Future is Taking Shape

Finnegan In the fitness industry, the biggest challenge is not fighting the battle of the bulge, but trying to inform the masses. Ritch Finnegan and his wife, Mia, figured that out while they were students in college in the 1980s. They’ve been working on the "Finnegan Plan" ever since.

Stage 1 was achieved when Mia Finnegan won four prestigious titles in a five-year span. Now they are in the midst of Stage 2; just call it Fitness Education 101. "We’re getting closer every day," said Ritch Finnegan, who was a judge at the Fitness Atlantic Pageant at the Palace Theatre in New Haven. "There is a lot of misleading information out there. People are led to believe that they can achieve the perfect body by working out three days a week. There is so much more to it than that. If they need to loose weight, just exercising will not do it. There needs to be emphasis on well-balanced nutrition. The health clubs are starting to move in the right direction."

Ritch Finnegan made a name for himself in the fitness hotbed of Los Angeles. One of the top achievements was founding the Tru Fitness Training Camps, which trained more than 160 female fitness competitors in one year. Finnegan's camps were also hired by the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer.

Finnegan But his best work might have been his wife. The Finnegans were determined to take home some hardware in the fitness competitions. After graduating college in 1988, Mia joined Ritch in California. Four years later, the Finnegans began to take the fitness industry by storm. Mia won the Ms. Natural Universe title in 1992. Two years later she won the Fitness America Pageant national title. She also won the 1995 Ms. Galaxy Fitness and 1996 Ms. Olympia Fitness crowns.

"Our master plan is to get the message out unless we had a title under our belts," Mia said. Before long, the Finnegans were sought-after commodities in the fitness world. Ritch does most of his work behind the scenes; Mia is one of the most recognizable faces in the industry. She does color commentary for ESPN and ESPN 2 in the Fitness America Pageants and is the host of the Health Network show "Fitting it in."

Success wasn't easy to achieve, but the Finnegans' biggest challenge was still ahead of them: turning fitness into a mainstream enterprise. To make it even more interesting, the Finnegans left fitness-crazy Los Angeles and moved east, where the Finnegans say the world of fitness is about 10 years behind. "The East Coast is lacking knowledge, but people are ready now," Ritch said. They are slowly reaching Stage 2 in the Finnegan Plan. "Everything the baby boomers touch turns to gold," Mia said. "They are getting into resistance training plus aerobic and cardiovascular exercise to help reverse the aging process. It's not big yet." But with the Finnegans leading the way, it's getting there.




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