Thrive Global: “Always take the stairs.” With Dr. William Seeds & Chris Hoffman. You can find the original article here.



Oversaturation of Information: I think a lot of times people can get overwhelmed with all the information out there on tips for improving our lifestyle, losing weight, being more active, etc. It’s easy to get an ‘all or nothing’ mindset instead of making small lifestyle changes and building up to a routine that will make you feel your best. It also doesn’t help that there’s always an excess of inaccurate information, which means there’s also a lot of contradictory tips out there. If you don’t know where to start, it’s more likely that you’ll never start in the first place.

As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Hoffman, Co-Founder and Owner of Formula Running Center.

Christopher Hoffman, Owner, and Co-founder of Formula Running Center have always been passionate about running and endurance training. After years of training, Chris continually found himself searching for a place that provided the complete training experience for all runners, as well as a place where runners could train together and grow. From there, Chris worked with Nicole DonVito, his longtime friend and business partner, to create and cultivate the home for runners in the form of Formula Running Center.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

Aspart of the runner and endurance athlete community, I knew firsthand that there are many opportunities to run indoors on treadmills, or outdoors for recreation, including entering local races and other athletic events. However, there are no training centers currently available in the DMV that combine all of the needs of endurance athletes (training, recovery, assessments, and education) under one roof. Recognizing this need, my co-founder and I set out to create the ultimate running, training, recovery and education center for the endurance athlete, Formula Running Center. In the process, we strived to build a community of FRC members that will train and grow together. In the long run, we hope to influence the fitness industry to focus on the entire fitness experience, including nutrition, assessments, and recovery, not just the training.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Since founding Formula Running Center it’s been exciting to experience all the buzz surrounding opening a new company. Since I worked as a lawyer prior to opening FRC, you can probably imagine that we didn’t have film crews or reporters and editors circling through our space to take photos and ask questions. So that being said, the most interesting thing to happen to us since our opening was our segment on Great Day Washington — they filmed a Formula Run class, our recovery room (with a live demo of our compression sleeves!), and my own personal interview. It’s been so exciting to be the face of something new, as opposed to being more behind the scenes.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

I certainly made my fair share of mistakes and, at the time, none of them seemed all that humorous! 🙂 Looking back now, however, my partner and I can laugh about some of the advisors and consultants that we worked with. It is so important to find advisors and mentors that you trust and have your best interests in mind. We made a few missteps along the way, however, we now find us surrounded by a fantastic team!

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

I have always had a passion for running. I’ve competed in numerous marathons, running races and in a variety of triathlons as well. Through this running journey, I became an RRCA certified running coach and a NASM certified personal trainer. Through that process, I felt like there was a missed opportunity for a fitness center that combined all the necessary aspects of training, like education, nutrition, and recovery, so I left my job as a lawyer and my co-founder and I created our own ideal training center in FRC. FRC combines performance-enhancing training, high-performance recovery, assessments, and educational services all under one roof. In doing so, FRC strives to bring together a community of runners that can train together and support one another along their personal fitness journeys, regardless of running experience. We recently opened our location in Arlington, VA, but we’re hoping to create a greater movement in the fitness world to make fitness journeys more encompassing than just doing extreme workouts.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I absolutely would not have been able to open FRC without the help of my co-founder and co-owner, Nicole DonVito. It has been essential for me to have a business partner by my side that shares my same enthusiasm and passion for transforming and amplifying the running community here in Arlington (and eventually beyond!). I also, of course, have to give a shoutout to my wife and family, because their support in making this career change and opening FRC has been unwavering!

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

Oversaturation of Information: I think a lot of times people can get overwhelmed with all the information out there on tips for improving our lifestyle, losing weight, being more active, etc. It’s easy to get an ‘all or nothing’ mindset instead of making small lifestyle changes and building up to a routine that will make you feel your best. It also doesn’t help that there’s always an excess of inaccurate information, which means there’s also a lot of contradictory tips out there. If you don’t know where to start, it’s more likely that you’ll never start in the first place.

Over-Prioritizing Others: We have a bad habit in our culture of over-prioritizing others before ourselves — whether that be our family, our co-workers or bosses, or our friends — and sacrificing important time that we need to uphold our physical and mental health. When we put others before ourselves we’re far less likely to find the time to go to the gym, take a moment to make a home-cooked meal, or pop into a running class. In order to be there for the people in your life, you need to be there for yourself, which is a really common mistake we see in people who aren’t integrating these lifestyle changes.

Not Utilizing a Support System: Finding a support system to keep you accountable and motivated in your journey to wellness is vital. Self-motivation is a learned skill, and expecting yourself to be immediately perfect is a recipe for failure. It’s much easier to reach your personal goals, like heading to a fitness class or improving our diet, when there are others keeping you accountable. Finding a workout buddy or a co-worker to meal prep with could make all the difference.

Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)

Always take the stairs: This is less about the physical effort and more about learning to make small decisions daily that improve your health in the long run. Maybe today it’s the stairs, tomorrow walking to the grocery store, and then taking up running classes. It’s all part of the process!

Meal Prep: A lot of people are scared of meal prepping because they think it will take too much effort or will be too much of a lifestyle change for the. Meal prep is actually a huge time and money saver and doesn’t have to be scary. You can make whatever healthy meal you want, and taking the time to cook for yourself each week will help you prioritize yourself, too.

