We recently connected with Mandy TRICHELL and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Mandy, thanks for joining us today. Setting up an independent practice is a daunting endeavor. Can you talk to us about what it was like for you – what were some of the main steps, challenges, etc.
As fitness professionals go, my story is a little unusual. I haven’t been a lifelong athlete. In fact, most of my life I would have given anything to keep from sweating. I was the kid that failed P.E. class. I was the last one to get picked for teams and the first one to get hit during dodge ball. I found my way into loving exercise as an adult, as a divorced mother of three who needed a life altering shift. I found that shift in learning to love and take care of my body.
In 2006, few months into taking a cardio kickboxing class, my instructor pulled me aside and commended me on the way I had been helping her with newer folks coming in. She asked me if I had ever considered getting certified to be a trainer. It had honestly never occurred to me, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it would be the perfect career for me: a single mother without a college degree, who needed to have more control of her work schedule. The certification process is relatively inexpensive and takes only a few months, compared to the expense and years it takes to earn a degree. I would take my clients during school hours, so I could be with my children before and after school. I would continue bartending while I established myself.
I was determined not to work in a big box gym because I had done my research, and I knew that my earning potential would be cut drastically by doing so. I trained my first clients in the yoga studio of a close friend and outdoors at a local park. Eventually, I found my way to an independently owned gym in my neighborhood (The Heights, Houston, TX) where I would work as an independent trainer. I remained with Facet Seven Fitness for almost 12 years before taking my business completely virtual in 2020 due to the covid 19 pandemic. Today, about half of my clients prefer to remain virtual, while the others have returned to in-person training in my home studio, and a few more have hired me to train them in their homes or offices.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
Early in my career, (way back in 2007) I saw a need for shorter sessions. It appeals to busy clients with limited time, and I quickly learned that most hour-long workouts can be condensed to half the time without sacrificing results. Most importantly, it helps people who are new to exercise (like I once was) feel less intimidated. Exercise is for everyone, not just the “go hard or go home” folks.
I began developing my own method: 30 Minutes with Mandy. I had two goals 1) making sure my client got in a full body workout and 2) creating programs appropriate for individual fitness levels, body types, and states of mind.
Over the last 15 years, I have worked with some of Houston’s most interesting people: performers, TV personalities, artists, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, mothers, fathers, students, and the list goes on. Several of those clients have been with me for years, some of them for well over a decade. I coach people who don’t naturally find themselves in the gym, who need a different kind of support. My clients become my friends, dare I say my family.
Training and knowledge matter of course, but beyond that what do you think matters most in terms of succeeding in your field?
Business is personal. It’s about connection and establishing relationships, especially in the fitness world. The most important thing a fitness professional does is listen, and I mean really hear their clients. There’s a running joke in the industry that we are 20% trainer, 80% therapist. Every aspect of a client’s personal life is going to have an affect on their fitness journey, and their fitness journey is going to affect their personal life. Before I begin with a client, I need some very intimate pieces of information: are they pregnant? what medications are they on? have they had any surgeries recently? These are just a few of the intensely personal questions I have to ask, so it’s important that I’m present, focused, and trustworthy. It’s important that we work toward their goals with their circumstances in mind, and it’s important that they feel deeply comfortable coming to me with new developments and concerns.
We often hear about learning lessons – but just as important is unlearning lessons. Have you ever had to unlearn a lesson?
When I began training, I had read lots of articles and self-help books that promoted the idea of “fake it til you make it.” In other words, pretending to be confident when you’re not, and pretending you know more than you do. There is something to be said for being confident, but there’s even more to be said for being honest when you are unsure about something, rather than (possibly) giving your client incorrect information, or asking them to do something that might actually harm them. I learned a couple of years into my career that, if there’s something you are unsure about, it’s better for everyone involved to say something along the lines of, “You know, I’m not 100% sure about this exercise. Do you mind if I take a moment to look this up?” Honesty like this builds the client/trainer relationship and allows for growth and education.
- Website: 30minuteswithmandy.com
- Instagram: @30minuteswithmandy
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mandytrichell/
- Twitter: @mandytrichell
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/30MinuteswithMandy/
The first photo (the headshot) is by Cressandra Thibodeaux,