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Kenny Johnson

What made you choose a career in personal fitness training?

I use to be fat my entire adolescent life. Once I ‘accidentally’ started to lose weight, I became more, and more excited about fitness. I became hooked on looking my best and feeling my best. From that point it felt totally natural to bring fitness into the lives of others.

How long have you been a Personal Trainer?

I have been a personal trainer for 37 years.

What made you choose the IFPA?

My first certification I received many years ago was through NASM. I did not know much about certification organizations at that time. NASM was offered through my workplace. As I continued work on my science degree (Biology – cell and molecular) I learned that there was much more to health, fitness, and of course the true science of training. I then stumbled upon IFPA. IFPA offered much more than NASM did as far as natural sciences. IFPA offered more programs, certifications, and population specifics at a much more reasonable price. As a scientist myself, I appreciate having an organization that supports science instead of patronizing me with pseudoscience.

If you have taken more than the PFT course, what has been your favorite certification course?

I am a solid believer in education. My favorite, and the one I am most proud of, is my Master Trainer Certification. It sustains a level of intelligence that is uncompromised.

What are some adjectives your clients would use to describe you?

Fun, intelligent, determined, hard-working, passionate, respectful, caring.

What qualities set you apart from other personal trainers? Education? Experience?

Other than the 37 years of training, I have always been a driven individual. My mother passed away when I was in my twenties. She has always been a strong motivator for me. She always taught me to strive for the best. Following her death, I went back to school and finished my degree in premedical cell and molecular biology. It took me forever to complete, since I was on my own paying for school and supporting myself. I enjoy learning and using science in nearly every aspect of my life. Science has given me an edge to help my clients achieve their goals no matter how far out there they appeared to have been.

What aspect of personal fitness training do you like most?

That is very, very difficult to nail down. I have done all aspects from training professional athletes, entertainers, weight loss, to rehabilitation. I love it all and would never want to give up any of my experiences.

What is your best success story?

I have been blessed with so many that it is hard to rank them. I can recall a client who had just recently became handicapped. He was a 23 year old student going to Brigham Young University. He was in an automobile accident that rendered him a borderline quadriplegic (impaired use of thoracic region with complete disablement of the legs). His name was Ryan.

On our first meeting with much emotion, we discussed his predicament of losing his life as he knew it. Being newly handicapped turned his life upside down. His wife left him and he was completely displaced. He discovered wheelchair rugby. Being that he was newly handicapped his strength and skills were subpar for the sport. From this first meeting we decided that we would prepare him for the upcoming season. Strength training and a proper nutrition plan was our goal.

We worked hard, including myself. Being that he had no access to his core, I had to pick him up, hold him up, hold his hands closed, as I spot him during his training. His injury left him unable to sweat on his own, so periodically I had to spray him down with a water bottle sprayer. His strength increased and his determination was rock solid. We trained for several months before he returned back to school.

Several months later his mother stopped by the gym to give me a little feedback on Ryan. Ryan not only began to acquire play time, he actually ended up being a starter. And, if that was not enough, he became a dominant force in the entire league. Ryan ended up being the Michael Jordan/Lebron James of his sport. He was being flown all over the country, put up in 5 star hotels to play in tournaments and to make appearances. His mother was in tears while she was telling me his story.

Several months after that I got to see Ryan for myself. His upper body was developing quite nicely and he had a couple new sets of wheels. He had a racing wheelchair that was given to him that was worth more than most people’s cars. He was very excited to announce to me that he found a new direction in life. He decided he wanted to be a nutritionist/dietician. Needless to say, I was very proud of him.

How has the PFT business changed since you started?

It is much more saturated now. Nearly everybody is a trainer, or thinks they are anyway. Most gyms have ‘those’ certain individuals who sneak into the gym to train their ‘friend’. I think that education has fallen away from the cornerstone of fitness. Most gyms now recruit members from the floor to be tomorrow’s trainers (literally). Another gym I have worked for, will allow a trainer to call himself/herself  a “Master Trainer” if they have worked for the company for so many hours, in lieu of education or certifications. This tremendously drops the value of training in general and in return lowers the average income potential of a trainer.

How do you envision growing your personal training business?

I have trained for the greater part of my life. I will continue to do so. However, I feel that at this time in my life, I need to move onto another milestone. I would like to get into a good medical school God willing.

What was the hardest challenge you had to overcome in your personal training career?

This is a tough question. My life has never been easy per se. I have had terrible managers in the past. Some gyms are only interested in getting money out of the clients, without caring an ounce about the member themselves.

I recently had a former manager who believed that a member needed to work out more days per week, which was totally against her doctor’s orders and against my advice for her particular medical condition. The manager’s thinking was to rush the member into purchasing more sessions at a faster rate. This same manager used to brag about how he was able to get an unemployed single mother to use her rent money to sign-up for an unnecessary, high cost, premium, nationwide, all access gym membership instead of paying for food and her apartment rent for her and her child. He refused to sell her a one gym access membership due to his high commission from selling the earlier. This did not turn out well for this particular lady needless to say.

Growing up, my mother taught me to ‘always’ do the right thing, even when everything around you pushes you toward the wrong direction.

What is your best advice to someone just starting their career as a personal trainer?

Learn, learn, learn! No matter how good you become, you will never know everything. You must keep on moving to higher ground.