Iron Sharpens Iron - Meet the Trainers


A few months ago, I had the pleasure to meet four dynamic trainers- the guys running the show at Iron Sharpens Iron in Cincinnati. They immediately felt like old friends, each uniquely and confidently owning who they are. We started talking about what they wanted to bring to Cincinnati's fitness game. The philosphy they have for themselves and the clients that walk into their studio says it all: WE over ME. Their own personal journeys have led them to this collaborative mindset and, having trained with them multiple times now, I have seen firsthand how they work together for the betterment of their clients. They have created an environment of trust and support, an incredibly important foundation for trainers whose goal is to bring out the best in everyone who comes to them.

If this all sounds a bit too serious, let me take a step back, because this is one of the most fun group of trainers I have been around. I hope you enjoy getting to know these guys as much as I did. And I'd like to thank our photographer Daniel Smyth, who was brilliantly able to capture the spirit and feel of what makes Iron Sharpens Iron such a special place.

When asked if there was a defining moment that made these guys want to get into fitness, being competitive athletes from early on in life is a common thread. When owner Alex Harbin finished pursuing his professional football career in 2010, he felt passionately about helping others pursue their dreams, especially for some that may not have been as fortunate as himself to have the support he was given. John Andriacco always wanted to work with people to create positive change, so working in fitness is a perfect fit for him. When Colin Lozier's competitive sports career ended, working out became his new sport. And last, but certainly not least, Jamar Jackson, after giving up alcohol in 2013, wanted to make a positive change in his life, and found that in weight training and running. I knew the addiction I had to alcohol had negative side effects for me and the people who surrounded me. So fitness took a role in my life change and I now can encourage others to make lifestyle changes and inspire them with my story, whether that is giving up diet coke, or only eating pizza once a week.

Jamar on the bar
Jamar on the bar

The City Skinny: What 3 words would clients use to describe you?

Alex: Caring, passionate, challenging.

John: Positive, energetic, bearded (polled by 3 of my clients- John, Becky and Selena)

Colin: Motivating, structured, thoughtful.

Jamar: Encouraging, positive, loud!

The City Skinny: What is your guilty pleasure?

John: I can't think of anything I enjoy doing that I'm too ashamed of, but sometimes I'll watch terrible YouTube videos that waste my time. So it's less of a guilty pleasure and more just guilt. But since that doesn't really answer the question: ice cream!

Colin: Skyline dip. Everytime I know I'm about to go somewhere where Skyline dip is being served, I instantly remind myself to say hi to people before I start eating.

The City Skinny: What Does Your typical day at the gym look like?

Alex: That's a really good question. As soon as I have one, I'll let you know! Really though, I wear many hats here. I train clients, field calls and e-mails, clean, check equipment, promote on social media, design gym "swag", serve the guys here in any way they need me, come up with new programming, set up new clients, and then if there is time I will eat and workout! I am blessed to be able to call this "work." God is good!

The City Skinny: What does your own workout routine consist of?

Colin: I try to hit every muscle group throughout the week. Sometimes my upper body gets more than my lower body. I'll also vary up the length and type of cardiovascular exercise that I do. I believe you must change it up often in order for your results to be different.

Colin Lozier- 559 lb tire, I might add
Colin Lozier- 559 lb tire, I might add

The City Skinny: What type of exercise do you not really care for?

Alex: CAR-DI-O! I recently began running outside but that is only an option when the temperature is above 60 degrees. I have a shorter attention span than most so running on a treadmill or striding on an elliptical for any extended amount of time is absolutely brutal to me!

John: Jumping lunges. I hate them. They're very beneficial, but I hate them.

Colin: I don't really care for treadmills. I feel there are more fun and effective ways to get a great cardioascular workout that is less stressful on the hips and knees.

Jamar: Squats. For me it's just the amount of pressure I feel on my lower back. I'd rather leg press than squat. Haha.

Jamar on the leg press- this really happened
Jamar on the leg press- this really happened

The City Skinny: What's on your playlist?

Alex: Music is a passion of mine! I am in charge of all the music you hear when enjoying your time at ISI-PT. My personal playlist is all over the place. I like all the artists from Reach Records- KB, Lecrae, Andy Mineo. Then you could hear some Johnnyswim (If you don't know them plesse do yourself a favor and check them out!). Then it could switch to Justin Beiber, *NSYNC, Leon Bridges, Hillsong United, NeedtoBreathe. I like good music- that's something else my clients would say:"great taste in music."

John: Eminem, Kendrik Lamar, Patsy Cline, Drake.

Colin: I enjoy mostly rap, hip-hop, dubstep and pop. For me it's the message of the song that I vibe with regardless of the genre.

Jamar: Calvin Harris, Lacrae, Usher, Justin Beiber, Nick Jonas, Michael Jackson.

Alex Harbin
Alex Harbin

The City Skinny: OK, since we are talking music, what's your "boyband role" here at Iron Sharpens Iron?

Alex: I am basically the Justin Timberlake of the gym. The guys would agree- I dress well, I sing well, I can try my hand in a bunch of different arenas and have success, and I am married to Jessica Biel. Basically, the only difference between JT and myself is that I drive a 2005 Honda and well...he doesn't.

John: I'd say I'm the Barry Gibbs of the group. Not necessarily saying I'm the lead singer or anything, but I'd definitely be the one to wear a tiny, shiny, gold leisure suit and let my chest hair fly freely as a falcon. Well, I guess all of the Bee Gees did that. I just really want to be Barry.

Colin: I would be the queit guy who every now and again gets a solo but mostly supports the big stars and is happy to do so.

Jamar: The HYPEMAN!

John Andriacco
John Andriacco

The City Skinny: What is your one big piece of advice for clients?

Alex: Do everything you do with passion and purpose: any other way is a waste of time. If you aren't passionate about what you are doing, then find something new to do. If you are strictly passionate but there is no purpose (something that impacts more people than yourself in a positive way) to what you are doing then find a way to make your passion purposeful.

John: I would tell them to try to embrace the process. That's hard to do sometimes given the strenuous toll working out can take on your body. You're out of breath, sore, tight, in pain, etc. However, if you can find a way to, maybe not enjoy or have fun with each moment, at least appreciate the process and progress. I feel like that can go a long way towards your training and the ultimate success of reaching your goals. It's all about your outlook on training. In order for your life to be a success, you typically need to have a good outlook on life, right?

Colin: My big piece of advice for my clients is everything you do comes from your mentality. If your mindset is off  in your work, then your behavior will be off. What actually gets people results is discipline. And you never stick to anything very long if you don't enjoy it!

Jamar: Never give up and train like you're a champion. It's 90% mental and 10% physical. Don't fear failure!


When I asked guys what inspires them, a common answer was their faith and their team at ISI-PT. Jamar said it's his brother, Jason, and his children. For John, it is his family: his brothers and loving parents. Colin spoke about people who beat the odds, trail blazers and leaders. Integrity. Every time I walk in the gym at Iron Sharpens Iron, the positive energy is flowing. I'm inspired by that. I'm inspired by people who grow from making people the strongest version of themself.

What keeps Alex moving is people. I have trained some really amazing athletes (Superbowl champions, Olympic contenders, Navy SEALS) and don't get me wrong- what they do and how they have overcome to get where they are is so impressive. For me though, it's the career mother who has 4 kids to take care of, a husband, a home and still has time and energy left to train intensely for an hour. I am inspired by the girl who lost her father at a young age but still overcomes and excels in school and receives a scholarship to an Ivy League school. That is what inspires me. When ordinary people do extraordinary things and often for little or no glory. I champion that and it drives me to continue with the mission that we are on to #flipthiscity.