WE RECEIVED THE BUSINESS OF CHAMPIONS AWARD FOR 2020 FROM THE SAN GABRIEL CIVIC ALLIANCE FOR OUTSTANDING SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY DURING THE PANDEMIC. WE ARE THE 2021 RECIPIENT OF THE RESILIENCY AWARD FROM THE MONROVIA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE FOR SUCCESS AND ROLE MODELING FOR OTHER BUSINESSES DURING COVID 19.
August 1987 Foothill Gym opened its doors on the corner of Foothill Blvd and Fifth Avenue. It quickly became the place to train at in the San Gabriel Valley and earned a superb reputation for training, nutrition and advice.
In 1991 Hans Hopstaken began working as the manager. Hans, a legendary bodybuilder who later went on to get his IFBB Pro card and place in the top 5 at the Masters Olympia two years in a row, became a mentor to many and a friend to all. In 1996 Hans purchased Foothill Gym and continued to run it until 1999.
In 1998 Hans made the decision he needed to sell the gym. He wanted to keep the gym within the Foothill Gym family so he approached his long time friend Brian Whelan. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Brian Whelan moved to California late 1990 and joined Foothill Gym at it's former location on the corner of Foothill Blvd and Fifth Avenue. It was there in 1991,where he met his friend and mentor IFBB Professional Bodybuilder Hans Hopstaken. Hans took Brian (weighing a mere 144lbs at 6 feet tall) under his wing and showed him how to train and all the aspects of nutrition for both weight loss and weight gain.
Top gun award
Brian was a Senior Account Executive for L.A. Cellular and later a Senior Data Specialist for SBC / Pacific Bell. His business savvy led him to become the #1 executive and received the Top Gun Award for being the top executive in the nation for all of Bell South / AT&T properties. A closet full of Awards later Brian decided to merge his business experience with his passion, fitness. In 1996 he purchased a near bankrupt Laguna Health Club in Laguna Beach California and within two years he turned it into a thriving business. During his ownership of Laguna Health Club Brian continued to train at Foothill Gym and represent it at contests winning the 1999 Mr. Las Vegas Title and the 1998, 1999 & 2001 Venice Beach Heavyweight crown.
FOR YEARS BRIAN HAD JOKED WITH HIS FRIEND HANS ABOUT OWNING FOOTHILL GYM. BRIAN SOLD LAGUNA HEALTH CLUB AND REALIZED HIS DREAM OF OWNING FOOTHILL GYM FEBRUARY 1, 1999.
"I still remember my first night as owner, it was after closing time and the gym was empty, years of hard work and determination had lead my dream to become reality".
In May 2000 Brian moved Foothill Gym to it's present and much larger location on Myrtle Avenue. "It allowed us to expand in the prime location of Downtown Monrovia and provide all the services of a state of the art health club including a full group exercise program, cardio stations, tanning, juice bar and much more". Since then Foothill Gym has gone from strength to strength.
On October 4, 2000, a mere four months after opening day at the new location, Brian suffered a terrible accident in which both legs were crushed, broken in 21 places. Unsure whether to amputate the right leg or not, Dr's at Methodist Hospital in Arcadia operated. Eleven days later Brian was released from hospital, wheelchair bound for over a year, but both legs saved. Four days after being released, just over two weeks since the accident, Brian returned to work at Foothill Gym. He continued with his plans to compete and in May 2001 Brian won the Heavyweight crown at Venice Beach for the third time, this time however, he was competing in a wheelchair against able bodied competitors, the first person in history to do so. In February 2002 Brian began the long road from wheelchair to walker to crutches to full recovery. Dr's were amazed at his recuperative abilities which he credits to his exercise and nutritional expertise. Brian was featured in Iron Man Magazine and in several newspapers.
On June 26th 2010 at the West Coast Classic in El Monte, California, Brian was presented with the Hans Hopstaken Award for Most Inspirational Bodybuilder.
Brian also won 3rd place in the Heavyweight Division and 4th in the Masters (40+). This was Brians first time competing since being in a wheelchair almost nine years ago. Eight days later Brian hit the stage once again; This time at the legendary Muscle Breach in Venice, Ca for the annual 4th of July Mr and Ms Muscle Beach Contest. Brian took 2nd in the Masters and 4th in the Heavyweight and along with his wife, Jennifer, took home top honors by winning 1st place in the couples class to be the 2010 Mr and Ms Muscle Beach.
Foothill Gym has given 184 lifetime memberships to Monrovians serving in the armed forces. Each membership card bearing the Blue Star along with the following letter:
"As we keep the memory of 9/11 in our hearts and minds it is important that we never forget those who gave their lives, their loved ones left behind, and you. For it is you who defends our nation and enable us to retain our freedoms and the freedoms of our children. From a small business in the City of Monrovia, we would like to show our support to you and all Monrovians serving our nation and say thank you to you by adding our services to the Blue Star program. We extend to you, a lifetime “Blue Star” membership to Foothill Gym. We wish you to know the level of our gratitude and our never-ending, never fading support. And we look forward to your safe return".
Brian Whelan - Foothill Gym, Fitness & Aerobics
In 2016 Brian returned to the competitive stage, flying back to Ireland where he was born for The Mr. Ireland. His son Kevin accompanied him and witnessed him take silver in The Irish National Bodybuilding Championships at age 50. The Monrovia Weekly published a wonderful write up and photo of the event. Brian was also featured again in IronMan Magazine for his success in The Mr. Ireland contest along with a photo of him and his son Kevin.
In 2017 Brian competed once again in Ireland, this time winning the Irish Masters Nationals to take the Mr Ireland Title and Trophy back to Foothill Gym.
In January 2003, Foothill Gym was the recipient of the "2003 Monroe Award - Business Person of The Year" for outstanding service to the community, presented by the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce and the City of Monrovia.
One of Brian's proudest moments was when his eldest son Kevin started working at Foothill Gym in early 2016. Kevin has been a huge asset to Foothill Gym and loved by all the members for his friendliness and hard working mindset.
Brian, who was featured in the Mountain Views newspaper as “2001 All Star Businessman”, served eight years on the Board of Directors for the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce and in 2004 was appointed by the Mayor of Monrovia to the Monrovia Old Town Advisory Board where he served for 10 years and became Chairman. He has been a member of MENSA (High IQ Society) since 1990 and a member of the National Physique Committee (N.P.C.) since 1993.