My Pre-Trainer Life


Last week Nikki and I returned from our first annual management retreat. We went down to Cannon Beach and spent three days making a plan for the next year of the studio's life. Haystack Rock

In July of 2015, I sat on a similar stretch of sand to the one where we stayed at Cannon Beach, just a little bit further south. At the time I was about ten years into a career in nonprofit fundraising. It was a good career, but one I kind of fell into because I didn't really know what I truly wanted to be doing. I'm guessing some of you can relate.

Passion Led Us Here Banner

Bonus fact about me: I hate the word passion. I think it's overused. The prospect of finding my passion and translating it into a paying gig was overwhelming. It paralyzed me for a long time, actually.

So, I prefer the word engaging.

I digress.


Anyway, by the time I was sitting on that beach in 2015, I knew I wanted to be a personal trainer. The why is a long story. Maybe for another day. But here's the story about how.

On that trip I spent a lot of time meditating/thinking/praying (insert your verb of choice here) about what was next for me. I knew where I wanted to be, but not how to get there.

One Way

When I got home I found a course at the local community college, designed to help people study for, and pass, the personal trainer certification exam. I signed-up, ordered my (enormous) study manual and waited. Seriously you guys, that manual is a monster. I truly believe it could be certified as a weapon. I wouldn't want to be hit over the head with it.

The class was to start in September and I thought it would be a good idea to hire a trainer for myself, to help me get as fit as I could before the class began. I called several trainers and made appointments with a few of them.

One was Nikki.

We sat down for a consultation and she asked me why I was there. And I don't really know why I said this, because I didn't share it with the other trainers I met, but I told her about my goal of becoming a personal trainer and wanting to get physically ready for my certification class.

We spent at least an hour talking. Talking about why I wanted to be a trainer. Talking about Nikki's philosophy about health and fitness. Telling our respective stories.

And then Nikki made me an offer. She and I could work together as trainer and client for the next six weeks and get to know each other. During that time I would start working though the study manual and evaluating whether or not I thought I could study for my exam independently.

If I thought I could, we would transition to a mentoring relationship and I could save myself the cost of tuition for the course. I'd study for the exam on my own, supplementing with formal in-person classes with Nikki. She'd share what she'd learned over twelve years as a trainer and she'd provide some practical training skills in addition to the theory I was learning through studying for the exam.

Then, assuming all that went well, she would hire me as a trainer at her studio.

Sweet deal, right? I thought so too, so I jumped in.

Work Harder

The 12 weeks between when we started what we came to refer to as, "Trainer Training," and when I passed my certification exam were intense. I worked 40 hours per week at my day job. Twice a week I would get up and make the 60 minute drive from my house to the studio for 6am. Nikki and I would then do two hours of trainer training and then I'd head for my office. I'd get off work, make the hour-long drive home, eat something and then study until my eyes wouldn't stay open anymore. Weekends were more studying.

But it worked. I  passed the test on a Friday afternoon and the following Monday I gave notice at my day job.

It is Well

And then, a little over a year later, there I was. On the Oregon coast again, with a life that looked totally different than the one I had during that trip in 2015. Sometimes I really do pinch myself about it all. That I wake up every day excited about work. That I get to live and breathe health and fitness. That I have a job that offers me a way to balance work and life. That engaging in healthy behaviors is not something I do if I have time outside of work, but rather, something I do so that I can do my work and do it well.

It's awesome and I am so thankful for it. I wish that kind of joy for everyone, whether it comes from your work or from something in your personal life.

Okay, that's my "how" story. It was fun to think about it again.

'Til next time...