SOHNI EPP (June 2020)

What made you choose a career in personal fitness training?

In college, I worked part-time at two places: the front desk for a gym and customer service at a supplement store. At that time, I thought personal training was showing someone how to select a weight and adjust a seat for members.

Following graduation, I jumped from several professional jobs and hospitality collecting skills of sales and service along the way. Though I found limited success, my heart wasn’t involved and felt unfulfilled.

Over time, I knew there had to be a profession that I would love and would provide me the resources to grow financially without simply punching a clock. Training then found me. I was inspired by a great trainer who took me under his wing. He helped me to realize that resistance training can unlock disabilities all while earning a living. He helped me to dream bigger and helped me to see me as a business, not just someone with a certification. Personal Training chose me and since I’ve dedicated my heart to my craft, it has rewarded me beyond measure.

How long have you been a Personal Trainer?

I got my first certification in 2005, but didn’t truly practice until completing my IFPA certification in 2010.

What made you chose the IFPA?

IFPA was recommended to me by a previous teaching trainer. He knew I was looking for a reputable source for certification that I could continue to grow with.  After researching, I chose IFPA due to the accreditation, workshops, online resources/ articles, and a variety of continuing education courses.

What are some adjectives your clients would use to describe you?

Creative, Engaged, Preventative, Safe, Entertaining, Compassionate, Motivating

What qualities set you apart from other personal trainers? Education? Experience?

My ability to stay organized with my business affords me the ability to train full time. I enjoy working with aged bodies or those who have experienced physical limitations at some point though life.

I pride myself on being able to help clients see how their daily movements and choices affect their overall being. When clients start feeling better through implemented stretching and resistance training protocol, they get a better grasp on how their improved movement patterns can unlock activities previously limited.

I am certain to make changes to a planned workout according to a client’s mood in an effort to positively influence their nervous system & mental health. There are no modalities of health or well-being I am unwilling to try and make the following statement to every client: You will always leave a workout feeling better than when you came!

What aspect of personal fitness training do you like most?

I love that every day is different! I love that I can add positively to someone’s life by reducing pain, help someone become self-sufficient, and increase self-confidence. I love that my influence becomes exponential when passed to their friends and family. I love that I can help other trainers do the same.

What is your best success story?

My favorite success story is truly my own. Personal Training has opened up so many doors for me. I’ve had the ability to become a gym owner, assisted numerous trainers develop their business, helped countless members personally, or by connecting them with another trainer. I’ve been invited to special events, met famous athletes & musicians, and contribute positively to my community.

Though I feel I’ve come a long way, I feel that my story is nowhere near complete! When I go to work every day, I look forward to the variety of tasks and the people I get to work with each day. How many people can say that they love their job?! I can?

How has the PFT business changed since you started?

Seems like there is a gym on every corner now! Everyone claims to be a trainer, online training offerings are available through thousands of sources, and social media workout suggestions are inescapable! Fitness fashion has grown with the popularity of youth showing their interest as well. Both young and old without limitations are found in gyms worldwide!

How do you envision growing your personal training business?

Currently, I am a co-owner of a 1400 square foot facility with 16 employees for over 3 years and counting. My current personal training schedule is at capacity and in order to help others, I will continue to help trainers build their business.

What was the hardest challenge you had to overcome in your personal training career?

Early in my career, I worked for a gym with multiple locations that sold the company to a large corporate gym. It happened very fast, confusing to all employees given limited information, and left trainers helpless to take care of their clients and personal finances.

When the new company prepared for takeover, they asked us to interview for our jobs which was expected on some level but practical. I was excited for an opportunity to transition and the new adventure ahead but my expectations were wrong. During their interview process, I was asked, “why I ONLY wanted to be a trainer” and noticed current employees were unhappy. No interactions with their current employees were positive and I knew then, I was not interested in working for their company.

During my brief and limited interactions, I witnessed belittling to teammates and knew that a good company doesn’t’ see any positions as insignificant. I’ve always remembered that experience and made a promise to never treat any staff or member with such arrogance. It’s given me awareness to always treat our staff with respect and remember that all my current success started with “just training”.

What is your best advice to someone just starting their career as a personal trainer?

Help every person selflessly and money will follow. Learn to connect with others mentally prior to giving them any advice. Be prepared to be rejected a lot and focus on learning to communicate with each client to help them make positive choices for themselves. Always remember that you work for them, not the other way around.

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