Fitness Trainer and Bodybuilder
Intro: Fitness trainer and four time National Champion of the International Federation of Bodybuilders PRO, Greg Rando, shares his story about his career and thoughts on mentoring with AFB CareerConnect.
The Story: Hi! I am Greg Rando, a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Counselor. My days are happily spent teaching people how to exercise properly and develop individualized nutrition programs. The goal is to improve the health of my clients through prevention and education which will result in a longer, healthier life. I first got involved with bodybuilding and fitness when, as a youngster, doctors forbade me to participate in contact sports such as hockey, baseball, football and basketball. (Each of which, I might add, I play well!)
In addition to all of this I began to compete in bodybuilding in 1992 and since then have been able to achieve four National Championships, plus I had the honor of representing the USA at the 54th World Bodybuilding Championship in Malaysia, placing in the top ten. Not being able to see in a sport renowned for athletes' detailed chiseling of fully developed muscles, I don't think that anyone has missed this pumping "irony."
My clients are scheduled Monday through Friday for 30 to 60 minute sessions. I usually work from 6am to 7pm — with breaks scheduled throughout the day — instructing and motivating each one individually. Their customized fitness program helps them to achieve their fitness goals. The fact that my clients, who are training to achieve their health goals, are both male and female and cover all age demographics and physical abilities, makes my job all the more interesting, challenging and rewarding.
For the last 10 years I owned and operated a small business in Stoneham, Massachusetts, called Boston Nutrition & Strength Center, where I built up a large personal training clientele. About the time my lease on the building was up for renewal I received an offer to sell the business at a good profit, so I decided to sell and move my business to a local gym where I continue to build even more new clientele. One of the benefits of being a personal trainer is you can be your own boss. Although I work for myself, as I mentioned, I do it out of a local health club where interacting with the club's faculty is an important aspect of my job. These people are generally positive, self-confident and promote good health.
My current job as a personal trainer is quite different from other jobs I've had. For example, while growing up I had jobs like selling audio-visual equipment, household appliances and furniture. Overall, these earlier experiences provided very valuable growth and development of skills that have heightened my success as a personal trainer. A case in point: the communication skills I needed and developed as a salesperson have served me well in training my clients.
While designing and owning my own health club, I was able to take some important things into consideration, such as having a moderate size space with good lighting, bold contrast between the equipment and floor and making sure things are kept in order. Some of the pros to owning my own business were that I could be my own boss, set my own schedule, customize my surroundings the way I wanted them, and everyone who patronized the club knew of my disability and there were no problems.
After selling BNSC and setting up business in an already established gym that I do not own, the accommodation requirements remain the same, but since the place was already in business, I did not have any input into its design, thus the specialized accommodations I had before are not possible in this setting. Yet, the owners try to do what is reasonable to accommodate me and I now know my way around the environment and have no problems navigating it. And since the numbers on the free weights are raised, it is never a problem identifying them. On the machines I can simply count the discs to get to the weight that is needed.
Although all the trainers take care to keep the place clean and tidy, since I do not own the business, I am not solely responsible for its overall upkeep. I guess one of the downsides of working out of a gym as opposed to my own business is that all of the clients who come into the gym are not aware that I am legally blind, and so have to be educated about my disability.
Having a great passion for physical fitness enables me to work with a variety of people throughout each day. The environment is always healthy and positive and I enjoy going to work. The only negatives to the equation are the long hours, which can sometimes be tiresome.
The assistive technology devices that are important to me with my job include many of the same things I used while in school: a talking computer, a talking watch which also vibrates to let me know when a session is over and, a micro-cassette recorder for jotting down notes. I also have a talking calculator. Getting to and from work is not too much of a problem because I made sure to live near public transportation systems such as bus lines and commuter rail. But since my hours are long, I most often take taxis.
A sincere love for my work and the people I meet along the way fuel my passion, life, and total dedication to the art and science of bodybuilding. For anyone interested in this line of work I would recommend first finding out if physical fitness is something you really enjoy doing. If so, practice regularly and learn all you can. The more knowledge and experience you have, the more successful you will be. You can acquire certification over the internet or by taking a local course, but this will not give you the practical experience you can achieve by making exercise and good nutrition a regular part of your life.
If you decide to pursue this path, having mentors along the way is wise. Mentors can be teachers in high school or college, as they were in my life. One in particular was instrumental in helping me pick a field and making me believe that I could succeed. I also gleaned knowledge from others in this, and related fields, that I was able to build on. In return, I have had the privilege of being a role model and mentor to a number of others including some local teens. By helping them with their own fitness and training programs, they look to me for advice. I also take time to respond to letters and emails from folks seeking advice and information. This reminds me that I am in a position to inspire and motivate others, and in turn, it helps me continue persevering with a "never say die" attitude.