Four trainers who recently earned NASM’s Master Trainer distinction
share what inspired them to become fitness professionals—and offer their best advice to help you find success.
By Mike Woelflein, NASM’s The Training Edge
Almost 15 years ago, Clyde Mealy—who’s now an NASM Master Trainer with 10 NASM credentials—was an overweight investment advisor. While visiting a friend in the hospital, he asked a nurse to check his blood pressure. The reading shocked everyone in the room: 240 over 170.
A doctor took his keys, told him she couldn’t believe he was sitting there talking to her, and admitted him overnight. She told Mealy he needed to make some serious changes. Mealy didn’t hesitate.
“I immediately started eating better and exercising,” he says. “I lost 107 pounds. I got a second chance at life.” He also got a second career, as his newfound passion for fitness turned into a new profession. And late last year, he reached new heights when he became one of the first to earn NASM’s highest distinction: Master Trainer. (Learn more at nasmmastertrainer.com.)
Here, Mealy and three other Master Trainers share their stories and recommend resolutions that any trainer can use to find success.
A Story That Keeps Giving
After that night in the hospital, Mealy hit the gym—hard. Soon, he’d gone from wearing XXL to medium shirts, and from 46% body fat to below 10%.
He started working at the gym where he was a member, first at the front desk and then as manager on duty. Inspired and mentored by his own trainers, he eventually became a part-time trainer. By 2009, he had earned his NASM PES and CES and was a full-time trainer. In 2010, he earned his NASM-CPT. He then earned a master’s in exercise science from NASM educational partner California University of Pennsylvania.
Today, Mealy is a fitness professional at Life Time Athletic in Laguna Niguel, Calif., 50 miles south of Los Angeles. He’s found that his story gives him legitimacy with clients.
“It motivates me every day,” Mealy says. “And it motivates others too. They say, ‘That’s real stuff. I trust you.’ When they get down, I say, ‘If I can do what I did, you can do anything you want.’ ”
Mealy’s story helps him teach clients to be proactive and push through challenges.
“It’s awesome to hear that they earned a scholarship, or don’t need their cane anymore, or that the doctor took them off another med,” he says. “I celebrate those successes with them.”
Clyde’s Advice: Keep learning
Being a professional means constantly growing and improving, and that means using every opportunity to develop knowledge of the populations you work with. “Show that you’re committed to your craft,” Mealy says. “Doctors do it. Lawyers. CPAs. You should too.” He says that every NASM distinction he’s earned has provided something that he can apply to his clients.
Drawn to the Gym
When NASM Master Trainer Brian Schweitzerof, NASM-CPT, CES, PES, FNS, was in grade school, his mom took him to swimming lessons. On the way to the pool, he saw the facility’s gym through open sliding-glass doors.
“I just wanted to be in there, even though Mom wouldn’t let me,” Schweitzerof remembers. “I had no interest in the pool. I’ve spent the rest of my life wanting to be in the gym.”
He finally got there at age 15, and it was a defining moment: “I loved the feeling of working out,” he says. It set him on his path. A year later, he became a fitness attendant at a 24 Hour Nautilus, where he picked trainers’ brains. One gave him an NASM manual, and “it blew my mind,” Schweitzerof says. “I wanted to learn more.”
He knew then that he wanted to make fitness his career. He earned his NASM-CPT at age 18, and studied kinesiology in college (while training clients). He earned a bachelor’s and later added a master’s in rehabilitation science from NASM partner California University of Pennsylvania. During that time, he also served as fitness director at Los Gatos (Calif.) Swim & Racquet Club, where he oversees a staff of 17.
“I feel very lucky,” Schweitzerof says. “People spend the whole day in an office looking forward to the gym, and I’m there all day.”
Brian’s Advice: Try it yourself
Schweitzerof learned early on that being open to trying new things was key to long-term success. His primary example: Applying the Optimum Performance Training™ (OPT™) model to himself first.
“I was never one to stretch much, but learning about integrated flexibility got me to do it right,” he says. “I realized how valuable it was. I realized that the more you learn, the more you can give to your clients. And the more clients you’ll get.”
Do What You Love
When she started college, Master Trainer Crystal Reeves, NASM-CPT, CES, PES, FNS, WFS, was undecided about a major. So she asked herself a question: What do I really love?
“I love the human body,” says Reeves, who was a competitive figure skater, played high school tennis, and ran track in college. “It’s fascinating. How it works, what it can do. I went for exercise science and health, and I’ve never looked back.”
Reeves flirted with several health specialties in school and enjoyed an internship at a sports medicine clinic where she worked with athletes. But when she joined Pure Fitness (now part of LA Fitness) in 2005, she found a diverse range of clients that she loved working with even more. She soon connected with NASM and earned her NASM-CPT in 2010.
One woman in particular highlights Reeves’ love of the body’s resiliency: an 89-year-old woman who was totally reliant on her walker. After eight weeks with Reeves, she could leave the walker aside and walk from machine to machine. By 12 weeks, she could stand at home and help with chores, such as dish-washing.
“You can blow people’s minds with what their bodies can do,” Reeves says. “You can be 90 years old and get stronger. You can get more agile. You can improve your quality of life in ways you never imagined. And we get to help clients see that. It’s the best part of being a trainer.”
Crystal’s Advice: Seek work-life balance
Reeves had found success by working 60-hour weeks at a gym, but the hours took a toll. So when she started a business with her fiancé, NASM Master Trainer Russell Wynter (profiled here), she cut back to find balance between being a mother and a trainer. “It wasn’t easy,” she says, “but I’m much happier now, and I’m a better trainer too.” Don’t confuse fewer hours with less focus: Since the change, Reeves has become a Master Trainer and is working to become a certified yoga teacher. Her advice: “Find and/or keep the balance between family life and your career.”
Boost your skills: NASM Master Trainer
NASM’s Master Trainer program is the pinnacle of NASM training. Eligible trainers need a current NASM-CPT and three NASM specializations (or two specializations and a college degree in certain health and fitness disciplines). The program starts online with intensive testing of high-level programming and training skills. It ends with the Master Trainer Summit, an immersive experience with top NASM instructors.
“You’re collaborating with the best of the best,” says Russell Wynter, one of the first trainers to complete the program. “It made me take stock of what I’m doing, and it validated everything. Do it, and you’ll know you’re on the right track.”