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Previous Leadership Roles

At twenty years old in my second year working in the exercise industry I had already been entrusted with administrative responsibilities as the Personal Training Program Assistant at Indiana University’s Student Recreational Sports Center. I held a dual position as on of the personal trainers at the brand new, $23 million facility and was recognized twice as “Trainer of the Semester”. In the years following undergraduate school, I held leadership roles in the sports medicine field as Head Performance Coach, Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, and Interim Head Strength Coach for a high school and junior college preparatory academy in Florida and a state university in Texas while pursuing my graduate degree. Much like middle-level management, in these athletic roles I reported to members of the school administration and collaborated with other athletic department staff, like the athletic training staff or head and assistant team coaches, to ensure the success of hundreds of student-athletes in the classroom and on the playing field. Though I had always been organized very organized with my work, the administrative training and coaching positions as a full-time student gave me the experience and skills needed to successfully achieve multiple goals at one time. Since attaining my Master’s in 2012, I’ve been in management positions all across the fitness and wellness industry while continuing on my journey dabbling in side efforts.

The first management title I held was Personal Training Program Manager for Crunch Fitness in McAllen, Texas. There the fitness industry was very young but set for expansion as the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) led the nation in chronic health problems, dubbed the Fattest City in the USA. Sticking with the theme of “firsts”, after completing my stent as the first Graduate Assistant Strength Coach for the local branch of the University of Texas, my position with Crunch was also the first time the ownership had assigned a personal training management role. It seemed my passion and potential were beaming, and new doors were being opened explicitly for me. Alongside establishing protocols and building the personal training program from the ground up, I worked as a full-time supervisor over day-to-day operations and the gym’s small staff. I worked to connect the business to the community through outreach and event coordination. We put on or attended health fairs and weight loss clinics, reconnected with the university for an internship program, and created partnerships with local healthcare facilities. Under my lead we saw the membership expand and the sense of community and overall morale in the gym grow much stronger. I trained new hires and helped develop policies and SOPs that enhanced work efficiency, increased gym memberships, generated a new stream of personal training and supplement sales revenue, and improved quality of customer service. This experience taught me the importance of transparency for the success of my team and how to set clear expectations for what success means.

Meanwhile, at that time I was also helping a friend develop what is now one of the RGV’s longest-standing CrossFit businesses. I’ve always kept myself busy with new ideas or side projects and soon after my friend’s Grand Opening, I began to search out another project to take on. With a new wife and a new outlook on life, I needed something that could generate more income but also wanted to further my skillset beyond my education and coaching experience. For the following couple of years, I worked as Personal Training Sales Manager for a national corporation who partnered with franchisees and small business owners to oversee their personal training departments. I sold more than $150k in personal training sessions in some pretty tough markets throughout South Texas and the San Jose, CA area. I also serviced some of those sessions, oversaw department staff, and worked together with owners or other managers to drive engagement and grow additional revenue from creative marketing and programming. The knowledge I gleaned from those years in sales management were instrumental to my career. I learned the importance of time and self-management; the value of listening empathetically and asking open ended questions; the need for clarity and communication; how to analyze and extract information; how to lead conversations; how to read into the psyche of what makes people happy or driven and to use that as a powerful motivational tool; and how to negotiate or how to help others negotiate with and commit to themselves. My position as a sales manager really was not that different from being a good trainer or coach and leading someone to their life goals. Really, the most valuable thing I learned was to value myself and the attention and quality service level that I can offer those counting on me, employee or client. 

In addition to managing athletic departments, fitness facilities and personal training departments, and directing non-profit programs, I’ve also helped develop and implement entire fitness and wellness concepts for a variety of organizations. Before relocating to California, I worked closely with the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance in McAllen, Texas to conceptualize a clinical fitness facility. Together with the region’s most well-respected bariatric doctor, we demonstrated to the hospital administration and board of directors the value that one little exercise room could present to their patients, employees, and the entire community. We explained how workplace wellness affects overall productivity alongside the obvious need for a weight-loss clinic in conjunction with bariatric medicine. Soon after we presented the basic plan, the hospital began developing an entire health and wellness department. Later, I created and managed a heart rate-monitored, group personal training studio concept for a privately owned chain of health clubs in Northern California while also overseeing club personal training sales. I wrote up the initial equipment investment needs, floor plans, programming and training manual, and worked together with the owners to research and outsource the wearable technologies and administrative softwares needed; hired, trained, and oversaw the coaches and customer service staff in all aspects of these systems; built the online presence of the program and re-shaped the online reputation of the pre-existing business; delivered the coaching service and managed the clientele base as the Lead Instructor; created incentives for employee performance; created advertisements and promotions; developed marketing content and spent time door-to-door in the surrounding plazas; and oversaw personal training sales and staff. The on-boarding and employee training required many of the gym’s staff learn new systems and change old ones; they weren’t always easy transitions, but I learned important lessons on analyzing the behaviors and values of those I work with in order to be able to better facilitate their success. I learned how to find what strengths each of my team members presented and to appropriately delegate the roles to match. We ran into a tough model, a new business inside an older one that had a tainted reputation with a well-established, headstrong membership base in a small, affluent suburban plaza. But we increased new business from that long withstanding membership base and drove in new memberships from a wider age demographic. Again, overall morale and atmosphere in the gym began to blossom into something the ownership could be proud of. (See an image of the facility and program below *not available on mobile)

These experiences with smaller, privately owned businesses and business owners showed me that managing others is not very different from personal training or sales, especially fitness sales. It is my role is to lead someone to the results I need from the work they do and the commitments they’ve made to me and themselves. The clients sitting across from me, the gym owner or department head sitting in front of me, or the staff working alongside me; we are all working to achieve the same goals. They are counting on me as I am in them. I’ve got to lead by example and do everything in my power to make sure they know I’m there to help them make themselves fruitful, successful, efficacious—happy.

My career path thus far has taken me through twists and turns, ups and downs, and the occasional loop-de-loop; and the evolution of my fitness, coaching, management, and career philosophies has run side-by-side with that of my personal philosophy on life, happiness, and fulfillment. Many of the ideals I’ve come to hold have been directly shaped by those who’ve come to me for guidance; I’m blessed to learn from others’ journeys, successes, and failures. At the same time that I’m assessing, training, re-analyzing, retraining, and assisting others to work on some aspect of physical, mental, or occupational well-being, I’m also listening and learning from their life experience and how they prioritize and pursue different facets of health and wellness (physical, intellectual, occupational, emotional, spiritual, social, financial, and environmental). Ultimately, my roles in the various branches of the exercise industry helped form my values as a family member, friend, and a professional. I learned the importance of cultivating and nurturing relationships in finding what it is that truly motivates people to get out of their comfort zones and work on themselves. I've found that empathy and grace must accompany every piece of advice I offer if it’s going to have a long-standing influence. Because I may I know that the value of the guidance I offer, but it is up to every individual to invest the time and effort it takes to make a change. I often tell people that the physical side of exercise will become the easy part but the psyche will be a constant battle.

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