Claymont grad and personal trainer Nithanial Decker launching fitness app

The Times-Reporter
The Times-Reporter

Growing up in Uhrichsville, Cleveland-area personal trainer Nithanial Decker played a lot of youth sports. He was involved in football and basketball, but baseball was his passion.

"Unfortunately, I hurt my arm pitching at a young age and it caused me to lose interest in sports in high school," said Decker, who graduated from Claymont High School in 2008. "Baseball is what I was best at and if I couldn't play that, I didn't want to play anything. I turned to weight lifting in high school and that's where my passion for fitness was ultimately born."

His interest in fitness became his life's work and livelihood.

His company Omni-Active Fitness has been offering on-site and in-home personal training in the Greater Cleveland area since 2012.

"Convenience has always been our motto," he said.

But the COVID-19 pandemic was anything but convenient.

"You would think that when no one wanted to leave their house, things would've picked up for us, but with so much uncertainty, people tended to keep to themselves," Decker said. "Virtual workouts via FaceTime picked up after a while, which kept us afloat. Like most fitness companies during the pandemic, we stumbled. Having found myself between a rock and a hard place, I had to do a lot of thinking. What would be best for my customers? What about my employees over the long term?"

Tough times forced Decker to reconsider his business model. He is preparing to launch his own app.

"We will be offering one-on-one training sessions, virtual sessions (video calls), and online training (written workouts with videos pushed to the app) all in one place," Decker wrote in an email. "Hopefully, this will allow us to make a bigger impact the community by offering corporate wellness programs and by making ourselves more accessible to all of our clients. I also plan to use the app for fundraising purposes at local schools to give back to communities in the area. Convenience is still the motto, but the troubles of yesterday have set us up to make a bigger impact on tomorrow."

He hopes the pivot will allow his fitness company to not only survive, but to improve for the future and set itself up to compete with the "big guys."

Decker's clients include 39-year-old Ellie Hess of Hunting Valley, a former math teacher who decided to stay home when she had her first child. She and husband Ron and I have six children: a 14-year-old girl and five boys, ages 13, 11, 9, and 5-year-old twins.

Hess appreciates Decker's willingness to work with her availability.

"The vast majority of the time he comes to my house," she wrote in an email. "We have occasionally met at a gym or a playground during the summer so the kids can run around while we train. He’s very flexible and is quick to adjust to fit my family’s schedule!"

The trainer and trainee first met when her twins were six months old.

"I was pretty out of shape/exhausted/stressed out," she wrote. "However, I am a former college athlete and I also competed in the Olympic Trials for the marathon in 2016 (just before getting pregnant with the twins). So I was no stranger to exercise, but I needed help finding myself again."

She said Decker has helped her become as fit as ever.

"I’m definitely a more well-rounded athlete with respect to strength and cardiovascular fitness" she said. "While I’ve continued to run, I feel that the strength training we focus on has prevented me from getting injured and helps me feel stronger during my runs.

"Nithanial is extremely knowledgeable and is able to write challenging, highly effective, fun programs that cater to individual needs. What helped me the most in the beginning was the fact that he came to me and brought everything we needed.

"I was able to exercise while my twins played in the same room if I wanted to. As they grew up they’d try to join in and will now proudly tell everyone that they love to squat and plank! My older children have started to train with Nithanial as well. I love they they are learning the fundamentals and correct form at an early age," Hess said.

Hess was initially hesitant to work with a trainer.

"I thought, as an athlete, that I knew a lot about health and fitness," she said. "However, I have learned so much from Nithanial. I’m still surprised about how much I didn’t know about nutrition and strength training and how much I’m still learning from him.

"During a session, his cues and corrections help me get the most out of my workout and keep me injury free. Slight adjustments in form can go a long way in recruiting the right muscles and gaining strength! Having a trainer helps me get the most out of my workouts. He pushes and encourages me and also designs workouts specifically geared at meeting my goals," Hess said.

Q & A with Nithanial Decker

Decker shared his professional advice for people at all stages of fitness.

What would you recommend that people do, as a first step, if they want to become more active, but still find themselves on the couch every evening? ​The simplest way to make strides towards your fitness goals without flipping your world upside down to see what sticks is increasing your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis). Essentially, NEAT is the energy you use while carrying out daily tasks. This could be things like walking the family dog, parking further away from the door at the office, taking the stairs vs. the elevator. Monitoring this closely and working to increase it will help you get better results without having to change anything drastic.What can parents do to help their children get a start on a lifelong active, healthy lifestyle? There's a lot to be said on this topic, but the easiest way to achieve helping your kids adopt a healthy lifestyle is to lead by example. From activities on the weekends down to what we shop for at the grocery store, we set the tone for our kids future and what they adopt as their "normal" when it comes to their lifestyle choices.

Is there any type of diet you recommend to support optimal physical performance? Dieting is a very specific to each body type, activity level, and various other factors. I would recommend that everyone at some point in their adult life sit down with a dietician and get a better understanding of how to eat to achieve their specific goals. For a very basic starting point, our app has a macro calculator to help you understand how many calories you should eat per day (broken down by proteins, carbs, and fats) to help reach your fitness goals.

How can we incorporate fitness-building habits into our busy lives? I've always found that keeping things simple is key. This could be incorporating walks or bike rides into your daily routine, increasing your water intake by having a tall glass each morning and each evening before bed, or doing some home workouts at a time that you can be consistent each day. Once people start to see results, their interest tends to get a little stronger. That's when we capitalize! Use the simple steps I've listed as building blocks, eventually turning into trips to the gym, attending local yoga classes, or even hiring a personal trainer.

What should active people do if they find themselves hitting a plateau as they work toward improving their fitness? Plateaus can be deflating. We've all been there! Often times, plateaus are reached because our bodies have adapted to the workouts we've been doing over time. Completely changing up your routine can work, but it's not always necessary. Sometimes, just changing up an exercise or two can do the job. When you're trying to decide what you could swap out for something different, remember this rule of thumb: If it's hard for you, lean into it. People tend to shy away from the things they need to work on the most because they're "not good at it."

Reach Nancy at 330-364-8402 or

On Twitter: @nmolnarTR

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