Personal fitness trainer diploma

Sandra Cappon

Personal Trainer at Calgary Barbell


What led you to want to come take the ELA PFT program?

I became interested in becoming a personal trainer as I saw the benefits of weight training in my own life. I enjoy helping people and the gym environment, so it seemed to be a logical transition. ELA gave me a strong knowledge base in an accelerated program.

What have you been doing since leaving school?

After leaving school I became the top trainer at the North Hill location of World Health for my first 2 years, as well as ranking 12th and 10th company wide in that same time.  Needing a new challenge, I joined Calgary Barbell as a Personal Trainer combining my love of strength training, and health and wellness.

What is your typical day like?

I start my day at 6am with training either “before work” clients or myself. The morning consists of training with a break midday for business building, paperwork, and client programming. And then back in the evening to train those “after work” clients.

What’s your favourite part of being a PFT?

My favorite part of training is experiencing first hand those “ah-ha” moments of clients. When a technique, or movement pattern is mastered, when a challenging weight is lifted, when a life is changed with “I did it”!

Have you received or are you working on getting any additional certifications/education?

Right now, I am working on my certification for training Older Adults through ACE.

What’s your favourite thing about Calgary Barbell?

My favorite thing about Calgary Barbell is the freedom I have, to introduce clients to different methods of strength training. I have introduced people to more than the standard deadlift, bench press, squat or circuit training. There is immense satisfaction for me in seeing the thrill of accomplishment on a client’s face as they successfully lift an atlas stone, or push a keg or log overhead; of reaching a goal that was previously unattainable. That strength only comes from correct patterning and consistent work. That success then permeates into their life outside of the gym. It’s incredibly rewarding for both the client and myself. 

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

It’s hard to choose just one! I think of Carol who is 61 and successfully holding arthritis at bay. There is Chelsea and Shane who set lifting goals and lifted more than they projected during an powerlifting mock meet we set up after a cycle of weight training.  Kerri, Tanya and Geoff all conquered their intimidation and entered a strongman competition with me. They all did their personal bests. Tracy and Mary are a mother and daughter team who have faithfully trained with me for a combined total of 5 years and changed their perspective, lifestyle and bodies for the better. It’s not about records and achieving goals for the approval of others. My clients are putting in the effort to bring about positive changes in their personal, physical and mental lives inside and outside the gym. I’m an incredibly proud trainer.

What do you do to pick yourself back up when you are feeling unmotivated to work out and eat healthy?

All my days aren’t on point or wildly successful. There has been an evolution and growth to my own training. I manage the ups and downs being gracious to myself. It’s easy to get down on myself. I expect a lot from myself. The understanding that this is all a process, that strength, wisdom and positive habits aren’t created overnight is imperative. Every step forwards, no matter how small, is still a step. I look at my bigger goals and break that down to bite sized goals that set me up for success. This year I celebrate 10 years of gym life. I can look back and see the changes with the knowledge that I have come so far. That pushes me to see where the next 10 years will take me.

How do you manage your work and find balance in your life?

This has been a big challenge for me. I work when clients are available. As a trainer, the edges of work and personal life can overlap so setting boundaries is tough, yet necessary. Being intentional with my time is so important. 

Do you find a lot of your clients come to receive fitness training and end up also wanting to receive nutrition coaching?

Yes. You can’t out exercise a bad diet. A healthy life is not compartmentalized into diet and training. They influence each other completely. Successful clients work both aspects into their life.

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

My biggest challenge is marketing myself. I am a good trainer that can convey concepts and techniques well. I combine fun, knowledge, hard work and mastery in my training. But I cannot train clients if they do not know who I am. Marketing is a constant challenge.

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

I didn’t expect to be so personally challenged. I feel that I cannot ask for change and improvement in my client’s lives if I am not open to it myself. Personal training is just that- it’s personal. Self reflection is a huge part for me. And that can be hard to work through on some days.

Did you see yourself where you are today when you first enrolled for Personal Fitness Trainer Diploma program?

No. Becoming a trainer has challenged me, grown me and strengthened me personally and professionally.  It has developed in me a love for my clients and their success that goes beyond simply lifting a weight. I strive for excellence because my clients deserve that. These are things I did not understand when I first enrolled.

What is the secret to your success?

Care. I truly care about my clients.

Is there something that you learned in the program that is especially helpful to you now?

The program taught me that training is more than just knowing muscle names and exercise techniques. That there are motivational methods and stages of change that a trainer needs to understand to have successful clients. 

What are your long-term goals? Any big career aspirations?

I long for mastery. My ability at analyzing movements and lifts is steadily increasing. That allows me to teach a client how to move more effectively. More effective movement leads to more success and satisfaction with each client as they gain a better understanding of the bodies they live in. People aren’t always aware of how they move. The more I master my skills, the more my clients succeed.

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

Stay humble with your learning. For every one thing, I learn, I find out five more things I didn’t know. Learn all ways and always. And care. Care for your clients. Let them know by your actions, that at that training moment, they are the most important thing in your life.

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

Just because you love to work out, doesn’t mean you are a good trainer. Pursue the art of training an much as you pursue your own physical training. This isn’t an easy career. It is demanding. But the rewards are high.

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

Yes. I recommend the program often. I believe it gives a good, solid base that a weekend course will never give. A 2-year course is not always feasible. This accelerated plan is a good road to take. Casual, uninvolved trainers are plentiful. It takes a lot to set yourself apart from the masses. This course takes commitment which will carry you through into a successful career. As well, applied knowledge is more powerful than just book knowledge. This course applies that knowledge.

Interview date: January 20, 2017
Graduated ELA: January 2013