A Trainer is Born

this is my happy hour sign

When I was 9 or 10, I was addicted to Mousercise on the Disney Channel. This lady with a headband, leotard, and leg warmers, led us through the classic 1980s aerobics every morning at 6:30 a.m. and I never missed it. It was just me in my PJs in the family room following along with all the kids on TV. Over time, I stopped doing it. I don’t remember if it was no longer on or I just got busy with other things, but Mousercise was over for me.

Fast forward a few years. I didn’t play sports in high school. I tried. The summer before 9th grade I attended volleyball camp for a few weeks. In preparation for camp, the coaches sent a workout schedule and I diligently did all the exercises and running that was required. When camp began, my parents made me ride my bike all the way to the high school, a trip that took about 20 minutes, winding through the connected neighborhoods until I reached the main road to the high school. Every day I tried to learn the sport. I figured it wouldn’t be that hard; I’d played in my backyard for years. But, it was that hard. In fact, I wouldn’t make even the freshman team. 

After that happened I pretty much forgot about working out. I still rode my bike from time to time and it wasn’t that I was inactive, but I didn’t have a routine and I didn’t play any sports. I mostly concentrated on my piano and violin instead. But, the whole time I lived at home, prior to college, my father exercised daily. He first would go before work (I think it was before work) at the local Bally’s fitness. Then he started to do his workouts at home. Even though I was not working out, I saw him doing it. Research shows that role modeling is a powerful force in whether kids grow up to be active adults.

In college, I quickly met a friend who loved to go to the gym. She showed me lots of different exercises. I didn’t really know what I was doing so I usually just did the Stairmaster, followed by endless sit-ups and, if my friend was there, I would follow her lead with resistance training. I finally had the routine, but I still wasn’t really following a program; not yet.

After college I continued to go to the gym regularly. I would still do cardio, followed by machines. I picked up a few routines from trainers at the gyms I would join, but nothing really official. I loved to go to the gym but I didn’t quite know what I didn’t know about training. Soon, the gymgoing went on a major hiatus as I had my first, second, then third child. Between my second and third child, I went through a difficult divorce where I found myself in the worst shape of my entire life. I had lost a great deal of weight, making me severely underweight and I was overstressing my body, trying to get through the divorce, take care of my two small children, and keep up with work. After the divorce was behind me, I knew I had to regain my healthy lifestyle and do something about my weight. 

Building Muscle and Learning to Train

I had always been a tiny person who had trouble putting on and keeping on weight. I figured it was normal. My mom was thin, my grandmother was thin, and I could eat whatever I wanted and never gain a pound. That was good, wasn’t it? But, it wasn’t good. I needed to do something to fuel my body more fully, and I was sick and tired of being thin. My clothes never fit well, and people were always accusing me of being anorexic. I didn’t feel right in my own skin and I wanted to look and feel better. I joined the new YMCA that opened near my home, and began researching lifting routines, starting with a progressive overload program that took me 12 weeks. And, wow, did I ever see gains. I never had that kind of muscle on my body before. I was hooked.

I wanted to find more routines/programs like that one. In my Google search for keywords, such as hard gainer, muscle building, and bodybuilding, I found Lyzabeth Lopez, a world-renowned trainer based in Toronto. She had a muscle building program for sale on her website and I eagerly purchased it. It was a three-month workout program, along with an eating plan. Again, I saw tremendous results and was really intrigued as to how this program and muscle building worked. 

My husband could tell I was really excited about building muscle and was borderline addicted by this point, so for Christmas he gave me a membership to a new gym in Syracuse that had recently opened. It was the Y on steroids. So much equipment, so many like-minded individuals. Plus, it had the added benefit of a Dexascan machine, and other devices to really track your progress. I started to think perhaps I wanted to learn more about training and nutrition at a higher level. 

Becoming Certified

In May 2019, I took a huge leap, and enrolled in the NASM-CPT course, purchasing a package that included the certification as a nutrition coach, too. By this time, I knew that training and nutrition were not independent variables and they really did need to go hand in hand for success. On my birthday, August 25, 2019, I became certified as a personal trainer and nutrition coach.

At that time, my plan was to work part-time as a trainer either at the gym where I was currently working out or maybe the Y, where we still had a membership. But, in January, 2020, my gym closed. I joined another gym but it wasn’t a place where I wanted to train. And by March, 2020, the whole gym industry shut down, ground to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I continued to train myself at home. Thanks to my knowledge of training and nutrition, I was able not only to keep the muscle I had built, but also to build more. 

Although I’m still small, I’ve packed on 10 pounds of muscle in about four years. My clothes fit better, I feel better, and I don’t hear talk about what I eat or don’t eat anymore. I’ve learned so much from my own experiences, as well as from others in the industry. I even visited Lyzabeth in Toronto a few years back, training at her flagship gym before she was forced to close it due to the pandemic. I continue to learn as much as I can about training, recently becoming certified in Stronglifting by Bret Contreras. 

When we moved in June, 2020, I built a home gym, with the help of my husband and although gyms reopened, I never went back. But, I never started training either. Between the pandemic wreaking havoc on things, and the fact I took a new, higher level position (I’m a full-time public relations and marketing professional), I just didn’t have the time to pursue personal training.

Now, I’m in a place where I have the capacity to train online. I am going to be highly selective as to who I work with since I have limited openings and want to make sure I devote enough time to my clients who will need support. I’m excited to finally be able to share what I know, particularly for those who want to build muscle, and people who are crazy busy, like me. Muscle building and managing to fit health and fitness into a busy lifestyle are what I do best! 

I can’t wait to find some special clients to help in their own fitness journeys. If you are interested in taking that next step, contact me today! If you know someone who might benefit from my coaching, please let them know about me! I would be honored to help others and so many have helped me.

Published by FitPRMomLife

Kerri Howell is FitPRMom, a working mom in public relations by day, a mom and partner always. A certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, she helps other busy women reach their health and fitness goals.

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