In our latest interview, I’m happy to introduce Adam Spang and Caroline Jamur Spang, North Reading parents of a one-year-old and co-owners of Ativo Fitness. I had the pleasure of meeting and working out with them at their Middleton gym earlier this year. They are a great team and I continued working out at Ativo through the spring with great results. I’m excited to get back into the gym with them as school starts back up in September. If making time for yourself once the kids go back to school is high on your priority list, you won’t want to miss this interview and the special September Start-Up deal Ativo is offering North Shore Moms. Keep reading to learn more about both!
Where are you from originally and what town do you live in now?
Adam: I grew up in Andover, and after college lived and worked in Washington DC for five years before moving back. We’ve lived together in North Reading since 2018.
Caroline: I’m originally from São Paulo, Brazil. My parents and I moved to Medford in 2002, when I was just a freshman in high school. This is where the name “Ativo” comes from, as it translates to “active” in Portuguese.
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
We have one son, Benjamin, who just turned one this month! He loves rocks and won’t stop moving! He started walking at 11 months so we’ve been chasing him more than ever.
What’s your favorite family activity on the North Shore?
For the past year we’ve spent many days going to Newburyport. We will get coffee and take Benjamin to play at The Nook, which is a cute, indoor playground for little ones. It’s super clean and well managed, with a friendly staff. He always has a great time there and it gets us out of the house for the day. We will usually get lunch at any of the great restaurants there and walk around the shops. We also just starting bringing Ben to The Little Gym Cherry Hill, in Danvers. It’s his first gym membership!
Where are your favorite places to eat and shop on the North Shore?
We’re both in love with the dining scene in downtown Andover. Our number one spot is BuenoMalo. It has a great vibe, an incredible bar and craft beer selection, and we have our favorites on the menu that we cycle through all the time (chicken empanadas & their tacos). When we get a little fancier we head down the street to La Fina, the Italian steakhouse for date night and special occasions. We also both love breweries, so when we’re not going to the new Treehouse Brewery in Tewksbury, we will pop on down to Oak & Iron.
Caroline: I love to walk Downtown Andover and all of their little shops. I always check in the consignment stores and usually end up getting something from Bobbles & Lace.
Tell us a little bit about your backgrounds and how you came to start Ativo Fitness.
Adam: So before Ativo, I went through a few different careers. I was with the Defense Intelligence Agency in the Pentagon, a start-up home energy company and finally a local electrical company. During this time I was always coaching CrossFit part-time on the side until I went full-time fitness and became the manager of the North Reading Orangetheory when it opened in 2018.
So when we moved to our home in North Reading, we instantly turned the garage into a gym. This was not only for our own workouts, but I also used it sporadically for some personal training clients. Fast forward to 2020 and COVID, all of my friends suddenly needed a place to train. With a 2-car garage and a driveway, I started running several small groups of 4 people each day and it was amazing.
Ultimately, that time was a laboratory of trying different things with the structure and intensity of the workouts, and we soon realized we had something that worked–a proven model. So in the fall of 2020, we began looking for a space to officially open Ativo, and it wasn’t until the spring of 2021, we found the place we are now, at 177 N. Main Street, in Middleton.
Caroline: I’ve always been in the medical field. I worked with different patient populations at different hospitals as well as homecare and outpatient. In 2018, I took a job at a North Shore Hospital as an Infection Control and Prevention Nurse, where I am now the Director. So when COVID hit, everyone else went home but I became busier than ever. I was on the cutting edge, the first to know all the new details of the virus, and all communication to staff came from our small department.
So when Adam was home coaching in the garage, I was able to know what steps to put into place to keep people safe while working out. I created a full list of posted protocols for people to follow during their workouts. Not only were we outside, but we socially distanced, didn’t share equipment, and we even installed an outdoor sink for people to “scrub-in” when they arrived.
The garage was simply an escape during a really difficult time. Each day I would come home from the stress of the hospital and see who was working out and jump into a workout myself. We were able to offer our friends and their families a safe place to workout and a much needed hour of brevity and fun when the world was a mess.
Adam: To this day people fondly remember that time in the garage. We had green Ativo sweatshirts made, and if you have one, that’s how you know you’re a true, “OG,” if you’re rocking a “garage green” sweatshirt.
What sets Ativo apart from other fitness studios in the area?
We created Ativo with a plan to provide efficient and effective workouts for the busy mom, dad and working professional. From the equipment, to the layout, the exercise selection, and flow of the class, it’s all to help that person in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s create lasting strength while building a lean physique.
We’re not a big gym, where each client is just a serial number on a spreadsheet. We purposely keep Ativo’s community small to allow us develop personal relationships with every member. We believe its necessary for the coach to know what’s going on in your life outside the gym so we can effectively coach you during your workout. Everyone at Ativo genuinely feels like they are getting a concierge level of service which often takes them by surprise.
