Sam Pfister: Rise and Shine

by | Jun 2024

SAM PFISTER helms Rise Strength & Performance, a multi-faceted endeavor that serves as a gym, fitness center, coaching venue, and educational outlet. 

Originally from Illinois, Pfister was no stranger to the fitness world, but he’d pursued an entirely different path, immersing himself in a political career. He went all in on the demanding, often draining political arena and turned his back on staying in mental and physical shape. And then came an eventual crash and burn, where Pfister bottomed out completely. But after this crash and burn, he took stock. 

Pfister had harbored the desire to follow an entirely different path. He had always loved fitness and entertained vague entrepreneurial ambitions that he tried hard to squelch. 

“I was doing politics,” he remembered, “and thought that having a gym wasn’t a real job. I wasn’t doing myself any favors, standing with one foot on the boat and one foot on the dock — choose where you are!” 

The catalyst for a new chapter in his life came from the chance viewing of a YouTube video of a guy coaching kids. He was just talking about getting better, being better, being physically fit, doing hard things, and doing something tangible with your life. The way he was talking, the way he was motivating people — that was what I needed to do.”

And so Pfister chose where he wanted to be — in a place far removed from the political arena. He boldly contacted a coach at George Washington University and received an unpaid internship. He assisted with coaching the university’s baseball team, women’s volleyball and basketball teams, and men’s rowing.

“I got to experience a whole lot of different athletes and a whole bunch of different types of training,” said Pfister

It was a grueling schedule. Pfister was also driving for Lyft to make ends meet and would coach from 6 a.m. to noon, drive from noon to 10 p.m., and then turn right around and do it all over again. However, he learned a lot, enhancing his newfound knowledge with podcasts and YouTube videos. 

Pfister was not a total stranger to the business world. He had learned a lot from his father, who worked in real estate and appreciated his drive and hustle. His political background, as it turned out, was also valuable in terms of building a business. 

“Politics is sales and networking and going out and talking to people,” Pfister said. “I have that ability built up.” 

Pfister moved to Tennessee in 2020 and began coaching out of a garage in a rented house, then rented space in a gym and did private and small group training. In a relatively short time, he became a business owner. Rise Strength & Performance opened in 2022. 

Rise’s mission is to help busy and successful people fit fitness into their lives. Much of his clientele, for various reasons, have put their well-being aside for their families, jobs, and employees. They come on in, and Pfister pledges to take care of their health. Rise offers lots of guidance, including assistance with nutrition. No more than six people are in a class, and each person gets their own workout. Rise’s clientele is varied. 

“I could have a 25-year-old entrepreneur who owns a business and doesn’t have any injuries; he’s just doing regular weightlifting. But next to him is a 60-year-old banker, who [has] all sorts of back problems and wants to deal with an old baseball injury in his shoulder, but still wants to sweat and feel good.” 

The ever-busy Pfister also does strength training for homeschool basketball teams and adult, small-group personal training. 

Rise aims to send its clientele out into the world armed with the tools to maintain their progress. 

“I want people — even if they’re only with me for a few months,” Pfister said, “walking away and knowing how to work out on their own. I don’t want to just have people depend on me.” 

Pfister envisions more homeschool coaching and an even greater involvement with the community. All the various components of what Sam Pfister and Rise offer come down to wanting his clientele to be self-sustaining and healthy. 

He concluded, “I want to help out as many people as possible.” GN 

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