01 Jun Fitness Career Tip: It’s Not About You.
Starting as a fitness professional is exciting.
It’s goodbye to the 9-5 desk job, lame ass boss, and business casual attire, and hello to squat racks, protein shakes, and sweatpant and t-shirt attire.
So you get your personal trainer certification, undergraduate degree in Exercise Science, and land your first job at a gym or performance facility.
Life. Is. Good.
You can change you LinkedIn job title.
…until the reality of life as a fitness professional hits.
– You’re training clients at 6am.
– You’re clocking out at 9pm.
– You’re evaluating senior citizens with arthritis and chronic knee pain.
– You’re designing programs for senior citizens, moms, kids, SciFi characters.
– You’re teaching a youth athlete squat technique.
– You’re teaching a youth athlete squat technique again.
– You’re playing the part of the psychologist and listening to marriage problems while your client deadlifts.
– You’re teaching Olympic lifts in front of a veteran strength and conditioning staff.
– You’re shitting your pants while doing this.
– You’re clueless when an athletes asks, “how do I alleviate my low-back pain?”
Personally speaking, all of these have happened to me at some point in my career.
However, all of this was worth it.
And though I primarily work with youth athletes now, admittedly, I freaking miss personal training adults and senior citizens.
You see, I got into this because I truly wanted to help people. Moreover, I wanted to learn how to help a variety of people, not just athletes. I had a passion for strength gains, injury prevention, human anatomy, sport performance, how the body works, how biomechanics integrates with exercise progressions, and how soccer performance and science have an intimate relationship. <— sorry if that sounded creepy.
I’m a nerd, to say the least.
And honestly, I love giving people marriage, life, school, and career advice. So that part of the job never phased me.
But if you’re a new fitness professional and you’re expecting to train people and yourself whenever the hell you want, buckle up.
There’s more to this all than just loving to work out and being in a gym environment.
You’re a coach. You’re a teacher. You’re a psychologist. You’re an active listener. You’re a role model. You’re a master of deadlifts…because, well, you have to look the part.
Simply put, you wear many hats. And people turn to you for guidance.
While this may sound like a shitload of pressure, it’s not.
At least if you’re in it for the right reasons.
For me, I find joy in waking up early and being there for my athletes at 6am. I find elation in being able to get on the phone with someone and talk college fitness packets and my plan of action for the summer off-season. I find happiness in being able to talk a parent off a ledge during soccer tryout season. Or, I get a buzz when teaching an athlete the Tukish Get-up for the first time.
Funny enough, when an athlete is performing a movement like the Turkish Get-up, my mind goes something like this:
– ‘Wow, the contralateral glute is firing nicely.”
– ‘Wow, she did a nice job of activating the VMO in the standing position.”
– ‘Wow, her parasympathetic nervous system is on point.’
– ‘Wow, her reflexive strength is legit.’
– ‘Wow, I’m being a total nerd. Shut the fuck up.’
To say I love functional anatomy and what’s going on at a muscular cellular level is an understatement.
And if you’re new to this industry, you best love this shit too.
Otherwise, you won’t last.
In a nutshell, this industry needs more new coaches who truly love the human body, how it works, and how to customize programs for each client. Too often, coaches just have a passion for exercise, and it’s not enough to be able to continue to deliver quality programming to your athletes and clients.
It’s not enough to be able to tweak programs during a 3-game-a-week schedule. It’s not enough to be able to understand the role of contrast training during off-season. It’s not enough to understand injury prevention and in-season sprint work. It’s not enough to be able to solace a crying high school athlete during finals. It’s not enough to perfect deadlift technique and latissimus dorsi firing. It’s not enough to be fucking picky with pull-up technique and overcoming plateaus.
To that end, as much as you think your badass fitness career is about you and your passion for exercise, it’s not.
You will only last in this career if it’s about your clients.
After all, aren’t we all trying to get people better, faster, stronger, and healthier?
It’s not about you.
Step the fuck down. Start reading. Start learning. Start serving people.