5 Trainers Share What Inspired Them to Teach

From the first day of school onward, our teachers get us started on thinking about what we’d want to be when we grow up. Of course, the answer you gave back in kindergarten is likely not the same one that you ended up pursuing. Or maybe it was. But for many of us, figuring out what type of work we want to build a career out of sparks from an “aha” moment.

But the moving thing about such moments of clarity is that they all differ from each other — even when the path still leads to a career in fitness. Such was the case for these five inspiring instructors. What compelled them to pursue a career in fitness? Here’s what they had to say about the moment they knew.

Discovering a love for teaching

“I was showing younger kids what I had learned while I was still competing [as a boxer], and word traveled quickly about what I was teaching. I had created a following of kids and these kids were so much hungrier and more naturally gifted than I was. It just turned into my calling.” -Brian Pedone, Founder of Quiet Punch

After experiencing the power of endorphins

“I knew the moment I went on my very first run I wanted to be a trainer. I was fourteen years old and I ran 11 minutes around my little neighborhood in Northern California. I didn’t even have real running shoes, I was running in my cheerleading sneakers. I finished my first run and was huffing, puffing, drenched and beet red, but my life was changed forever. That night was pivotal. It was the night I discovered the power of endorphins, the power of sweat and the magic of exercise. I felt like I unlocked a secret to happiness and wanted to share it with the world!” -Daphnie Yang, certified personal trainer and founder of HIIT IT!

After doing a deep dive into obesity

“I was in graduate school, working on my Ph.D. in medical sociology. My research was on obesity, specifically determinants of morbid obesity, and I was reading so much about the importance of exercise, nutrition and behavioral conditioning — all the while getting frustrated at the fact that I was only writing about it and not doing anything about it. I got my personal training certification as a way to share this passion while also earning money ‘on the side,’ but in the end, I left graduate school (with an M.A., not the full Ph.D.) to start my training business full-time — and never looked back!  I now own two boutique gyms, one that’s fully focused on total body transformations (we offer training, nutrition, and aesthetic services) and help people like the ones I used to “study” on a daily basis.” -Amanda Dale, certified personal trainer and owner of ThisFitBlonde

To lose weight (and help others achieve their goals)

“I became unhappy about my size, and I wanted to get into better shape. Exercise was never natural to me, however I’ve always enjoyed dancing, and so of the fitness regimes out there, I was attracted to dance related fitness classes. I tried out SwingTrain — a start-up fitness brand – and loved the vintage music and movement, but also the great group/social aspect, so it really fitted well with my goals. As a new fitness brand, they were also looking for trainers, so I just seized the opportunity to work with them. It helped me stay in shape, have fun and help others at the same time. Helping others has been a big motivation for me. As someone who has always struggled with my weight, helping people achieve their fitness goals feels very real to me, so I am very keen to help to inspire people to join in with fitness classes. As much as my classes motivate them, their participation motivates me. It’s great to see people achieve things they didn’t think possible or couldn’t previously do. I see the sense of accomplishment members of my SwingTrain community get when they no longer have to stop halfway to get through a routine or an hour long class. That really spurs me on.” –Holly Smithurst, personal trainer at SwingTrain

While fighting off college stress

“My fitness journey started when I went away to college. I had always been involved with sports and danced my whole life, and without those things I felt a little lost. The group fitness classes at the campus gym filled that void for me. Whatever stress I was feeling — brand new school, different state, new friends, pressure about grades, not gaining the freshman 15 — of that disappeared once I entered the fitness class. The instructor’s bubbly personality was contagious and her encouraging but stern voice, “You can do one more, don’t give up!’ usually overpowered the voice in my head telling me to ‘take a break’ or ‘ just quit.’ I was addicted to the way I felt after I completed the workout — refreshed, stronger and most of all, proud of myself. I became a fitness instructor in college because I was determined to make everyone that entered my class feel exactly the same way that I felt. I wanted them to look forward to my class, not dread the gym. Fitness can be fun if you find ‘your thing.’ My thing has never been treadmills or an elliptical. Now I teach six classes a week (Zumba, cardio dance, cardio Kickboxing, abs classes, and HIIT bootcamp). I also started my own fitness company, Smart Belles with Dumbbells, where I coach woman on health and nutrition in order to inspire them to feel smart, beautiful, and strong. I’m grateful for all of the instructors that have inspired me, and still do (always be a student of the game). I hope to give back, and to make sure everyone who works with me feels their life is just a little bit better.” -Katelyn Coburn, fitness instructor and founder of Smart Belles with Dumbbells

Danielle Page is the founder of ThisisQuarterlife.com, a blog that provides necessary information for navigating the awkward phase of adulthood known as “quarterlife.” Danielle’s work has been featured on Cosmo, Woman’s Day, Your Tango, Bustle, The New York Times, Thought Catalog, Elite Daily and the Huffington Post.