Former Marine Andy Baker is fighting the fitness war in his new business, Kingwood Strength and Conditioning. Photo by Kathy Parks Lee "Andy" Baker enlisted in the Marines at age 21 to add purpose and meaning to his life. At 25, he finds the same fulfillment in building a business as a personal personal trainer and sports performance coach. "I've always enjoyed a challenge and always knew I wanted to be involved in fitness," said Baker, who played football at Kingwood High School and then enrolled at Texas A&M focusing on exercise. "After two years at A&M, I found myself doing some soul-searching about what I wanted to do with my life," said Baker. "It started shortly after Sept. 11, as I watched television coverage of what was happening in Afghanistan.” Baker joined the Marines and was deployed during the invasion of Afghanistan. He later finished his college degree though the GI bill, and when his four-year military term was up, he decided to return to Kingwood. “I enjoyed my military service and found it meaningful,” said Baker. “But my wife is pregnant and I wanted my child to have the same type of childhood I had.” Baker said that he has a close relationship with his father, who owns Baker Paint and Body, on Northpark Drive in Kingwood. He said that his father would close his shop on a weekday so he and his son could go fishing and 'have the bay to themselves.' He said that his father also took time to coach his Little League team and appreciated that he came to every game. “In the military, soldiers are away from their families for months at a time,” said Baker. “Starting my own business will allow me to have control of my schedule and stay closer to family. When I signed the business contract for the three-year lease, I knew there was no turning back but I like the rush of making a commitment to a goal. It is similar to what I did in the military.” Baker said that he gained experience by working at several fitness centers when he returned from Iraq, but he didn't want to settle for an eight to five job. His new business is located in the Woodland Hills Shopping Center and he said that as long as he provides a good product, his customers will find him. “I don't see the gyms as my competition,” said Baker. “We are serving a different clientèle. Many people are intimidated by all the equipment and fit people in a typical gym. My clients want customized, personal advise and privacy. The way I look at it, there are more than 70,000 people in this area and each should be served in a way he or she is comfortable.” Baker was quick to say that being a former Marine can make potential clients a little nervous before they get to know him. “This is not a 'boot camp' program,” said Baker. “Most of my clients are up front about the fact that they have no desire to bulk up.” He said that his program does a lot of educating, making his clients comfortable quickly. He said he tells them the program will be flexible, fun and fast-paced with a blend of cardio and weight training designed to give them a lean, healthy body. Baker offers personal training for one, two or three people. He said that small classes reduce the cost and lend support to those just starting their fitness program. Baker is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and U.S.A. Weightlifting. He has a Bachelor of Science in sports and health science from the American Military University. For more information call, 281-358-3006.

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