No, he does not do this for money!

…but for passion as Daniel finds educating clients a joy, pride and satisfaction

Daniel, a personal trainer at Body by Design and also a Rebel Boot camp Instructor shares with FIT Malaysia his success story of making what he loves as a career.

1. Can you share your typical weekly workout?

At the moment, I go to the gym three times a week for basic weight training workouts, followed by half an hour of sprint swimming (front crawl and breast stroke). On other days, I usually take it outside, whether brisk walking, leisurely walking, running, or a combination of all three as interval sets. On these days, I might also throw in some outdoor exercises, like burpees, push-ups, pull-ups, hanging leg raises. Alternatively, on these outside-activity days, I might do some stair-climbing in the apartment building, maybe three or four sets of climbing 14 floors + a few sprint drills in the park outside. At least once a week, I do yoga.

But I change my workout routines every three months or so. Late last year, I was doing heavy weights in a strength training programme and lots of spinning and machine rowing and about three yoga sessions a week.

2. Understand that you are a personal trainer now, why did you decide to be one?

I was always interested in fitness and have been working out since I was in my 20s. I decided to learn more by taking the ACE-PT certification course offered by FIT Malaysia. It was one of the most interesting courses I’ve ever taken (and one of the toughest too!).

After that, I figured I should give fitness a go and consider the ACE-PT certification a career investment. At first,I was very interested in special populations and rehab, but after spending some time learning under Jodie Nicolic at Body By Design, I realised that personal training, fitness instruction and nutrition is a very exciting field, or I should say, more exciting field than I thought it was.

I began to see exercise in a very different way. I learnt that, while ACE-PT is a fantastic foundation, teaching someone how to execute an exercise safely and effectively can be quite a challenge. How does one break down an exercise, movement to movement? Not everybody is coordinated or has good body awareness. I also listened to music very differently. What would make a good race song for spinning, for example? Or in the park, what portions can be used for what activity? How? Programming for all kinds of exercise – from swimming, running, rowing, outdoor cycling, or weight training – would consistently be on my mind.

3. What top 3 qualities you think a personal trainer should possess?

Patience, curiousity, empathetic professionalism.

4. What was your previous job? Why did you change job?

Technically, I didn’t change job. I was and still am a freelance writer and editor. Working in fitness fits into my schedule perfectly, as I can focus on fitness in the mornings and evenings, spending the rest of the day on writing and editing, depending on my workload. This, I find, gives me a good balance, because I love writing too. However, I spend more time writing on fitness than I used to.

5. Understand you took the Personal Trainer course from FiT & now you are ACE certified, what have you learned that helps you in your practice now? Top 3 things

I find educating people about how their bodies work very rewarding. As such, learning how my body works during the ACE-PT course was one of the most interesting things about the whole course. However, I would say everything I learnt, from the science to business portions helps me in my practice now.

6. Apart from financial contribution, what do you find great/satisfactory about training clients?

As mentioned, I find educating clients about how their bodies work very rewarding. For me, however, the most satisfaction comes when clients reach their goals, whether it is weight loss or the functional use of a knee. The amount of joy and pride they have later about their bodies and abilities is beyond words. Indirect benefits clients derive from training are also plus points for me. Seeing them become more confident, have better self image, standing taller -not only because of better posture, but also because of being more self-assured – are all great things.

Other indirect benefits that give me satisfaction include communities and close friendships develop at Rebel Boot Camp, where I also work as a physical instructor. I see support systems set-up and activity groups as well. They joined up as individuals but leave having a family.

7. Do you have a specific type of clients that you train? If yes, why you chose that specialization?

At the moment, no, although eventually I’d love to educate the seniors on how their bodies work. Funnily enough, if you go to the parks, you’ll find that Malaysia’s senior citizens are very active compared to the younger crowd! Anyway, back to the question, for now, I train anyone and everyone!

8. How you think this job might be different from other fitness facility provider?

I’m not sure of the education given to trainers at other fitness facility providers, but it does scare me how some of them conduct their programmes. At Body By Design, we were trained to ensure that exercises are taught properly, and if the client can’t do the exercise safely and effectively, it is the trainer’s duty and responsibility to ensure that they do. In fact, we were trained to do this with more than one client in a single session.

I think this training is useful across the board, especially as I also am a boot camp instructor with Rebel Boot Camp. Personal training within a group setting can be challenging but, as with any skill, it can be developed over time.

At the end of the day, the exercisers safety and goals should be foremost in the mind of an instructor, and I think both the ACE-PT course together with my experience from Body By Design and Rebel Boot Camp  has helped to entrench this in my instruction.

9. How do you find your career now?

Pretty exciting, to be honest. Fitness is a vast field and, I believe, a sunrise industry in Malaysia. From special populations to sports-specific training, I think there is enough for everyone. What I find interesting is that there are often job prospects outside of KL, which means there is demand in other parts of the country and region for quality fitness professionals.

10. What word of advice would you provide others who are thinking of making a career change into fitness now?

I would say that they need to eat, live and breathe fitness. This means they are willing to wake up early (I wake up as early 4 a.m. on some days) and willing to be patient with their clients. For example, if an instructor verbally teaches an exercise, then demonstrates the exercise, but the client doesn’t get it, the question should be what is the instructor doing wrong, not why can’t the client get it.

Eating, living and breathing fitness also means willing to look at fitness beyond just their own personal interest. For example, many gym-goers are into bodybuilding but know little to nothing about yoga or pilates or running or swimming. Clients have different goals and I don’t think fresh instructors (including me!) should turn down a client because we don’t know how to help them reach their goals. If a client wants to win a marathon, then we need to not only know how to design a programme, but at least to some extent we need to know how it feels to go through that programme. We need to be able to empathise with the client in the programme design.

Finally, I’m going to say that it’s not a big bucks career, at least not as first. Changing career means paying one’s dues so be prepared!