Our Why

Our Mission is Your Best Life

At PHX Strength, our Mission is to empower our clients’ self-advocacy in their own healthcare. With individualized, integrative, and corrective prescriptions for optimal wellness, our clientele builds the vital physical strength and develops the skills for optimal lifestyle provisioning necessary to realize and maintain their highest quality of living, for as long as possible.

“If we don’t learn to mythologize our lives, inevitably we will pathologize them.”
― Richard Rohr

What We Value Most

  • Privilege is to be Reborn. Daily, we make a conscious choice to be deliberate in our efforts in a notable way.
  • Produce. Your Maximal Quality of Life is Our Priority and Our Product. Spare No Expense.
  • Personalization. People have Problems and need Individualized Prescriptive Correction.
  • Problems Are Permeable. Life if not Static, so our Solutions are Innovative.
  • Pi. We Honor Math, Precision, and Data, not Magic or Illusion.
  • Practice Progress past “Perfection.” We refuse to stop growing.
  • Profile. The PHX Risk/Return on Investment Augments Itself.

The PHX Team

Chris Willing

Christopher joins Phoenix Fitness after a 10-year service as a decorated veteran of the US Air Force, where he served in Iraq and was selected for a special duty assignment on the USAF Honor Guard. While assigned to the USAF Honor Guard he was certified as a Calisthenics & aerobics instructor for the purpose of maintaining the fitness standards of his squadron. Chris served in roles as a Missions & Operations Manager for the USAF Drill Team where he expertly orchestrated over 200 physical training sessions for 46 ceremonial guardsmen, resulting in a 100 percent pass-rate and was selected as Guard of Honor member for former President Gerald R. Ford’s funeral service. Chris is a graduate of the Airmen Leadership Program, Air Force Physical Leadership, Advanced PT Leadership Programs and holds an associate degree from the Community College of the Air Force.

Chris was raised in a military home and lived abroad throughout his youth. He has worked locally in real estate, garnering varied awards associated with sales goals, and has learned the nature of working with varied clients to maximize the benefits to each client’s unique needs. In his transition to civilian life, Chris graduated from the HITUni (High Intensity Training) certification program, specializing in safe, efficient, and effective exercise – precisely what Phoenix Fitness espouses is ideal for physical fitness – and holds the InForm Fitness Power-of-10 Certification.

Chris is recently married to his wonderful wife Emily and is a resident of West Virginia.

Brady Rice

Fitness was something that Brady couldn’t avoid considering his love of sports. From the age of five, Brady challenged himself physically and mentally and always put 110% in all his athletics pursuits – running, baseball and a myriad of sports. His love for sports and the desire to improve and exceed his goals is what led him to strength training where he would dabble with weights and different body weight exercises. Fated to discover high-intensity strength training at Phoenix Strength, Brady found a workout with results that gave him back more free time to pursue other passions. In Brady’s free time, he enjoys spending time in nature, hiking, honing his photography and artist skills.

Brady Rice has a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Thomas Edison State University.

Al Coleman

Al became interested in strength exercise in high school to improve his performance as a baseball player. This interest became a passion when he went on to play Division 1 baseball and was at the mercy of ill-informed strength coaches. Needing to find a better way to keep him injury free than what was being presented to him by the college strength and conditioning staff, he chanced upon the SuperSlow technical manual while combing the shelves of a Borders. A few years later in 1999, Al passed the test of the most stringent certification in the industry; the SuperSlow Exercise Specialist Certification Following, Al spent the next 10 years under the tutelage of Master Instructor Rob Serraino and honed his craft.
From 2010-2019, Al worked for RenEx/Overload Fitness where he served as Director of Education. During this time, he worked in close concert with Ken Hutchins, Josh Trentine and Gus Diamantopoulos in refining the RenEx Protocol. In 2019, Al moved back to Washington, DC and began to work with Nicole Gustavson and her team. In reconnecting with Nicole, Al found both the ideal business and life companion.

Nicole Gustavson

As Owner of Phoenix Strength, Nicole is an example of her own perfect client. Middle-aged, over-scheduled and not yet successful in building more time into the day.

Nicole’s commitment to meaningful advocacy is rooted in the notion that, with the right skillset, she could effectively empower those who were willing to work hard enough to improve their quality of life beyond measure.

Parlaying a MA in Economics from the University of St. Andrews Scotland, Nicole’s early career was spent navigating the financial sectors of New York City, London and San Francisco, ultimately combining two skill sets: analytical research and writing for the institutional client. Later, a misguided attempt to pursue her love of advocacy led Nicole through a wrong turn into law school before she opened InForm Fitness in Virginia.

Nicole moved to Northern Virginia after a decade in Europe, a return to San Francisco, and a major career detour. As life never failed to surprise, when economic recession hit in the Fall of 2008, Nicole welcomed the birth of her twin daughters. Between search and transition, Nicole triumphed, albeit near inadvertently. Avid exercise hater, Nicole overcame her own obstacles by simply building strength. As she explored a modality for health so simple, yet genius, Nicole remained mission-driven to improve lives, her own included.

In 2010, she found the Power-of-10 methodology of strength training and put into practice all she learned. The name InForm Fitness is the predeceasing’s name for Phoenix Fitness, under which Nicole operated for over 8 years. InForm Fitness is still the name of the New York-based, flagship brand of Nicole’s longtime mentor, Adam Zickerman. To Adam, Nicole owes endless homage.

Our Story

Our History of a Slow Show

The launch of Phoenix Strength in 2022 is the result of two people coming together in business and in life, at just the right time.

It was truly a “Slow Show” –  The National

In 2011, in preparation for the opening of what would be her first of two InForm Fitness Virginia studios, Nicole traveled the country visiting various veteran HIT strength studios to do research. While visiting Overload Fitness in Cleveland, OH, to discuss a possible business partnership with RenEx Exercise Equipment, she met and witnessed Al Coleman demonstrate a set of the Leg Press exercise to “failure.” Was it love at first sight? With Nicole witnessing someone physically pushing themselves with such intensity, and with Al suffering the immediate effects of such intensity, one could rest assured that it would take them both years to process this chance encounter. In fact, Mr. Coleman’s level of post exercise delirium left his memory vague at best about what would turn out to be a pivotal moment in his life.

Fast forward 8 years, Al relocated back to the Washington DC area where he grew up, bringing with him, his experience in training instructors, as well as developing and refining protocols to help another studio. Al reached out to Nicole on a whim, and the rest is history that’s still in the making. Nicole’s studios in Virginia provided a platform for Al to continue to develop and refine his ideas, which helped her business evolve.

On the personal side, Nicole and Al found in each other “their other half” as people say. After both having experienced the rougher side of life over the previous several years, the fortuitous partnership of Nicole and Al tells a love story of two people, coming together to help one another during a time when the rest of the world was falling apart.

Seeing obvious shortcomings in the way that high intensity strength exercise has been taught, Nicole and Al set out on a new course to change to way exercise is taught and delivered to the exercising public and hence Automated Muscle was born. From evolution to application, our refined methodology has proven to deliver a higher-quality workout. Indeed, as we upgraded our already state-of-the-art equipment, we also broke through significant barriers.

A Sincere Tribute to Our Mentors & Peers

We would like to extend a special thanks to our many mentors and peers who helped paved the way for we now stand today.

All though there are many who have had a positive influence on our path, a special thanks goes out to Gus Diamantopoulos, Ken Hutchins, Jeffery Muehl, Matt Romans, Rob Serraino, Joshua Trentine, Travis Weigand, and Adam Zickerman for their direct and personal contributions.