By Raiza Giorgi

“When I was a kid and training for football or other sports I competed in, it was ingrained into me that strength meant big muscles, but I have found that not to be true as I progressed in strength training and physical therapy,” said Travis Harwood. 

Harwood is a Santa Ynez Valley native that returned home five years ago to raise his children with his wife Janson. They just opened Lift SYV, a new fitness lifestyle training facility on the outskirts of Solvang. 

Lift SYV doesn’t offer formal “classes,” and each training session is programmed for the individual, as Harwood knows not everyone fits a single training methodology. 

“There won’t be a lot of people in the gym at once,” he said. “I want to be able to focus on your workout, even if you’re ‘on your own.’” 

Growing up as fifth-generation resident of the valley, Harwood was involved in wrestling and football at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School and graduated in 2001. He then attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in kinesiology with an emphasis on physical education and coaching. 

“I realized early on that I loved the process of training much more than I enjoyed the actual playing of the sport. I thought this is what I wanted to do,” Harwood said. 

He ended up helping coach football at Cal Poly and got a job at a gym in Orange County, helping prepare college athletes for the NFL. 

“That was a really exciting job because I got to help prep the players that were going to be professional players,” Harwood said. 

Then the recession happened in 2008 and his job tanked. 

Harwood eventually got into rehabilitation for spinal cord injury patients in 2010 and his whole approach to fitness changed. 

“Getting people to restore themselves back to a fuctional state as opposed to just ‘getting big’ really opened my eyes to a new perspective of health,” Harwood said. 

When he returned home to the valley, he worked at Rob Rosenberry’s Performance Fitness until opening Lift SYV, and still works with Rosenberry to offer combined approaches. 

Harwood works with people of all ages and abilities. He has some professional athletes and works with seniors, and even has a client in her 90s. 

“My goal is to get your body to move without pain, and prevent injuries from happening as people tend to work out in a rush, or push the limits in their first workout back which can create more damage,” he added. “I also hope to get people off medication and prescriptions through nutrition and balance health.” 

Harwood develops his clients’ workout plans based to help without overstimulating the body. 

To learn more about Lift SYV and Harwood, visit or call 805-440-9143.