Terre Haute Intensity Resistance and Sports Training (THIRST) has nearly 7,000 square feet of open space, ample parking, an outside field, and "a decent location" (to quote THIRST owner Brandon Smitley) in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Education As The Foundation

The idea for THIRST came to its owner Brandon when he was in grad school, though he had a few inklings of what he wanted to do during his undergrad years (he has a bachelor’s degree from Purdue in health and fitness) when he worked as a personal trainer.

While he was studying for his master’s from Indiana State University (for physical education and coaching with an emphasis in strength and conditioning), Brandon trained out of his two-car garage. The closest thing to the kind of gym Terre Haute had at the time was a CrossFit gym, but there wasn’t anything that would help Brandon reach his strength goals.


“The number one reason I wanted to start a gym was to give back to my community and to give the athletes in my area something I didn’t have. Sports performance and quality personal training were in dire need in my area, so I wanted to create it and do it the right way.”

He worked as a personal trainer and online coach while working part-time gigs to save up for the gym space. He met his now-wife Adrian around this time when she was finishing up her undergrad degree in exercise science, interning training clients for a corporate business, and teaching group classes.

As he kept working, the location that would become THIRST landed in his lap, thanks to his training partner’s dad, who was renting a space. The rest is history.

Making The Team

When Brandon was running his garage gym, he trained anyone interested in powerlifting for no cost, which is fairly similar to how he found out about powerlifting through elitefts, which does not charge anything for its educational content.

Before opening THIRST in May 2018, Brandon’s desire to learn more about the strength industry led to him traveling across the Midwest to learn from the best: Julia Anto, David Allen, Chase Karnes, Matt Wenning, Louie Simmons, and elitefts seminars. One of those elitefts seminars led to another educational opportunity — this time, with Brandon as the teacher.

In 2013, Brandon attended an elitefts Learn to Train Seminar, where Dave Tate created a friendly competition between him and Casey Williams to battle it out for a spot on the team.

“Casey got the best of me that day,” he says. “But luckily Dave reached out and offered me a spot on the team as well.”

As it turns out, being part of Team elitefts is far more than cool T-shirts and discounted gear and equipment. It’s helped people recognize the quality of THIRST.


“Not only do followers of elitefts know about my gym, but any time someone or something is affiliated with elitefts it ensures that what is there is real quality — not only in service but integrity.”

And anyone who walks into THIRST can see both quality and integrity through the primary services it offers:

  • Sports performance training: This is for youth athletes in elementary school, middle school, high school, and off-season collegiate and pro athletes. “We provide customized programming and coaching for each athlete after an assessment process,” Brandon says. “We include everything from warm-ups, cool-down, mobility, strength, conditioning, power, and accessory work per sporting demand.”
  • Personal training: This is similar to THIRST’s sports performance training, but instead, it’s for adult clients who are looking to lose weight, become stronger or bigger, or move and feel better. “We provide the customized programming and coaching for each client after our initial assessment process,” Brandon says.
  • Adult fitness: This service is budget-friendly personal training. For a reduced fee, clients receive access to THIRST’s daily training, which is programmed with the average adult in mind. These training sessions focus on mobility, strength, and conditioning needs for average adults who are looking to move and feel better. Brandon describes this service as "a better and safer version of CrossFit.”
  • Conditioning: This service is a high-intensity circuit-based program, or what most would call a boot camp-style class. However, THIRST trainers pick smart exercise selections and sequences and utilize different rest and work ratios for approximately 45 minutes.


The elitefts Experience

The quality also comes from the elitefts gym equipment:

“elitefts is not only the leader when it comes to education in our field, but they provide the best equipment with the individual touch. We’ve got equipment from my garage days that is over five years old and not only still looks amazing but will last a lifetime. We’re never going to have to replace our equipment and it can handle the beating our clients and athletes will place on it.”

Considering that most of THIRST’s clientele are sports performance athletes, Brandon knew he’d need equipment that can take a beating, and elitefts equipment can take that and more. Plus, it was a simple process. Working closely with Matt Goodwin, Brandon found the equipment that worked best for him and on the budget he had to work under.

For anyone who’s looking to outfit their gym with elitefts equipment, Brandon suggests calling Matt and asking for his suggestions. “Chances are, he’s going to think of something you didn’t, and that may end up getting you more for your buck.”

elitefts Equipment at THIRST


And for anyone who’s considering open a gym, Brandon has one more piece of advice:

“While Adrian and I were starting our gym, we were also in the process of purchasing our first home and getting ready to have our wedding day. I would not recommend doing all that stuff at the same time, to anyone looking at starting a gym.”

For More Information

To learn more about THIRST, go to the website THIRSTgym.com, send an email to thirst.training@gmail.com, or follow THIRST on Facebook @TerreHauteIntensityResistanceAndSportsTraining or on Instagram @team.thirst.

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