other machines filled the space. The line of Kaiser equipment occupied the back wall. And, yes, the old-school Universal machine sat in the center of it all. It was magnificent.
I know that some of the participants on the BBS blog have visited or have a history with Champions. I invite you to share your stories about this iconic HIT facility. I’m sure that John would enjoy reading them. I know I would, as well.