Journey into Personal Training

Many people seem to feel that the fitness industry is pretty easy to get into, you make a lot of money, train celebrities, open a business, and just have fun doing it all. The reality of it can be a rude awakening. There are a lot of things you will need to prepare for and the more informed you are, the better off you will be.

Here are a few myths dispelled, followed by some general information. If you are looking to merge into the fitness industry, it can be fairly easy. In fact, maybe too easy depending on how you become certified and with what background knowledge, degree, how well you retain information and test, etc., you have coming into it. We will cover that a little more as you read on.

Will you make a lot of money? Well, that’s a million-dollar question right there! The easy answer is no. If you are deciding to get into this business with the impression that you will, for that reason alone, save yourself the time. There are many avenues you can take outside of limiting yourself to training and there are ways to be successful. Yes, there are fitness pros that do very well for themselves, but if you ask most of them who have made it big, it took them a long time to get there, lots of grinding, little free time and often a lot of no’s or struggles along the way. It can be very hard if you are relying on this as your only source of income to maintain stability in your personal or family life with the essentials and cost of living.

Celebrity training, not so much. Unless you happen to have created a name for yourself, live among the rich and famous, train at the gyms where they are and know someone that gets your foot in the door. So, if that’s your goal, it starts with being a celebrity trainer in your own community. You may want to join with other local trainers and wellness professionals to create more of an impact. You can also hold community events but seek opportunity in seeing what your community is needing most and be there to help contribute.

If your dream is to open your own fitness business, the more you know about business first of all, the better your chances will be. How many businesses offer what you will? What will differentiate you from the others? How familiar are you with management, marketing, customer service, purchasing, accounting, taxes, inventory, ownership? Will you rent space out? How many employees do you feel you need? What will your role be? How will you get by if you have months or even longer of hardships? Save, save, and save when you don’t think you need to. There are unending questions but the more you prepare, the better. Never stop learning and what you don’t know, find out. You will need mentoring, so have people you trust in place that have succeeded and failed to let you know what they have learned and how they made it work. Attend seminars, conferences in business, trends, specializations, etc.

Fitness, fun, wellness. It’s an awesome industry to be part of, if your heart is really in it. In deciding to pursue Personal Training, Group Instruction, Wellness Coaching, Nutrition, and the like, you are stepping into lives by transforming them. That is the real heart of it. How we change those who come to us and what it takes to get the job done.

Things you will definitely need to know. When it comes to the knowledge base we must have, the more the better. If you have a degree in Kinesiology, Human Movement Science, Exercise Physiology, Nutrition, Physical Therapy, Dietetics and so on, you are probably well versed in anatomy, biology, chemistry, physiology, biomechanics, physics, etc. from that point seeking out a certification is probably much easier by far. However, if you are not familiar with any or much of this, you will need to become very familiar to know what you are doing, why you are doing it and how to do it. 

Choosing your certification can be tricky too. Decide where you want to use it most of all and seek the credible organization that fits your needs. There are actually a lot of people who know material inside and out but do not do well on testing. If that is you, then be prepared to spend extra and do more to get in as much hands on as you can. Again, finding a mentor especially in your weakest areas, will be really beneficial.

Once you are certified, you will need to maintain a CPR/AED certification and insurance. These are two must haves. Factor in funds you will need for your CEC credentials, others courses you may want to take to keep your knowledge base up to par. Research what is available to you because you ultimately are responsible for what you deliver to your clients. Attend workshops, events, conferences, seminars, meetings, networking events, anything you can. It may make you uncomfortable from time to time but it will make you grow.

Membership fees. Be ready to put money into various memberships, apps, etc. within the industry, IDEA, Medical Fitness Network, PTontheNet, Muscle in Motion, Toastmasters, local business chapter or chamber and others. Whatever you need to help keep you in the loop, fresh, experiencing, learning more, market yourself, connect with others, and so on. It doesn’t stop with certifications. The hard work comes well after. Financially, you do need to be ready to get a little bit done at a time and try to maintain them by setting aside funds according to what you will need to get done each year. It may be easier for some but for many of us, some of this comes as a surprise and it’s difficult to keep up.

You don’t need to certify yourself with everything. Know what you are passionate in doing yourself because it will show in your training or classes. Know who you want to reach most of all and you may find yourself surprised and some of the clients that show up because you are doing so well with that group.

