Issue Date: November-December 2010, Posted On: 12/7/2010

Journey to Success: Todd Durkin
By Shelby Murphy


Fitness Quest 10 & Todd Durkin Enterprises


EDUCATION: BS in Kinesiology, College of William & Mary; MA in Biomechanics and Sports Medicine, San Diego State University; New Life Institute (now Rising Spirit Institute) Massage Therapy School (Atlanta, GA)
CONTACT INFO: phone: 858.271.1171 email: durkin@fitnessquest10.com website: www.todddurkin.com www.fitnessquest10.com


When Todd Durkin laid out his vision for the coming year last December, he decided that 2010 would be the year he created "impact on a deeper level." With a thriving fitness studio, a reputation as the go-to trainer for world class athletes such as Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson and Aaron Rodgers, a seat on the Under Armor Advisory Council and an impressive following of everyday folks who can't get enough of everything he has to offer, Durkin knew he could deliver even more.

"This year was a culmination of strong intention," says Durkin.

Little did Durkin know that his strong intention would manifest in a book, his first foray into the realm of authors and a dream of his for the past seven years. And that book is called, of course, The IMPACT! Body Plan. It was published by Rodale and is already working its way up the booksellers' charts.

Durkin's successes have always been a result of strong intention -- of willing himself to succeed -- and that ability to get his mind right, working for him rather than against him, is a large part of the Durkin mystique.

It wasn't always that way. Durkin entered the fitness world as an injured quarterback, hooked on Vicodin with no clear picture of his future. With three herniated discs, spinal stenosis and degenerative back disease, Durkin left the European football league and headed home. He wanted to heal himself without the surgery that doctors recommended. With the bodywork knowledge he gained from the massage therapy certification he earned years earlier, he began rehabbing himself at his sister's day spa in New Jersey.

It was there that Durkin met mega-famous television producer, Michael King, who owned King World Productions (which, at the time, produced Oprah, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!). Durkin began to train King and do massage and bodywork on his ailing back.

King suggested that Durkin move with him and his family to Los Angeles so that Durkin could continue to train them and immerse himself in the "fitness capital." Durkin did. Soon, he was living in Sting's beach house and training the King family. But the West Coast couldn't cure Durkin's lingering back pain or his addiction to Vicodin.

Durkin says this is when his "true" education began. He met Dub Leigh, a man who combined Rolfing, Feldenkrais and energy work into what he called "Zen Bodywork." After five sessions with Leigh working on Durkin's psoas, Durkin says he felt like a new man. After the sixth session, Durkin got up off the table and declared that he wanted to play football again.

The 80-year-old Leigh slapped Durkin across the face and said, "No, Dodo bird, your time is up... it is now time for you to start working on athletes yourself and doing this work."

The Zen Bodywork sessions also began to detox Durkin. Leigh would often comment on how toxic Durkin was, but it wasn't until Durkin wrestled with bouts of vomiting and diarrhea during the course of his sessions that he believed Leigh. The Vicodin Durkin had become reliant on was purged from his body. He never touched the painkiller again.

What's Your Favorite...
...workout equipment? I don't just have one. I would say TRX, Total Gym, Super Bands, kettle bells, Keiser Functional Trainer, and a Concept2 Rower & Ski Erg.
...healthy snack? Coconut water and Chewy Chocolate Chip bar from Optimal Nutrition
...quote or saying? "The way you do anything is the way you do everything." "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard." "GET YOUR MIND RIGHT!!!"

"This is when my career really started," says Durkin, who was 27 at the time. "It was the shot I needed to give up football for good and really dive head-first into my career in fitness and bodywork."

He left LA, got his masters degree in biomechanics and sports medicine from San Diego State University and opened a small personal training studio called Fitness Quest 10. It was January of 2000, most people had never heard of a "personal training studio" and Durkin was 29 years old.

"I remember people saying I was crazy," says Durkin. "They said, 'You are going to open a studio where people only pay you when they come in to train or get a massage? That is the exact opposite of the traditional model and that's not going to work.' "I said thank you very much and opened anyway. I had very little money, no business plan and no clients. I had a ton of passion and energy. "And I wanted to take my lessons from that of an athlete and combine it with my experience in my healing journey with Dub," says Durkin. "I wanted to combine my personal training and sports background with my 'healing' background and alternative forms of wellness."

Durkin negotiated three months' rent free at his new space, which helped him ramp up revenue. He bought only refurbished equipment and kept his studio bare bones. Even though he spent most of his first month in business working out (because he had no clients), he had seven trainers on staff six months into his business, and he's been profitable since day one.

Something was missing, though. Durkin hadn't worked with athletes since he left football and, realizing how much he craved training athletes, he set an intention for that to come into his life. In 2001, he became the team massage therapist for the San Diego Chargers. LaDainian Tomlinson, a running back for the Chargers at that time, heard that Durkin was training people under a new philosophy called "functional fitness" and said when the season was over, he'd like to train with Durkin.

The day after the football season ended Tomlinson called Durkin and Durkin began training Tomlinson. Tomlinson referred then-Charger quarterback, Drew Brees. Brees overcame a devastating injury to his throwing shoulder in 2005 while working with Durkin and has trained with Durkin for eight years, working on all aspects of his game. Because Durkin had become such an integral part of Brees' recovery and development into a champion athlete, he invited Durkin to Miami for Super Bowl XLIV. Durkin celebrated the New Orleans Saints' Super Bowl victory with Brees.

Along the way, Durkin doubled his space in his studio, at a cost of more than a half million dollars, and added more staff, which is up to 35. He is a frequent speaker at industry events, is a member of the Under Armour Advisory Council, and leads several mastermind groups. But it is still Fitness Quest 10, which he calls his sanctuary, and his wife Melanie and three young children that bring him the most peace and joy.

Durkin says his future won't be much different than his life now, because he is already living his vision. He will be speaking more and conducting IMPACT events around the US. He and Melanie are setting up a foundation to create further impact in the lifestyle-related diseases and fitness crisis facing our nation. But mostly, he will continue to make a deeper impact in the lives he already touches, and those he soon will.

"I will keep my heart open and be ready to go with the flow of life," says Durkin.

Topic: Success Stories/Trainer Spotlights

Magazine Archives:
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