Meet 100 Club Family Member, LaVar Merrell
The 100 Club of Illinois caught up with LaVar Merrell to share how he found his passion for health and people. LaVar joined the 100 Club family after his father, Lieutenant L.C. Merrell of the Chicago Fire Department was killed in the line of duty in 2000. LaVar grew up on the South Side of Chicago and remains a dedicated White Sox fan (he will gladly accept all the hate!). LaVar now resides in Atlanta, GA but remains an active 100 Club family member.
LaVar is a proud 100 Club Scholar – having earned both his undergraduate degree from Knox College and his graduate degree from DePaul University where he studied Sports Journalism. It was at this time that he began a friendship with former CEO Joe Ahern over their shared love for journalism and broadcasting. LaVar cherishes the time he spent learning from the Club staff and his fellow 100 Club Scholars – and he’s still in contact with the connections he’s made over the past 21 years.
Once he completed his graduate degree, LaVar went on to train group fitness classes, provide private basketball lessons at East Bank Club, and coached basketball at Alphonsus Academy & Center for the Arts. Finding the perfect job in journalism wasn’t easy, although coming close to a sports broadcasting position with a University, Atlanta was calling him. His Mom had been persuading him as she had moved to Atlanta a few years prior. The move came when he was offered a coaching position in 2017.
Shortly after moving down a family friend reached out as he had just opened a gym, GB Sweat Equity Fitness, and was in need of another trainer. LaVar took the job knowing there was plenty of room for growth. Fast forward four years later, LaVar believes he is exactly where he is meant to be.
While in Atlanta he realized that he loved fitness more than journalism, and that it had always been that way, saying “I love helping people in fitness, the effects are life lasting. To do that on a big scale would be the dream. Putting my stamp on the world. With journalism you report the facts, there are no personal touch points”.
There have been many significant points in his career that have meant a great deal to him, confirming fitness was the right path. Right before he left for Atlanta, he was teaching private lessons to a young kid, he recalls telling the kids mother it was going to be his last session. He would be moving to Atlanta in a few weeks. The kid was visibly upset, tugging at him, asking LaVar not to leave just after 4 classes. LaVar was truly humbled by the experience and realized “I really have an effect on people”.
Hearing directly from clients and seeing the lifestyle changes, health improvements, the positive impact he has made on many has inspired him to continue training and work toward becoming more involved with leadership at the gym. His favorite part about being a personal trainer is that “you get to bring the energy every day and you get to be creative. The client has a certain goal, but you have the chance to work with this client in this specific time frame to achieve that goal. Being a trainer allows me to be who I want to be, creative. No limitations”. He loves when clients say, “that’s my trainer”, and share their success with others.
In the end, LaVar is able to combine his journalism background with his love for fitness. He does video editing, creates Instagram stories, PSA’s, and commercials for the GB Sweat Equity fitness.
With our 100 Club Challenge starting this month, we asked LaVar how he motivates his clients to get started. His replied, “Patience and discipline; the knowledge that everybody comes from different starting points; this is usually something you’ve never done before; be positive and do not have any shame in where you’re at; it’s going to take time; and find the fun things about fitness”. His favorite ways to workout are currently basketball, boxing and swimming.