Don’t be discouraged. Things probably won’t go the way you planned but it will all come together in better ways. You may also be surprised who is in your corner. 

What's Your Fat Story?

During one of the weight loss programs on TV, I listened as the contestants revealed to their trainer, what happened to them in their lives that brought them to the place they are now. What brought them into eating disorders, depression, illness, pain, and isolation? Sure, it’s television and there has to be a pretty good dramatic affect for us to want to watch or choose the contestant we most relate to or support. However, it brought me to write this.

A  Fat Story. Maybe you don’t have one and can’t relate to the situation of baggage in the weight we carry on our bodies. Nonetheless, we all have got a story. When you look at someone who carries weight, you sometimes are looking at a book. Imagine, what one would say if they could trust you’d want to listen, not try to fix them, judge them or even relate to them, just listen.

Fat, can’t be hidden no matter how hard we try. It’s there, it looks back at us when we look in the mirror. It’s a burden to carry. It holds all of our secrets. It is there wrapping itself around us and blocking our bodies from optimal function. Some may say its protection, its comfort and it keeps you from being exposed and vulnerable. This one problem is so widespread and takes on anyone that will allow it. It doesn’t discriminate.

Fat. It tells stories about substance, physical, mental, verbal, emotional abuse. Some of the time, it tells us someone has children. What is assumed many times, is that person must really love to eat. How did that person get so big? How could he/she do that to themselves? How disgusting! As equally as people may be disgusted by others weight, there is no one who feels it more than the one who is carrying it.

All the fixes from diet, exercise to therapy. Why it is this one epidemic is continuing to grow. Why are so many people holding their stories in? Why every season there is another show with contestants that are all in pain and treating it through inactivity, eating, and isolation. What is the real fix in these situations?

Many of us grew up on affordable foods, some in excess others with very little. It wasn’t the best but it was what we ate and what we ended up feeding our family and friends.  It comes as a learned behavior. All these items are out there for us to choose from and the worse it is, the cheaper it is. It’s just the truth. Yet we are the ones who take it to the extreme, with having too much, continuing and repeating these patterns. The question comes to me again, what is it that drives us to more?

Whatever the reasoning may be, and there are plenty of people to tell us those, how can we start to tell our stories? How can we release those demons that have taken ahold of our bodies, spirit, attitude, and are shutting us down? In every inch on every person that doesn’t belong, I think of as pages. Each pound is a page, there was a story for it that day. Why didn’t it get told? Why was the temptation of self-destruction the better choice?

It’s time to think about a pound a page. Some of our stories are longer but maybe it’s time to tell those stories. It is time to find happiness within and take that into all areas of our lives. I challenge you to challenge yourself and others to tell that story. Don’t wait for the ideal time or place, find it now. Do it now. It’s time to change and it’s time to get healthy, not just lose weight.

What Makes Us Great?

Have you ever wondered, what makes us do what we do? Is it the body chemistry? Is it a result of our surroundings? Is it all just hard work and mental toughness? What is it? Why do some people just seem to have it? Maybe it’s in the books one reads, or the ability to maximize the potential that we all have in us. We are all destined to be great in our own areas. I decided to share examples as part of the proof in greatness and how it is achieved.


Recently, I watched a movie called “On a Clear Day”. It was about a man who worked as a shipbuilder for most of his life, finds himself laid off at 55. What he probably never knew, is he had greatness in him that was unimaginable. He was great at what he did, but there was a missing piece. Swimming the English Channel. He set his mind to it, accomplished it, and in turn fixing things in his life that needed mending. He was fortunate to have the support of a few really dedicated friends, who wouldn’t let him give up. Even when it was hard and Frank wanted to stop, those supportive voices of family and friends, didn’t let him quit.


In another movie, “Kon Tiki”, these men who found themselves in an ordinary life, or having lost their places in life, find one another. It is not just the story of the explorer Thor Heyerdahl, but what these men did together, as a unit in greatness. Together, they sail across the Pacific in a raft for 101 days. All survived.


What about people like Diana Nyad, her fifth attempt at age 64, she does it. She swims from Cuba to Florida!


Serena and Venus Williams, two professional Tennis Players that despite their environment and racism, they excel beyond their dreams. Their parents believed in their greatness and sought it out to their benefit.


 Kassim “The Dream” Ouma, a Ugandan Boxer. He was forced to be part of the rebel Army at 6 years old. Kassim defected from Africa to the US. Somewhere, someone believed in him, and was a part in his life changing.


