Applied nutrition science diploma

Kody-Lee Morrissey

Personal Trainer & Nutrition Services Provider at Spa Lady, West Edmonton Mall

What lead you to want to come take the ELA PFT/ANS programs?

It was right after I had my daughter, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back to site and raise a family so I had to find something that would allow me to have a flexible schedule. I saw the advertisement for these two programs. I looked into it, applied for Student funding and was approved! The two programs go hand in hand so I knew I wanted them both. I put it up on my fridge to think about, and thought let’s do it!

What have you been doing since leaving school?

Working at Spa Lady, West Edmonton Mall location. I am now the Assistant Fitness Manager.  I have both Nutrition and Personal Training clients and am responsible for ensuring our staff build successful business and is adhering to the company’s Mission, Vision and Values.

What is your typical day like?

Long days, continuous effort to build business and maintain client satisfaction. There are peak times in both early mornings and evenings so making sure you are available for both is important. You learn the value of breaks and time management very quickly. 

How do you motivate people to come see you for Nutrition services?

Lead by example! Currently I’m the only Nutrition Coach at our West Edmonton Mall location. So I work with my PT clients and the girls and their clients to achieve best results possible.  

You’re continuously reaching out to new and existing clients. I offer free nutrition demos for Open houses and events within Spalady. I also walk around to cardio machines, give my business card to promote my Nutrition services and lots of networking.

Do you find people are really happy with your services?

Definitely. Building trust is the biggest obstacle. You learn in this industry the general populations lacks understanding of proper nutrition. They don’t think or understand that certain foods they put in to their bodies can be harmful and sabotage their hard work in the gym.  A lot of times sitting down together is the first time they’ve seen a Canadian Food Guide let alone know how many serving of each food group they should be consuming each day. KNOWLEDGE is POWER!

Can you give us an example of a Nutrition client you are really proud of and why?

All of them! 80% of weight loss or muscle building challenges is the Nutrition component. Helping them adhere to a meal plan or develop daily healthy habits is key to long term success.

Has anyone been a mentor to you thus far, or is there anyone that you look up to?

When I was doing my Practicum I had a wonderful mentor Carla Rodriguez Dimitrescu at Nutrition & Personal Training who has a PhD in Sports Nutrition.  I absorbed her knowledge like a sponge and used pointers to better my own business. 

What has been your most embarrassing moment when working with a nutrition client?

A client and I were talking about milk percentages and I said “skim milk would be the best for losing weight” and she responded “Skim Milk actually has a lot more sugar”.

I was stumped so I had to do some research! What I found out is that Skim, 1% or 2% contain the same 12gs of sugar per 8oz glass. However it is not the harmful added sugar on thinks – milk sugar is called Lactose is a natural occurring in cow’s milk. One difference I did find is that Skim has reduced amount of calories in comparison to 2% but same amount of Calcium and Protein.

Do you have any fitness/gym pet peeves?

Constant Negativity – Emotional vampires I like to call them. It is tough to put all your energy in to coaching a client and they never follow through with the action plan the two of you created together. You have to be able to accept defeat, learn from your mistakes, conquer challenges and keep moving forward. Nothing happens overnight – patience, will-power and determination is the key!

What do you do to pick yourself back up when you are feeling unmotivated to eat well?

My daughter keeps me on point, I eat worse when I’m away from her. Being a positive role model for her is my biggest concern.  We only shop the perimeter of the grocery store limiting any junk food from coming in to the house.

I was fortunate to be raised that way, I didn’t have fast food until I was like 17, my parents made healthy food fun. I also played competitive sports since I was 6 so I’ve always had trainers or nutrition coaches. Boxing, Softball, Volleyball and Cheerleading kept me very busy and in good shape. You learn quickly, if you don’t properly hydrate and fuel your body with whole foods you will crash.

How do you balance your busy schedule with a healthy lifestyle?

Practice what you preach. You are always in the eyes of potential clients no matter where you are, inside or outside of the workplace. I wouldn’t be successful in what I do without doing it myself, you have to believe in your product.

What is the biggest challenge that you have had to overcome as a nutrition consultant?

Everyone wants a quick fix. Fad diets are definitely our biggest challenge as professionals – you have to dig up the pros and cons for your clients for each one. Long term success is built overtime. My goal is to help my clients eat healthy and enjoy their food every day!

How do you address that with your clients?

You can motivate them and try to help them adhere to the program, but you’re really only seeing them 1-2 hours a week. It’s what they’re doing outside of the gym that hurts them. Coaching them to be accountable for their goals on their own time is the most important. Making sure you provide a safe, non-judgmental environment during each visit is huge for their personal success and overcoming obstacles.

