By Annika Tomlin
Founded by Olympic medalist Bryan Clay and Joe Culver, Eat the Frog Fitness was born from decades of elite, science-based athletic training and expert knowledge of the fitness industry.
The company’s name is inspired by Mark Twain’s quote, “Eat a live frog first thing every morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
This 24-hour-accessible facility opened a new location at Desert Ridge Marketplace with owners Connie and Garrett Lee.
“We actually worked out at the North Scottsdale location,” Connie says. “We were members there and just fell in love with the concept.”
Garrett also owns a moving company, but the couple had aspirations to be a part of the fitness industry. The parents of four wanted a place close to home and that matched their values.
“We always wanted to do something in the fitness industry, but we didn’t want to start from the ground zero,” Connie says. “We wanted something that would be already created for us that we could just open. Once we started working out there, we fell in love and decided that this is something that we wanted to do.”
A short commute from home, the Lees opened the Desert Ridge location two months shy from the start of the pandemic but were ready to tackle the new challenge head on.
“When the first shutdown happened, we actually started doing Zoom classes,” she says. “They were live Zoom, coach-led classes for our members.
“Corporate had actually created a workout for our members so that if they didn’t do the live classes they could do those workouts classes at home.”
Nestled between The Joint and Amazing Lashes, Eat the Frog Fitness was a welcome addition to Desert Ridge along with Reformed Pilates, which will open later this fall.
Emilie Andrews, regional marketing director at Vestar, Desert Ridge Marketplace’s parent company, says being able to safely open new businesses in the center “is critical.”
“We had had other fitness concepts that had been within the center, but Eat the Frog is so unique, and I think, for us, it means offering a completely different, absolutely convenient way for people to be able to workout,” Andrews says. “It is definitely different than any other fitness company that we have had within the center previously.”
Virtual classes play on a screen in the facility every hour on the hour, while coach-led classes take place in the morning and evening
“All of our members will get key fobs that unlock the studio and a workout will automatically play,” Lee says. “If they want to workout at midnight or 2 in the morning, our members have that access to come in and workout.”
Prospective members are offered one free session to try out the facility before signing up for the personally customized eight-week workout regimen.
New members must be assessed for base heart and max heart rates, as workouts are based on those. The assessment includes a 1,200-meter row, a sit and reach for flexibility, a workout on a TRX and then pushups. Every workout is timed, and reps are logged during specific timeframes.
“Once you do your fit assessment test, we create a weekly workout as what you should be doing weekly,” Lee says.
Classes are broken into flexibility, strength and cardio. In a separate app, a workout program will be made specifically for members’ needs.
“Obviously every week it is going to be different up until your eight weeks,” Lee says. “Once you get to your eight weeks, we have you redo your fit assessment test and then we can see how much has progressed.”
Membership is on a month-to-month basis with no contracts. Because the studio is small, it was able to remain open after Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order. It allows a maximum of 10 people and hanging out in the lobby is not permitted.
COVID-19 brought new opportunities for Desert Ridge Marketplace that allowed them to be “more innovative and creative than before to be able to adapt to the needs of the community,” according to Andrews.
The Lees make sure members stay 6 feet apart and are spaced out every other station. Operating during a pandemic has been no small feat for the couple.
“For us it is kind of like a day-by-day basis,” Lee says. “We are trying to be positive through it all and be as clean and follow protocol to the best of our ability. We try to go above and beyond when it comes to sanitation and cleaning.”
Lee says what sets Eat the Frog apart from other fitness centers is they “care more about our members and building that strong relationship.”
“Obviously the workouts are important, but we care about us being close and having a strong relationship with our members,” Lee says. “Creating a community where everyone can come together and feels comfortable working out and they want to come and not just workout but hang out as well.”
The five trainers at Desert Ridge keep members engaged and motivated while providing assistance when needed to modify a workout. Trainers assist members while the virtual class plays on the screen above.
“They have more time to be able to give that more personal training feel,” Lee says.
Eat the Frog Fitness
Desert Ridge Marketplace
21001 N. Tatum Boulevard, Suite 18-1090, Phoenix