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Mischa Pereira

What made you choose a career in personal fitness training?

I always had a passion for both the sporting world and the art world. Once I finished school I pursued a career in the arts, both studying and working.

While doing some part time work, a friend  of mine who knew I was passionate about sports and training, told me about a small private gym that was looking for sports related person to work in the gym taking clients through their exercise routines. With very little knowledge, I was invited for an interview and got the job as an apprentice trainer. Looking back, it was a fantastic first step into this world, as we spent many hours learning and practicing correct technique and form, something I was never sure of. From that point, I started studying and qualified as a trainer and slowly my business started to grow.

What aspect of personal fitness training do you like most?

I really enjoy learning new things that are related to the industry such as nutrition, new techniques/ exercises, assessments etc. I also enjoy seeing clients leaving the gym happier and more energized after a session.

How long have you been a Personal Trainer?

This is my sixteenth year as a trainer.

What made you choose the IFPA?

A colleague at the time was studying through the IFPA  and spoke highly of the courses, as well as the variety of specializations. After doing some research, I signed up as I wanted to restart my studying. I started with the Personal Trainer course and was really taken back by the level of service. From that point, I was hooked.

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

Although all have been outstanding, I really enjoyed the Specialization in Strength and Conditioning.

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

I have been involved with martial arts (Taekwon-Do) since I was eleven years old and as a teenager, I was already teaching both adults and children. That gave me a great foundation to dealing with people in an exercise/instructor environment. I came to learn that there was no “one size fits all” approach to instructing people. Although I was teaching classes, I had to also individually tailor my teachings to the specific needs of those that were in my classes. I find that this has given me an advantage in communicating with my clients on training and lifestyle.

I hold the position of Technical Director/National Team Coach for the International Taekwon-Do Federation – South Africa and still a practitioner of the arts. Frequently my knowledge of martial arts crosses over into my personal training business and vice versa. Not only from a physical point of view, but from a mental view too. I believe these qualities have set me apart from other trainers.

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

When ever I meet a new client, I usually get “I expected you to be much bigger.”

What is your best success story?

My personal best was a particular client who, in his early sixties, was strongly advised by his physician  to get healthy and active after being sedentary and very stressed for most of his life. Starting in a gym was a daunting task for him as he had a preconceived notion that a gym was only for muscle bound body builders, so he asked me if I could train him at home.  I was still quite young and had only been a trainer for 2 or 3 years so this too was as daunting for me as he had no facilities for training.

After a few weeks of basic home training sessions which consisted of some light flexibility work, walking in a near by park and using a broomstick for resistance work, he decided he was ready to start training in a gym. After one year of training he had reached  “text book” results; increased muscle mass, lowered body fat, improved blood pressure, lung function and resting heart rate, as well as blowing his physicians mind away. What makes this my best success story is that this particular client, who thought that he received a sentencing to bland food, hard labor and no fun, completely transformed his life both mentally and physically in a manner that he actually really enjoyed. He was so thankful as I had “helped him become a young man again”. It was extremely rewarding.

How has the PFT business changed since you started?

This is a generalization, but most personal trainers were, at the time, bodybuilders. So clients were usually trained as bodybuilders with much of the training based around aesthetics. Whereby now, trainers can offer clients almost anything. From rehabilitation, to performance, to weight loss, muscle gain and for someone who just wants to improve their health. The personal training industry has certainly increased in what one can offer the client

How do you envision growing your personal training business?

With the developments in communications, it is difficult to not take advantage of these technologies. Although I still have a passion for working individually with clients, my scope of market has always been focused on the surrounding areas of my work place, to now being an international one. I have managed to stay in touch with clients that have immigrated and even further, to having referrals from my international relationships. I would like to keep building on this.

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

I think both reliability and consistency are two factors that go hand in hand, are sometimes over looked by trainers. Being reliable not only in the sense of  just arriving for clients sessions, but reliable in every way, from arriving at the gym before your client, communicating with your clients in advance regarding times that need to be booked or changed, reliable in providing the client with a workout that is best suited to their needs and not influenced by your personal needs or moods, reliable in your system of invoicing of their sessions. Reliable in the way that puts the client first.

I think once that has been achieved, a level of consistency of the above traits needs to be maintained as frequently as possible.

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

Im quite a shy person by nature, so meeting people that I didn’t know was always a challenge for me, especially since I was quite young when I started.  I lacked that experience  and knowledge of dealing with people in this business. As time progressed and experience grew, I started getting much better at handling those situations.