Thursday, August 31, 2017

Living the Dream with Amandla

We’re lucky enough to have many dedicated trainers, massage therapists, and other wellness professionals making up our family at Jean-Robert’s Gym. Many of them have been with us for years! We’re excited to begin sharing more of their stories with you, starting with Amandla, an Arizona native.

"What were you doing before you started working at Jean-Robert’s?

I was in hospitality management. Once I finished up college I had a job offer in Aspen. My dad was here so it was kind of an easy transition to get myself out of Arizona, and I ended up as the front office manager at the St. Regis. I left there, went to manage at a restaurant, and then through connections I found the personal trainers here at the gym. They brought me in, gave me a tour, and I ended up with a job a week later and started working my way up and up.

That sounds like quite a journey!

Yeah! [laughs] I did the hospitality thing and realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do for my life. It was good money and great benefits—and it sucked my soul a little bit, and I realized I just didn't want to do it my whole life.

That’s a nice segue into your current career. Which certification did you do first?

Personal training came first. When I was working my way through college I was actually an exercise and wellness major. I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in that, and when I ended up with my job at Jean-Robert’s I got my online personal training certification through ISSA. I was doing that for about a year before massage therapy became a possibility in my head.

How has having both of those certifications benefited your career?

Well, that was actually the reason I decided to get the massage, when I thought about it and realized this is going to be a great extra thing to add to my repertoire as a wellness coach. It’s not just personal training and fitness that I want to be a part of, it’s an all-around wellness thing. Massage is a big part of that in the sense of taking care of yourself as a whole being and not just being fit.

I found that it benefited to have both because I already know my clients, whether they come to me as a personal training or a massage therapy client. I learn them, I learn who they are. I learn their body, their ailments, their sensitive spots, their pressure points, things like that, so it helped me do the other function that much better.

Do most of your clients do both massage and personal training with you?

The majority of my personal training clients will also book massages, but then I have a lot of my massage clients that are just for massage; they don’t do personal training.

Do you have any advice for people thinking of becoming a personal trainer or a massage therapist?

Only do it if it’s something you’re really passionate about. I used to go to gyms, like the corporate style gyms, back in Arizona, and the trainers—it was really about the sale. It was really about the money. It wasn’t really about the right things in my life. When I went into personal training in the gym, I was giving up a steady salary for a really low income at the time. And it has grown exponentially because I love what I do and I’ve gotten repeat clients. So I would say if you’re not really passionate about it, then I wouldn’t even pursue it. Because it’s going to reflect in your performance; it’s going to reflect in how much you are actually able to help your clients. But if it’s a passion, I would say pursue every avenue you can. Right now I have personal training and massage, eventually I want to study yoga, pilates, nutrition, and more!

I was going to ask what’s next. It sounds like you’re collecting!

I really am! I’m very ambitious; I will never stop learning and self-educating. Another benefit is then you have that one client who wants to change these things about their life and they only need one person. They come to someone like me, and they don’t need a trainer and a massage therapist and a nutritionist and whatever else it is. I can be that one person for them.

It sounds like you manage your clients independently although you work at the gym. Is it like owning your own business?

At Jean-Robert’s Gym it feels that way. In my hospitality career it was very political, very micro-managed. With Jean-Robert, he definitely allows us the freedom to manage our own time; however we still work a lot because we love what we do and we care for our clients. We don’t say "no" if we’re available. So it really does feel like I’m running my own business within the company.

What are your plans for the future?

My passions in life are this: health and wellness and travel. So I’m working towards being able to combine the two. Being able to just travel around, not touristy-like, but experience culture and help people no matter where I am to find their balance and wellness.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to friends about fitness or wellness in general?

One of the bigger things that I preach when I’m talking about the wellness lifestyle is just balance in general. I learned it in college. Wellness is a collection of five different types of health — physical, emotional, social, occupational, and spiritual — and everybody is different when it comes to balance. Some people love their career and they want to just focus on that. But for other people, their career isn’t so important but their physical health or spiritual health is.

So for me, it’s about finding someone who can help you to find that balance so that you can live your best life. It’s not just about coming to the gym and eating fruit and veggies all the time. It’s about finding that balance that makes you happy and healthy.

Is there anything else you’d want to share with folks who are thinking about careers in health and wellness?

Not necessarily about that specific field, but for people just in general. I chose this path because this has been my passion since I was really little. I always wanted to be in the medical field; I always wanted to be in some kind of health, helping industry. That’s my passion. My advice would be for people to find whatever it is that makes them happy — you know, that whole cliche of do what you love and the money will follow. I actually lived that! Don’t be afraid to take the risk because you can always have a fallback. People can always go back to whatever it was they were doing if they find that they can’t do it. But my advice would be if it’s massage and personal training, great. Pursue it. At whatever cost it is, you’ll figure it out. And if it’s not, find whatever else it is and pursue that!"

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