 Usain Bolt from Trelawny Jamaica, said “he didn’t think about anything other than sports, when he was younger”. Now this Jamaican Sprinter is considered the World’s Fastest Man, 11 time World Champion. Have you checked out his training? He is dedicated and has people who are dedicated to him to see that he stays this gifted Olympic athlete.


Joe Decker, founder of Gut Check Fitness in San Diego CA, has an awesome story. He found his greatness, decided to change his life, earned the title of the World’s Fittest Man, an endurance athlete that leads by example. After I read his book, The World's Fittest You, I reached out to him and was surprised that he responded. He was very helpful, encouraging, motivating and inspired me in what I have done and do now.


Joe De Sena, founder of the Spartan Race. Have you read his story? He worked and lived in an area controlled by the mafia, cleaned pools for mobsters. However, he had a mind for business and did it.


You hear about triple amputee Corporal Todd Love completing the endurance event The Beast and double amputee Mark Kalina completed the Tough Mudder. Along with so many others. Some doing it for the soldiers they served with and others for more personal reasons, such as being in an accident. It is still in there, that greatness we wonder about.


Obviously, the list goes on. Every day someone achieves something they have never done. Maybe it is a 5K, an Ironman, or maybe it’s a walk around the block. Whatever it is, it is within all of us to find this big deal. This inner strength we tap into through meditation, prayer, books, seminars, workshops, and other people. It’s the decision to find it, and utilize it in ways that will surprise yourself.


Not just movies, endurance athletes, Olympians, authors, founders, entrepreneurs, leaders and even a little bit crazy folks, demonstrate the greatness within us. The common denominator in these examples, it took a team. It took support. One person may have had the idea within them, but to execute that plan, it had to be shared and trusted among others. It is not just a ME world, or I mentality. We all need support.


Sure these were pretty big examples, but they are all people, just like us. If you wonder about greatness, maybe it’s time to seek it. People do extraordinary things every day because they stopped wondering. We have to allow those people in our lives to help us get there. Be mindful of the company you keep. Manage your time well. If you want greatness, get yourself in the middle of it. Allow your amazement of others to be a healthy admiration, not a comparison.





Your Worth It. So am I.

A mother and fitness professional often have two very similar characteristics, selfless and challenging. No matter where you start, how prepared you think you are or how much knowledge you attain, occasionally we come to a stop or a loss as to what we do next. It may not be true of many, but I can speak from experience. 


Where does selfless and challenging come into the picture? As a mother for the past 26 years, I realized how much my life became my children. I didn't see a real purpose for me anymore other than being a parent. I gave my all (the best I knew how) and 5 kids later, I think, wow, it could have been so much easier. The always common phrase of "if I knew then, what I know now". We make big deals about small things. Often as moms, we give until we feel empty and then become challenged with who am I and what do I do now? 


It's very similar as a fitness professional. It's easy to become absorbed in our clients. What problems they have, their goals, their WHY, creating the right atmosphere, providing a safe. Motivating and nurturing environment. You worry about their success and setbacks. You become invested not just in their now, but past and present. To know how to help someone, you have to know WHO they are. We make big deals of big and small things in this area too, lose weight, lose inches, check your fat percentage, BMI, flexibility, functional-ability,balance, cardio, strength training, mobility, diets, supplements, VO2 max, and the list goes on. We want so many things to happen and most of us I believe, for the right reasons. In a day to day thinking and planning for our clients, we too can get lost. Again, selfless appears but so do many other attributes that aren't quite so pretty. 


Over the past few years, actually three years, that has been me. I'm one of the most relatable people you will meet because I have been through a wide variety of challenges. Along the way, I stopped feeling worth it. I put my all into my clients, sometimes even too much. I devoted more time, over-time, didn't see the value in what I had to give. After being greatly discouraged from two different surgeries, female issues (menorrhagia, fibroids) then came the Plantar Fasciitis, Hip and Knee pain, etc. All the different ailments that discourage or setback our clients, I all of the sudden, didn't know how to handle it. What became real temporary obstacles became very permanent excuses. After a while, if I couldn’t do what I wanted to: run, lift weight, train for events, I didn't want to do it AT ALL. So quite simply, I stopped. Not just exercise stopped, but eating healthy, not wanting to do simple things to take care of myself. I fell pretty deep into a dark place.  When I stopped, I figured, as long as I take care of everyone else, that's all that matters. However, as I am sure we've all heard, we can't take care of others, if we can't take care of ourselves. 


