In this edition of The Fitness Chronicles I had the honor to converse via email with a remarkable and determined young veteran of the US Air Force. He is an inspiration for fitness, small business owners, the Trans community, and the LGBTQ community in general.
Mikey: What inspired you to start your own online fitness coaching services?
Trey: As a transgender man, I didn't really see anyone else in my area offering services to help transgender folks achieve their health and fitness goals. I've always forced myself out of my comfort zone in order to accomplish things. Not everyone is like me though. I've worked out in what many would consider intimidating gyms with trainers who may not have been so accepting had they known my past. While this was a learning opportunity for me, I wanted to provide a comfortable and inviting environment for my trans brothers (and in some cases, sisters) in which they could work with someone who understands what they are going through.
M: How was the process of setting up your business?
T: Difficult and in some ways never-ending. In school I learned how to be a personal trainer, not how to run a business. Setting up my own business has been a series of learning from one mistake after another. Thankfully, I tend not to make the same mistakes over so things are running smoothly these days. There are so many things you don't consider at first, from things as simple as coming up with a business name and logo to setting up a website, processing payments, creating contracts, and the process of marketing to and building clientele. I see new personal trainers struggle with the business side of personal training all the time. That's why many get stuck working for corporate gyms that pay too little and expect too much.
M: In what ways do you reach out to people to get new clientele?
T: I'm highly referral-based. Being that I target a very specific clientele, I think I'm fairly easy to find within my community. There are other great transgender personal trainers out there, but I'm not aware of any other ones based in Phoenix. Overall, my clients do a great job of getting my services out there, especially when posting on their Facebook about their noodle arms or not being able to get up off the toilet. I'm still not sure if those posts get referrals or just scare the hell out of people. Either way, I'm a bit flattered.
M: You’re a well experienced and respected fitness professional. How are you able to keep your clients motivated via online?
I have a screening process I implement before accepting online clients. I set the expectation on my website. Clients MUST reach out to me weekly with updated weight, measurements, and progress photos. I don't chase clients, because honestly, I'm not interested in training people who aren't willing to put in the effort in reaching their goals. I understand that things happen and sometimes clients struggle and I WILL reach out in these instances, but I'm not the sugar-coating kind of trainer. If they want results, they have to show up to the gym to do their workouts and follow their nutrition plans. If they do, they see amazing results. If they don't, I kindly send them on their way.
M: Tell us a little more about your services and how people can get started today.
T: I offer both in-person (Phoenix, AZ) and online personal training services, both of which include nutrition services because that's such an important factor in achieving results. I offer free consults at the gym to see if clients are a good fit for the type of training I offer and to see if I'm going to be a good fit for them. I offer one-on-one training as well as buddy/small group training. I have more information on my website regarding rates and services.
Direct Link: www.transformfitness.net/owner-trey
M: As a transgender man, how has fitness been for you? Were there any challenges that you needed to overcome? What are your personal fitness goals? And finally, any words of wisdom for other members of the transgender community who want to get into fitness.
T: Fitness has been life-changing for me. The process of transition can seem long. We require therapy to "prove" we are able to transition. I mean, imagine having to prove you are the gender you feel you are. It seems a little crazy. Once we get the approval, we have to find a doctor who will prescribe testosterone if that's the route we choose. We have to save the funds for the surgeries we require, which could be different for everyone. Fortunately for many guys, some insurances now cover gender reassignment surgeries. I had to pay out of pocket and it wasn't cheap. We just have to jump through so many hoops to be ourselves, which so many people take for granted. For me, fitness made the long process a little more tolerable. It helped me to change my body to more closely match the way I saw myself, until the hormones kicked in a bit to provide additional help.
The gym can be an uncomfortable place, especially during transition. I've always had that "get shit done" mentality, so I've always been able to ignore what many others may think, but I'm a unique case. There's a lot of dysphoria around the gym for many transgender people. So many people are intimidated to go into a gym, especially if they feel they have a long way to go to look and feel fit, according to society at least. Now throw in getting mispronouned or even choosing the locker room you'll get less harassed in. It can be a devastating experience for many.
My main personal goal is to continue to improve in all areas of my life. I want to help others see their worth. It's not about how you stack up to someone else. It's about putting one foot in front of the other and being a better version of yourself every single day. I want people in my community to know that it's okay to ask for help. You don't have to hire ME, but reach out to someone who represents what you'd like to accomplish. Understand that fitness is WAY MORE than a physical transformation. It all starts when you believe you can be successful. It's hard work, but it's always worth it.
Transform Fitness' Mission:
Our Vision at Transform Fitness is to serve as a meeting ground for Personal Trainers and their clients. People choose an online format for fitness for a number of reasons. Perhaps your schedule is too hectic to schedule a one-on-one session with a local trainer. Maybe online training is easier on your wallet. It could be that your favorite trainer lives across the country. Transform Fitness allows you to find someone who can assist you in meeting your fitness goals.
As a transgender man, I didn't really see anyone else in my area offering services to help transgender folks achieve their health and fitness goals. I've always forced myself out of my comfort zone in order to accomplish things. Not everyone is like me though. I've worked out in what many would consider intimidating gyms with trainers who may not have been so accepting had they known my past. While this was a learning opportunity for me, I wanted to provide a comfortable and inviting environment for my trans brothers (and in some cases, sisters) in which they could work with someone who understands what they are going through.