My Story

To understand why it is so important for me to help you, I think you need to understand a little about me. Here is my story, where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going…

But please remember that while this section is about me, this website is about me helping you, read on…

(Disclaimer: This section is quite long and certainly isn’t required reading for you to be able to succeed at achieving your goals)

I wasn’t always a fitness professional. And although I was always active and involved in sports as a youth, I never considered career in the fitness industry as an option as a young adult. I certainly never had access to accurate and structured information on how to exercise and my knowledge of proper nutrition was nil.  I was fortunate to have an older brother who helped me get work in LA as a lighting technician on film sets, the year after I graduated from high school. This was great way to start my adult life. I was young, had work, I was making more money than I ever thought possible. Heck I even lived on my own 34 foot boat in Marina Del Rey for a year and a half. I thought that I had it all.  But something began to change…

When I worked on a movie I’d work for 6 to 16 (or more) weeks at a time. I’d work for 12 – 18 hours a day, get 4-6 hours of sleep each night. All of the food I’d eat would be off of a catering truck every meal was high fat, high calorie: steaks, burgers, breakfast burritos. There was dessert at every meal. Not only that but the movie industry has a thing called  ”craft service”, a department whose sole responsibility is to provide snacks and drinks to the crew all day long (bagels, donuts, candy bars and soda). We even had “wrap beer” as we wrapped up the set at the end of the day (I’m not sure they still do that anymore). So I’d finish up the day drinking a couple beers. Fortunately the job was extremely physical. As exciting as the film industry may seem, my job was basically moving heavy things around all day. The end result was that I didn’t really gain weight eating this way. But…

In between working on movies I’d often have two to eight weeks off. During this time I would go to the grocery store, and cook all my own food. I’d ride my bike to the gym to workout every day. More day’s than not, I’d go for a bike ride, go for a jog, surf or play beach volleyball. I also always got between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. At first I didn’t notice the difference. But eventually I did!

In between jobs, I felt great! I had endless energy. I slept well, I was fun, easy going and had little to no frustrations. I woke up everyday refreshed and exited about my day. I was happy. During work on movie sets I was tired, I always had a negative outlook on life, I woke up and didn’t look forward to my day. I was not happy. After about 4 years of this pattern it hit me; there is something to this eating right and exercising! Even at the young age of 19-23 it had a huge, profound effect on every aspect of my life. I developed an extremely strong passion to share this knowledge with the world! I was going to change the world…

During my time at the gym, I observed the personal trainers. I liked what I saw and I began to understand that a career in the fitness industry was the right choice for me. When I spoke with the trainers who seemed to be the most knowledgeable (and busiest) I learned that one had a Bachelor Degree and the other had a Masters Degree, both in exercise related fields. This was a HUGE hurdle for me! I worked very long hours, was making great money (and was quite used to the lifestyle it provided). I wasn’t sure that I could sacrifice the income to go back to college. Plus I had less than a stellar (OK I was a crappy student) academic record in high school. I wasn’t sure how to even begin this career change. But I came up with a plan.

I sold my boat (boats are very expensive by the way), and cut my expenses as much as I could. I had no debt, so I could save money pretty fast. I committed to working in the movie industry for two more years to save enough money so that I could go back to college and change careers. In August of 1993, at the age of 25, seven years out of high school, I enrolled at El Camino College in Torrance California. I was terrified. I was such a poor student in high school I was certain that I had no business being on a college campus. But failure wasn’t an option for me. My passion for fitness was so strong and I refused to go back to the movies.

My first semester I only took four classes because I was simultaneously studying on my own to become a Certified Personal Trainer. I was hired as a Personal Trainer at Bally’s Health Spa in September of 1993 with the stipulation that I pass the Personal Trainer Certification exam in October. I passed on the first try, But none of the classes I was taking were helping me to learn more. I had two plus years of General Education classes to get out of the way. In retrospect I knew so little about fitness, human movement or nutrition at the time, yet I was a personal trainer helping people at the gym. I had very little confidence in my abilities, but I got better. It turned out to be the perfect part time job for working your way through college. I could attend classes in the morning and spend the afternoon and evening training clients. About nine months later after working at both Bally’s and then Sports Connection I had built up a steady clientele and was working as a contractor out of Gold’s Gym in Redondo Beach.

For me the difference between high school and college was that I made the conscious choice to return to college and I picked the field of study. That difference resulted in a much more successful outcome. And I know that once you make that conscious choice to make change in your life, you’ll ROCK your way through it, just like I did. It took me 5 years, three at El Camino College and two at California State University, Long Beach. I earned my Bachelor Degree in Kinesiology, with and Option in Athletic Training. Along the way I also became a Certified Personal Trainer through The American Council on Exercise (ACE) and a Certified Health Fitness Instructor through The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).  I now felt like it was time to start changing lives, Big Time!

