Personal fitness trainer diploma

DSC_0784 (2)Tobias Schuler

Interview date: May 2016

Graduated ELA: August 2015.

Now: Personal Trainer at Urban Athlete

Age: 24 years old

Secret favourite exercise: Squats and deadlifts – because they are the most compound exercises that you can do.

ELA: What led you to want to come take the ELA PFT program?
T: I had a certification and was working at a gym but I wanted more. I was browsing the internet looking at different types of schools and accreditations. I was thinking about a Kinesiology Degree but noticed that there wasn’t a lot of really applicable info. From working in a gym, I knew what I was looking for and where I was lacking. I felt like I didn’t have enough knowledge about how to explain why I was recommending certain exercises or activities. I came across ELA’s Diploma course and found the topics covered were very much focused and exactly what I was looking for.
ELA: What have you been doing since leaving school?
T: I started working at Urban Athlete almost immediately after graduating from ELA and I’ve been here for 2 years now. I also run boot camps in the summer and do some at home personal training. I’ve also bought a house recently and have been keeping busy with renovations!

ELA: What is your typical day like?
T: It’s changed over time. When I first started, I had a split day. I would start early in the morning, finish at noon and then have a break. I’d come back in the evening and usually, work from 4pm-7pm. About 6 months ago, I shifted to just mornings and try to finish up my day around 2pm!

ELA: How do you motivate people to come in and work out?
T: I’ve had a few difficult ones and one that straight up quit. She just hated it. Other than that, I’ve been quite lucky to have attentive clients that are interested in it and want to be there. Even if they don’t like exercising, they want results. I also find that doing frequent measurements or strength tests, to show them their progress, is really good for keeping them motivated.  When I’m with my client, I give them my undivided attention. I make it their hour and a lot of people pick up on that.

ELA: What is your favorite part of being a Personal Fitness Trainer?
T: I always try to do my best in all aspects of life – whether that’s fixing my house or fixing myself. I find that if I can help people do their best, even when they can’t see their own potential, I get a lot of gratification from seeing people progress. I think it’s really cool that I get to help people do what they never thought they could!

ELA: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be a personal trainer?
T: To be honest, not really. I grew up on a farm and was really isolated. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I ended up going to school for business and really didn’t like it. It started with just going and working out at a gym because I liked fitness. From there, I got a job at a gym and then decided to study and make it into a career.

ELA: Have you received or are you working on getting any additional certifications?
T: I did a foam rolling course from a chiropractor and I’m currently doing my orthopedic specialty certification through ACE. It’s all done through correspondence so it should take me about 6 months.

ELA: At Urban Athlete, in addition to personal training, there are numerous classes offered. Do you teach any of those?
T: I don’t. I don’t think that I can be the loud motivator those group classes need. If I can’t give someone my 100% full attention then I don’t want to do it. I’m too OCD about form. I do up to 8 people with boot camps, but for personal training, the most I do is couples.

ELA: What’s your favourite thing about working at Urban Athlete?
T: The vibe is very low key and relaxed. Our managers are great at allowing us the freedom to run our own business. They give us the tools we need to promote ourselves and their expectations of us aren’t too big. They’re just right and provide the balance between freedom and support. Also, our member base is really great. It’s very community-based and many of them know each other. It’s a really comfortable place to work. It’s just a really good fit for me.

ELA: With the way the economy is right now, you've still managed to keep busy. How do you think you've managed to do this? If you've noticed a decline, how do you manage that?
T: Last year, this time, I was almost twice as busy. But I’m still busy! Personal training is kind of a roller coaster, where there are always ups and downs. It’s never totally consistent. It’s important to remember to not get too emotionally invested in the good times or bad times. My biggest tip for staying busy is to give people as much information as you can. I don’t hold onto trade secrets. I want to share them with as many people as I can. The more you give, the more you receive back. I give programs to lots of people and when their struggling, they will want to come back to me for more help. I think people want to see that you’re genuinely interested in helping. And they’ll remember that.

ELA: Can you give us an example of a client you are really proud of and why?
T: I’m proud of all my clients. One client I had was not too sure of what to do at the gym and really didn’t like working out. Now she works out 3-5 times per week and has become totally intrinsically motivated. She’s currently self-assessing, which is one of the main things I aim to teach people. Another client never thought she would be able to do a box jump. I love helping people accomplish things they never think they could do.

ELA: What’s your most embarrassing training moment?
T: Once, one of my clients ripped his pants while working out. He was pretty embarrassed but I just gave him a spare pair of my shorts. I accidentally slept in one a client once. I totally beat myself up over it and gave him a couple free sessions.

ELA: Do you have any fitness/gym pet peeves?
T: If trainers are not giving their client their full attention or when people leave stuff lying around. Equipment hogging too!

ELA: What do you do to pick yourself back up when you're feeling unmotivated?
T: If I’m feeling unmotivated about training someone, I’m usually thinking about what I don’t like about the session. As soon as I start, though, I’m good because they’re doing something and that excites me. For myself, as soon as I start, I love it. I just need to get there and start and I’m good.

ELA: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome as a Personal Fitness Trainer?
T: Getting out of the mindset that you have to know everything or be the best and instead, being open to learning and not knowing everything. In this industry, there’s new research coming out all the time, so continuously keeping your eyes and mind open has really helped me progress. It’s really removed it as a challenge.

ELA: Is there anything about being a Personal Trainer that you didn't expect or that came as a surprise?
T: I didn’t expect to do as much mental coaching as I do. Everyone has a physical need they get from me but every once in a while there are clients that need the physical instruction and plus more. I’ve had everything from clients being in abusive relationships to clients having unhealthy relationships with food.

ELA: If a client wants nutrition advice, what do you do?
T: I don’t do meal plans, as that’s not within my scope as a trainer. But if it’s simple or really general information, I’ll do it myself. If someone needs more personalized advice, I refer them to our nutritional professional.

ELA: Is there something that you learned in the PFT program that is especially helpful to you now as a trainer?
T: Movement analysis. It was really good. I just did a course on that and it reaffirmed much of what I learned in the program. Also, the cardio testing and knowledge from that has helped me describe that process to my clients. I also just learned a ton through doing my practicum hours at Urban Athlete.

ELA: If you could give any advice to people just entering the industry, what would it be?
T: It’s a roller coaster. It’s not consistent with regards to client retention. Be ready to accept the fluid lifestyle.

ELA: If you could give any advice to students attending ELA at this time, what would you say to them?
T: Pay attention. There’s so much good knowledge. The amount we learned is only about 75% of what’s in the text so the more you read on your own and study, the better understanding you’ll have. There’s so much more than just listening in class. Don’t just do the bare minimum.

ELA: Would you recommend the PFT program to other people, if so, why?
T: Yes, I would recommend it. It’s very broad in a foundational sense and covers a wide area of really important stuff but is still really in depth. The practical component was really helpful. Not just to see the gym, but also to actually use the equipment and to train people.