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needs a push
May 31, 2012 10:57 AM   Subscribe

If you have made a dramatic change when it comes to employment/lifestyle- how did you push yourself to just go for it?

Situation Details:
So the girl who tried to get out of gym class every time they tried to get you to run the mile....has turned into the girl who has run three marathons, and am now into weight lifting, boxing, spin, basically anything athetic (that doesnt involve a ball..still uncoordinated) that you can think of, I'm game for. Seriously, the highlight of my day is getting to leave my desk and go work out, I'm always reading the askmefi/mefi posts on fitness and my Google Reader is full of fitness blogs. Whenever friends come to me talking about starting a fitness plan, I'm all over helping them (only if they bring it up, I swear I'm not pushy).

I've been seriously considering getting my personal trainer certification (through NASM, which seems to be very well respected- if anyone wants to chime in pro/cons that would be welcomed).

These are my reasons/relevant details:
-I would love to be able to make my own exercise plans, and really actually understand the reasoning behind why you do certain things.
-I want to be able to give better advice/ be more confident in my advice
-I am under no allusions that this could become a full time job. What would be fantastic is if I could eventually jump to a part time desk job and also work at a gym part time, but thats a very very long term goal.
-I love helping people reach their fitness goals. I've had two amazing trainers, and would love to be able to help people like they did for me.
-The idea of studying for the exam is actually.... exciting to me. Who knew I could feel that way about an exam.

Here are the things holding me back/my questions to you guys.
- Upfront cost: the exam and relevant materials are a chunk of change. We are thankfully comfortable enough that this isn't money that should be going to important things, but I feel a little silly spending so much on something that might not lead to a job, and could just be a hobby. I worry that I'll regret spending it. How do you know when you should just jump in and make the investment?

- Even though I try to be like "screw it! I dont care what people think!" theres still a little bit of inposter syndrome going on- I mean, I was the kid who hated hated gym class.... and now I want to be a trainer? My wonderful husband is totally on board, but I know some of my family and friends will not be as supportive. There will be a lot of "but you went to super expensive college and now you just want to be in the gym all day!" How do I move on past worry about those responses, especially when a little bit of you is like yeah, this is a bit crazy?

TLDR: I get myself so wrapped up in the costs/crazy factor, that I just don't do it and instead continue to sit at my desk job day after day, thinking about how I should just go for it. How have you managed to get over the fear of doing something very different from your current situation and just going for it?
posted by zara to Human Relations (20 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
People spend money on hobby's all the time. (Improv classes! Cake decorating! Guitar lessons!). You're allowed spend money on a hobby eve if it doesn't turn into something else (comedy actor! pastry chef! rock god!), and you don't need to get your family's buy in to take a class you're interested in. If you want to do it, and you can afford it, take the classes, and don't worry about planning your life out based on these classes - afterwards you'll either be a more informed active person, or you'll be a personal trainer, or a gym owner, or journalist who writes about fitness, or you'll be exactly the same.

As some other sporty entity once said, just do it.
posted by Kololo at 11:07 AM on May 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Couldn't have said it better than Kololo. Go for it.

I'm not sure what your undergraduate is in, but are you at all interested in doing a Master's degree in Kinesiology/Exercise Science/Physical Therapy? Even if you have a BS/BA in an unrelated field you could do a post-bacc or do pre-req's and apply to masters programs. Maybe I am barking up the wrong tree but I feel this option would build on the education you've already paid for, as well as increase your earning potential and give you an outlet for doing physical therapy and training. Something to consider?
posted by Katine at 11:12 AM on May 31, 2012


Just do it when you have time. People are generally positive about a person they know making themselves more interesting in some aspect.
posted by discopolo at 11:18 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


The kid who hated gym class is a great PR hook, and might be a good way for you to set yourself apart from all those other trainers. But, as a trainer--you're basically running your own business, and that's what you might want to learn more about. I've been a freelancer in my field for nearly 15 years and being your own boss, book-keeper, and press agent isn't as easy as it looks. Can you team up with an existing trainer or gym to learn more about what all is involved? Like insurance, etc.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:41 AM on May 31, 2012


Even though I try to be like "screw it! I dont care what people think!" theres still a little bit of inposter syndrome going on- I mean, I was the kid who hated hated gym class....

