Sunday, July 26, 2015

Call Me Coach Pollenator

My resistance training journey started off humbly enough, in the dirty basement weight room of the local YMCA. With Bill Pearl’s Getting Stronger in hand, I plowed through every exercise in the book -- or at least the ones I was able to do given the congenital absence of my left leg. Back then, I never would have thought my hobby would one day blossom into a career.

My goal at the time was largely performance-based (and perhaps a little aesthetic -- whose isn't?). I had my sights set on the Paralympics for swimming, and I knew resistance training would be an integral component of my training. I had no idea I was following a bodybuilding program, though. I thought lifting weights was lifting weights. I was getting stronger, and that was all that mattered.

Over the next few years, I read more books -- on heart rate monitoring, stretching, and the psychology of peak performance. I thought I knew all there was to know about training. Then, in the summer of 2009, I joined a new gym. The sign-up deal included two free training sessions. The cocky bastard I am, I doubted I would learn anything new, but I jumped on the freebies anyway.

Lo and behold, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The trainer noted a serious muscular imbalance between my left and right spinal erectors. I’d been so focused on my good side, that I’d completely neglected an entire quarter of my body! Suddenly, I realized I had a lot to learn.

I wound up buying one training package, then another. I loved getting stronger and learning new exercises. To my surprise, given my aversion to high school biology, I also loved flipping through my trainer’s anatomy textbook. I continued working with her during my summers home from college. After one training session, we got to chatting about my career plans. She said, “You know, you’d make a great personal trainer.”

As a physics major, at the time I wasn’t sure working as a personal trainer was the best use of my scientific talents. But I decided to follow the advice and enroll at NPTI Philadelphia, a six-month certification program. If nothing else, I could still get a job utilizing my college degree later on, or perhaps enroll in graduate school and do training on the side to earn an extra buck.

NPTI Philadelphia

The certification program changed my life. I could study my Essentials of Strength and Conditioning textbook for hours on end and barely notice the passage of time. Then I began working with real people and loved it even more. There's simply nothing better than empowering others with fitness.

But after six months, I was ready for more school again. I’d recently become acquainted with the field of biomechanics, which was the perfect blend of physics and human movement, so I said goodbye (for the moment) to the gym and continued down the academic path.

I never truly left training behind, of course. A month before graduate school, I started this blog to gather my thoughts and share them with whoever cared to read (which turned out to be quite a few people!). Just a few months later, I had my first article published on T Nation, a site I’d been a longtime reader of. Lately, I've even been doing some online coaching.

Now that I've completed my master’s thesis (on A Non-biomimetic Approach For Producing Shank Kinematics and Energetics During the Stance Phase of Gait), I’m drawn back to the gym floor once again. What began as a goal of performance enhancement for just myself has morphed into a desire to help the masses. My biomechanics know-how and my own experience as an adaptive athlete uniquely qualify me for the task.

With a second colorectal surgery lined up for this fall (the "reversal" of my April ileostomy), I'm not exactly certain what the next step in my coaching journey will be. Whether it's online or in-person, one thing is for sure: I couldn't be more excited to get back to coaching full-time. Somewhere down the line, a PhD may be in the stars, but for now, call me Coach Pollenator.

Thanks, loyal reader, for coming along for the ride.

Share This