Photo credit: Kevin Heintz
Personal training was never a career choice for me. I finished University and decided to do it for a couple years before going back to school to find a real job. During the recession my parents encouraged me to “wait it out” getting my master’s and PhD. I was accepted to my dream program but never pursued it. If I did I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to help other trainers through the PTDC and my upcoming book.
I’m lucky that my parents supported me in everything I did. Since starting the PTDC I’ve received countless emails from aspiring trainers whose parents don’t accept personal training as a viable career.
Anthony Yeung first contacted me introducing himself. Since then we’ve stayed in touch and I’ve been blown away with the progress he’s made. He recently had a MASSIVE achievement (but I’ll let him tell you about it). What I didn’t realize was the intense pressure he’s still facing from his parents to “get a real job” despite his success. I asked him to write about his story and how he overcame it. What he came up with was nothing short of incredible.
Three months ago I made a life-altering decision to become a personal trainer.
It was hard from dropping the life everyone expected of me not because of the commitment or educational requirements.
Fitness became a passion of mine two years ago. I’ve tried to share my triumphs with those I love. It hasn’t worked that way. Instead of getting support the opposite happened:
You’re wasting your college education!
You’re going nowhere!
I faced resistance, anger, and harsh criticism – especially from my parents – since toeing this path. It bothers me every day.
Here are some examples:
They made snide comments about my aspirations
“Stop thinking so high! You’re not there yet. We need to bring you down.“
“You can’t just do what you want! You don’t think I want to do things??”
“There’s something wrong with the way you think! The Real World doesn’t work like that.”
They bashed my mentors:
“Stop reading these books!! You’re not these people, so stop trying to be like them. You are not them!
They bet against me through spiteful comments:
“Let’s see where you end up in a year!! You won’t go anywhere!”
They ridiculed my decision-making:
“Why are you even networking? You’re not there yet!”
“Why did you make business cards? You don’t even have a job yet!”
Overcoming their map
My first step was understanding why my parents act the way that they act. Stephen Covey’s, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People gave me some insight:
Imagine you’re visiting Chicago for the first time, and you’re trying to get around. Now, let’s pretend your friend gives you a map – but it’s for Detroit. They can force you to follow their map ’til the cows come home, but it ain’t gonna get you to your destination any better. And even if they scream and kick, the problem still remains – they’re using the wrong map.
I wanted to go to Chicago… Not Detroit!
My parents forced their map down my throat. They believed the lessons they learnt applied perfectly to me, never realizing that I wasn’t in Detroit. From this I realized it was frivolous to waste hours supporting my decisions. They weren’t open to suggestion — they just didn’t want to be proved wrong
“Not to teach a man who can be taught, is to waste a man; to teach a man who cannot be taught, is a waste of words. The wise will lose neither men nor words.” – Confucius
They made no suggestions; they just criticized. People like this don’t know what’s correct; they know what’s different; otherwise, wouldn’t they say something helpful? Maybe they weren’t mad because I did something wrong – maybe it’s because I did something unusual.
What finally helped me overcome my parents’ resistance was to find the correct map and move forward confidently. Discovering that map wasn’t easy.
How I found my map
Three years ago, while finishing my final year at university (with a major in Economics), I moved to South Korea to teach English. With a steady income and no outside pressure I was finally able to have an uninhibited view of my life.
That’s when I discovered the world of strength-training.
I spent hours reading articles from Nate Green, Eric Cressey, and Joe DeFranco. My days were spent learning about mobility work, hypertrophy, and anterior pelvic tilt. Before then, you had to use a cattle prod to get me to learn anything outside of school. Who knew education could be fun?
I started to videotape my lifts, sought out more authors, and used my off-days to think about my on-days. All of a sudden I started catching people at the gym watching me lift. Then they started to quiz me about my technique and exercises. I thought, “maybe there’s something here.” But why was I waiting? Was this not something I really enjoyed? Sure, I liked finance, but the thought of helping people achieve their fitness goals seemed more attractive.
I didn’t, however, switch to fitness just because I felt passionate; “passion” is a dime a dozen in this industry. I decided to become a Personal Trainer because I loved talking with people, talking about fitness, and striving to improve each and every day. I made the jump around November 2011 and began studying for a certification.
I reached out to several fitness coaches I admired, told them I appreciated their work and influence, thanked them for their inspiration, and politely asked for bits of advice. Their response blew me away. Almost all of them took the time to:
– Field all my questions about what to expect in the industry.
– Offer advice and suggest resources to enhance my coach abilities and lifestyle.
– Share their experiences.
– Explain the best methods to become a great fitness professional.
– Open doors.
I decided to surround myself with the best. They influenced me to work harder, dedicate more time, and interact with other like-minded coaches. And through these conversations, in early-December 2011, I was granted an opportunity to intern with a famous trainer whom I’d admired.
I was floored. All of a sudden I became the envy of the fitness community. My inbox was flooded with congratulatory messages.
I excitedly told my parents. Instead of drawing a new map they reiterated their view that I should be travelling to Detroit. Imagine a lot of yelling – that I wasn’t “being realistic,” and I was “wasting my time.” They blasted me for finding a position that didn’t pay and shouted that NO ONE CARED if I worked for famous people in the industry. To them, the knowledge I gained from an invaluable internship meant “nothing in the Real World.”
Then, a few weeks ago, I happily told them that found an internship at one of the top facilities in the United States (Results Fitness), where I could learn the intricacies of Personal Training and Group Coaching. They slammed me again for not getting a job that pays:
“What are you going to do?? Work for free forever?? There’s something wrong with the way you think!” – They told me.
But I knew better – I built the correct map.
The journey to become a Personal Trainer has been a rough one, but one that I pursued, amid the pain and rejection. And things improved once I stopped wasting time deflecting their criticism and invested it in education, personal improvement, and networking.
My family is convinced I “learned nothing” over the past three years and everything was just a “waste of time,” but I’m not so sure – I discovered what I love to do, started doing it, and found the correct map that gave me the quiet confidence I needed to overcome the obstacles.
“The superior men are sparing in their words and profuse in their deeds.”– Confucius
Did your parents approve of your choice to become a personal trainer? If not, how did you overcome it? Comment below and, as always, please share