Fitness has been apart of my life for as long as I can recall, even before I knew what “fitness” was. As a child I grew up in a small town and literally lived down a country road in a house my parents built from the ground up. So fitness for me probably started when I was 4 years old and our job was to toss rocks out of the dirt so they could plant grass. With 2 older brothers I often times would be roaming the fields and woods, climbing trees and hills. The outdoors has always been a sanctuary for me, which explains my love of running. I was a very fortunate child , I grew up in a simple time and found happiness in movement not things. We would walk 2 miles to Paul’s Service Center, the local gas station, to buy penny candy and get Orange Crush from a Coke machine. We walked or rode bikes everywhere we needed to go, movement was a natural part of life. Those habits moved forward into my adult life, I’ve never been a couch potato. My oldest brother always refers to me as the Energizer Bunny. Lately though I feel like the Energeezer Bunny.
I’m not sure when I started to notice I wasn’t 25 years old anymore, probably when I found myself in the company of 25-30 year old fitness professionals. It’s a little jarring to have a view of yourself as fit and vibrant, and then realize …Oh crap…I can’t jump as high, run as fast, lift as much weight or maintain enthusiasm longer than an hour. You start to question yourself…Do I belong in this profession at this age? Is this the point I am supposed to let the younger professionals step up while I step down? My best friend who is a very young 60, is still teaching group fitness with the vibrancy of a 25 year old, and another close girlfriend is my age and kicking ass teaching Body Combat and Pump classes. So I have to ask myself if they are kicking ass and taking names what’s my problem?
One of my specialties is problem solving. I can solve a wardrobe problem, a decorator problem, a science problem, a behavior problem and even a movement problem. To my credit I have an objective eye…except when it comes to myself of course. So here I am…pondering if it’s time to throw in the personal trainer towel.
And the answer is….NO ! I do however think it’s time to stop for a minute and focus on what and why I got into this profession in the first place. Truly that’s an easy question for me to answer, I have always found empowerment in fitness and it’s equally fulfilling to be able to empower others. Now when I say empower, I am not talking about how much weight you can lift, fast you can run or survive a tough training session. Empowerment to me is what happens when a person who has zero physical confidence learns that they can in fact jump onto a step, run without dying and swing a 30lb kettlebell in perfect form. The official start to my personal training career began when I certified through the NSCA in 2002. Prior to that I had taught some aerobics, walked people through Nautilus, worked the floor at the YMCA, the front desk at another gym and showed my gym rat buddies new exercises. When I started to really study movement science and certified through the NSCA my concept of fitness changed drastically. I no longer saw fitness through the eyes of bodybuilding or dance classes, I saw fitness as a way to restore movement and improve my client’s health. Which is pretty much what I did from 2002 up until 2012. My clients were looking to improve fitness levels, lose weight, walk without falling over and regain lost strength. They ranged from healthy to those with devastating diseases such as Parkinson’s and PSP. Eventually I earned the reputation as the trainer of train wrecks, which translated to “ she does a lot of corrective exercise and not the hard stuff”. I liked helping people who had nowhere else to turn, physical therapy was no longer and option but they wanted to keep moving. It wasn’t the most fun work but it certainly was the most rewarding. Of course the downside was the misconception as a “soft” trainer. And I guess to some extent that is the truth, I am no Jillian Michaels pushing a client to the brink of exhaustion. Because…well quite frankly I just find that stupid and pointless.
My expertise began with functional fitness in 2002 and finally 10 years later a local professional opened a facility based on training principles I had been using for the last 10 years. I can remember back in 2002 I was training a client at the YMCA and the comments and stares we would get was often times amusing. NOBODY understood one exercise we were doing. The best question was “ what are you training him for?”…To which I replied “ life”… which was followed with a blank stare.
Many of the exercises you see in Group training are exactly the same ones we did in 2002, now they just seem acceptable.
So…in 2012 I found Impact Fitness and it was a breathe of fresh air. Finally a facility that echoed my beliefs! After years of working privately with clients I was looking for some fun, and group training sure looked like fun. I’ve often times referred to Group Training as Personal Training on steroids. Every exercise, every concept was exactly what I had been doing for the last 10 years with my own clients. Of course I had to earn my entryway into the club, especially since I was so misunderstood as the “ rehab trainer”. I found something to be a part of and it was exciting to be a part of something with such promise. Gym culture often can look like a soap opera and Impact really wasn’t much different from As The World Turns. The amount of drama and change was sometimes like a tropical storm and other times like a category 4 hurricane. And yet I thrived on the energy of the members, the enthusiasm of my co-workers and always, always the possibility that Impact could become my dream facility. In 2013 Impact went through some major changes, which resulted in different owners and a different perspective. Different not bad…which was okay because in business you have to evolve to be successful. The biggest downside for me was I lost the camaraderie of “ One for all. All for one “. I lost my connection to being a part of something big. Impact began to feel like a burden and not a joy. All of my creative energy that I had been allowed to use was no longer of service and I found myself no longer feeling like what I did mattered. Well I am sure it mattered to the members and the staff, but I felt powerless to really make any changes that could improve Impact’s…well…Impact.
I finally have to pry my fingers off Impact and let it go. It’s the one of the hardest things I have ever done. I am no quitter and I think I gave this my best shot, but it’s time to move on and allow other opportunities to enter my life. I will be forever grateful for all of the amazing people I have met through Impact, the outstanding professionals and the joy I experienced hundreds of times leading a group class.
When I asked myself was it time for me to hang up my personal trainer shoes, I think the bigger question was why did I feel so defeated at a profession I love. Maybe it’s because I had lost the connection to why I found personal training in the first place. What I can say in a positive note is that Impact has been a huge part of my growth as a trainer and nutritional coach.
One of the downsides as a personal trainer is you develop long standing relationships with clients. You’re in their lives a few times a week, sometimes for years. Eventually it develops into a social structure, which is what Impact became for me. One day your interacting on a regular basis with clients, developing a closer relationship and then one day “POOF” it all goes away. I’ve learned to accept the fact clients will move on and often times that also means the relationship dissolves. It never gets easier, I can tell you that gone does not mean forgotten.
So…I am returning to my private training business and maintaining professional relationships with my colleagues. You know where to find me…on I-95 driving my Physiques by PT car to my next client and my next endeavor.