Life is Unpredictable: How I Went from Corporate to Personal Training

Five years ago it was unthinkable that one day I would be a personal trainer with my own business, teaching bootcamps, participating in triathlons and half marathons, with exercise videos on YouTube or that I would be fitter in my 30’s than in my 20’s; but life is unpredictable. Some of the changes come down to life events we have no choice over, while other come down to setting goals and working towards them. Either way, it is never too late for change. Let me tell you how it all happened for me.

From Corporate to Personal Training

After eight years in Information Technology (IT) I no longer felt challenged but gave it one last try by finding a similar position at a prestigious company. But I left after six months because of a very unreasonable manager. Leaving the job confirmed that it was time to leave IT for good and since I had a personal training certificate, it was time to put it to work. Years earlier I had noticed that I enjoyed working out and assisting others with eating healthy, and had found the perfect solution in the Health Coach certification from the American Council on Exercise, a certification to assist people with behavior change, physical activity and nutrition coaching skills. Before I could take the exam I was required to have a Personal Training certification so, while working in IT, I set the goal of getting certified within a year. I studied after work, took the national exam, passed it and got certified.

While studying for the Health Coach certificate, I found a job training and selling gym memberships for a well known gym chain, yet few months later an incident on Thanksgiving weekend made me realize that I was done working for others. It was time to become my own boss and be able to make things happen. I knew that starting my own company in a field different from my college degree and my work experience would not be an easy task but I knew, just like with exercise, that the short term hardship would bring long term happiness.

Time to Grow the Business

I set a goal of starting the new company by January first, a little more than a month away. I researched company names, legal structures, website designs and on the first of January in 2009, Body Fitness by Aris was up and running. It wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but it was closer. In March of the same year I left the gym with a new company, a very basic website and little knowledge on what to do next. I started to market myself as a personal trainer and teaching boot camps. Few months later I felt it was time for a business logo and a better website. I hired someone to design the logo and with a friend’s help created a better website, which to this day I still manage myself. On paper the business looked good, but I could not train others without knowing how training and racing felt. It was time to get out of my comfort zone and sign up for various races. I started with 5k (3.1 mile) runs and triathlons, and over the years tried 5k obstacle runs, a 10k run, and a half marathon. Training for the races was a similar journey to switching careers. I had to set a goal, work towards it and once reached, work on the next goal. For the triathlon, I first practiced each race leg (the swim, the bike and the run) individually, then did two back to back and eventually trained for all three consecutively.

Two years later I still didn’t have the Health Coach certificate. I was busy learning how to run a business, training clients, competing and marketing, but especially because I had failed the exam twice. Nevertheless I did not give up and in February 2011 finally got certified. My job and fitness accomplishments were not overnight, they took work, persistence and especially patience not to give up along the way.

Working Towards Your Dreams

I was mad about having to start over in my 30’s and my original intent was to be a nutritionist and never to be a trainer. But now I am happy in this career because I finally realized that even though this is not the path I planned, I am still working on my dreams, just from a different angle. If my life story would have been about exercise, my plans would have been derailed from not making it on the team or from a broken bone, but it just would have meant that I would reach my goals later than planned. In life you have a choice on how to respond: you can quit, you can try again or you can try to do something different with it. It’s never too late to start over and whether we are talking about a career or about exercise, don’t listen to others telling you what you can and cannot do. Work towards your dreams and along the way you might find something else you enjoy even more. That’s what happened to me.

About the Author

Aris Akavan, ACE certified Personal Trainer & Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach, is owner of Body Fitness by Aris. Her mission is to assist others in leading a healthier lifestyle by balancing exercise and proper eating habits to achieve the ultimate body & mind wellness. Aris leads by example as she practices what she preaches. She leads an alcohol free and smoke free lifestyle and has worked out while following proper nutrition practices for over 10 years. In the last few years she also started participating in 5k races, adventure runs and triathlons. You can visit Aris at any of her following: