More than fifty years ago, a U.S. Marine was shot through the wrist while serving his country. During rehab, he discovered a passion for fitness that drove his ambitions. This is the story of NFPT’s Founder, Ron Clark.
Q: What type of exercises did you have to do to rehabilitate your wrist?
A: I had to do a lot of resistance exercises and, of course, weight training.
Q: When you got healthy, what was the first decision you made?
A: After my hand got strong, I decided to open a personal training business. I studied exercise science and became fascinated with the human body. Ten years later, I accomplished my goal and opened The Gym, Inc.
Q: What led you to establish the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT)?
A: As a personal trainer, I realized that there weren’t that many credible resources. I had to work hard to research places to get certified and wondered if they were legit. I knew it was time that someone stepped it up and offered a more attainable certification for hardcore personal trainers like myself.
Q: What did you have to do before NFPT offered its first certification to a personal trainer in 1988?
A: I worked with many business colleagues, educators, and physiology experts to research the current certification environment. I had a vision, but I wouldn’t say I knew exactly what I was doing. I recruited the right people to help me and asked the right questions. I knew where I wanted to end up – helping personal trainers become their best. I also received numerous certification credentials and competed in many bodybuilding competitions. I spoke with hundreds of bodybuilders and asked if they’d be interested in getting certified. Even before I started NFPT, I had a long list of names ready to be certified.
Q: What do you attribute to your success?
A: You have to surround yourself with the right people, the right resources. Trustworthy, reliable and intelligent people to help you get to where you want to go. There definitely is no ‘I’ in ‘team’. I would also say my passion for fitness and weight training guided my ambition. I am extremely lucky that my passion just happened to be able to be my career.
Q: What quality do you have that is similar to other entrepreneurs?
A: I think anyone who takes a risk to start a business must have the will to get back up after getting knocked down. If you are going to be successful, you have to get up every time you get knocked down. It’s going to happen. It’s about how you handle it.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: At NFPT, we are now recognized globally as an NCCA – accredited certification. We are always working to improve our continuing education materials and to find new ways for personal trainers to earn their credits. We have a family-friendly attitude towards our trainers which is hard to find with other organizations, the friendly spirit and connectedness of our staff to our trainers makes us different. We aren’t just about telling personal trainers what to do or what to think. We want to know what they are doing, feeling – what do they want to see us do to help them grow?
Q: Is there anything else that you want to see happen in the future; any new visions lately?
A: Actually, it’s already happened. It’s not a future thing – it’s a now thing. And, yes, it was another vision, but is similar to the one I had in 1980. Back then, I needed to open my own gym. For many years I had been running a successful local business. But then is became necessary, for the success of NFPT, that I get further and further away from the gym floor. I started to forget the challenges that personal trainers face every day. I started to forget the art of motivating a client to succeed and hit their strength goals. So, I got back to the gym. I was present on the gym floor of a small local studio that I opened to get back to the basics again. If I am going to truly help personal trainers become their best – I have to live, eat, and breathe their experiences.
Q: What advice would you give to other personal trainers who are planning to open their own gym or start their own personal training business?
A: Crisis management is key. Problems are going to come up. You have to have good problem-solving skills. And, if you don’t, find someone who does. Problem-solving skills are so important. There is an answer to every problem. And, don’t ever make a quick judgment or fast decision on anything. Sleep on it.
Q: If I want to become a personal trainer and I need more information on NFPT, what should I do?