Fitness coach T.J. O’Connor chatted with Powerjournalist Markos Papadatos about being an entrepreneur in the digital age, he furnished advice for young and aspiring bodybuilders, shared his proudest professional moments, and he opened up about his son, Cortland.
Prior to starting his own fitness company, he worked for other gyms for six years. “I worked as a regular trainer and then as a head trainer and rose to the title of fitness manager,” he said. “Then, I trained all the trainers to help them develop and get better. In August of 2018, I decided to start T.J. O’Connor Fitness and went on my own.”
On being an entrepreneur in the digital age, O’Connor said, “I got into social media late. I have gotten better at it. The digital age is good to some extent but most of my clientele comes from word of mouth and my reputation in Arizona. My training style is very hands-on. Most people see a lot of my value in-person, which is why this pandemic is killing me at the moment.”
“The digital age is helpful because there are so many apps that allow you to reach out to people,” he added.
Regarding his proudest professional moments in sports, he said, “The national championship we won in 2005 when I was playing college football. That was pretty awesome to be a part of a team that was undefeated, and we won the national championship out here in Arizona. Another proud moment was in 2014, with the Arizona Rattlers, when we won the world championship. I was one of the training coaches. That was a great coaching accomplishment.”
For young and aspiring bodybuilders, he said, “If you want to get into bodybuilding, start slow, learn your body, developed a balanced physique as you can, and learn how to get strong. Train like an athlete at first, in order to prevent injury. Life smart. Feel the muscle and when you want to compete, give it a try and see how it goes.”
“To develop as an athlete, you need to try everything you can. Try and eat well, that’s the biggest thing. Learn nutrition, and learn it early. Find out what works for your own body. Stay away from alcohol,” he said.
He also thanked his dedicated and loving wife, Whitney, for all of her support, especially for what she does for their son Cortland. “Without my wife, nothing would be possible. She does so much for Cortland every day, she makes the difficulties of the situation that much easier for the rest of us,” he said.
“Cortland has a lot of developmental issues,” he said. “He is four years old. I’ve actually watched him get brought back to life twice. Once, he was on a ventilator and an oscillator twice for up to 4.5 months. He has been under serious health risk watch multiple times. We are working on him learning to walk: we have a walker for him, I do walking drills with him every day and balancing. The best thing about him is that he is super happy. For the most part, Cortland is a happy-go-lucky little dude.”
As a result, O’Connor has an undying zest and passion for fitness. “If I don’t work on myself, I can’t really take care of my family. It is so important to take care of yourself and that needs to be a priority. If you take care of yourself, then you can take care of your family better,” he said.
He shared that his diet is eclectic. “I use a holistic approach as much as possible. I would literally try to eat everything in any major food group. I would eat all fruits and vegetables. If I eat beef, it’s organic. I don’t believe in one style of eating. I eat everything infrequently. My body never really gets used to the same food. If you are on a certain diet, it is all about consistency and whether or not you are able to maintain it. You need to know why you are doing it, that’s the biggest thing,” he said.
In high school, O’Connor participated in track and field events and he enjoyed success in the pole vault. “I won my first event in pole vaulting, but it was just too slow for me so I wound up stopping. If I were to go back and do any event in track and field, it would be either the 100 meter or the 400 meter sprints. That fits my style a lot,” he said.
O’Connor also furnished some motivational words during the COVID-19 pandemic. “If you have a business that is drastically affected by this, do everything you can to maintain a good, positive attitude. Hopefully, we will be able to get some help. People should avoid spending their money on all kinds of weird things right now. If you want to maintain your health and wellness, you need to work out at home. I am using TRX straps and that is helping me maintain my physique. You just need to find the willpower and a way to do it. Also, don’t overeat. Stay as busy as you can, take walks, go outside as much as you can, even if it’s your backyard. Play with your kids and come up with new things. Learn a new skill. I’m learning Spanish, and I am learning it with my daughter. Maybe you will come out stronger and better than you even got into it.”
“No matter how busy you get with work or school or family or any other priority, you always have to focus on what you are trying to achieve. Even if you only have 20 minutes a day on what you are trying to achieve in life, you have to continue to do it. Purpose in life keeps you healthy, focused, and in a better mindset,” he added.
He defined the word success as “accomplishments.” “Success is what drives me forward all the time: I always deemed my successes from my accomplishments, and I constantly want to accomplish more. I am always driven to achieve something new, that’s where I feel where success is. It’s not necessarily money. Success is how you have carried yourself through,” he said.