Personal fitness trainer diploma

Jessica-YoungDenis Bento

Interview date: April 9, 2015

Graduated ELA: May 2014

Now: General Manager at Fitness on the Go

Age: 32 years old

Secret favourite exercise: Body weight jumping squats. It feels good after 20 reps! It’s a great way to work the legs, get some cardio in and have some fun. 

ELA: What led you to want to come take the ELA PFT program?
D: I was looking for something that would enable me to set my own schedule and make a decent living at the same time. I knew I wanted to help people have a healthier life but I didn’t know how or in what capacity. When I saw ELA’s ad online, it got my attention immediately. I called right away and booked an appointment for the next day. It was one of the best decisions of my life. 

ELA: What have you been doing since leaving school?
D: Right after I graduated, I was able to get a job as a personal trainer with Fitness on the Go (FOTG). I started out with only 2 clients and within several months, I had 30! It has been very busy, which I like. I have also taken additional personal training courses to continue my learning and to be able to help my clients even more. I’ve recently become a General Manager of FOTG and will be making the move to Edmonton in May/June.  I’ve only hired a couple of trainers in Edmonton, so I am looking to hire way more! 

ELA: What is your typical day like?
D: I train several clients in the morning and the afternoon. In between clients, I have coaching meetings with my trainers. When I first started with FOTG, I was training 7/8 people per day but I’ve slowed down to about 5 now. The earliest client will be at 530am but I schedule it like that. I’m a morning person! I also make sure to take a break mid-day where I get some lunch and do my own workout. Even though I’m a GM now, I still really enjoy training clients. 

ELA: How do you motivate people people to work out when you go to train them?
D: Communication is very important! I always come prepared with a workout program however, I always ask my clients if there is something they would like to do today. Most of the time they will mention something they saw on TV  or heard about from a friend. I am open to suggestions and I try to incorporate their request in a safe way. 

It’s also important to make the workout fun! Try new or different workouts or workout with your clients, even if it’s just a few sets. I can tell you to do a 100 burpees but you will probably hate me! I also really try to make sure my client feels special by asking about their families, how their weekends were or give a sincere compliment. Since I am usually going into these people’s homes or workplaces, you really become a part of their life and little things like this really make a difference.

ELA: What’s your favorite part of being a Personal Fitness Trainer?
D: Seeing my clients become healthier, happier and see the results they want. It’s an amazing feeling when I hear things like “I am able to do things that I thought I would never do” or “I am off my medications because of my new lifestyle”. 

ELA: Can you give us an example of a client you are really proud of and why?
D: I am proud of all my clients! One specific example is when I noticed a client always wearing a sweater or long sleeve. I did recommend comfortable clothes at the initial consultation, however it didn’t bother me how she was dressed for her workouts. After a month, she showed up in a tanktop. During the workout, I mentioned she was doing a great job pushing herself and I was proud of her. She told me that she did not have any self esteem before and that was why she wore a sweater everywhere. She is way more confident now!  

ELA: Has anyone been a mentor to you thus far, or is there anyone that you look up to?
D: Definitely. Jon Campbell, a GM of FOTG has given me so much support and guidance. He really helped me get where I am today. One of the things I admire about him is his ability to see great things in everyone. Angela (our instructor) was great too! Always there for us and so helpful. 

ELA: What has been your most embarrassing training moment?
D: It was a very busy day for me and for some reason I got my schedule mixed up. I showed up to a training session, knocked on the door and when my client answered they seemed surprised to see me. I thought I was on time but I was actually there a hour early. It was embarrassing for me! Luckily, they let me in and we had our training session. 

ELA: Do you have any fitness/gym pet peeves?
D: When I am training a client at their condo gym and someone is using multiple machines at the same time. I really don’t like having my clients having to wait to use the machine. Usually I will just go up to the person and say “that’s a nice machine, would you mind sharing it with us?” It normally works out well. 

ELA: What do you do to pick yourself back up when you're feeling unmotivated to work out?
D: I think about how I need to be an example for my clients. If I’m not able to motivate myself, how am I going to motivate them? Great music always gets me through a tough workout too. 

ELA: How do you find balance in your life?
D: I try to get as much work done, during the week, that I can. That way, I have time to spend with my family on the weekends. Also, I don’t work or workout on Sunday. Sunday is my recharging day. 

ELA: What's the biggest challenge that you've had to overcome as a Personal Fitness Trainer?
D: When I started, I thought that I would need to have a lot of experience in order to succeed. After talking to some experienced fitness trainers, I found out that they also feel the same. I started to realize that there will always be someone who knows more than me. However, I know enough (and will continue to learn), to help achieve my clients’ fitness goals. 

ELA: Did you see yourself where you are today when you first enrolled for the Personal Fitness Trainer Diploma program?
D: I knew that the program was a great investment from the very first class. The teachers were very knowledgeable and I knew that I was going to have a great foundation to start my fitness career. I certainly didn’t expect to be a general manager in such a short period! 

ELA: What is the secret to your success?
D: Make every single client feel special. Be enthusiastic! I know it’s hard to be enthusiastic after a long day but I do my best to keep my clients motivated. 

I also try to be a “human billboard”. I wear my FOTG uniform wherever I can and talk to as many people as I can. That’s a free advertisement! In order to succeed in this business, I need to let people know that I am fitness expert. 

ELA: Is there something that you learned in the program that is especially helpful to you now as a trainer?
D: Assessments. Being able to do basic assessments on my clients has helped me to identify areas I can work on with them. Clients appreciate the feedback and it’s a great tool to keep clients longevity. 

ELA: If you could give any advice to students attending Elevated Learning Academy at this time, what would you say to them?
D: The ELA program combined with ACE provides a very solid fitness education. Everything you learn at ELA is valuable and you will use it all with your clients. Embrace and enjoy your practicum! It will give you a taste of what it’s like to work in the fitness industry and wil help you decide if you want to work in a gym or run your own business. 

ELA: What advice would you give to people considering entering the fitness industry?
D: If you like being around people, this is a great job for you. 

ELA: Would you recommend this program to other people, if so, why?
D: Yes! The reason I am where I am today is because I had a great education from ELA. Teachers at ELA are trainers too and they are able to share their own experiences and prepare you for your career. 

ELA: Why do you like to train people in their homes, rather than at the gym?
D: I actually train people at their work offices and private gyms too. I would say that 80% of my clients have a gym membership but they don’t use it. FOTG has a great business model where it’s more convenient for people to have a trainer coming to them. When I go to my client’s houses they always mention that they wouldn’t have made it to the gym today however, because I am there – they are working out. 

ELA: Have you ever had any funny/interesting stories when you've been in a client's home?
D: I was training this couple for about a week and noticed that their kids would sit and watch the entire workout. One day, I asked if they would like to join their parents and they were so happy. After a couple of weeks, they told me their Grandma from BC wanted to start training as well, but only with me. So now I need to make sure that I come to their home whenever she visits Calgary. It’s funny how when you help your client, they want their entire family to be part of it. 

ELA: Even though you're working for FOTG, it's kind of like owning your own business. Can you explain how that works?
D: FOTG allows trainers to have the freedom of running their own business with a national brand behind them. They provide the proper infrastructure and management team including public relations, a call centre, on-going advertising management, client billing, software and business coaching. Basically everything that you would need! Trainers can set their own schedule and become known as fitness experts in their community and make a good living doing it.