Each month, we'll shine the spotlight on different NASM Certified Personal Trainers who makes a difference in their community.
This month, we spoke spent time talking with Erin Calderone an NASM-CPT and an AFAA-CGFI. She is a Kinesiology professor at Glendale Community College teaching CPT as part of the NASM Academic Partner program. She is also a freelance fitness writer.
You are an NASM Master Trainer, a CPT, a Group Fitness Instructor, a Teacher and a writer – but how would you describe what you do?
I am lucky to have my dream job - as a Kinesiology professor at a community college I get to teach students exercise science, personal training, group fitness instruction, health and exercise. I teach a variety of classes - including Health, PE or tennis occasionally, and I've also led a staff and faculty wellness program on campus. I contribute to Oxygen magazine on a freelance basis, which I see as a way to bring the science I teach out to those who aren't in the classroom, but writing also keeps me on my toes and in touch with the fitness industry.
What drew you into the fitness world?
I played tennis and did 80's-style aerobics videos with my mom as a kid, but I couldn't wait to join the gym as a teenager. I wasn't great at sports, but I loved the way lifting made me feel strong and powerful. In the gym I remember watching personal trainers and thinking "I could do that!" Not only was it way better than sitting in an office all day, I felt like I could help other people feel empowered in their lives too. After passing the NASM CPT exam, I was a personal trainer through college and beyond, and part owner of a fitness studio for about 6 years. Although I no longer "do" 1-1 personal training anymore, I feel like training and teaching have so much in common: instead of coaching clients to reach their fitness goals, now I coach students to reach their fitness and professional goals.
What was your first job in fitness?
After becoming an NASM CPT, I got a personal training job at LA Fitness. My very first day I walked in at 4:45am and was greeted by a trainer as she was quitting - who promptly gave me all her clients for the day - yay! and yikes! The first one was at 5am and wanted to compete in a bodybuilding show! I guess after surviving-and actually enjoying that first day, I knew I this was what I wanted to do.
How have you pivoted or adjusted your training during COVID-19?
All my classes became remote - so I have gotten really familiar with an online learning environment, and I'm actually excited about growing in that area. Most of my classes are online or remote in the Fall so more challenges are on the horizon (and growth I hope). Personally I don't have a gym membership anymore - I have a little garage gym set up, so I started Zoom-ing and recording some workouts for the staff wellness program and for my students.
How have you been teaching your students about Virtual Training?
My students had a lab last semester for our personal training class, so we both had a learning curve in transitioning to Zoom training! I definitely utilized the NASM online training course (that was offered free at the time due to COVID-19). Although neither I nor my students preferred the online environment, they did report that they had gained some skills for online training that they could use in the future. In fact, over the Summer two students continued into an internship with the staff wellness program leading group-training style Zoom workouts. My hope is that now they will feel confident training in both virtual and face-to-face settings.
What do you think the future of fitness looks like?
Although it breaks my heart to see many gyms closing at this time, my hope is that this will actually open more opportunities for small fitness businesses and innovative training options. Personal trainers are needed more than ever, and there are so many ways to offer fitness and nutrition expertise to people who desperately need it. Corporate wellness seems to be expanding, and insurance companies are starting to recognize the importance of fitness, nutrition and wellness as preventative medicine. I think the future of fitness will be more inclusive, less competitive and focus on holistic ways of helping people truly thrive.
How different is it to teach fitness to students as an assistant professor and teaching a client in the gym?
My students actually like to exercise! Haha! It's definitely fun to be able to get into the science behind training in more depth, but we always start with developing and refining form for basic exercise movements. Both clients and students need time and practice to develop kinesthetic awareness, but students have the added benefit of learning the muscles, joints and actions behind muscle imbalances for example, as well as the exercises to correct them. Some things are the same - fitness myths are everywhere, so we always have to spend a little time debunking them!
What advice do you give to new trainers and instructors who are just entering into the industry?
Focus on the person. There are so many strategies that can help build your knowledge and business and over time you'll continue to develop them with continued education and advanced certification because you have a passion for it. But your clients will always remember how you listen to and care about them more than anything else. For most of us, that's why we got into this business, because we want to help people. And people need to feel that care and connection now more than ever.