The dawn of a new year inspires many to adopt a healthier lifestyle. These resolutions often manifest in the purchase of gym memberships and eating more fruits and vegetables. As it turns out, the phrase “new year, new me” is typically much easier said than done. Local fitness leader Alex Alvarado is a professionally certified coach who is on a mission to disrupt toxic fitness tropes and help her clients achieve their goals in a healthy, long-lasting way.
“I sort of stumbled upon my fitness career while in college at the University of Houston,” the H-Town native explains. “I minored in kinesiology and was looking for a job. I saw that a boxing gym was hiring, so I applied.” Alvarado initially manned the gym’s front desk before serendipitously being tapped to lead a boxing class. “One day, a coach didn’t come into work, and I was asked if I could coach their class. After that experience I thought, ‘Oh, this can maybe take me somewhere.’”
Despite having a calling for a career in health and wellness, Alvarado worked as a 7th-grade English teacher after graduating from UH. “I was a full-time teacher for about six years, and I was training clients at a gym part-time at night,” she explains. “I loved teaching so much. I also coached volleyball and basketball and loved the team aspect. I knew how to lead people.” Her boss at the gym recognized her dedication and enthusiasm for her work and offered her a full-time coaching job. Alvarado obtained her ACE Personal Training certification, and the rest is history. “I decided to give this fitness thing a go and left teaching. It was a no-brainer.”
Today, the 31-year-old has parlayed her personal training experience into her current role at MADabolic The Heights. The franchise positions itself as the leader in barbell-free strength training and conditioning, offering a new standard for group fitness. “I found out about MAD through a podcast that I was listening to and looked them up on Instagram,” Alvarado recalls. “MAD is way different than anything I’ve ever heard of or experienced. I needed a change and a challenge. I applied to work at MAD, got hired, and left my other job soon after.”
MAD stands for Momentum, Anaerobic, and Durability—the three signature intervals that the gym on Washington Avenue applies in order to torch body fat, increase strength, and promote lean muscle. “MAD is full of growth and opportunity. They really set their staff up for success and intentionally design their programming, structure, and the accountability for their members as well. It doesn’t compare to any other company when it comes to group fitness.”
Although there is light conversation among members before each class begins, Alvarado assures that her clients take their workouts very seriously. “When it comes time to work, it’s time to work. Everybody grinds through the same workout together.” One aspect she particularly appreciates is MAD’s emphasis on hosting socials for gym members and staff. Events have included pickleball games, happy hours, and more. “I think it’s super cool how we’re able to talk, mingle, and get to know each other outside of the gym setting. People realize all they have in common, as well as how they’re different. Our socials give them the opportunity to have other conversations besides just gym stuff, which I think people really enjoy.”
“Everybody’s going to start somewhere, so just make whatever day you choose your ‘day one.’” —Alex Alvarado
Her clients, and the progress they see over time, are what inspire Alvarado and reinforce her decision to pursue a career in personal training. “I love seeing people make progress. Whether it’s somebody who’s intimidated about coming into the gym, or someone that never thought they could lift more than 15 pounds. I get to witness them overcome their doubts and crush it in the gym. I constantly think to myself, ‘Damn, you did that!’” she says, regarding her clientss “And I get to be part of their journey along the way.”
The inclusive environments at MAD (and with previous employers) have afforded Alvarado the spaces to be herself. Most recently, she shared news of her engagement to her partner, Michelle, with her clients at MAD. “I came out when I was a few years into the fitness world. Initially, I wouldn’t tell anybody and it was kind of a secret because I didn’t want people to think differently of me,” she explains. “But as the years went on, I began naturally showing my personality, Michelle came into the mix, and people knew I was out. I quickly learned that people like me for my personality and don’t really care what my preferences are.”
The Certified Functional Strength Coach (CFSC) encourages members of the community, and anyone who is looking to make fitness-related changes in the new year, to do it for themselves. “Everybody’s going to start somewhere, so just make whatever day you choose your ‘Day One.’ Whatever you choose to do, just stick with it,” she says. Sneaking in a little plug for her full-time gig, Alvarado adds, “If you’re looking for that strength training, structure, and accountability, I definitely recommend coming in and trying out MAD.”
Keep up with Alex Alvarado on Instagram @aalvarado_4.