The Pulse

What Makes IPF Different? A Client’s Perspective

By Brittany Collens


Brittany Collens is a professional tennis player in her third year of competition. She grew up in Manchester By The Sea and played collegiate tennis at New Mexico State and UMass.


“I’ve been going to the Institute of Performance and Fitness (IPF) since June 1, 2017. I can’t believe that this month marks the fourth year working out under the direction of Walter Norton Jr. (owner) and Jamie Damon (director of operations). Going to IPF has changed my life in ways I never expected it to change just from “signing up with a gym.”


The reason I went to IPF was that I had a clear goal in mind of becoming as strong as I possibly could to compete at the professional level. I needed someone to push me to levels I was not yet ready to go to on my own. When I met with Walter and Jamie for the first time, I thought it was going to be a simple get-to-know-you and scheduling of training sessions. I had no idea what an influence this visit was going to be on me and my training.


Immediately after walking into the IPF training facility, I sensed this place was different. Every single staff member introduced themselves to me and asked me how I was doing, regardless of whether they were personal training or coaching a group. In fact, their clients also greeted me and introduced themselves. It didn’t take me long to realize that being a client at IPF means much more than just signing up to get in a workout, hit a goal, and get on with your day. I was signing up to be part of something much bigger.


As a tennis professional, I’ll admit it, I am inherently selfish. It’s largely due to playing an individual sport. So, as a result, I think of what I need and what I want to get the job done. I am also someone who always tries to outwork everyone else – it’s been engrained in me since I was a kid.


These two behaviors were reworked and reframed at IPF for very specific reasons. At IPF you sign up to become a part of a family and group where you’re expected to leave a better person than you came out. Not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well. If you’re in a group, you’re expected to work out as a team. If you don’t know your training partners on a personal level, then there is a good chance that you don’t care about their goals and outcome.  


You might wonder why/how all of this matters to someone training to be a professional athlete. Trust me, it does. Because if you don’t care about someone else’s progress, then why should they care about yours and why would they help you have the best possible outcome for success? The team environment and mentality at IPF has been invaluable to me.


If someone is doing a new personal record, you can bet that every person in that gym is cheering them on and pushing them towards success. A win for you is a win for everyone.


Back when I started at IPF, though, I didn’t understand this – all I knew was I wanted to get started with individual coaching as soon as possible. I was prepared – or at least thought I was – to begin at IPF immediately after graduating. So, I was really surprised when Walter told me not to come in before June 1st. At first, I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t start right away – I just didn’t understand why I had to wait. I wanted to work hard. But after telling Walter and Jamie about what my final weeks at school would look like (e.g., graduation, A10s, NCAAs, moving home), they knew that the best possible thing for me was to spend some time recovering. They wanted me to come in refreshed – not wiped out – because I would need all the energy I could to embark on a practice and lifting schedule that I had yet to experience. It wasn’t that I couldn’t work hard; it was that I also had to work smart.


This is also when I realized that, as a client, that my responsibility to my IPF coaches wouldn’t stop after a training session. They want to know what you are putting your body through and what you are doing to recover when you aren’t working out. It makes sense. There are a lot of factors that contribute to weight loss or muscle gain goals. While no one can ultimately control what you do outside of the gym, IPF trainers care a lot about what you are doing during the hours when you are not at IPF and how those behaviors will affect your goals inside the gym.


This is accountability and commitment. Most of us don’t hold ourselves accountable to our fitness goals but at IPF you absolutely will. We go to a gym because it’s hard to be motivated on our own. We seek the help of others but that fades. Not at IPF, though, because all the coaches at IPF are holding themselves just as accountable for your goals as you are, if not higher.


This type of environment, with great coach-to-client ratios, offers up the most optimal path for success. With small groups running daily and/or opportunities for individual coaching, you can be sure that your goals will be met. Having said that, your goals won’t be the only benefit you reap.


Since joining IPF, I have become a better athlete, physically and mentally. My focus and ability to listen and follow instruction in pressure situations has increased immensely. I also work smarter and know how to work efficiently and effectively in a team environment without impairing my own needs. I take better care of myself in all areas. Most importantly, I have a support system for when motivation is hard to come by – and let’s face it, at some point we all lack it, especially when things get tough.


IPF is more than a gym. It’s more than working out. It’s a lifestyle and an agreement with yourself to be a better version of you than you were yesterday.