- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Fitness: A Combo of Health and Heart

by Heidi Lynn Russell, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Tronox

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Finding Your Calling

To find your niche within the industry, think about which community you personally want to serve through fitness, and then find the company serving them, Keuilian says.

“It’s important to keep in mind that every fitness company has a different approach to fitness, because they are each working to serve a different community. In some ways, it’s really the audience that decides each business’s approach, because the audience has specific needs they need met,” he says.

For example, at Fit Body Boot Camp, the entire program is designed around fat loss, because the audience is women between the ages of 30 and 50 who want to boost their confidence, fit in their old clothes, and in many cases get back to their pre-pregnancy body. “We’ll tell our prospective clients honestly that if they’re looking for performance training, they should go to CrossFit, which is designed for that,” Keuilian says.

Also decide how much of a value you place on individual training style versus a company’s standard regimen, Kershaw says.

“When you have a boxed gym like LA Fitness, they have a protocol, and you’re not utilizing individualism. You’re doing the exercises they want you do. With a smaller facility, you can be more creative and exhibit that with your training regimens. And with a boot camp, we have set workouts, but you can be creative in how you run the program. So do research to see how you like to train. When you interview for a job, you’re interviewing the company as well,” Kershaw says.

The client experience is unique at Savage Race, where people sign up to run in events on the company’s website. They train independently, and show up on race day ready to dominate 25 obstacles and up to seven miles of rugged terrain. Savage Race hires skilled carpenters and event set-up crew personnel, as well as project managers, digital advertising specialists and business management personnel. Depending on background and experience, a veteran could qualify for any of these positions, says Sam Abbitt, CEO and cofounder.

Certifications to Train Civilians

Yes, you may have been through the most rigorous military boot camp experiences and military training schools, but the civilian world still expects youto be certified with a nationally recognized fitness authority.

The National Authority of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Council on Exercise (ACE) are good places to start, say Keuilian and Urti. Urti also recommends certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the American College of Sports Medicine.

The knowledge required to obtain certification means that you understand not only the science of the physical body, but also the emotional needs of your future clients, Urti says. As a trainer, you will be interacting with people who have never seen the inside of a military installation, much less a boot camp in real time.

“To us, certification means we’re getting a much more qualified trainer,” Urti says. “We have a percentage of conditioned athletes, but for most part, you’ll be seeing Mrs. Jones with a knee replacement, Mr. Smith with high blood pressure and who is a diabetic. These are conditions that don’t always translate into training.”

Many clients come into a facility with apprehension, lacking self-confidence. These clients will be looking to you not only to help them get back into shape but also to provide emotional support, he says.

“We joke internally that training is really coaching. It’s a big element of what we do, to coach them into a healthier lifestyle. You have to see the world through their eyes to get through to them. The best trainers are the best people persons, and you have to communicate on a different level. What is getting Mrs. Jones down today? She’s not her usual spunky self. You have to see more in clients than they see in themselves. This is a job to change people’s lives,” Urti says.

Resume and Interviewing Tips
Identify in your resume that you’re a veteran, Abbitt says. It helps you stand apart from the crowd. Approximately 10 percent of the workforce at Savage Race is former military. “Don’t just submit a resume and pray like everyone else does. Be unique and be persistent!” he says.

Keuilian notes that when you’re called in for an interview, just do what you do best.

“For you veterans, I say show up on time, dress well, smile, and remember that you possess a skill set and level of physical prowess that 90 percent of the population doesn’t have. You have every right to walk in with an elite mindset and get the job you want,” he says.

For her part, Hill says she had to learn to be patient while searching for her ideal, and while she is a fitness instructor at the YMCA, she is still working towards her goal. She hopes other veterans will remember the civilian world is different. It may take a while before you’re comfortable and at ease outside your military comfort zone.

“One of the biggest things for me is that it’s scary interviewing and finding a job and worrying if your skill set fits. My biggest piece of advice is to try it and give it a little bit of time. The civilian world is different, the way they operate and communicate. Give it time. It took me a long time before I felt comfortable and that this was my place and what I wanted to do,” she says.

Heidi Lynn Russell writes about employment and business issues.

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