This is a huge selling point for you! There can be a really big intimidation factor for people who aren't naturally athletic when they seek a trainer. They're afraid of being judged, misunderstood, or pushed too hard. You get to be the Approachable Trainer.

I recently met a gal who got into the personal training business at mid-life. She'd been overweight her entire adult life. She managed to build a nice client base, even during our economic downturn, because people of all ages and shapes felt comfortable with her. She would get approached while training other clients in the gym by people who said they'd felt too intimidated by other trainers. She's doing great in her career.
posted by quivering_fantods at 11:42 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


For now you can focus on learning as much as you can about what you want to do. And it can be "under the radar". For example on the weekends take a few different types of fitness classes (ie boxing/spinning) with different instructors to learn how to teach. Kind of what you are doing now. Also read tons of books (doesnt have to be formal training). This may lead to you teaching a class here and there, which can lead to other things. I think staying active in the community you want to be in is probabaly most important. The opportunities will present themselves.
posted by Busmick at 11:43 AM on May 31, 2012


Dude, you are a total inspiration. I SO want to be the person who goes from hating the gym to needing it to get through the day. Seriously.

I would go for the certification. Even if you do spend the dough and never make a dime from it, it's something you are passionate about, and it interests you.

Here's what I think could happen. You could then do some part time work at your gym, do tours, sit at the desk, show that fat slob (me) how to work that core/platform thing that totally kills your quads. You might make enough to get back the gym membership. You might get a couple of Personal Training customers.

It might never be enough to move you to part-time at your day job, but it might end up covering gym costs in the future. Even if it doesn't, learning all that jazz is interesting to you.

If you have the discretionary income to afford it, do it. I promise, your husband is spending money on something equally as enjoyable to him, and equally as frivolous to you.

As for the naysayers, fie on them. Just show them your 6-pack and smile serernely.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:45 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a very similar background to yours and I flirted seriously with the idea of getting a personal trainer certification for the same reasons. Honestly by the time I was ready to jump in I realized that the personal trainer certification was just a piece of paper, and the things they wanted me to learn weren't what I cared about. I decided to work more closely with coaches and teachers whom I respected and focus on learning that way, and getting really specialized knowledge about the sports I love, instead of seeking that piece of paper.

I know a lot of people who are generalist personal trainers at big box gyms -- they do it to pay the bills and they really hate it. I'm glad I didn't drop hundreds of dollars on the study materials to get that piece of paper back in the day that would give me the privilege of getting yelled at by my sales manager at Equinox, you know?
posted by telegraph at 11:48 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I used to be a lawyer; now I write about pop culture. I am poorer; my life is better.

Be happy. Nothing is a guarantee anyway. If you truly want to try something and you can do it without putting yourself on the brink of chaos, you should not deny yourself.

I can pretty much promise you that I spent more on law school than you will on this project, and I still have no regrets. My life is my life. If I started to untangle it and go backwards -- "I wish I hadn't gone to law school" -- maybe I would have done something else, and maybe that something else wouldn't have spat me out into what I do now.

Go forward in peace (seriously), because the same goofs who will judge you for doing something different will judge you for doing the same thing as always anyway. When I walked out of my last lawyer job on the last day, I blasted Andrew WK's "Totally Stupid" in my headphones (I really did) and convinced myself it was the right thing to do, even though I heard plenty about people whose friends and kids had career-changed and seen it end in disaster.

And five years later, I got to cover the Royal Wedding.

You never know what's going to happen if you do something, but you know what will happen if you do nothing.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 12:12 PM on May 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


(Go you! I am essentially the same way, inactive clumsy nerd my whole life, though now I do competitive lifting not running)

I think it's a worthy goal to want to know about programming, how to train people, etc. However, a personal training cert is not the way to do it. They are a joke, even the respected ones like NASM. Coaches and trainers who know their shit get them because you have to have them to be employed. But if you're not interested in quitting your job to be a personal trainer at the gym, then I would suggest you just do research on your own. Websites like EliteFTS, trainers like Eric Cressey, Charles Polinquin, Bret Contreras, Mike Robertson, read read read blogs of good trainers and respected training websites. Look up stuff like the Functional Movement System and read what you can about that. Study anatomy on your own. Sadly, the training certs are a waste of time and money if you're going there for informational purposes. Getting your CSCS is probably the closest thing to legitimate out there.

