Trainers provide motivation

Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec / Jeremy Claypoole, a trainer at Gorilla House Gym, helps one of his clients with an exercise.

Helping people get in shape is also a healthy occupation as the demand for personal trainers is getting stronger.

“A lot of people are intimidated by going to a gym. You have no idea what you are doing and see people doing different things. With a personal trainer, you have someone who pays attention to only you. The ultimate goal is to make you feel like you are at home. It takes the intimidation out and teaches you how to do things so you can learn how to do your own workout,” said Nik Donnelly, a personal trainer who works at Gorilla House Gym, Altoona.

“It changes peoples’ lives with better, healthier living. I take pride with starting with someone who is out of shape and then they see a huge difference. To make somebody healthier is my ultimate goal,” Donnelly said. “I come up with workouts that best fit your all-time goal. I encourage people. I push you to your limit and make sure you never give up.”

Wayne Wolfe, 61, worked in accounting for 26 years before he decided to become a personal trainer. Wolfe, who works at the Summit Tennis and Athletic Club, is also an EMT for the Hollidaysburg American Legion Ambulance Service. He said he was inspired by his daughter, Alicia Meadows, a rheumatologist in the Williamsport area.

“She inspired me to get into health care. I am also an EMT where I can help people at their worst moments. I thought can I help people at the other end and keep them out of my ambulance,” Wolfe said.

Obesity driving business

According to Los Angeles-based IBISWorld, which specializes in business research, the personal trainers industry has experienced steady growth over the past five years, fueled by rising demand for weight-loss services and greater interest in customized workout regimes.

The industry is expected to continue to grow.

Over the five years from 2017 to 2022, industry revenue is forecast to rise at an annualized rate of 2.9 percent to $10.7 billion. Rising disposable income during the five-year period is expected to enable a greater share of consumers to spend on higher-priced personal training sessions, according to IBISWorld.

Paul Noakes, a Chestnut Ridge High School graduate, who works at Planet Fitness, Altoona, is a certified personal trainer and a National Academy of Sports Medicine performance enhancement specialist. He has been a personal trainer for 10 years

“Obesity runs in the family, and it ultimately took my father’s life. I was always athletic and had a knack for kinesiology. I believed that I could help people avoid health issues and live more fulfilling lives and by teaching others,” Noakes said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of Americans are obese, increasing demand for the personal trainers industry.

Moreover, the percentage of Americans who are overweight or obese is expected to increase over the next five years, fostering greater demand for industry services. Employment growth will likely be robust during the period as well, heightening competition between existing operators in attracting customers.

Baby boomers represent the industry’s fastest-growing market, and trainers are increasingly developing customized workout routines designed for seniors and individuals with chronic health conditions, according to IBISWorld.

“Working out on your own is hard to do. If you have a personal trainer, he is going to make sure you are doing things right and are accountable. It is difficult to do on your own,” Jeremy Claypoole, a trainer at Gorilla House Gym., said.

“All clients are different. I tailor a program specifically to each client. There is no common denominator. If twins would come in, they would be different in what they do as exercise,” Claypoole said.

“We sit down and talk about goals, what you are looking for, what do you want. After that we go over your goals and talk about a program that will help you reach your goals,” Donnelly said.

Safety is key

Wolfe, who is also a certified nutrition coach, said a personal trainer is like a teacher and a coach.

“I try to motivate and encourage my clients. It is all about safety, you don’t want to hurt your clients,” Wolfe said. “We (trainers) show them how to do it and do it safely to get the maximum benefit out of what they are doing.”

Travis DiLeo, who holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Penn State and a master’s degree in exercise science from the University of Pittsburgh, started out as a personal trainer before becoming an exercise physiologist.

“The personal trainer gets assigned a client. The first thing they should do is assess where the person is from an overall health standpoint. Then you prescribe exercises to meet that person’s goals. They should be specific. The personal trainer should have a very detailed account and understand your client from the first day,” DiLeo said. “They should be able to understand the strengths and weaknesses and cater to that person one on one. The complete focus should be on you and meeting your specific needs.”