A year after graduating from college I decided to move to Arizona. This decision was solely based on financial matters. I was close to buying a house in Long Beach that would have stretched me way too far financially and it wasn’t even in a good neighborhood. I’d been coming to Arizona for the holidays since I was about 13. My grandparents spent the winters there and my older sister lived there full time. It was a great excuse for us to get out of the cold Michigan winter for a couple weeks. I knew that I could get way more house for a fraction of the cost, so it was time for another change.

Up until then I had treated the personal training as a part-time job. My primary focus was to get through college. With school behind me I was just starting to transition into a full time trainer and this move meant starting from scratch again. To my surprise not a single client moved from Redondo Beach to Arizona…

Six years earlier when I started at Bally’s I had no choice. They were the only gym that would hire me without being certified. Shortly after getting my certification I moved to Sports Connection. It was a larger gym with a more affluent clientele and they paid more. But due to the income was used to making in the movie industry it still wasn’t enough. It was an easy choice for me to leave Sports Connection and go to Gold’s Gym. I had always felt like I was worth more than the big box gyms were paying, because I’d been making good money since I was 19 years old.

I knew that I didn’t want to go back to the Big Box gym and start over once I got to Arizona. For the First time in my life I was about to experience career struggles. And a new chapter on my Journey.

Big Box Gyms such as: 24 hour Fitness, LA Fitness, Bally’s etc are often great place to be a member. Because of the high percentage of members who don’t use the facility subsidize those who do, it is often a great value to belong to a gym like these. They have a ton of equipment, lots of space and a variety of features and services for a very low price. But they are not good places to work. They typically have very low hiring standard (I know I was hired without even a basic certification). Now don’t get me wrong there are some very competent trainers who work at these Big Box Gyms. Unfortunately there aren’t too many choices for fitness professional.  And unfortunately the personal trainer positions are treated like a sales job. There are sales quotas each month, rarely does a supervisor ask about the results your clients are getting. Or if the workouts are safe appropriate or effective for the clients. The sole focus of employee meetings is to find out if you are on pace to meet your sales goals for the month. If not a strategy is put in place to increase the likelihood that you do meet your goal.

There is a HUGE incongruency with this model. You, the member or personal training client, only cares about one thing, your results. Almost every trainer becomes a trainer because of one thing, they want to help their clients achieve their goals. Yet at the same time the Gym only has one goal, convince the members and clients to spend their money so that financial goals are met. I’ve never seen a goal set for employees in a Big Box gym based on members’ results. In fact all job promotions are based on this. The fitness director is the trainer who sells the most. Not the trainer with the most experience, education or management skill.

My driving focus has always been to help people to learn and understand what I do; that exercise, proper nutrition and fitness will have a powerfully positive effect on every aspect of your life.

When I first moved to Arizona I moved to Mesa. I quickly found a small fitness center, Infinity Fitness Center, which was associated with a supplement company. It was run by two women, both with great energy and passion for helping others. Although I’d be an employee they were open to a lot of the ideas that I brought to the table and there were many opportunities that traditional fitness centers simply couldn’t provide. Unfortunately the owners of the supplement company decided to move the headquarters to Scottsdale and not include the fitness center in the move about a year after I began working there. Fortunately, one of the ladies that I worked with chose to go to the corporate offices and the other lady decided to move to another industry. I found a small gym down the road that allowed independent contractors and enough of the clients from the Infinity Fitness Center came with me and I was up and running, or so I thought….

Soon after I made the move, the new gym decided to eliminate independent contractors, and forced us out. By then I’d experienced a great deal of attrition and didn’t have many clients, and I was having difficulty finding a fitness center that allowed Independent Contractors. So I took two jobs simultaneously and began to start over. I worked a 5-9am shift at one gym and a 5-9pm job at the other. I quickly realized that the gym I worked at in the morning had fewer total personal training clients than my own personal goal. And even though the evening job as at a small neighborhood gym, Red Mountain Athletic Club, they modeled it after the “Big Box” gyms and I wasn’t comfortable in that setting. Again it was time to move on…

I landed a job in Scottsdale in a small personal training studio owned by a husband and wife. The pay was very low, but they had plans to expand so there was potential to advance into management positions and possibly even ownership opportunities. But, it turned out not to be a good fit for anyone involved. And three months into that I decided I would move to a Big Box gym. This went against my core fitness philosophies but I felt it was necessary for me to build my clientele before heading out on my own again.

