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Rob Benson knows fitness.

As a Marine who helped run his company’s remedial strength training program at Camp Pendleton in California, his job was to push recruits who struggled to pass the Corp’s grueling fitness test.

Now he’s bringing his motivational skills to a new personal training studio in Longview.

The studio, called Train With Knowledge, will specialize in one-on-one personal training and group fitness training.

Benson says he wants to eventually offer group classes around lunch time if there’s enough interest.

At first, Benson said he mainly saw fitness as a hobby — not a career.

“I didn’t want it to be my job,” he said.

After receiving an honorable discharge, Benson worked for a number of companies before settling into a position at the Georgia-Pacific Wauna Mill in Clatskanie for nine years. When he hurt his shoulder at work, he had a change of heart.

“At that point I realized I’d much rather make my hobby my career,” the father of two said.

In the Marines, one of Benson’s closest friends was an amateur bodybuilder. He also learned a lot from another Marine who was working toward a doctorate in kinesiology while the two were stationed together in Okinawa.

It’s that background, combined with the latest fitness research, that Benson wants to offer people who might not feel comfortable in a gym at first.

“Lots of people feel like they have to lose weight before they go to a gym,” he said. “(Train With Knowledge) is going to be a private place.”

Benson said eventually he hopes to employ about five personal trainers, with a maximum of 10 people training in the 1,950-square -foot facility at one time.

“Ideally, it will be a comfortable place for people to learn what to do so they can transition to a traditional gym,” he said.

Benson said the facility caters to both genders, too. He’s already hired one female trainer, Jessica Vilardi, who’s certified and accepting new clients.

Benson has mentored Vilardi for the past three years.

“He doesn’t just give me an answer,” she said. “He also gives me the science behind it.”

The studio will feature dumbbells, a squat rack, free weights and weight benches. It will also have a cable cross, two rowers, medicine balls and heavy bags.

For clients with kids, the studio already has a playroom with a TV and DVD player, along with a separate children’s restroom.

Individual 75-minute personal training sessions start at $45 per hour. The price drops to $35 per hour (per person) for two people, and $30 per hour (per person) for three people.

Benson said he decided against offering packages because he believes they reduce the incentive for trainers to do well.

“If you want somebody to come back and get that next session, then you’ve got to perform,” he said. “It’s pressure both ways.”

Benson said he plans to keep flexible hours to work around clients’ schedules. Train with Knowledge will have a soft opening on Aug. 30 and open to the general public later next week.

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