Wednesday, February 2, 2011
When I first got involved as a fitness / personal training professional, around 10 years ago, I was only familiar with training football players. Before I ever worked in a "gym" setting, I was an Assistant Football Coach at Flanagan High School, where I helped oversee the Strength and Conditioning program. Everything was focused on developing strength, speed, and power, and hoping those traits carried on to the football field. At that point in my life I really wanted to pursue a career as a College Strength and Conditioning Coach.
A lot has changed over the years. After my last season coaching football I really wanted to do something different, but I still wanted to be around weight training and conditioning. I was approached by a co-worker, at the school where I taught, about personal training part-time. My first personal training job was at a crappy gym in Pembroke Pines, FL. I wasn't even certified, but because I had a college degree in an exercise related field so I was allowed to train people right away. The gym was poorly run, the money wasn't that good, and I didn't have a whole lot of clients. I did however love training.
I decided to get ACE certified, thought it would be an easy test, and it was. I passed without studying and now I was considered a Certified Personal Trainer. Honestly, that didn't mean crap! I really didn't know what the hell I was doing. I put clients on machines, counted reps, and discussed eating better and exercising more. I really feel bad for my first few rounds of clients, I guess I must have looked the part- because the training I was providing was less than average. I didn't assess movement, I didn't correct imbalances, and I really didn't put together decent programs for my clients.
I realized I need to educated myself better and I began to read and study information on the human body and nutrition. I decided to get CSCS certified, I figured that you needed a 4 year degree to sit for the exam, so it would be more respected then most of the other certifications. I studied for the test and I passed the first time. At this point I still didn't consider myself a good trainer.
After working a couple years at the crap hole, I was approached by the Fitness Manager at a "big name" commercial gym where I would occasionally workout. I decided to take the job and "buy in" to their way of doing things. Basically, I was a sales man in a personal trainer shirt. I had goals for my training revenue and goals for supplement sales. It didn't matter how much clients lost, it's how much they bought. I could have been the WORST trainer in the world, but if my numbers were good, I was GOLD!
Working at "Big Money Fitness" taught me a lot about what is wrong with the profession. I did, however, progress professionally and became much better at evaluating clients and understanding corrective exercise.
I started to attend conferences, became passionate about reading literature, and enjoyed searching through "reputable" Internet sites. My training changed, I broke free from machine based workout and focused mainly on body weight, barbell, and dumbbell movements. My clients got better results.
I stuck it out at "Big Money Fitness" for about 6 years. I did my own thing as far as programming and training and developed a good relationship with my clients and had a lot of success with helping them achieve their goals. It really wasn't that hard to pick up new clients or make my sales goals. I did a good job retaining most of my clients and many of them are still with me to this day.
I started to train people outside of the gym. I worked at parks with boot camp style workouts and I trained one of my athletes at a local high school preparing him to play college football. I really enjoyed the intensity that people brought to the workouts outside of the typical "gym" setting. For my clients to progress, I need to progress.
In order for me get better at training and coaching, I need to break free of my comfort zone and begin working at a different gym with a more results driven setting. I started working at Emery Wellness, a small private gym in Weston, FL in June 2010. From my first day on board I implemented my style of training. Almost every client from "Big Money Fitness" followed me to my NEW place, even though it was a further drive. I have started working with some new clients and I have heard very positive feedback regarding my style of training.
Over the past 8 months I have become even more passionate about strength development, physical conditioning, and better nutrition. I stated to connect with people through social media sites, which I used to be totally against. I have maintained a blog with entries on personal experience, advice, and stories about idiot members and trainers in local gyms. Youtube is my next step and my first few videos were filmed yesterday. My fiance is better with technology, so she will be the one getting things edited and uploaded (I also have video of her doing an awesome front squat with 135).
I have never wanted to be complacent with anything in life. I am taking the steps that I feel are necessary to develop into a better Strength/Fitness Professional. I have attended NSCA, Perform Better, Hammer Strength, and ECA conferences in the past and I look forward to getting back to more professional development events in the near future. Of course, at this point in my life my wedding and honeymoon are taking financial priority. I wish Perform Better would bring back to some clinics to South Florida to cut down on travel expenses!
Working a full time job as a teacher and part-time job as a personal trainer /strength coach isn't easy. There are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that I would like, but my time management skills are improving. I look back at the trainer I once was and compare that to where I am now, all I can say is "Never be completely satisfied with what you once were or where you are now. There is always new things to learn or ways to improve to make you better professionally and the people you train better physically and mentally, that's what this profession is about".