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After working part-time as a personal trainer for almost a year, Rob Benson last week leaped fully into his passion for helping others build healthy lifestyles. The 39-year old Longview man quit his job at Georgia Pacific’s Wauna mill, says he sank most of his family’s savings into a large workout space and opened Train Together, a group training gym, on Nov. 12.

“I want to do something great, and I want to leave my mark. (Fitness training) is something I love and the way I think I can do that,” Benson said.

Benson has been a fitness trainer since 2001, he said. He was turned on to the practice by a body building friend in the Marine Corps, and a few years later he started remedial PT class for Marines who failed the fitness test.

“That was really rewarding, and it was my first experience with that,” Benson said. “I just loved it as a hobby. ... It took a while before I realized I could train people for a job and still really enjoy it.”

Train Together is located at 1142 Washington Way, adjacent to Benson’s personal training center, Train With Knowledge. He opened that business in August 2017, but he said he’s wanted to “build something more” for the Longview community. An International Sports Sciences Association-certified trainer, Benson says his goal is to improve the health of 1 percent of the Longview’s population (the city has nearly 38,000; the county has about 103,000).

With Train Together, Benson can reach more people than he could through one-on-one training, he said. The group atmosphere makes it easier for new members to ease themselves into a regular workout routine, he added.

“I can put someone through the exact same workout alone or with a group, and it’ll be a lot easier as a group,” Benson said. “I joke that I will bring people together with a mutual hate for me because I make the workouts hard.”

Benson said his fitness philosophy focuses on “making people cognizant of what’s going on with them and their workouts.” His high-intensity interval training is based on the science of the body’s energy systems and muscular structures, he said.

“I know it works, and it works for a broad percentage of people because there is a lot of science to back it up,” Benson said.

Additionally, Benson said he wants to eliminate the excuses people make for not working out. The most common of these are money, time and kids, he said.

Benson declined to disclose the cost of a membership, but he said it is slightly more than a gym membership by the cost of about “one coffee a day.” He said the quality of his program makes the extra cost worth it, and he meets personally with each member to walk them through what the membership cost covers.

“I just want people to come in and see the value, then we will talk prices,” Benson said. “For what it (includes), it’s extremely affordable.”

A Train Together membership includes learning how to properly use gym equipment, which often is an add-on at other gyms, Benson said. He added that he makes sure clients attend regularly.

“If you miss a few classes here, I will call to check in with you.”

As for the time barrier, Benson said he keeps his workouts to 45 minutes, including the warm up and cool down. He also offers flexible hours to meet with members whenever they are available.

“I don’t turn down clients. If a client wants to come in at a crazy time, then I will,” Benson said.

Members can bring their kids with them to the gym, thanks to the gym’s children’s playroom. The playroom is free for any member to use, Benson said.

“You shouldn’t get punished because you have kids,” said Benson, who has two daughters himself. “At the same time, it’s hard to find time to work out when you have kids. ... We knew we needed a place we could take the kids, so that’s why we added the playroom.”

Train Together’s full schedule of classes is available at TTGroupFit.com. Benson is currently offering new members a free two-week trial.

“A lot of people have never done this before, so they just don’t think they can do it,” Benson said. “I just really want people to come out and try it. I’ve designed it for everyone.”

For Benson, every person who comes to his gym is one more life he can improve.

“I just want people to succeed. I’m tired of seeing people walking around, and I know they are unforgettable all day. They are not happy with themselves and they are not happy with their situation,” Benson said. “If we can get them a little bit of confidence, maybe that can get the ball rolling.”

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