I chose to work at a Regional chain called The Q in Scottsdale Arizona. I chose this club for several reasons. One, at the time it was the only full service high end fitness center in Scottsdale. I chose the most affluent area of the city because I was experiencing drastically different success in the fitness industry as a Personal Trainer in middle class neighborhood versus more affluent area like Redondo Beach. My hope was that I could get my career back on track by working in Scottsdale, AZ. I wanted to go somewhere where I could build my clientele quickly, make some connections in the community and get my career back on track. Two, The Q only hired Degreed Personal Trainers, and had a compensation program that corresponded with that higher level of qualifications. Three, they weren’t overstaffed and the job duties of the personal trainers was simply to train clients. There was a financial goal to be met but it was really low and it was clear that was not their primary emphasis. It seemed like a great place. On Monday of my third week I had 12 clients scheduled. Finally I was back in a fitness center training a bunch of clients and able to focus on helping each on reach their goals.

Unfortunately this didn’t last long. Three months after I began working at The Q word came that The Q was selling all of their locations to 24 Hour Fitness. I knew I didn’t want to work for 24 Hour Fitness, they are the “Big Box” gym I described earlier. But since I was only 3 months into this job and although I was busy I didn’t yet have the same steady clientele that I had in California. Plus I had yet to really check out any other options in the area. I decided I would stay, continue to develop my clientele and when it was time go out on my own. then…

When I was hired at The Q I was the 12th trainer on staff. All of the trainers were busy, had been there for years and were making a decent living. Within weeks of 24 hours purchase half of the trainers had left. 24 Hour Fitness had increased the staff to 25 trainers. Many of the regular members and clients chose to move on to other gyms. 24 Hour fitness sent most of the new members to the new employees, of which there were now too many on staff. Then most of the new trainers quit. So 24 Hour Fitness replaced them with a whole new group of trainers and repeated that process over and over. I stopped getting new clients. I had to go out and hustle and compete with a group of less than qualified trainers to maintain my business. But I stuck with it and two and a half years later I had finally built up a steady clientele and went out on my own in May of 2003. After four years of career struggles I’d finally landed on my feet.

There are always challenges on the journey to success. You have to be strong and persevere to accomplish the things that you really want. Fitness/Weight loss goals are no different.

What I failed to realize is that during those two and a half years at 24 Hour Fitness was that I’d begun to lose track of my passion. With all of their corporate rules, regulations, policies, quotas and non-fitness related responsibilities I’d been distracted from my passion to help my clients…

When I walked in Spire Institute it came back to me instantly. I knew that I was there for to get back to changing lives. Since 2003 I’ve worked in several fitness centers all as an Independent Contractor. All of those moves have been a result of businesses closing, not any distractions or loss of focus on my part for fitness. But with that move to Spire Institute an evolution began….

My passion was back! I set out to help each of my clients start anew in this new location. Many of the trainers that I worked with and respected from The Q where working at this new fitness center. It was about helping clients once again. I was fired up! I began to get connected in the community new clients where coming my way I was busy and it was all about fitness. But I started to pay attention to something, I love to observe.

My clients were still cancelling with the same regularity as they did at 24 Hour Fitness. I still didn’t see them doing cardio on the days they didn’t have appointment. I’d still here them struggle with their food choices. And while most if not all did lose some fat and gain some muscle, and the all felt and moved better…none of them really ever achieve their original goals. I took this personally and I tried to figure out what I could do (since it was my job) to step up my game and really help them make changes. The more I pushed the more resistance I got from my clients, and some even choose to stop training with me. I observed other trainer’s clients. And while I can’t make an absolute assessment on the progress of other trainer’s clients simply by watching, it did appear to me that they looked the same as they’d always had, since they first walked in the gym. There are several reasons why an excellent group of trainers would struggle to lead their clients to their goals? I will be covering those reasons and many other topics on this site.

My years of experience in fitness has led me to the conclusion that the Fitness Industry has it all backwards. We take your money and charge you memberships and sell you personal training packages first. We sell the memberships and the personal training packages as your commitment to your goals. After that, and only after that, we advise you on the things you should be doing to achieve your goals. Only to find out, all too often, you weren’t ready to make those changes in the first place. The only thing you were ready for was to spend your money and hope you were really ready to succeed. Only to find out that you weren’t ready and you beat yourself up for it all the time.

You say things like:
1. I need to exercise
2. I need to eat right
3. I need to lose weight

Do you want to know the truth?
1. You don’t need to exercise
2. You don’t need to eat right
3. You don’t need to lose weight

You can remain sedentary. You can eat unhealthy. You can stay fat. You might have a lower quality of life and you may not live as long. And that’s OK. If you’re not ready, stop fooling yourself. You’re just going to drive yourself crazy!

To succeed you have to realize three things:
1. This is a journey; it’s about the journey, not the destination.
2. Learn to enjoy the process.
3. You have to want it

Learn to say and think and believe the following:
1. I want to eat healthy
2. I want to lose weight
3. I want to exercise

If you’re not ready click here  I’ll stay in touch and when you’re ready we’ll get started.

If you are ready, join me. Let’s start your journey I’m here to help!

That’s my Passion

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