Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Rachel Jimenez. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Rachel, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. How did you get your first job in the field that you practice in today?
My first job in fitness happened on a whim and actually didn’t last very long. I had just recently changed my major from dance to exercise science, so my school schedule had opened up for the semester. I, being the “I’m used to being super busy” person that I am, immediately hunted for a job to fill the time I used to spend in dance classes. Since I was an exercise science major (although not in the program yet), I figured working in a gym was the best thing to do. Little did I know what being a personal trainer actually entailed. I was only 19 years old when I got first got hired as a trainer, and I quickly realized that I wasn’t ready to take on the work that it takes for a personal trainer to be successful. It is a very tough job that requires quite a bit of expertise, grit, and time investment to build (and maintain) a steady clientele. I was not ready for any of that, and I barely knew what I was doing, so I left after only 6 months. However, that short bit of time gave me a taste of a gym environment from an employee’s perspective and humbled me greatly. I had all the confidence in the world because I was a dancer but being a dancer didn’t mean I was also a seasoned fitness professional, and I knew I needed to put some more work in before I ventured back into the industry as a fitness professional. It’s a fun field to work in, but I don’t think that you can’t just “stumble” into it. Put in the work to build your education, get well-versed in training yourself so you’re familiar with exercises and equipment, and practice working as a “trainer” with your friends to gain experience with writing programs and coaching people through them.
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
I have been working in the fitness industry for almost 7 years and am now the owner of a private Pilates & Strength Training studio: emBRACE Pilates. I primarily work one-on-one with clients teaching them the Pilates Method and/or teaching them how to build strength through lifting weights. As a dancer for almost 16 years, my passion has always been in movement, and I love to help people discover how strong and capable they are through movement. I am also extremely passionate about education and am pursuing my masters in Exercise Science to be able to offer my clients a higher level of expertise. I’m proud to offer both methods of movement as a service provider. Having spent some time in both the strength training world and the Pilates world, I’ve always felt that both could benefit from one another, yet not many teach both practices, and it’s pretty rare to find both offered under the same roof.
The gym/training studio/Pilates space should feel like a safe place for someone to grow, ask questions, and feel comfortable in their own skin. I never want someone to feel like they don’t belong in my studio, because everyone deserves a chance to invest in their movement practice, no matter how inflexible, uncoordinated, or hesitant. I want all my future and current clients to know that I don’t have any expectations or standards when it comes to capabilities. All I ask for is an open mind, communication, and a willingness to learn!
Other than training/knowledge, what do you think is most helpful for succeeding in your field?
You have to be willing to play the long game. Building up a consistent client base & referral network can take a long time, and there will be big highs and lows before you reach a point of steady work. It has taken me over 6 years to finally feel confident in my ability to have consistent work. I’ve seen so many enter the fitness industry and leave quickly because they don’t expect for it to be as much of a grind as it really is. You can’t just work in fitness “for the money” because that won’t get you far and it won’t build lasting genuine relationships. That is what our work is based around. I also think that, while powerful, we put too much value in social media. Building a following has its value (especially as an online coach) and it can be a great tool to use for networking and advertising your services, but I think in-person trainers should be more concerned with the clients in front of them rather than followers viewing their stories. Put your phone down (unless filming for a form check or referring to the program) and coach the body in front of you. Our job is to be present in the moment with our clients so we can be ready to answer questions, spot an exercise, and give personalized advice.
Lastly, knowing your scope of practice and knowing when to refer out to other professionals is SO IMPORTANT. We as fitness professionals want to help our clients and sometimes it feels like we need to solve all of their problems, but we have to respect our own scope and have a network of other professionals to refer out to when our clients’ needs become bigger than what we are qualified to help with. Doing this ensures that our clients will get the help they need from a qualified professional. I am a personal trainer, not a doctor. I am a Pilates teacher, not a chiropractor. Taking on roles that you are not qualified to practice is risky for you as a professional and could potentially harm your client, which is the opposite of what our job is all about. We have so much knowledge to share as fitness professionals already, why try wearing more hats that don’t fit?
Any advice for growing your clientele? What’s been most effective for you?
Patience, patience, patience! Slow and steady growth is much more sustainable than racking up your roster overnight. Not only would you feel instantly overwhelmed (and possibly burnt out), but it would rob you of the opportunity to get invested in each client’s journey (especially if you are just starting out). It may take longer than you would like but you can use that time when you only have a few clients to really pay attention to the approaches you take in your work and in your business. Use that time to do build on your education, play with different scheduling systems, and just learn how to get invested in the process. Put simply, focus on doing the job you set out to do in the first place: helping someone reach their goals. The better you get at your job while working with a few clients, the more capable you will feel taking on more clients over time. However, with all of that said, it is also important to know your limit and when to close your books. Honoring and respecting your own time will ultimately help you help others, and that means working with an appropriate number of clients at a time. You’ve got to manage your energy too!
- Website: www.embrace-pilates.com
- Instagram: @embracepilates
Photographer: Jillian Lewis of Wanderlew Photography Client in Picture: Lydia Wilson