On April 24, Christian Alvarez’s dream to help others came true: He opened FitnessNT in Avon. The indoor cycling, Pilates and fitness studio replaces the PeloDog Indoor Cycling studio, formerly owned by Jennifer Kaplan, who moved to California to be close to her family.
“I can’t imagine anyone better than Christian to take the reigns as new studio leader,” Kaplan said. “He will do an incredible job at continuing to cultivate and grow the positive and awesome studio vibe and community.”
Born in Puerto Rico, Alvarez studied music and was a “somewhat famous” lead singer of a band, performing to thousands of fans. At age 21, the now-43-year-old left the familiarity of his community to move to Texas in pursuit of his dreams. Even though his native language was English, he still encountered a language barrier in terms of accents, and he didn’t know a soul.
“I left my mom’s house, so I had to grow up fast,” Alvarez said. “Everything was different. I looked different and talked different and had different cultural traditions. I thought I knew what I needed and was ready for life, but coming here by myself, I hit a wall. It took a long time — I was basically a nobody, starting over. It was hard, but at the same time, I felt full of hope and wanted to take on the challenge and take full advantage of the opportunities. I was very driven. I wanted to grow and be part of something bigger than myself.”
So, he returned to college with intentions to, as he describes it, polish his English, and earn a degree in psychology.
A year after coming to the U.S., a doctor diagnosed Alvarez with asthma and depression and prescribed medication. But Alvarez wanted a natural alternative, so he began working with chiropractors and acupuncturists, took supplements and began focusing on fitness.
Within months, his anxiety and depression resolved, and his asthma improved. He started competing in triathlons and became a wellness consultant at the alternative clinic that helped him so much. It took about two years for him to feel much better and five years for him to understand what his body needed and to change his diet; in 2013, he became a vegetarian, and in 2014, he changed over to a plant-based diet, which he mostly eats now.
“Through food, I healed my body, and through fitness I got stronger — I was able to run and do triathlons; it allowed me to do the things I wanted,” he said.
The road to success
Though Alvarez’s original dream when he left Puerto Rico involved helping people achieve their goals, he didn’t know exactly how that would look. But once he got into fitness, he realized helping people live healthier lives was his dream. Still, the path wasn’t always easy.
About five years ago, he started a bootcamp in Texas. He had been informally training his coworkers at the bank he worked at, but when he left his job to start a paid bootcamp, it didn’t go as planned — he only had one fully committed client.
“It didn’t work out because I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have a concrete business plan,” he said. “I went through a period where I asked, ‘Why do I have this desire that doesn’t leave me alone?’”
Rather than give up, he prepared more. He moved to Vail four years ago, earned fitness certifications and focused on building the business side of his fitness dream by working with mentors and hiring a marketing strategist. He also gained more experience teaching strength and conditioning, indoor cycling and HIIT classes at Uma Fitness, Sonnenalp and Avon Recreation Center. And, rather than leaving his main job in banking right away, he still works as an operations manager at US Bank in Avon.
“When you have a dream, a goal in your life, you won’t necessarily know that what is happening to you is preparing you for what you are going to experience, so you have to keep yourself driven,” he said. “Keep yourself motivated: read books, take workshops, get with people that will help. It’s going to take time. You’re going to fail a lot. You have to be patient.”
After working at PeloDog, Alverez continues Kaplan’s legacy. He offers not only fitness classes, but also acupuncture and wellness treatments — all while creating an environment full of inspiration and community, as participants sweat their worries away.
Currently, FitnessNT offers more than 10 classes a week and plans to add more, including strength and conditioning classes. Alvarez has scheduled the studio’s Launch Week for May 24-30, so stay tuned.