August 1, 2019 marked the twentieth year that the well-respected, known, and loved personal trainer Matt MacLean has been with the River Valley Club.
Day in and day out Matt comes into work with an ear-to-ear smile on his face so contagious you can’t help but smile back. Whether he is working the fitness floor, training one of his clients or just coming in for a workout, his positive attitude has been one of the staples members and employees of the River Valley Club have come to love and expect throughout the years.
It was at an elementary school where Matt started his career in fitness, teaching physical education for two years. He then became a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and was the fifth trainer hired here at RVC. Matt’s story goes much deeper than fitness and RVC, however. His longevity at RVC is to be celebrated, but the story of how he got here is even more exceptional.
It was over thirty years ago, in May of 1989, when the now 48-year-old trainer was in an accident. MacLean, a senior in high school, was hit by a drunk driver, putting him in a coma that lasted over three months.
The doctors told Matt’s family that he would be in a vegetative state if he awoke from the coma. Despite the dire prognosis, Doctor Joe Phillips successfully operated on Matt’s brain and he has defied the odds ever since.
To this day, when Phillips is in the Upper Valley, he still trains with Matt here at RVC.
“When someone wants to get started they may be overweight or have low self-esteem. I have been there. I have been through all of this.”
Matt was temporarily paralyzed on his right side. This paralysis led to Matt training himself to be left-handed. He even underwent more surgeries which included splices of his ribs implanted in his skull.
Matt does not remember anything prior to the accident, which is why whenever he’s asked his age, he will always say, with a smile on his face; “so… really I’m only 30.”
Mark, who is Matt’s twin brother gets a lot of credit from Matt for helping him through the hard times — even if it was often tough love joking about how much of an overachiever Matt is. “Matt loves himself too much,” Mark often joked. The twins are the six and seventh youngest of the nine MacLean children and have always been close — in fact in high school Matt was ranked fifth academically and Mark was fourth, you can’t get much closer than that.
After recovery, Matt proceeded to take classes at Plymouth State University and enrolled in UNH part time to get his degree in physical education. Nothing along Matt’s path of life ever deterred him from pursuing a career in the fitness industry that he was, and still to this day, remains so passionate about.
His other passion is golf. When he’s not at the gym, it is safe to bet that he is out golfing. “I want to golf every day, then lift weights, then work,” MacLean said, who also loves an occasional “stogey” on the golf course.
So although Matt is one of the most consistently cheerful people at the club, he had to work hard to get to where he is. He expects and tries to instill that same passion and work ethic in his clients in their workouts.
“So why pick me as a trainer?” Matt asks. “When someone wants to get started they may be overweight or have low self-esteem. I have been there. I have been through all of this stuff before. I know what they’re going through — trying to reinvent themselves.” Matt has certainly been through a lot, but it all led him to be the incredible and passionate trainer who day in and day out has a smile on his face that we at the River Valley Club have all come to know and love.
Written by Devon Centola, Team RVC