Personal fitness trainer diploma

cmcdonald-alumni-picture-1Cathy McDonald

Interview date: April 9, 2016 (Updated: January 4, 2017)

Graduated ELA: March 2016

Age: 46 years old

Favorite exercise: Deadlift

Pet Peeve: People that don’t tidy up after themselves. Ex. putting away weights and wiping down equipment.

ELA: What led you to take the ELA PFT program?
C:Personal training had been an interest of mine for a number of years but it was working as a client with a trainer (Ian Wheat) at World Health that convinced me this was a career change I wanted to make.  Ian was a graduate of ELA so he was able to share his experience with the program.  ELA having the evening class allowed me to continue working during the day and study in the evening.  
ELA: What have you been doing since graduation?
C:I started part time at World Health City Centre after graduation working only in the evenings  After a month of working full time during the day at an insurance company and part time in the evenings at World Health, I decided to start the transition of leaving the insurance company and being a trainer full time.  Trying to balance both jobs and my family/home life was too challenging so in July I left the insurance industry after 27 years to be a trainer full time.

ELA: Tell me about the transition from insurance to training:
C:The end transition was easy because my husband and I had been planning for a year.  We had to make some financial plans to transition from a salary position to a sales based position.  It really is true that when you are doing something that you are passionate about, it doesn’t feel like work.  The hardest part was making the decision to make the career change, my insurance job was in my comfort zone and the thought of starting over was scary but my desire to become a trainer was stronger than my fears.

ELA: Can you tell us more about being a more mature trainer?
C:My experience as a “mature” trainer has been remarkable.  I think that I am an example that you can do anything you want if you put in the work, have a strong support system and don’t give up.  If I can inspire just one person to see their own endless possibilities, then I have succeeded.

ELA: What is a typical day like?
C:While it varies from week to week, my day typically starts at 10am and I’m done by 8pm  In between clients, I do my own workouts and still train with Ian 1-2 times per week.  

ELA: How do you motivate people to come work out at the gym?
C:I’ve learned that everyone’s motivation is different, so it is important that I determine what each client’s motivation is and leverage that with each client.  With some of my client’s I have shared my own personal experience with working with a trainer and some of my accomplishments.  

ELA: What's your favorite part of being a Personal Trainer?
C:When my clients see results; whether that is changes in their body composition and measurements or progress in strength.  I get as excited as they do!

ELA: Has anyone been a mentor to you?
C:When I first started with World Health, Ian was my mentor.  While that has since changed, he is still a constant source of support, experience, knowledge and encouragement.  I was fortunate to have had a couple people mentor me in the past few months which allows me to to take the individual strengths that they each possess and apply it to my own business.  I am grateful to every person who has taken the time to share their experience and knowledge.  

ELA: What's your biggest challenge of being a trainer?
C:The sales part of being a trainer is probably the toughest for me.  

ELA: What surprised you about being a trainer?
C:The one thing that really surprised me as a trainer is the number of people that invest in training, but then don’t commit.  Not everyone enjoys working out as much as I do and this took awhile for me to understand.  

ELA: Is there something that you learned in the program that is especially helpful to you now as a trainer?
C:The final assignment was incredibly helpful.  It took everything that we had learned in the course and brought it all together. Training our partner for 12 sessions was my first experience with dealing with an actual client.  We are assigned our partner and we are not matched with someone with similar goals, interests, etc.

ELA: What advice do you have for people wanting to take the program?
C:Be prepared to do a lot of work on your own.  This is an accelerated program so you have to be willing to do a considerable amount of reading and work on your own time.    

ELA: What's the secret to your success?
C: Hard work and surrounding myself with dedicated and awesome trainers.  I do not hesitate to ask for assistance and guidance when it’s needed.  In the end, my client’s success is also my success.

ELA: What advice would you give to people considering the fitness industry?
C: You have to be passionate about fitness but also compassionate about people and have a strong desire to make a difference in someone’s life.  Many people become personal trainers because they like to work out, but it is so much more than that.  It’s not just having a fun job where you get to work out.  Continuing education is also an ongoing process, never stop learning!

ELA: Would you recommend this program to other people, and if so, why?
C: Absolutely!  I think it’s a great program for someone who wants to get in to the industry quickly.  The program is also suitable for someone that is currently working who perhaps can’t go back to school full time

ELA: If you're ever feeling unmotivated to work out, what do you do to pick yourself up?
C:I’m training for a power lifting competition, which is really excited for me, so I generally don’t feel unmotivated.  I try to train 5 times per week but if I feel like I need an additional rest day, I take it.  I schedule my workouts in to my daily schedule and make sure that I have a plan for that time.