In addition to owning and operating the Georgia Fitness Academy, Nelson has served on the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce boards, as well as the ambassador, cookout, finance and steeplechase committees. He is also the chair of the Adult Leadership Bartow committee, and recently hosted one of the leadership courses at GFA.
Nelson’s involvement and volunteering with the chamber has led to his nomination as the 2015 chamber chair, which was announced by former Chair Wayne Moore during the annual dinner Jan. 11.
Name: Patrick Nelson
Occupation: Owner, Georgia Fitness Academy/Personal Training and Health Consulting
Family: My wife, Bree, and I have been married for almost nine years. Bree is a kindergarten teacher at Cartersville Primary School. Our son, Colin, is 6 years old and in the first grade at CPS. Our son, Hollis, is just 7 weeks old.
Education: I am a graduate of Cass High School and have a B.S. degree from Kennesaw State University, along with being a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist.
You own and operate the Georgia Fitness Academy in Cartersville. What led you to opening the academy and becoming involved in fitness?
A: I have been involved in fitness since I was 18 years old. I began working in a gym and got my first personal training certification when I was 19 and trained all through college. I got away from training after college, but always felt a desire to get back into it, so in 2009 I began training again on a limited basis and in 2010 had an opportunity to work for a company that designed and implemented corporate wellness programs. Unfortunately I was not able to do many of the things I wanted to there, so in late 2011 I left and opened GFA. I named it Georgia Fitness Academy because I wanted to focus more on educating individuals and businesses alike about the importance of health and wellness and perhaps looking to curb some of the rising costs of health care. I have always had a strong passion for helping others take an interest in their own health and well-being.
What is your daily workout routine?
A: My workouts vary greatly from day to day and week to week. I am a firm believer that the body will quickly adapt to whatever stresses you place on it, so keeping the workouts fresh and ever-changing doesn’t allow me or my body to get bored. I work out typically four to five days per week for roughly an hour at a time. I do more high intensity weight training focusing on keeping my heart rate elevated to allow for a cardiovascular benefit as well as the weight lifting benefits.
As a chamber member, and as someone who is involved with a number of the chamber’s committees, what benefits do you believe the chamber of commerce offers smaller businesses?
A: The chamber of commerce has been invaluable to me and my business. I could not have opened my business when I did without the chamber and the contacts I made there. I would say at least 75 percent of my initial clientele came directly from people I had met and worked with through the chamber.
It is difficult for myself and for many small business owners to commit the time to attend chamber functions and serve on committees, but it is well worth the effort and sacrifice. Your business will benefit greatly from the connections you are able to make. I continue to serve the chamber in several capacities not only because it is beneficial to my business, but also because I enjoy it and feel it is important to continue to work to improve the quality of life and the opportunities available in our community.
Are there any challenges facing small business in Bartow County?
A: Not just in our community but in many places small businesses are still struggling with the economy and the public as a whole spending less. Here in Bartow the chamber’s Buy Bartow, Work Bartow campaign has done a terrific job of getting the public focused on buying local and hiring local people. This has a ripple effect keeping those dollars in our community and greatly reducing our unemployment rate.
Bartow County is on the cusp of a great deal of growth with [LakePoint Sporting Community] and many other opportunities that are flooding into our community, and I think the future is going to hold great things for large and small businesses alike.
How did you become active in the chamber and in the community?
A: My parents instilled a strong sense of community at a young age, and as I have gotten older, I have felt a strong desire to give back. Both my parents have given years of service in various ways and it seems I inherited my mother’s inability to say no. I am a fifth-generation resident of Bartow County. I am raising my family here and hope my children will have plenty of opportunities here when they are grown to be able to stay here and raise their families as well.
I began work with the chamber in 2010 and have served on various committees and in other capacities which afforded me the opportunity to then serve on the board of directors in 2012, and I am extremely excited to serve as chairman in 2015. I also serve on the board of directors for the Cartersville-Bartow Community Foundation and the Bartow County Planning Commission.
If you had a dream job, what would it be?
A: I love my job. Helping people live longer, healthier, more productive lives is incredibly rewarding. That being said, I truly enjoy volunteering and giving back to others.
The Bill Gates Foundation has a group of people whose sole responsibility is to find people in need and give them money. That, to me, sounds like a dream job. To have the resources and desire to find a problem or a need and be able to improve it through nothing more than sheer generosity is tremendous.
Our community is extremely blessed, and what is remarkable is that we have people just like that right here who very few people know about because those individuals seek no credit for what they give.
Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said, “You can’t live a perfect day until you do something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” We should all strive to achieve that perfect day.
What is your greatest achievement?
A: My greatest achievement personally is raising my two boys. I love my family and despite all my time away, they will always be the most important thing in my life.
Outside of that I would have to put Bartow’s Amazing Race at the top of the list. Having a friend come to you and ask for your help in raising money to inevitably help save his wife’s life is rather daunting. Obviously not having the ability to write him a big check, we put our talents and connections together very quickly and put together an event that still is unfathomable to me. In just nine weeks, our team put together a two-day race with 12 teams and 12 challenges all over Bartow County and raised to date over $110,000. That was my “perfect day.” It was an event orchestrated and only made possible through the grace of God.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I am about as boring as they come.
If I had to pick, I would say I almost moved to San Diego right out of college. I was in the interview process with the U.S. Border Patrol and would have left to go to D.C. and then on to San Diego had it not been for the love a good woman, a few knowledgeable friends and a strong desire not to leave my home. Best move I ever made. I am so happy and blessed to live, work, play and raise my family in this amazing community.
Do you have a personal motto?
A: “It’s easy to be lazy and complacent. Anything in life worth having requires effort and your own health is no different. Take responsibility for it and, I assure you, it will change your life forever.”
If you were to write your autobiography or memoirs, what would the title be?
A: “Don’t Get Caught by the Food Police.”