Tim Balconi, president of the UPMC Altoona Foun­dation, has been using a personal trainer — including DiLeo — for about 10 years.

“It helps me meet my personal goals. Travis helped me ease back from low-level to high-level fitness without overdoing it. Training provides someone to encourage you and share the experience,” Balconi said. “As I age, the emphasis has been more on core strengthening. By strengthening your core you have better balance, and it helps you with your golf swing. Training also prevents injuries from other athletic activities. It helps you sleep and helps reduce stress.”

Donnelly, a 2013 Altoona Area High School graduate, worked at several jobs before becoming a personal trainer.

He was encouraged by Ray and Angela Ross, owners of Gorilla House Gym.

“I have a passion for powerlifting. I became certified to become a USA club-level coach in powerlifting, that is my specialty. They encouraged me to become a personal trainer. I love it,” Donnelly said.

Claypoole started working at Gorilla House Gym shortly after graduating from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2016 with a degree in exercise science.

“I did not want to do this at first. I had two clients in college. I had to do it for a class. I had an old lady and a young man. I didn’t want to watch someone else workout for the rest of my life. I wanted to use my degree, do something in the exercise field. I started to do it and started to love it. There is not a day when I don’t want to come to work,” Claypoole said.

Claypoole’s clients range in age from 19 to 80.

John Wolf, 80, retired Wolf Furniture Co. executive, was Claypoole’s first client.

“Jeremy is a good trainer He will not push you more than you feel comfortable with. I like the rowing machine. It gives you a good workout; you work on a range of muscles. He is not overly aggressive. I don’t want to overdo it. He helps you stay within your comfort range. The social end is as good as the exercise side,” Wolf said.

Abby Carder, 19, Roaring Spring is Claypoole’s youngest client.

“It is no fun going to the gym by yourself. I enjoy weight lifting a lot. I am not comfortable lifting heavy weights by myself. I don’t know how many reps and what weight to use. I need someone to tell me that,” Carder said. “You need motivation and encouragement. I need someone to tell me what to do and encourage me. He sees stuff in me that I don’t see in myself.”

“We sit down and talk about goals, what you are looking for, what do you want. After that we go over your goals and talk about a program that will help you reach your goals,” Donnelly said.

Hiring a personal trainer can cut out the “guesswork” and help a client possibly avoid making mistakes that could be detrimental to a person’s body, Noakes said.

“Through the years of experience and certifications that I have earned, I’m able to properly and safely train almost any individual or group in our PE@PF Program at Planet Fitness,” Noakes said.

Any age can start

Donnelly said you are never too old to start.

“There is no excuse to why someone cannot come to the gym. I’ve seen people in their 90s come to the gym. If someone in their 50s says they are too old, I laugh. … If they tell me they can’t do it, I tell them they just don’t want to do it. It is a mental game, you have to be mentally prepared,” Donnelly said.

“As you age, you want to remain as independent as possible, take care of what we call daily living activities. I give them the training they need, help older folks do things that will enable them to remain independent. If you do that, you give clients a great service,” Wolfe said.

Although the field is growing, it has its challenges.

“I believe people are reading how unhealthy they are getting. In an ideal world I want to have enough patients that I would have to push people away or refer them to someone else. I love what I do, but I need more clients,” Claypoole said.

“It is a very slow buildup to become very successful. No one knows who you are. You need to get people to trust you, then they tell others. It is a long process,” Donnelly said.

However, Donnelly and Wolfe remain optimistic.

“I am doing more and will eventually be very successful in this career. I started with powerlifting, I now have my own powerlifting team through this gym,” Donnelly said. “I want to be the best I can be and keep growing. I don’t know everything. There are all sorts of things I can do. I am a club-level coach, there are so many levels in powerlifting.”

“There are a lot of opportunities out there, I see an increasing need for it. The challenge is getting the truth out to people. You need to be careful where you get your information; check out their credentials. I am certified by the American College of Sports Medicine,” Wolfe said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.


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