Nic DeCaire is owner and founder of Fusion Fitness Center in Newark, DE. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware and Wilmington College. DeCaire is an IFPA certified personal trainer and has been personal training in the Newark area for 12 years. He started his career at age 14 working the front counter at a local fitness center. His success and passion for fitness has grown since then. A former competitive bodybuilder and power lifter, DeCaire has won many awards in the sport. He is the chairman of the Main Street Mile, serves on the board of Kids with Confidence and is a member of the Newark Morning Rotary Club. If you would like to contact DeCaire, he can be reached at 302-738-4580 or nic@fusionfitnesscenter.com.

Why did you become part of the fitness industry? Maybe it’s because you love to exercise, or maybe it’s because of the joy you experience helping people reach their goals. Perhaps you see it as a way to earn a good living. Whatever your reason, I urge you to consider going a step further by giving back. It pays dividends that are incredibly gratifying.

I did not understand the importance of giving back until four years ago when I opened my own facility, Fusion Fitness Center, in a small college town. As a child, I watched my father, who owns his own insurance company, give back to his community. He did so on many levels. He always was on the board of a particular charity, cause or nonprofit. He frequented fundraising events. I never understood why he would spend so much time helping other people until I started to do so myself. You cannot replace the wonderful feeling you get when you help someone else and see how much they truly appreciate the gesture.

With so many worthy charities out there, it can be difficult to choose which one is a good fit. At Fusion Fitness Center, I have two “house” charities that are close to my heart.

The first one is my financial charity, Kids with Confidence (KWC). My father, who traveled for eight years on missions to Central America with the charity Operation Smile, founded KWC in 2007 after he discovered that we had children in our tri-state area with cleft palates, protruding ears and other maxillofacial deformities who were not getting the help they needed. Insurance companies were denying these children corrective surgeries because the corrections were considered cosmetic. Not having these surgeries prevented children from attending school, playing with other kids in their neighborhoods and joining sports teams because they lacked confidence and felt different and shunned by their peers. Kids with Confidence raises the money necessary to fund the surgeries for these children.

The second one is my volunteer charity, the Special Olympics DE Power Lifting Team. I started working with the group about eight years ago when I met Jon, a young man with Down syndrome, at a local fitness center. He was on the power lifting team and could bench press more than me. As I became involved with the group, I was amazed about how exercise helped these young adults and gave them such joy. When I opened my fitness center in 2006, I asked Jon and his dad Hank (the coach) if the power lifting team would like to work out in my center for free. They were ecstatic. As a result, at 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday for the past four years, we have about 20 young adults with special needs working out at Fusion Fitness Center. The great thing is that they exercise with all the other members. Both groups get a lot out of the experience. It’s a win-win situation. And it just feels good.

Here are tips for choosing the right charity for your fitness center and tips for raising money for that charity.

1. Help out the lesser-known charities. Find a small organization with a mission that speaks to you. You will have a bigger impact.

2. Find a charity with personal meaning for you. Did a family member die of breast cancer? Did your cousin have leukemia? Did you or a friend grow up in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program? Find something that has touched you or someone you know.

3. Ask your members. Your members are a great resource. Find out what organizations they support and see if they interest you. They may have personal stories to share or experiences that will affect your decision.

4. Hold at least one fundraiser per year. You want your members and community to understand that you and your staff do more than just collect fees. Hold a wine tasting at a local restaurant. Promote a special protein shake for a month and donate $1 from each sale to the charity. Sponsor a local 5K. There are endless possibilities. Make it fun and interesting, and you’ll succeed.

5. Gather change. Near the smoothie bar, leave out a change jar in which members can put their extra change after they purchase a shake. You will be surprised how quickly it adds up. Show a running total so members can see how much they’ve raised. Members want to see they are making a difference, just like they want to see results from their workouts.

Choosing the right charity can be a tough decision because many great organizations exist and so many people need help. Once you choose your charity, however, you will get back so much more than you give. It’s the best feeling in the world.