Is there anything about being a Nutrition Consultant that you didn’t expect or came as a surprise?

Majority of us are in denial about our poor lifestyle choices. Trying to change a person’s mindset that’s been programmed to view things a certain way is the most frustrating part of this job.  It’s a lot of work helping clients understand macronutrients; what they are, what they do for our body and how much we require of each to sustain. I get them to track their food for 10 days and then we highlight each different food group with a different highlighter so they can become more aware and become more accountable.

Did you see yourself where you are today when you first enrolled for the Personal Fitness Trainer/Applied Nutrition Science Diploma program?

Initially starting my own company was my main focus. But I definitely lacked experience in how the business would run, how I would generate clientele. Then there’s insurance and advertising expenses. Within the first couple months at Spalady I fell in love with the members and safe, supportive environment we offer to our members as well as the community. I was able to work with Mentors and am constantly evolving through new continuing education course and Management training.

What is the secret to your success?

Keep pushing forward, and always be working to build your business. This industry is a constant revolving door, there is always new information, fad diets, and new hip workout styles. It’s my obligation to decipher fact from fiction and to deliver the proper information to my clients to ensure their safety and success. If you think you know everything, you will stay stagnant, you need to constantly educate yourself to stand out from your competition.

How do you get clients to adhere?

Simply telling them “great job today!” goes along way. Follow up calls, texts, positive/ motivating reminders of their accomplishments. I work hard to ensure they leave each session being proud of the littlest thing. I make myself available to discuss their successes/challenges and set up fun activities outside of the gym so my clients form a support group when I’m not around! If they are struggling with finances to pay for my services I will help by breaking down the numbers for them (if they smoke, eat drink this much, etc.) I calculate their costs and help them understanding the idea of investing in their health.

Is there something that you learned in the program that is especially helpful to you now as a nutrition consultant?

I had Amanda as a professor and she focused in on food label details, macronutrient calculations based on persons weight, and calculating caloric expenditure based on your activity level. Understanding the emotional side behind nutrition, knowing diff commitment levels and how to coach people not ready for change has been super beneficial.

Constructive criticism is the best way to learn. For nutrition, there were lots of case studies that we could work through that prepared me for real life situations. Also, our teacher was very knowledgeable; there wasn’t anything we couldn’t ask her that she didn’t know the answer to.

If you could give any advice to students attending Elevated Learning Academy at this time, what would you say to them?

Go in with an open mind and be prepared to work! What you put into your work will determine your success in either field. Also, be proud of it! Our certification is a lot more in depth about building rapport, client care, emotions, special populations, etc. Both the ANS and PFT programs focus on offering service excellence.

The good thing about ELA is that we learned the importance of quality work. Proper Programming for the individual client’s needs is super important. It makes or breaks a client’s decision to refer you to friend. Also, networking is key for your business’s success. Maintaining quality work and professionalism with your clients will open the door for referrals from other Allied Health Professions. Eg: Physio, Chiro, Massage Therapy, and Acupuncturist. 

What advice would you give to people considering entering the Nutrition/Fitness industry?

Be prepared to work hard. Nothing is going to be handed to you. It is a very competitive industry you have to build a brand that stands out from the rest and stick to it! Social skills and sales experience are very important you need to be confident on the floor and shower people with motivation.

Would you recommend this program to other people, if so, why?

100%. I have multiple times already!

How do you keep your clients motivated to eat well?

I make sure to constantly have educational material readily available. Also the Fear factor – posting images of what excessive body fat can do to harm our mind and body. Eg: stokes, hypertension, Heart attacks etc.

When they have one successful weigh in but the next isn’t so great they start to get discouraged and doubt what we’re doing. So we will grab weights equivalent to their weight loss, put them in a book bag and walk up hill on the treadmill to remind them what is felt like before carrying that extra weight.

Do most of your Nutrition Clients come from training them?

No, they can be my PT clients, other trainer’s clients or member within the gym.

How does SpaLady help you get clientele?

Initially they will help you. Each member gets two complimentary Fitness consultations when they sign up for their membership, then it is up to you to make their experience unforgettable so they never want to be without you! There’s lots of support through business developments and opportunity to invited people in off the floor to join in and try out your sessions!

How does having your nutrition education help you as a personal trainer?

Nutrition is a key component in a client’s path to success. When I let them know that not only am I qualified to train their body but that I have the education needed to put them on a structure meal plan that suites their individual needs they’re thrilled. Results are what keeps your clients motivated and most important for business aspect renewing!

Graduated ELA: 2 years ago Age:  30