We’re also hyper-focused on your results. Using our inbody scanner (body composition analysis) and tracking your lifts, we’re able to objectively monitor your progress to ensure you’re always moving forward and building lean muscle. As part of your membership, every quarter we conduct a full check-in so we can fine-tune your program to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
What types of classes do you offer at Ativo?
Our signature small-group training classes of 6 people max, are our core offering. In one-hour we provide total body, strength-inspired workouts with an effective dose of cardio. With the small class size, we’re able to customize and provide tailored instruction to every member. But don’t let the small size fool you, we get the music pumping and bring the energy just like you would come to expect from a large group class.
Who are your members and what do they appreciate most about your studio?
The cleanliness, small groups, and personalized attention. Even going back to the garage days, we had to keep it clean due to the COVID protocols. When we opened here in Middleton in August of 2021, COVID was still pretty hot, so we created a really high cleanliness standard which is now the norm. This is definitely one of the first things people notice when they first walk in.
Our typical client has usually done some form of fitness class in the past, but they were often huge groups and cardio focused. So when they come to Ativo with our smaller classes, they really experience true personalized coaching for the first time and it becomes a game changer for them.
In addition to small group classes do you offer other services at Ativo?
Our small groups classes are far and away our most popular, but we have a solution for every busy person out there. We offer 1:1 personal training, nutrition coaching, youth training (ages 12-18), and an awesome program called individual design (ID) where we’re able coach you remotely. ID is great for people who travel a lot or have literally no time to make it into the gym.
Where can moms find you online and on social media?
At www.ativofitness.com and Ativo is on several social media platforms! Check us out on Instagram @ativo.fitness and on Facebook @LiveAtivo. We also have a YouTube Channel and our very own podcast on Spotify and YouTube called, The Last Slide.
As working parents, any tips for finding balance in your busy days?
Just know that it will never be perfect and it’s always a work in progress, but you have to practice. We both work full-time and Benjamin isn’t in day care yet, so time for fitness and health is definitely at a premium. We’ve found that only way you will find something that works is if you try (practice makes perfect). Communicating workout plans and schedules with your partner is key for us so everyone can be on the same page. We both respect and prioritize each other’s workout time, so one of us will watch Ben to allow the other person to get their sweat on and then we switch.
Looking ahead and planning the week is also important for us. We identify our less busy days and plan workouts or food shopping during those times. Once we do that, if an opportunity arises during a hectic day, a quick 20-30 minute workout when a meeting gets cancelled is another opportunity for a quick run or bodyweight circuit.
We don’t deprive ourselves of the things we like (beer, ice cream, etc), we’re just aware of how often we’re having them. If we know we want to get Benson’s tonight, we try to eat well throughout the day so we can afford the treat later in the day. We also understand that one hard workout doesn’t make up for a big night out or week-long vacation binge, it just means it’s more important than ever that we return to our normal routine because fitness is a long game.
What is the best piece of parenting advice you ever received?
Sleep is key! We were very strict and followed several pieces of advice when sleep training Benjamin, starting at a very young age. He slept during the night in our room in the bassinet for the first couple months but we always napped him in his crib. This allowed us to transfer him out of our room fairly quick so we were spared all the little grunts and noises newborns make. We also made it a point to put him down to sleep while very tired but still awake. It’s super tough to not snuggle a sleeping baby, but teaching him to fall asleep on his own while alone in his room paid off BIG TIME. He now naps like a champ and can do so pretty much anywhere.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you need some “me” time?
Adam: Since everything is “go-go-go,” nearly all my workouts feel super rushed. So when I have the time, I like to get after a good, long workout without feeling like I have to wrap it up by a certain time. I’ve also completed my full transformation into a Dad because I enjoy working in the yard and admiring my work when I’m done.
Caroline: When I get a chance to escape, I like to bring my computer and get a good cup of coffee at a cafe, like Atomic Cafe in Beverly. Shopping for myself at boutique stores in the north shore small towns is also a must.
Adam and Caroline are rolling out a new September Start-Up program with savings on monthly membership, nutrition coaching, and more…plus no long-term commitment. On top of that they are very generously offering North Shore Moms an additional discount on this package. Here are the details:
- Act by 9/9/23 and save anywhere from $30-$50 off your first month! North Shore Moms get an additional $10 off ($40-$60) which they can hold for the remainder of 2023! This special price for Moms expires 9/9/23 (but all other benefits remain).
- No Commitment: If after 4 weeks you decide Ativo is not for you, that’s okay!
- NS MOMS Partner Benefits: If you sign up, your partner can join in with all the same benefits!
- Complimentary nutrition coaching for two months. (Reg. $199/mo)
- Access 3 “anywhere” workouts on our app each week.
Get more details and sign up for the September Start-Up at www.ativofitness.com/septemberstartup-moms.
This post was sponsored by Ativo Fitness.