Helping clients hit the gym to lower their handicap

Sep 21, 2016
Ashley Ann Lawrie


For the past 10 years, Katie Walker has helped her clients improve their golf swing, but she’s often found that what they really need to shave strokes off their game can’t be found on a driving range.

“I find a lot of them need to improve their fitness more than they need to improve their swing,” she said. “There’s only so much I can do to help someone if they’re not physically fit.”

The 36-year-old golf instructor has always been physically active with gymnastics and Beachbody workout programs, and reads widely to educate herself on fitness and nutrition.

Katie started thinking about becoming a personal trainer about five years ago, to help her golf clients and also give her something to do in the off-season, but with two young children at home, she never found the time to do it.

Then a friend referred her to Jean-Luc Boissonneault, founder of Free Form Fitness and Free Form Academy (FFA). FFA is a unique training program for anyone who wants to work anywhere in the fitness industry as a personal trainer.

Katie found the idea of FFA’s hands-on training program, spread over six weeks, much more appealing and useful than the compressed, classroom-based certification programs she found elsewhere. So she took the leap and completed FFA about a year ago.

“It was practical, in terms of understanding human movement in an actual training environment,” she said. “It was a good environment too, it was comfortable, I felt comfortable asking questions.”

At FFA, participants are grounded in all the important aspects of building a successful career that are not covered in most certification programs, including customer service, persuasion, basic psychology and practical nutrition.

A key part of being a personal trainer is assessing your clients, to understand their needs and develop a tailored program that’s ideal for them. Katie was apprehensive about this part of the job, but FFA program director Vania Hau demystified the process.

“When you go into something new you think it’s going to be harder than it actually is,” Katie said. “The way Vania showed us how to do assessments made me realize I could actually do it.”

Taking FFA has equipped Katie to be a better all-around trainer and coach. With her young ones now getting old enough for full-time school, Katie intends to combine her personal training certification with her work as a golf instructor. She has already run training sessions for golf clients and makes personal training house calls.

“The lifestyle of being a personal trainer is awesome,” she said. “You get to work on your own personal fitness while also helping other people. I’d been trying to get my dad to workout forever, and he’s now lost a lot of weight and made a huge difference in his life just from me keeping him motivated.”

That’s what it all comes down to – having the skills and knowhow to empower people and keep them on track.

“Most people know what they should do, but it’s so easy to find a reason to skip that workout on a given day,” she said. “Having someone there to motivate you is so important.”

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