Set AND Vocalize your goals: Always make sure to write down your goals or vocalize them to other people. Turning your goals into a more tangible thought will help you keep yourself on track, as well as help in creating a support system that can help keep you accountable.

Organize Your Schedule: It’s easy to casually say that you’ll attend a class or set out an hour to meal prep for the week, but your busy schedule will inevitably give you room to make excuses on why you didn’t make it today or this week. Keeping a detailed schedule of when exactly you’re heading to the gym, going grocery shopping, or even taking some time for self-care is important in keeping yourself on top of your goals.

Make Your Bed: I obviously can’t take credit for this tip, but as cliche, as it sounds making my bed is an essential part of my day. Making your bed sets the tone for the day for keeping your spaces and life organized, and is another small step in taking moments for yourself throughout the day that can lead to bigger behavioral changes.

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?

Improved Mental health: On a chemical level, exercise releases endorphins and serotonin that makes you feel happier and more at ease. Plus, exercise is a stress release for many people, so spending an hour or so daily to leave all your worries in the gym or in a fitness class can be seriously therapeutic.

Improved Sleep: Building off of improved mental health, exercise can help clear your head so you’re not preoccupied when you’re trying to fall asleep. Exercise also helps regulate your circadian rhythm, meaning your internal clock will be more on top of helping you to fall asleep when it’s bedtime.

Having FUN: I think this question is focused more on the physical impacts of exercising, but I also want to emphasize that exercise doesn’t have to be horrible. Establishing an exercise routine with your friends (and maybe a group for smoothie runs after your workout!) can actually turn into a fun social event. In addition, improving upon a skill, whether that’s running or not, can be really gratifying! Instead of dreading your workouts, you may even look forward to seeing yourself improve.

For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?

Stretching is an essential exercise and yet commonly undervalued in the boutique fitness space. Many individuals don’t even view stretching as an exercise, but it’s undoubtedly one of the most important practices to incorporate into your regime in terms of injury prevention.

Exercises that focus on core strength, like Russian Twists or Planks, are also an important part of your routine. Many people incorporate these movements into their fitness routines, but most do these exercises in the hopes off targeting stomach fat (which is impossible, by the way!). Instead, I encourage core-strengthening exercise to give you a solid foundation to support the rest of your body, prevent injury, and improve your overall running mechanics.

Hip strengthening exercises, such as side-lying leg lifts or sidesteps, are also great in preventing injury. Tight hips can lead to stress on your back and knees. It’s important to remember that injury isn’t typically isolated just to that area of pain, so it’s necessary to focus on stretching and targeting various different muscle groups.

In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?

Recovery practices are noticeably undervalued in the fitness industry, and are actually one of the main problems we addressed in opening FRC! Most athletes forgo recovery and pay the price for it with injury and fatigue, and focus too prominently on intense workouts. We encourage our members to workout using memberships with the 2:1 ratio — 2 workout sessions to 1 recovery session. This helps members build sustainability, endurance, and proactive health management into their routines.

There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?

I wouldn’t say I follow a specific diet, but do make sure to keep my diet balanced with fats, carbs, and protein. I’m not a nutritionist, but I do know that there is no ‘one size fits all’ diet that works for everyone’s unique needs. I think all these fad diets are contributing to unhealthy relationships with food and making people think they can make immediate physical changes with a crash diet. At FRC we work with Registered Dietician, Sharon Staier, who helps individuals come up with attainable nutrition goals based on each person’s unique physical, lifestyle, and caloric needs. I would suggest if you’re struggling with your diet it’s important to talk to a professional if that’s within your budget. If not, focusing on whole foods, staying away from junk and sugar, and understanding that changes don’t come overnight is always a good start.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

“The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company” by Joseph Michelli has made a huge impact on me. The book emphasizes the highest level of service in terms of respecting your employees universally, regardless of hierarchy. In founding FRC I wanted to create that same culture of respect, so empowerment and trust are a big part of our company culture. If my employees are thriving then so are our members, and that was certainly my biggest personal take away from the book.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think what’s exciting about opening FRC is that we are already impacting people in a positive way. A few years ago I would’ve answered this question with the concept of FRC, so it’s exciting to see that dream come to fruition. We are trying to help as many people as possible reach their fitness goals (whatever that may be!), and start a revolution in the fitness world that has more of an emphasis on recovery and training in a smart and educated way. We’ve already seen a positive impact on the running community here in Arlington, and we’re excited to see where it goes from here!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” — Muhammad Ali.

Prior to opening FRC, I worked as a lawyer, so leaving the comfort and security of that job was a big risk for me. But I knew I had to take the leap of faith or I would regret it for the rest of my life. This quote is also widely applicable to big or small risks — maybe starting your fitness and wellness journey is anxiety provoking for you, but you take the risk anyway. At FRC we want everyone to embody this notion of leaning into discomfort and taking risks to reach your goals.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to connect with Katie Ledecky (since she’s also from the DC area!) or Michael Phelps. Their commitment to their sport is unmatched and something I’ve always admired, and I think they could both provide some really helpful tips on creating a professional athlete experience to the everyday person through FRC.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

@formularunningcenter for Facebook and Instagram; @formularunning for Twitter

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!