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Have you ever set and achieved a career goal that you thought was out of reach?

About 1980 I began teaching group fitness classes, and 12 years later I started personal training. At that time degrees in exercise science were rare; I had only a bachelor’s degree in business administration plus fitness certifications. I always felt I needed additional education in the exercise field to be a better trainer.

About 8 years ago I began looking into master’s programs in exercise science. The more I investigated these programs, the more the goal of getting an advanced degree appeared to be out of reach. First, could I stop working full-time and go to school? What would happen to my clients and classes? Second, did I want to give up time with my family? Third, where was I going to get the money? Last, would I be able to keep up with the other members of the class who hadn’t been out of school as long as I had?

While wrestling with these questions, I found a program offered by California University of Pennsylvania. It was an
online, accredited program, offering a master’s degree in exercise science. This program addressed two of my concerns: I could continue to work full-time in my field and do course work at night and on weekends. Time away from family members was still a consideration, but they were supportive. When I needed time for research and writing, I got it. On the other hand, when they needed me, I gave them the time they requested. It just meant planning. The tuition—for an out-of-state student—was reasonable. I could afford it by borrowing. Since I was working, I could repay the loan. I purchased all the course books online—some used, some new. At the end of the semester, I sold them. I also found out that my brain was still functioning, albeit a bit more slowly! Turns out that keeping up with the other students was not an issue. Carving out time to read, write, conduct research and participate in class discussions was tricky at times but doable. I obtained the degree and gained an enormous amount of
experience from this adventure.

What did I learn? If you really want
to achieve something, you can. Create
a plan, take into account any possible bumps in the road and realistically determine how long it will take you to reach your goal.

Susan Gilmore

Your Personal Best Inc.

Alexandria, Virginia

I have had the wonderful opportunity to be involved in many aspects of personal training over the 15 or so years that I have been in the industry. However,
one of the most rewarding endeavors
was opening and running my own studio.

Opening my own studio enabled me to create the perfect place for teaching my clients. The studio’s quiet environment builds trust and fosters good client relations, ultimately leading to greater client success (as well as more business). Owning my own studio has also allowed me to focus on other business pursuits, because I have no distractions when I am working on a project in my office.

It took about 2 years of solid planning to open the facility. I first drafted a business plan (which was constantly revised as I researched the costs of setting up the studio). In detailing the business plan, I scouted locations; researched leasing and insurance requirements; projected income and expenses for the first 3 years, to make sure I had enough start-up capital; and figured out the niche market I planned to attract with my new facility. When setting up your own facility, the most important thing to remember is to plan everything. Plan the space, plan your website, plan your expenses, plan your marketing—plan, plan, plan.

Opening your own facility might seem out of reach as a goal. However, just start with the first step—like a projected balance sheet, for example. This sheet can tell you if the idea is even viable. If your income isn’t enough to match the expenses, then think of some creative ways to increase your income. It will take time, effort and a lot of patience, but stick with it and your hard work will pay off.

The great thing about owning your own business is no one can tell you what you can’t do except you. Stop thinking about all the reasons why you can’t go into business for yourself, and just get out there and try it. Learn from your mistakes along the way and move on toward the next goal, and the next and the next. Anything is possible if you set your mind and body to it!

Justin Price, MA

Owner, The BioMechanics

San Diego, California

When I first began personal training, many moms asked if I would train their obese children. I created workout programs for them and helped them with their diets, but it was challenging to instill a love for health and fitness in these young kids. They found the thought of exercising and eating healthy food depressing and overwhelming.

At the time my two children were
1 and 2. They loved watching Baby Einstein® videos. I thought it was wonderful that they were learning about music, art and poetry. Then I wondered, What if I created exercise videos for children ages 2–6 that would be as captivating as Baby Einstein? I could teach kids how to live a healthy lifestyle at a young age.

Although I loved the idea of making a video, I felt overwhelmed. Where would I begin? How would I get the funds to create such a video and distribute it? Most of the companies I called quoted me thousands of dollars.

I always told my clients that they could do anything. I realized I needed to practice what I preached! I visualized myself creating this video and having lots of people helping me. I kept my thoughts positive, affirming exactly what I wanted to accomplish.

The events leading to the creation of my Get Fit Kids video fell into place. I networked and found people willing to give their time and discounted services because they believed in the idea as much as I did. I met a producer who helped me put the video together, and, surprisingly, I didn’t experience any major obstacles. That’s how I knew it was meant to be.

After a year of working on my project, I had created Get Fit Kids. It has been 4 years since the video’s release, and it is still going strong (a DVD is also available). I am frequently asked to speak, write articles and teach Get Fit Kids classes. It was hard to imagine when I was watching Baby Einstein videos with my young children that one day I would make a video that other young children and their families throughout the world would enjoy. I never pictured that a product of mine would be available in big chain stores! But with a positive attitude and my love for fitness, my dream came true.

Kristi Dear

Certified Personal Trainer

Savannah, Texas

Over the years, after hearing me discuss a topic in training sessions, clients often told me, “You should be a speaker.” After hearing this numerous times, the light bulb finally went on. I realized that what I enjoyed most about training was sharing information that had a powerful impact on people’s lives. All at once, I realized I had an ability to share information verbally and a strong desire to do so. For someone who as a small boy was shy and had a slight stuttering problem, this idea was revolutionary. But at the same time, it “felt” right. And strangely enough, I have never been afraid of public speaking—as long as I know my subject matter well.

I absorbed information like a sponge during the first 5 years of my personal training career. After a while, I had absorbed enough that my own creativity began to emerge. I used what I had learned to develop my own ideas in
areas that were both strengths of mine and of high interest to me; for example, I had been teaching group cycling and stability ball classes for years. I began speaking to small community groups (widowed-persons groups, schools, etc.) about fitness. I practiced the many skills necessary to become a dynamic presenter. I also began dealing with the media quite regularly as an expert source for stories about fitness. This experience provided very helpful training in presenting accurate information succinctly and in a compelling fashion. Aligning myself with IDEA and ACE was the final piece of the puzzle with regard to opening up opportunities to present.

In the last couple of years, I’ve
become a master trainer for Fitness Anywhere (TRX) and for the new Functional Training workshop offered by ACE; given the Inspirational Welcome at the ACE Fitness Symposium; and—just this year—presented my first-ever sessions for IDEA. As I debuted as an IDEA presenter, my mind flew back to my first experience as an IDEA event attendee. Taking the stage, I was excited and honored to be presenting and amazed at how far I’d come.

Jonathan Ross

Aion Fitness

Bowie, Maryland n

Sidebar: Questions?

If you have a question, send it to IDEA Fitness Journal via e-mail to [email protected] or fax (858-535-8234). Include name, company, city, state/province and phone number.

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