Profile in Excellence: Jerry Pitman (Fitness Trainer) – Troolr Podcast
For the first ever episode of Troolr’s Profiles in Excellence podcast series, we are joined by fitness trainer Jerry Pitman. Jerry shares his thoughts on exercise mentality and the day to day life of a personal trainer. If you are interested in participating in the Profile in Excellence series send an email to email@example.com
What do you do and what are your passions?
I started training when I was about 35 years old and I’ve been training people for about 10 years now. You really do have to enjoy the work so it’s easy to say that I have a passion for helping people and for training when you consider how long I’ve been doing this for.
Where did you get your start? Where you always planning on becoming a personal trainer or was that something that came about later in your life?
It definitely wasn’t always my plan. When I was in my 20’s and early 30’s, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for a living. I was in and out of different jobs, clerical and low-level management. I had a moment where I was asking myself what it was I want to do for a career around age 35. So that’s when I decided to go out and get certified to be a personal trainer.
We’ve talked about your martial arts training, did you do a lot of training on your own? Can you go over your background as far as your experience with fitness?
I started martial arts on my own when I was 14 years old. At that time I was really into Bruce Lee and self-defense. I trained for a good year by myself just reading books and doing my own thing. My dad asked if I wanted to join a martial arts school and I said sure. I trained at that school for 7 years and the training that I did there was fundamental to me. During that time I also began training with weights. My training went from 14 all the way to 35. So I had over 20 years of fitness training under my belt before I even got certified.
How does your background in fitness affect your career as a trainer?
I certainly think it lends to it, it helps with my confidence and getting myself out there. When you’re new and you’re trying to get yourself out there it can be very intimidating. I knew that most people struggle with fitness and motivation, but I don’t and it’s almost as if my composition is different.
What makes you stand apart? What drives you to go to the gym and exercise every day regardless of your state of being?
I think that is an amazingly complex and open-ended question. We could get into a lot of deep psychology about motivation factors for each individual person. You have to consider what aspects of an individual’s life affect their desire to be fit and to stay fit. I don’t think anybody really knows the real answer to that but I think it definitely helped that I started at a young age. It also depends on the circumstances in which you find yourself. I had it a little harder when I was younger so self-defense was more than just a hobby, it was a way to make sure that I could take care of myself and protect myself.
You mention that your dad signed you up for first martial arts class, did he play a prominent role in your adoption of fitness training and the lifestyle that comes with it?
Sure, I think so. Growing up he was into boxing and he put me into boxing but I got a really bad headache and I never wanted to go back. You can’t really direct these things, but I would say that he definitely played a role in my journey.
What appeals to you about being a personal trainer?
When I was in my 20’s there was a whole decade and a half where I’m doing soul searching and I’m doing clerical jobs, I probably had 50 different jobs during that period of time. I got to do a lot of experimentation during that time. But something that kept coming up was training others or being a team leader and what I discovered is the training aspect was a natural puzzle piece for me.
What are some things that would surprise the average person to learn about the day to day life of a person in your profession?
One thing that would probably surprise people is the number of dynamics that go into personal training and there’s such a wide variety of people that you have to find a way to work with each individual person. There is a lot of psychology that goes into training that many people. It’s tough to reach people because of how layered they are.
Can you go over your training methods including your Dynamic Holistic Training (DHT)?
The DHT is a way of helping people wrap their minds around what I do. So first of all the dynamic is a way of saying that your routine needs to change and be active. It can’t be stagnant because your body will adapt. The more important part of DHT is holistic. People are made up of different parts, the mind, the spirit, and the physical side. You have to integrate all of these different human aspects into your workouts. The workout must satisfy all aspects of your humanity.
How do you get people to push themselves and get out of their comfort zone?
For the most part, when a person knows that they have a trainer who wants them to perform at a high level they will work to match those expectations. You have to give them a push whenever they show up and keep challenging them a little bit each time.
After 10 years of training, what are some things that you know now that you didn’t when you first began?
It’s hard to pick and choose, there are so many different answers to that question. There are a few things that stand out but one thing that stands above the rest is just how difficult it is for people to get into shape. It’s a constant battle that they are fighting on a daily basis. As a trainer, you see it over and over again. But when you can get in there as their trainer and make that difference, increase the quality of life for them, there’s nothing in the world that compares to it.
Throughout your career, is there any specific moment or individual that really stood out to you in a positive way?
There are two things that come to mind. One of them is a woman who still trains with me today. She’s been with me for over 2 years now and she really enjoys it. She gets the training which is the best thing a trainer could ever ask for. She puts in that extra bit of effort in order to understand why she is doing the things that I have her do. The second instance is a woman who trained with me, she would do things on the side like martial arts or mud running, but she was having trouble losing that little bit of extra weight. I trained her and revamped her training strategy. After 6 months she was smoking all of the mud running courses. Every session that she did with me, she worked as hard as she could. If she were in a race with anybody women her age, she would absolutely get first place.
What does a typical week of workouts look like for you?
I don’t think I’ve had a week since I was 14 years old where I didn’t have some kind of workout. In my 20’s I would do 3 to 5 workouts a week, cardio and weight lifting all together but now I tend to focus more on weightlifting. I’m in the gym almost every day, training for a minimum of an hour and 30 minutes. I do primarily resistance training which research shows is just as effective as cardio for staving off the heart and other cardiovascular issues. I vary the way I lift and I target different muscles in different sessions.
How does training others affect your own workouts?
It’s hard to know. One thing that is certain is that training others requires that I stay in shape. It gives me a little extra motivation to go to the gym every day and put the effort in. But who knows, I may have exercised just as much even if I hadn’t started training.
Do you have any tips for people who do not have access to a gym but still want to get in shape?
Absolutely, I’ve seen people turn around and not do anything because they don’t have access to the gym. You have to understand that there is so much that you can do with your body weight. Do a google search and find 20 to 30 different bodyweight exercises and just rotate those and apply those to your workout on a regular basis with some heart and intensity. That by itself, for most people, will do so much for them.
Are there any common habits that people can cut out in order to increase their fitness?
The majority of people have gained a large number of bad habits throughout their life. It’s difficult to say because a lot of people should really change their entire lifestyle. I would say that it is important to understand that not doing anything on a given day is very hurtful. It is a battle against motivation because they are allowing themselves to feed into an addiction to not exercising. The type of lifestyle in which the individual is addicted to not exercising is very dangerous to their health and overall wellbeing.
Do you have any tips for aspiring personal trainers?
I think the first thing is educating themselves. Get the basics down and get your certification. In addition, it’s important to be patient with people. You are going to train a variety of different people and not everyone is going to react to your methods in the same way. When you are first starting it is important to be prepared. Put something together on paper that you can refer back to when you get stuck. The clients expect you to be prepared to make sure that you come to the appointment with some kind of game plan. That being said, you have to understand that going into business the first two or three years are always going to be rough. You’re inevitably going to lose some clients and that’s just the way the ball rolls, but you just need to keep getting back up and moving forward.
Are you looking to increase the size of your business or do you prefer to work with a small number of familiar clients?
That’s something that I can see myself doing down the road, employing multiple trainers who are all trained by me. I think it’s my responsibility to help people and providing insight and training to other trainers would be an example of the kind of service that I can provide and give back.