(Written 8/2016) This week, I’m in Salt Lake City, UT for the advanced level Gym Jones personal training seminar. It will be a week of learning about fitness and lots of mental and physical testing. It’s basically “Hell Week” for trainers. This will also be a week away from clients and the comforts of home. So, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect about why I do what I do — why have I chosen this path as a personal trainer? I’ve done a lot of things in my life including acting, financial consulting, bartending, waiting tables, and helped develop a few small businesses, but fitness has always been a part of my life and dear to my heart.
Years ago, I was leaving the Upper East Side home of one of my private clients. Every Saturday, I put Diane and her son, Tyler, through a combination of kickboxing and strength training. I always finished with her because Tyler wanted to go first. He couldn’t wait to train with me. He was starting high school and loved the confidence and strength he was building. Not too long ago, we had to beg him to join us, now I had to cut him off.
So I finished a great session with the two of them, Diane paid me, said “thank you” and we exchanged our normal goodbyes. As I was walking down the stairs, she added, “You know, Tyler wouldn’t be half the man he is today without you.”
I absentmindedly said “thank you, Diane. See you next week.”
I walked out the door, to the sidewalk and stopped in my tracks. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I stood there for a good minute and yes, this tough-guy-boxing-instructor got a little emotional right there on a New York City sidewalk. Stunned, I started walking … very slowly.
I had always just shrugged off the appreciation that I received, but this one struck a chord with me. At that moment, I realized what a special opportunity I have.
On a daily basis, I have the unique privilege of making lives better.
I’ve had a 65 year old retired tax attorney that never — I mean ever — lifted a weight in his life, thank me for bringing life back into his marriage. And a Chief Investment Officer of one of the top financial firms in New York City call me her son because she sees me as much, and wouldn’t have it any other way. I no longer take expressions of gratitude from my clients for granted. Each one of them works his and her ass off during my sessions and all of them are why I do what I do.
Pictured above: Derick (left) who lost 30 lbs working with me. Bob (right), the tax attorney who was one of my very first clients. This photo was taken when I ran into him on the street. On this day, his wife finally met me. Then there’s Tyler (left), the high school kid whose mom Diane was so appreciative.
So the number one reason why I do what I do — I can really change lives. I don’t just mean I can make their day better, I can MAKE THEIR LIFE BETTER. It’s a huge responsibility and one I cherish.
What I’m doing as a personal trainer is part science and part art. So, in my own mind, I’m trying to create a masterpiece session with every client or group of clients. Just like Picasso, or any other artist, sometimes I nail it, and sometimes I come close. My goal is always — I want a masterpiece.
Did you know there’s a hormone that’s released after you accomplish something?
Anything! Even a one mile run. It’s called dopamine and it’s highly addictive. (Your brain also thinks you’re accomplishing something every time you pick up your phone, hence that little addiction and ADHD levels increasing 66% over 10 years, but I digress.)
Back to that feeling of accomplishment. … What I’m craving is that big shot of dopamine after each session when I feel confident I’ve created a masterpiece and my clients are satisfied that they are well on track to meeting their fitness goals.
There’s also a hormone that is released when you’re around people that you’re comfortable with. You know when you go into a room and look around to see if you know anyone? Then you find your good friend and go over and sit next to him or her. That feeling you get is a result of oxytocin. It’s also released when you’re having a good conversation with someone or when we do nice things for people — it’s the social bonding hormone and they say it’s not addictive. I don’t know about that. I think I’m highly addicted to those shots of oxytocin. There’s nothing better for me than when a client learns something new or meets a challenge or performs a movement they couldn’t do before.
I love the different “hormone” shots I’m getting through my personal interactions as a fitness trainer, but the other “stone” is connected to the big picture: Fitness as a “Science.” I love it! This is weird because the only way I made it through high school science class is because I made my teacher laugh and called her “Blueberry Muffins.”
Recently, I’ve found a new curiosity for science and fitness, an aspect of my profession that is on the cusp of blowing up. Believe me, the world of health and fitness is about to get a lot more scientific. Hormones, blood, genetics — all of this is going to play a bigger part in YOUR health in the future. Gauging how someone is doing will be shown in a blood sample rather than a push up test. Trainers will not only be focusing on nutrition and muscles, but also endocrinology and neuromuscular therapy.
As they say…
“Shit’s about to get real.”
And I can’t wait to be right there in the midst of it, applying this newfound passion for Science to my work and benefitting from these elevated hormone levels my client successes give me.
So there we have it. Just a few of the reasons why I love fitness training. So when you see me push you a little harder, it’s because I want you to be one of my successes so we can BOTH feel these boosts in our levels of dopamine and oxytocin. I think I’m getting a shot of oxytocin just thinking about it! Let’s go!!