Peter Rivera is fitness director at Anytime Fitness. Photo by Michelle Chance

By Michelle Chance

It is not unusual to find new faces in Maricopa. The city is often a seasonal home for those seeking a mild-weathered respite from the bitter cold that freezes their hometowns during the winter.

However, Maricopa is also a permanent haven for people looking to start an adventure out West.

Peter Rivera, the new fitness director for Anytime Fitness, is one of them. He left the East Coast after 45 years, trading his hustle-and-bustle lifestyle for Arizona’s laidback culture.

When Rivera moved to Maricopa four months ago, he said he was lured by the prospect of opportunity in a growing city.

“It’s always nice to be in the beginning of something,” Rivera said. “There is going to be an explosion of culture here that I think is going to be fantastic to be a part of.”

In January, Rivera began his new position at the gym. His general duties include overseeing the training staff and consulting new members, but Rivera plans to incorporate more into the fitness center than what the basics of what his responsibilities require.

Rivera said he wants to target the older population, as well as those who have permanent movement disorders like cerebral palsy, for training.

With these groups in mind, Rivera said he might consider implementing deceleration training at Anytime Fitness. This unorthodox form of exercise is often used as a preventive measure for sports injuries, but Rivera said he has seen evidence that it also has health benefits for people 50 years old and over, and people with cerebral palsy.

Additionally, Rivera would like to collaborate with medical and fitness professionals in the area to create a referral network for clients seeking help from either side.

“I see a cohesive unit being built here that could actually be a cornerstone for Maricopa itself in this industry,” he said.

The new fitness director said his perspective on what he has accomplished in his las 25 years in the fitness industry is what sets him apart from others in his field.

“I think my biggest accomplishments have been my failures,” Rivera said, adding he believes how a person responds to adversity is what matters most.

No stranger to challenges, Rivera said while growing up he was told by others that he was an “undersized kid,” a comment he carried with him until a chance meeting with a fitness icon.

After seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger in an airport as a teen, Rivera said it inspired him to “be as big as Arnold.”

Rivera said the people around him cast doubt over his bulky pursuits, but he never gave up.

“I come from people who, when somebody tells you that you can’t, that means you push harder,” he said.

The underdog’s confidence is something he said he hopes to transfer to those who enter the gym.

“I love seeing people do things that they never thought they could do. That’s why I do this job in the first place,” Rivera said.

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