Why I Became a Personal Trainer Part One

I honestly have no clue why I never blogged about why I became a trainer on the old website that was with Weebly. I think I was spending so much time trying to figure out just what I wanted to blog about that simple topics like this eluded me. Now that I feel more put together, I think it’s time for me to join the sea of voices who have also told their stories over why they became trainers. It’s a rewarding field to get into, even though it is a difficult one to succeed in.

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In the winter of 2015, I developed anorexia nervosa as a result of the snowball effect that was currently my life. Within that snowball was an enormous stressor–essentially a rock someone decided to stick inside said snowball. The flakes were smaller stressors, but, nonetheless, they were ones that fell from a blizzard. I may one day talk about just what that rock was, but I wanted to disappear.

I remember stepping on the scale one day, as I hadn’t been eating as much due to heartburn my Zoloft was giving me. I saw I weighed 112 lbs., which was the lowest I had weighed in a while. And I thought to myself, ‘I’m not even hungry and I lost all that weight? Sign me up!’ Of course, the development of this disorder wasn’t as simple as I’m making it seem, but I took advantage of my lack of appetite to start dropping weight.

Flash forward to a few months later, and I was in the 90s.

To put things in perspective, I currently weigh 123 lbs., and that’s not even my normal weight. That’s a photo shoot-cut weight.

I eventually ended up in the ER with severe dehydration from laxative abuse and was thus admitted to a psychiatric ward for four days in order to put on weight–which I did. My recovery wasn’t difficult at all. I just needed something that would force me to eat again, that would give me permission to eat again. After all, if I didn’t eat while in recovery, they’d either intubate me or keep me longer. Regardless, I was going to have to put some weight on. No use fighting the process.

I also wasn’t in so deep that I couldn’t get out. That’s why recovery was smooth going for me. I had gotten to the point where I was binging anyway because I was so starved. I’d eat so much that I couldn’t stop until my stomach was painfully full. Then I’d purge until I got rid of the discomfort.

It’s not pretty, but it was my recovery that inspired me to pursue personal training.

I don’t remember how I stumbled upon Lauryn Evarts’ blog, The Skinny Confidential. I may have stumbled upon it when I was part of this wretched forum called Skinny Gossip. All I know is that I read in her bio that she was studying for a nutrition certification through ISSA, and, of course, I grew curious.

I looked them up and found out they were an organization that offered a variety of certifications, their most notable one being in personal training. I was totally familiar with personal training, but I thought you had to have a degree in exercise science to qualify. Yet, going through the ISSA website, I was happy to discover you didn’t need one to become certified. That’s when I began my research.

I sat on the idea of a career change for two weeks. I was currently in the field of marketing for a home improvement company and thought I was going to stay there, but I was growing tired of it. I also knew from what my research yielded that personal training wouldn’t be any easier since most jobs were commission-based. Yet, I was determined to spread my message.

The idea of being a personal trainer appealed to me because I discovered both during my illness and during its recovery that those with eating disorders weren’t the only ones with disordered eating behaviors and even exercise habits. My disorder did not develop because I thought I was fat. In fact, I was under no impression that I looked normal. I just knew I was skinny and wanted to stay that way.

But there are plenty of people, women especially, who have disordered eating habits by yo-yo dieting, labeling certain foods as good or bad, cutting out entire food groups, jumping on every fad diet bandwagon available, obsessing about calories and macros, and believing that they need to punish themselves with exercise for eating a slice of cake.

You don’t have to have an eating disorder to have disordered eating habits. An eating disorder is a psychological disease, one that is more complex than food and exercise. Disordered eating habits often arise as a result of ignorance about nutrition and exercise and our bodies’ metabolisms–not to mention the myriad of fitness gurus pushing nutrition misinformation.

I was already on my fifth year of ballet and was doing it for about five hours a week; thus, based on ballet technique, being able to understand the technique involved in squatting, benching, ect., was an easy transition. After all, ballet is all about posture: shoulders down, chest up, knees over toes…the whole nine yards. Plus, when I became certified, I didn’t jump into the personal training foray right away. I started out as a membership consultant who shadowed a trainer for three months and trained his clients on occasion.

I’ve been a trainer for about 1.5 years now, and I’ve learned loads along the way. I am blessed to have found a job that pays me, even when I’m not training. It definitely keeps your spirits up, as you still have an income and can still contribute greatly to the gym during the time you’re not training. (I know so many trainers who drop out of the industry due to lack of clientele. You just have to find the perfect gym that’s the right fit for you.) I’m currently collaborating on a nutrition seminar with another trainer, and we’re also structuring a nutrition coaching program. I can also come up with ideas for group classes that I’d like to teach and can even take on a few group classes to keep me busy.

It’s a win-win, the dream life.

Ultimately, I’m a trainer because I want to banish misinformation. I don’t want people to demonize “unhealthy” foods. I want people to learn to love exercise and understand that a great workout doesn’t mean feeling beaten up by the end. A great workout can be a 30 minute brisk walk on the treadmill. We all need to love movement, and we all need to love food, from the sweetest cakes to the bitterest of kale salads.

In part two, I’ll talk about how I ended up where I am now.

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