If you just want to be a part-time trainer, then I suggest doing a lot more research on what it means to be a trainer, and then get the cheapest cert that most places will accept (last I checked this was the ACE).
posted by schroedinger at 12:49 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I want to add another vote that you should go for it. A few years ago, I did something a bit similar: I took a fairly expensive training course that is the first step in the education/certification process for being a guide and educator for a type of outdoor sport (something I am passionate about). I wanted to explore the possibility of a career shift - a change that I wound up not pursuing, for various reasons. The argument I made to myself at the time is similar to what you are thinking: I'm really interested and passionate about this activity, it sounds fun, and I can afford it.

The argument that clinched the deal for me was realizing that even if I never pursued this activity as a career, the education I got from the course would still help me enjoy and be better at my sport. It sounds like that would also be true for you: you would benefit from learning more about how to train yourself, structure workouts, etc., even if you never become a professional trainer. So what do you have to lose by trying it?
posted by medusa at 1:18 PM on May 31, 2012


It sounds like that would also be true for you: you would benefit from learning more about how to train yourself, structure workouts, etc., even if you never become a professional trainer. So what do you have to lose by trying it?

The issue with personal training that may not be the case with other certs is that the information you learn in the course will either be ineffective, flat-out wrong, or so basic and simple it's something you could've learned after an hour or two of surfing the internet. An example: at one respected cert taken by a friend of mine, one of the questions was "What is the quadricep" where you identified the arrow pointing to the part of the leg--it didn't even differentiate between the multiple muscles making up that group.

"Practical Programming" is a very good way to start learning programming for lifting. For programming for running, there are a wide variety of resources out there. For the $600+ you spend getting this cert, you can get a whole library of training books that will serve you a lot better than the piece of paper and have information actually useful to yourself and your client.
posted by schroedinger at 1:51 PM on May 31, 2012


Okay, so I respond to shame and embarrassment. I know. I know. That's clearly not optimal. But... well... I think that's just how I'm built.

So when I want to do something - but am hellbent on self-sabotaging - I nag myself into doing it. See, there's a scale in my mind. On one side of the scale sits Inertia: the force that is keeping me glued in place (or more accurately, the force that keeps me doing whatever it is that I'm doing right now). On the other side of the scale... well... that's Momentum. Negative momentum to stop me from doing something. Positive momentum to force me into action. Either way, it is momentum, and it counteracts the inertia that keeps me where I am.

For me, Momentum takes the form of shame and embarrassment. So whether this is advisable or not, I need to shame myself into action. There are a bunch of ways I do this. I started using the program/site Lifetick, which is goal setting software that helps you set good goals (which conform to the SMART standard for goal-setting: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timed) and which has built in "nagware" to remind you that you have things to complete. Every morning, I get a barrage of emails reminding me of the things I need to do on a daily basis to achieve my goals. Each of these emails is a grain of sand on the Momentum side of the scale.

I also block out time to do some of these things, and set reminders/alarms on me phone to keep myself mindful of when I'm "supposed" to be doing these things. When my
Momentum is running low, I don't necessarily take advantage of those scheduled times. That's actually okay. Because the shame I feel at not taking the scheduled opportunity to work toward my goal just ends up becoming additional Momentum, ensuring that I'll take the next opportunity that I have to work toward my goal.

Finally, there are some other tricks that I use to help keep myself working toward a goal. Having a partner in a project is a great way to give yourself Momentum. Even if you can't work up the energy to do something for yourself, you might be able to work up the energy to do it for your friend!

Good luck. If this is something that you want to do, set yourself up for success!

