Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What does it take to be a fitness coach?

Hey everyone, last week I was asked to do an interview by a student athlete at Fresno Pacific University. He is a track athlete with an interest in entering the field of strength and conditioning.

I felt honored that he would choose me to interview about his possible future career. I thought that I would share the interview with you all.

If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a fitness coach, what my life is like (as oh so many of you do...i know i am so intriguing) or need some motivation to simply make your life more enjoyable this interview can help.
The secret to life is to simply love what you do..which I surely do.

Here is why...

1. What do you like most and least about your profession?

The main reason that I love my job is because I get to create an impact in the community, and the lives of each and every one of my clients. There is no better feeling than helping others. Helping people achieve a happier, better quality life and helping them achieve their goals is one of the greatest achievements I can ever experience.

The thing I like least about my profession is that there are too many trainers out there in it for the wrong reasons. Clients come to us for our knowledge but a lot of the competition doesn't focus on gaining the knowledge necessary for getting the right type of results. They will still prescribe outdated exercises, nutrition tips and are in it solely for the money. When someone puts their life in your hands, you need to take care of it.
2. How has the profession changed since you first began? Better? Worse? Or any type of differences?
Since I began training it has consistently changed. That is one thing I love about this industry, it always changes. New information comes out daily. This necessarily isn't anything new since I began training because I have been a trainer for only about 4 years now and the industry has been evolving since before I was even born. Yet, the change is constant. The amount of personal trainers taking advantage of this change is growing which I love. The more knowledge our industry disperses, the more respect is garnished. We are in the midst of a beautiful thing because we are in the infancy of personal training in relation to a health field now. We are working our way out of the perception of the stereotypical trainer who eats his power bar and does bicep curls. We create a better way of life for people and better overall wellness. We have doctors, physical therapist, chiropractors, massage therapist and trainers all educating the field and joining in our cause to create a better understanding of bio-mechanics and human performance.

3. What are some of biggest ethical or liability issues that you have to be aware of and how do you handle them?

The biggest liability issue would have to be injury by far.If a person gets hurt training, it is the trainers fault. When someone trusts you to take care of them, you are a professional in the field so you better take care of their life in a professional manner. In order to protect the client you must know how to properly progress them through exercises, and how to teach them the correct way to do it. At CFA we pride ourselves on movement. If a person can not do a movement right then we regress them and work their way up to it. This instills proper technique which reduces the chance of injury happening in the gym. Furthermore, we do not simply work them out. Each workout we do will work on enhancing their tissue quality, their mobility, flexibility, strength, and conditioning. We focus on correcting imbalances in the body.

The biggest ethical issue in the industry is whether or not the trainer has the knowledge to properly train somebody. There are too many trainers in the industry who don't understand the essence of movement. The basis of all exercise is movement. If you do not correct someones movement and you make them do a hodgepodge of exercises that do not address their problems they will not get better. There is a great quote "You can not put fitness on top of dysfunction" this basically means that you can not make someone better without addressing their imbalances and weaknesses.

4. What type of clients do you encounter most?

At CFA we have a wide range of clients from youth to elderly people. Personally I train mainly general fitness. I run our high school and college athletes class, 8 of our group training classes in which the clientele age ranges from teens to people in their mid to late 60's. I have an all females semi-private class that I started and I do one on one sessions. I help with the COS Softball team as well. The oldest client that I train is an 87 year old man.

5. What kind of business is available in the valley? (athletes, soccer moms, rehabilitative work, etc.)

6. What type of degree will prepare me more for the field of strength and conditioning, or exercise physiology?

The degree most commonly pursued by strength coaches is kinesiology, exercise science or exercise physiology. There are great trainers whom came from a different path as well. Some of the best trainers in the industry do not have college degrees in those fields, I know of trainers who have gone to school for accounting, engineering, business etc. The key to being a personal trainer is more about the knowledge you obtain and if it is valid, rather than where you obtain it from. I am at Fresno pacific right now majoring in business management. I plan on getting my masters in kinesiology. So I am not a graduate yet, nor am I taking any classes related to my field. I have taken all the sports medicine classes at COS, I have taken numerous nutrition and health classes as well. The bulk of my knowledge comes from self education through the trainers pioneering the field today and from the past. I learn a great deal from my mentors Justin Levine (fitness/business) and Tony Martin (business). I am certified through the Functional Movement Systems and I am consistently learning daily.

7. How many hours a week/day do you work?

This is a hard question to answer. I wake up around 4:30 am (usually) Monday through Thursday, and I am working throughout the day, evening and night. The life of a trainer is not easy. I arrived at the gym at 5:15 this morning, and it is 8:09 pm right now. I could promise you I work well over 40 hours a week and have 15 hour days (12 hours at the gym) at least twice a week. I am not on the clock all of these hours though. A lot of my work goes into education, writing, designing programs, and all the behind the scenes" work that goes on to get my clients results.  It isn't easy, but I can guarantee you it is well worth it.
8. How many days out of the year do you work and what kind of vacation time is afforded in your profession?
I work 6 days a week. My Saturday schedule is pretty easy with only 3 hours of training. I will take maybe 3 or 4 weekends off a year for trips either to pursue higher education at seminars, or to just get away. I also get a variety of holidays off as well. I try not to take too many days off. My life is training and well, I love my life.
9. If you do take a vacation who substitutes in your absence?

Right now we have two other trainers on staff, Justin Levine, the owner of CFA and Jesse who is another trainer here. Periodically we will have interns working at the gym as well. If I do take time off they will cover my clients, or I will give my clients some "homework" to do while I am gone..It is rare that I take a vacation though.
10. Is there a large community for further education? (magazines, conferences, seminars etc.)

OH man is there ever.. Like I said before, the beautiful thing about the industry in this day and age is the ever growing information out there. I read books, articles, and watch videos daily and attend seminars as much as possible. If I could recommend any seminar to go to I would have to tell you to attend a Perform Better seminar. They are packed with the worlds leading fitness professionals and the knowledge offered at these seminars is unbelievable. Not only will you learn from the best, you will network with them, as well as thousands of other great professionals in the field. The most important website I could recommend is StrengthCoach.Com which was pioneered by Mike Boyle who I consider one of the best trainers in the world.  This website is loaded with great articles, videos, and the forum is loaded with content and full of great discussions.

11. No specifics, but can you live comfortably on the salary your profession demands?

If you put in the work, If you care, and If you have an unrelenting desire to make it happen. Yes.

The training business is not easy. You have to put in your hours, you have to care for everyone, you have to give your heart, sweat and soul to make it happen. It doesn't happen over night, and you can't expect to have anything handed to you. If you put in the work, you will receive the reward.

12. Is there any advice you can give me as I consider entering this profession?

Don't focus on the money. Focus on creating impact. Focus on generating an experience. Focus on living the life you preach. Focus on passion. Last but definitely not least. Focus on the client! they are paying you money, they deserve your full attention, support, and effort.

I just want to say thank you to Norris again for asking me to be the subject of his interview. I wish you the best of luck at FPU, in your sport, and in your future. God bless you and keep on hustlin baby.

to everyone else, thank you for reading, and thank you for respecting my passion.

The world is my motivation...time to make a change

If you need any information, advice, or help in anyway do not hesitate to ask. email me at mmurphy36@gmail.com or find me on Facebook...have a blessed day.

God loves you, Mikey loves you, so love yourself

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