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How and Why I Became a Personal Trainer (and it's not completely flattering)

So if you read my about page you know the cliff notes version of my story. In that post, I talk about the path I took from depressed, obese, smoker to husband, father and small business owner. Today I want to talk to you about how and why I became a personal trainer... and I wrote it I realized... it's not completely flattering.

The first time I considered training was at the gym I attended regularly. Specifically, the people in my gym started approaching me and asking me to train them. Me! It made sense, I guess. They saw my results. They saw the fat steadily melting away to be replaced by muscle. They saw the shape of my face change. My bearing and attitude had changed as well... from skulking and slouched to engaging and confident. They simply wanted what I had. I explained I wasn't a trainer. I had no certifications. They offered me money. Honestly, I said no not out of principle. I had no confidence I could do it for them. I would fail. I had no idea how to communicate or teach. I was also afraid they'd ban me from the gym for training without working there and I needed that place. Really, really needed it. So... not principled. Afraid, mostly.

Flash forward six months and I was facing another crisis. Events beyond my control (and still too close for comfort to discuss) left me facing a fresh new slate of choices. One of them was, "how am I going to make money?" I had numerous jobs and half spent career starts but none of them captured my interest for long. Then I remembered people offering me money to train them. They had asked me to help coach them to change their lives like I had changed mine. I wanted money and I wanted a job I wouldn't dread waking up to go to. Also, frankly, I figured it wouldn't be too hard to get certified. I mean I had been in athletics for much of my early life and then managed to transform myself in middle age. A few weeks of study and presto changeo I'd be ready to make money! So... again... Not the most noble of motivations. Money. Pleasure. Ease.

I asked around for the most credible certifying agency. The one with the test with the highest fail rate. The one I could walk into nearly every gym with and get hired because it showed I knew my stuff. NASM was the ticket. Let me tell you - the NASM test was not easy to pass. I had to learn, yes, but I also had to unlearn all I thought I knew that was wrong. I started to recognize how even though I had lost fat and gained muscle I had set myself up with a host of new problems. Chronic back problems with flexion, tendinitis, muscle imbalances hip dysfunction from that and so on. I learned how if I had taught my personal approach to others I would have at best cheated them and at worst injured them. That was a wake-up call. I could've been hurting people.

I passed on the first try. Hey, I know I'm smart and more than a little obsessive so I studied the hell out of the material and aced it. But then it came time to work with people. They didn't do much preparation for that in my certification process. I took the first job I could land just to get started. My motivations still practical at best, still small and scared at worst.