MyTrainerChris: Behind the Barbells and Burpees.

A client recently asked me a lot of questions about my life before becoming a personal trainer and the events that brought me into this field. I never thought anyone would be that interested.  After receiving my Readers Digest version she asked if I would consider blogging my story…either she thinks I may have held out on a few juicy details or she likes the funny photos more than she admits.

Warning: This blog jumps around a little more than I like….unlike some well executed burpees.

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A Navy Aircraft Carrier Battle Group.  For our country and our allies it is a beautiful sight.  For the bad guys out there, you’re about to have a very very bad day.

GENESIS.  Previous to my life as a Personal Trainer I had the honor of serving in my countries military for 24 years.  Over the course of my career it was expected that my operational, tactical and technical skills would diversify and grow as I promoted through the ranks.

 This is what marks a professional.  

Along with expectations of subject matter expertise, I was further charged with leading, mentoring and developing younger less experienced personnel into trained professionals.

Over my years as a military leader I had to make more than a few tough phone calls to mothers and fathers.

I had to speak on behalf of wayward Sailors in front of commanding officers.

I had to see a few be sent home early for disciplinary reasons.

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I had to say far too many final prayers for the fallen and say goodbye to too many friends.

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A brother in arms has been accepted as a Chief Petty Officer.  I think the photo alone says more than a thousand words.

….but I also got to see many service members excel and rise up through the ranks, including a few that would go on to become commissioned officers, senior enlisted leaders or commit selfless acts of bravery and integrity.

Then it was time to retire and put away my weapons. It was a fun ride, I don’t regret a thing a thing.

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CROSSROADS OF THE KNOWN AND UNKNOWN. I was now barely over the tender age of 40 years old and had to decide on continuing government employment or pursuing personal interests. 

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“Yeah Bro, I’m in a bulk phase.”

One thing for sure, I knew I wasn’t going to sit around all day and watch myself get fat. 

Given my background, becoming a personal trainer seemed like an easy decision. I believed that my motivational skills, leadership ability, education and dashing good looks would surely lead to clientele success.

It didn’t…at least not quite as well as I thought it would…………at first.

Fact is, in the military I nearly always out-ranked the people I trained and even when I didn’t I held what is termed “positional authority.”   That authority only held weight as long as the other person was holding weights. 

Additionally, the average service member has a better health profile than most same age civilians, which in turn made them (comparatively) easier to train.  My combination of command level respect, rank, vocal demeanor and a honorary Masters degree in Bastardology kept whining to an auditory minimum. 

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Response to Whining 101: If I have to come down there, I HAVE TO COME DOWN THERE.  It won’t be pretty.

I never had to deal with 58 year old women with Fibromyalgia, 72 year old lung cancer survivors, Artificial Hip recipients or a 327lb 20 year old wanting to lose 100 lbs…and I certainly lacked the ability to cope with whining. My former whining coping mechanisms involved continuing  to issue beatings until morale improved.  Although I believe I have (externally) improved my coping skills, I’m still not good with clients that whine and I think I might have stopped needing to evolve. My ability to handle a diverse set of clients needs however continues to develop and I believe I made a pretty good transition.

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Great White Sharks haven’t had to evolve very much…..pray that they don’t.

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Oh crap…..

Save for whining issues,I had to re-invent myself…sort of…just not a total self-Mulligan.  It was a matter of putting things into a perspective that I could work with.

The ultimate goal of a training program is to bring the (blank) up to their full potential.  In my opinion, this is the true mark of success.
(Blank) formerly meant service members, (Blank) now means athletes.

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As stated below, I’m not a Medical Professional….but I am a Medical Amateur, something here doesn’t look right …and why the heck is that slacker in the background allowed to be in the gym working out in regular street clothes? 

I’ve decided to start referring to people who hire me as their trainer as athletes instead of clients, even though client is a perfectly acceptable social term.  I positively refuse to call them “dudes” or worse “patients.”  

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“Where da ladies at?”

I am at least 1 year removed from calling anyone dude, unless of course I’m hanging out poolside with a large adult-oriented beverage and wearing a sombrero. Since I lack of a degree or license in any of the approved courses of study, I cannot be your Psychologist, Physical Therapist. Marriage Counselor or Dietitian…therefore you are not my patient.

 I do however consider myself something of an Oprah for Athletes. 

Athletes train and build themselves with a purpose and desired outcome in mind.  Since I train Athletes,I design the programming per athlete to produce the desired outcome and provide an external source of drive when needed.  

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One win right after another.

It is quite possible to exercise without focus, direction or a goal.  It is also possible to exercise with intended purpose, general direction and a goal, but use ineffective training methods. Don’t believe me? It’s January, take a good look around your local gym and see how many people clearly have no idea what the heck they are doing.  

Essentially, If your heart rate is rising, if you’re breathing a little faster and your muscles are contracting then by definition you are exercising.

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I’m sure he exercised….if exercise is defined as using the hip adductor/abductor machine.

Warriors don’t exercise for War, they train for it.  Athletes don’t exercise, they train.

I don’t exercise clients,I train and build athletes.

My 80/20 on training athletes of all ages and abilities.
80% of my programming is designed to produce progression by a measurable means.This can be gained from periodization, programming, lift progression, exercise selection, time trials, strength tests, scale weight, circumference/skin fold measurements, goniometrics or any other number of tests that produce concrete evidence of efficacy.

 Strength

Mobility

Flexibility                                 

Body Composition

Nutrition

Power                                      

Stamina

Endurance

Performance

Balance

Of all the fitness domains, I value strength over all.  My supporting belief in this matter is simple: Imagine a weak person with good morale, sound intellect and living a spiritually rewarding life.  Now imagine how much better that person would feel, think and be if I simply made them stronger?  Imagine how much longer they could go on doing their good works?  Not only is such a person (happy, intelligent and caring) a good person to have around, I just added years and quality to their life and the ability to experience the unbridled joy of picking up bigger barbells and knocking out faster burpees. 

20% of my programming is designed to produce progression by less directly measurable means.  This comes from the feedback I get from my athletes when I ask them how they’re feeling, especially if they were living with daily bouts of pain.

Daily Quality of Life (Morale, Ease of Movement, Energy et al)
Reduction of Pain (Directly corresponds to quality of life.)

Sometimes the 80/20 is completely reversed or re-proportioned; it all depends on the needs of the athlete.

Eyes on the future.  As I get older, I get a little wiser.  I will personally never state I’m the smartest guy in the room, but everyday someone proves I’m not the dumbest guy either. Since my entry into personal training I’ve certified in, and continue to educate myself in corrective exercise, rehabilitatation methodologies and kinesiology.  I’ve committed myself into making this a career and consider myself a lifelong student.

I have taken up both Yoga and CrossFit to broaden my knowledge and deepen my skill sets. Stuff is a blast!

What I’ve come to re-realize is that this isn’t about me being the best trainer in town; it’s about me giving the best of myself to others, and building an actual legacy by developing one awesome athlete after another.

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