Spencer Tatum: Igniting a Fit in Fitness

Disability impelled his perseverance and innovation

by Kassidy McDonald

In the first grade, the future Ignite THP founder Spencer Tatum was diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia. He decided at that early age he would not allow his disabilities and bullying from his peers to define him but rather turned to his advantage his ability to persevere and adapt to changes around him to grow his business. It was sports, in fact, that taught him how to persevere and overcome challenges through great work effort. 

“Having a learning disability has been a blessing in disguise, because it gave me the ability to truly learn instead of just memorize information,” says Tatum. “Fitness is an incredible way to help clear your mind and build confidence.” He found that exercise helps create new pathways in the brain and is a positive way to channel emotions. 

Aiming to be an elite athlete, he went on to play football at Ohio University, but then a hip injury took him out of the game completely. “I had two options, either sit around and feel sorry for myself or take my learned skills as a college athlete and accept that I needed to pivot my career goals,” Tatum says. “Playing sports in school gave me a vehicle to express myself and ultimately led me down a journey to understand the physiology of human performance.”

While recovering from his injuries, Tatum studied how to optimize human performance and founded his company, Tatum Human Performance, or Ignite THP. To stand out in the saturated world of personal training, he developed a unique niche in the sports world, specifically golf: He created a training process that starts with laying the foundation to understand how to assess a client’s abilities, needs and goals and then tailoring an individualized workout and wellness plan.

Tatum also worked to leverage his already strong relationships as a student athlete to network with people within the industry and partner with leaders in the fitness technology space to better offer his clients a completely customizable experience while training. These collaborations have allowed the company to stand out from others through integrating services like Bod Pod, which increases accuracy in body composition testing; video analysis; and K Motion K Vest, for 3D data and biofeedback on training. 

“The biggest thing in building clients is having the ability to put yourself out there, listening to what people want and focusing on how to solve their problems from a multi-discipline, holistic approach,” says Tatum. “We worked to find a specific market that had the biggest opportunity and also aligned with my vision. We then went to work to search the best ways to evaluate our clients and business and provide the best product to achieve their goal. This process has not only created success for myself, but for our clients and team.”

To build his team, Tatum assessed each applicant’s understanding of human performance and passion for the industry. Another metric was grit and ability to find solutions to challenges. “In a startup, you need to have people who believe in your vision and want to take it to the next level. I first look for the best individuals who are constantly learning, wanting to grow, and want to be part of something bigger than themselves,” says Tatum. “ Once we have established these fundamental concepts, the next step is looking at their personal objectives and how they see themselves achieving in our system. The last key concept is looking at their technical skills set and asking if it aligns with the role.” This process, he notes, is not as easy as it may sound.

Most recently, the company has had to pivot and adapt to the rapid spread of COVID-19. Tatum quickly transitioned all clients to THP’s digital tools, which includes online training sessions, instructional video training and more. Tatum was able to use THP’s digital assets and deliver a dynamic experience from home. Tatum also launched a free 30-day challenge called #IgniteYourImmunity through the app to inspire people to work out from their home and create healthy habits during a stressful time. 

Tatum and his Ignite THP team’s quick response to COVID-19 has allowed them to thrive during an uncertain time. Since restrictions have been lifted in Arizona, the team has elevated their training experience by having options for both in-person and digital training models. 

Tatum believes it has been his ability to take a different approach at looking at people, a positive mindset and learning to use obstacles as learning moments that has helped his company thrive.   

Drive to Golf Excellence 

This year, Spencer Tatum was recognized in Golf Digest as one of the top 50 best golf-fitness professionals in America for 2020. The publication’s annual list is made up of the country’s most accomplished fitness trainers who help golfers play better, feel better and avoid injuries. 

As a leader and innovator in the field, Tatum has taken his approach to clients at all physical levels, from youth to elite athletes. He currently works with the Arizona State University golf teams, as well as some of the best golfers in the world, including PGA tour players Jon Rahm and Kevin Chappell, as well as LPGA player Anna Nordqvist.

Did you Know: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is estimated personal training and fitness jobs will increase by 10 percent until 2026.

Photo courtesy of Ignite THP

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