Interview date: February 20, 2014
Graduated ELA: June 2013
Now: Fitness Consultant at Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and an independent Personal Trainer
Age: 32 years old
Secret favourite exercise: The Crab Tap! It works your triceps, core and hamstrings! (Demonstration: Get in crabwalk position but instead of walking, extend a leg and reach towards your toes with your opposite hand, then switch.)
ELA: What led you to want to come take the ELA PFT program?
J: Well, I had my CanFitPro and had been teaching a lot of group fitness classes but I was interested in working more one-on-one with clients. I also wanted to improve my knowledge base, especially to become stronger in anatomy, kinesiology and program design. The length of this program was much more appealing than doing another 4 years, on top of my existing post-secondary education!
ELA: What were you doing before ELA?
J: I was a lawyer, which was not for me. I slowly began my transition into fitness by teaching at the YMCA as a volunteer. After that, I took a year off and worked for a non-profit organization that supported amateur sports. From there, I moved to Canmore, made some connections and began to teach some classes. I also worked with a non-profit, ‘Fast and Female’, which empowers girls through sports. This ended in January and then I started at ELA in February.
*Fast & Female: Founded by Olympic Gold Medalist Chandra Crawford. An organization that brings Olympians into contact with younger females.
ELA: What have you been doing since leaving school?
J: Right after graduating from Elevated Learning Academy, I started working part time at a local Canmore gym. They were actually the ones who supported my practicum placement, for which I am very grateful. A casual position at the Fairmont Banff Springs became available in August and I was lucky enough to transition to full time by September. It is a fantastic place to work.
ELA: What is your typical day like?
J: It depends on what day of the week it is! On a typical Monday or Wednesday, I’m up at 4:45 a.m. and driving to Banff to meet a client for 5:50 a.m. After that, I teach a 6:30 a.m. Boot Camp class. Sometimes this is the only workout I’ll get in during the day because I’m so busy!
I usually see about a dozen clients 1-3 times per week. I get 3 types of clients at the Fairmont Banff Springs – locals, hotel guests and staff. By the time I get home to Canmore around 2:00 p.m., I try and take a nap before I begin teaching evening classes.
ELA: How do you motivate people to come work out at the gym?
J: I definitely keep in weekly contact over email or text. I try and make sure they are having fun, so it’s not always a killer slog. It’s important that they are learning something and enjoying it!
To keep myself motivated, I try something new – like the boxing gym. I spent some time learning it myself and got outside my regular workout box. I started watching the Rocky movies and got really into it. I also like to set new challenges and personal goals. I want to learn how to do a handstand pushup! So I will write it all down and then look back to see what I’ve done to achieve those goals.
ELA: What’s is your favorite part of being a Personal Fitness Trainer?
J: Getting to love what I do and getting to share it with people every day. Helping others get active!
ELA: Can you give us an example of a client you are really proud of and why?
J: I had one client, a younger female in her 20s, whose goal was to improve her balance and strength for snowboarding. One day, she came in and said she needed to check the scale as she didn’t trust hers at home. She had lost 16 pounds! It was very exciting because it was achieved through a different focus; her focus was never to lose x amount of pounds. It just shows how just getting active can achieve a multitude of health-related results.
ELA: Has anyone been a mentor to you thus far, or is there anyone that you look up to?
J: Oh yes, for sure! Fiona Groves, who is my supervisor at work now, is a body building champion and has generously shared her passion and knowledge with me. It’s neat to learn from her and see her put it into action when she competes. Also, my colleague Martina (a former pro skier in Europe) has influenced me by exposing me to CrossFit and functional style workouts. I draw on their knowledge and ask questions. I always want to know more and keep learning – getting continuing education on the job is an awesome perk.
ELA: What has been your most embarrassing training moment?
J: It was with one of my first clients at the Banff Springs Hotel. We were going through and doing preliminary assessments and questionnaires. I had her grasp onto the electronic gadget that calculates your BMI, body fast percentage etc., and the machine spit out that she was morbidly obese. I had programmed it wrong, clearly making a mistake. It was just embarrassing to do this on my first day with a client and just after I had told her how useful this tool would be. She just laughed it off.
ELA: What do you do to pick yourself back up when you are feeling unmotivated to work out?
J: It’s a combination of things. Sometimes I just need a day off if I’m sore or tired, just to recharge. Another way, for me, is to look at the big picture in relation to my goals. For example, if the goal is to run a marathon or do a handstand pushup, I look at what small thing I need to do today to get there.
ELA: How do you find balance in your life?
J: I’ve learned that I do need 2 days a week off. Just to do my own thing and relax. I also make sure to schedule time with my husband on a daily basis. Making time for someone else, even taking the dog for walk, is important.
ELA: What is the biggest challenge that you have had to overcome as a Personal Fitness Trainer?
J: I find it challenging to be creative on a daily basis. To find something new and exciting to teach to a class that I see 5 times a week. I don’t want to be stale and bore someone with a workout.
ELA: Is there anything about being a Personal Fitness Trainer that you didn’t expect or came as a surprise?
J: The big role of nutrition. That is definitely one area I want to hone in on and get a certification in. If I can offer more support to people in this way, then that would be great!
ELA: Did you see yourself where you are today when you first enrolled for the Personal Fitness Trainer Diploma program?
J: Yes, I pictured myself gaining experience and learning as much as I can in the years immediately following my graduation from the program. My goal was to be employed full time as a personal trainer in a premiere fitness centre like the Springs and here I am!
In the future I would like to open my own studio and offer personal training and group fitness classes indoors and outside.
ELA: What is the secret to your success?
J: I still feel like I’m building my success story. That’s a hard question. I would say being yourself! What attracts people is wanting to work with you and your personality type. Personality is your biggest asset.
ELA: Is there something that you learned in the program that is especially helpful to you now as a trainer?
J: Other than a better grounding in physiology and anatomy, it would be all the time we spent on the floor training with a partner. It helps get you over those butterflies of working with someone one-on-one. That was the main seller for me. And the science piece.
ELA: If you could give any advice to students attending Elevated Learning Academy at this time, what would you say to them?
J: Take advantage of the knowledge of the instructors – ask them lots of questions! Take every opportunity seriously and take advantage of the time you have – it goes by really fast.
ELA: What advice would you give to people considering entering the fitness industry?
J: Make sure you love early mornings and being on your feet all day. Being a personal fitness trainer, you also have to be that person a client wants to socialize with or complain about their day to. Also, have a thick skin. Not everyone is going to love your style of training. I found this hard at the beginning because I wanted everyone to like me. Trust that you’ll eventually find your niche by being yourself and continually improving your credentials.
ELA: Would you recommend this program to other people, if so, why?
J: Yes, I would! I would recommend it to any other mature students like me, who doesn’t have the time to take another 4 years of school. The program is a good starting point or as a supplement to one’s fitness background.
ELA: While taking the course at our Calgary campus, you were living in Canmore. Was it worth it to make the drive every day?
J: Yes, I would do it again! It was definitely worth it. I love school!
ELA: Shortly after graduating from Elevated Learning Academy, you got married. How did you balance everything?
J: I am an organized person. The more on my plate, the more efficient I am. The less that’s on my plate, I feel like I waste my time. It wasn’t easy but I had time to do everything. It worked out really well.