So I went from being selfless and challenging to lazy, procrastinating, depressed, sad, angry, disappointed, frustrated, stressed and just stuck. In the past, I would hire trainers at different periods of time for events or to meet my own goals with a push. This time, I retreated from that as well and decided: it's not that bad, I can do this. I know how to, why hire someone anymore?


What’s the point of it all? You may meet a fitness professional that has no obvious flaws and quite possibly have always had it together. Maybe they weren't so selfless and challenged or maybe they handle it all so much better. It really doesn't matter which one it is. It's deciding inside, I am worth it. I do need to take care of me. It's okay not to be selfish sometimes. It's okay to look at challenges, as just a roadblock. The important thing is to recognize a change needs to happen and put a plan into motion. Reach out, humble yourself, and allow good things to flow again. Don't stay lost.

Where I am now, a work in progress but I know there is so much more ahead for me and those I take on as clients. I give my all to others and now I must give it to myself again. Thankfully, I have clients that don’t judge a book by its cover.




Confused on finding a Fitness Professional?

If you live in the Greater Atlanta area, you may or may not know, what you’re up against.

We are in a very saturated and competitive area of Personal Trainers, Fitness Coaches, Life Coaches, Fitness Specialists, Nutritionists, Sports Nutritionists, Athletic Trainers and many other titles in this field. They are from all walks of life and ages. Maybe with varied degrees, certifications, specialties, or maybe too much of everything.

There is an abundance of franchise gyms, boutiques, studios, privately owned gyms, corporate gyms, boot-camps, running clubs, and in any area you are seeking. Where do you start? What do you really want to accomplish? How motivated and committed are you on your own? How competitive do you want to be? Do you want a group class or individual attention? Tried it before with no success? Di d you stay consistent in all areas from diet to exercise? You can’t blame one person if it didn’t work because you didn’t work too. It is a partnership.

As important as shopping for your physician, specialist, pediatrician, day care, whatever you may seek in general, it is equally important in choosing a fitness professional. Someone to match your needs but also that you can connect with. Usually, after the first 3 initial sessions with a trainer or in a class, you know if it’s someone you want to stay with, or a class you’ll enjoy. If it doesn’t work for you, the important thing to know, you can change your mind and shop around again or try another class. Maybe you need different things at different times. You can always find a fit for you or go back to what worked before.

You may find Fitness Enthusiast turned Trainer, student turned into professional in Exercise Science, Sport Medicine, etc. a mom or Dad that became passionate about their health, competitor turned trainer, whoever you find should not just be passionate to help you but knowledgeable and willing to refer where needed and not afraid to say, I don’t know but I will find out. No matter what stage they are in their career, there is always room to grow and it’s consistently a learning process.

So be picky, choose wisely. Be clear on contracts. See if you can do a 3 session trial period. Don’t expect results immediately. Allow for a 90 day period of gradual results, with some results in 6-8 weeks. This will greatly depend on how many sessions you are scheduled a week, and how much you will be on your own. If you only put in one hour a week, then the bulk of what you do will need to rely on self-motivation and hard work. Stick to your sessions. Monitor progress, in all areas, not just the scale. You should know when you can lift a little more, run a little faster, go a little longer, do more push ups, do one proper push up, measurements change, body fat decreases and so much more.

Whatever your specific goal is, you need to stay on track with what is working or not, to get you there. There are far more hours you will be on your own. When you’re faced with traveling, parties, saboteurs (they will be there), have a plan in place to help you. Reach out to your trainer when you feel like you are going to make a bad decision or feeling frustrated. Your trainer should also be encouraging you throughout. Whether it’s by texts, calls, some pop up on you, or inspirational messages, newsletters, etc. Feel supported.

Don’t forget to check credentials and CPR certifications should be current. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Not all trainers look like they stepped out of a fitness model magazine. Check reviews. When you get someone good, review them. They need that exposure as well. If you get someone bad, that needs to be out there too. Just be careful if you are reviewing someone in a negative way, it is based on what they have done or not done, not that you were half-assed, cheating yourself and not being honest in your training. Most of all, stick to your journey. There will be things that happen along the way, setbacks are real. Don’t beat yourself up. Be around those who will help or want to see you succeed. Happy training!