Also, re: those who wont be supportive... don't tell them! Let it be a surprise. If you know that they'll hold you down/back, then don't give them the opportunity!
posted by jph at 2:07 PM on May 31, 2012


Oh, so many great responses! I've been a lurker since 2008 (oh my), and i was nervous to even post this question, so I really appreciate the support. I'm going to talk to my husband tonight about ordering the study material, and now that I have said I will, I'm basically working with jph's shame and embarrassment theory. I cant back out now.

To answer some questions- Katine- I have thought about that, and grad school classes might be the next step if the certification goes well and it seems to be something that could become a full time gig. Thinking about the cost of grad school classes make the certification look a lot less expensive! I was an International Affairs major, so since I basically avoided all science classes, I would have a fair amount of pre recs to cover.

Idefixe- I'm currently the primary accounting/benefits person at a small start up, so I've got TONS of bookkeeping experience. That experience is actually what makes me think I could eventually go part time bookkeping/office manager and part time trainer. Press agent is going to be trouble for me, as I'm pretty introverted, but I can add putting myself out there to the things I need to work on.

Schroedinger- I totally agree with you on the idea that the certifications are not what makes a great trainer, and have no illusions that I'll have my little card and suddenly be THE AWESOME (hell, my trainer now doesn't have one), and that a lot of them are incredibly simplistic. I think I'm going to stick with the idea of getting the certification just cause I would need one to get my foot in the door anyway, even if i did just go part time. I'm also going to add to my reader all the blogs you mentioned and look into the books. Ive seen your name before in these kind of questions/metafilters, and always appreciate all your knowledge.

I can't thank you all enough for the comments, I'm def going to come back to this to remind myself that if random internet strangers think I can do this than I should think so too.
posted by zara at 2:50 PM on May 31, 2012


Even though I try to be like "screw it! I dont care what people think!" theres still a little bit of inposter syndrome going on- I mean, I was the kid who hated hated gym class.... and now I want to be a trainer? My wonderful husband is totally on board, but I know some of my family and friends will not be as supportive. There will be a lot of "but you went to super expensive college and now you just want to be in the gym all day!" How do I move on past worry about those responses, especially when a little bit of you is like yeah, this is a bit crazy?

Agree with quivering_fantods - I drag myself to the gym three times a week and I always hate it - if I had a personal trainer, I'd like one that understands that feeling and knows how to get past it.
posted by Ragged Richard at 3:23 PM on May 31, 2012


This has nothing to do with becoming a trainer specifically, but I thought Neil Gaiman's recent address had some great encouragement and advice for anyone seeking to make a risky jump to do what they want to do. Just substitute "sport" for "art" as needed, I suppose. The core message translates.
posted by griselda at 3:37 PM on May 31, 2012


A really dear, good friend gave me my all time most super favorite piece of career insight ever.

If you know what you want to do, are passionate about it, have a kernel of talent for it, and work hard at it, there is a place for you in the world to do exactly what you want to do.

It sounds like you've got an abundance of all of this. Lucky You!
posted by space_cookie at 4:56 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


You sound very passionate about it. Start visualizing it even more. What your day to day would look like, the conversations you will have with people. What you are going to wear. Pretty soon, it will become who you are, much more than what you are doing now.

We recently gave up everything and started a completely new life on the road, living nomadically. Talk about cutting off all ties! Yes, we are in shock, but we did it and here we are. The two years leading up to it, though, did have me doing a lot of fantasizing and visualizing, pretending I was already on the road. It really helped to put me in the mindset to make it become a reality. At some point the scales will tip and you will start BEING that person.

Go for it!
posted by Vaike at 6:14 PM on May 31, 2012


Yep, you have the greatest hook and bookkeeping experience. Go for it. You never know will it will lead.
posted by mleigh at 8:50 PM on May 31, 2012


Wow, speaking as someone who freelanced (which is kind of what you'll be doing, in some ways), bookkeeping is AWESOME experience to have. Being able to actually run the business side of your own business is a huge, enormous advantage, and is something many people with talent simply have a terrible time coming up with.

Good luck to you; this is exciting.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 6:07 AM on June 1, 2012


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