Featured In RightFit Chicago

Featured Trainer: Brian Donovan

RightFit Chicago

Meet Featured RightFit Chicago Personal Trainer, Brian Donovan:

Chicago Bucktown Personal Trainer

How long have you been a personal trainer?

I’ve been a personal trainer for a little over 4 years.

Was this a gradual progression or did you start out training?

I did not plan on becoming a personal trainer right out of college. I’ve always been active and involved with sports. I played basketball, soccer, and ran track in high school. When I graduated from Michigan State and moved to Chicago, I was unsure of what I wanted to do but I had to make a decision fast or I wasn’t going to be able to pay my bills. I ended up working a corporate job as a Technical Recruiter for two years, and while the job security, salary, and benefits were nice, I did not enjoy anything about it. I knew I needed to transition into something I was passionate about. From there it was a pretty easy choice. I liked the idea of working with people individually, creating my own schedule, running my own business, and most of all, enjoying what I was doing on a daily basis. So I got certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, studied 500 hours at the National Personal Training Institute, and started interning at a private studio in Lincoln Park. Shortly after that I LLC’d my company Brian Donovan Fitness and have been training ever since.

What is your ideal work out? pre/post meals too!

For me personally, metabolic conditioning (strength training plus high intensity cardio) gives me the best workout for my time. I don’t believe it’s necessary to spend hours on end working out. Who has that kind of time? I like to get in, go hard, and get it done so that I can get back to focusing on my clients and my business. Pre-workout, I might have something light like a banana or some sort of carb for fuel. Post-workout, I always have two scoops of protein powder ready in my water bottle. I don’t like to waste my workout. Nutrient timing is important and your body is primed for absorption for a short window of about an hour immediately following a workout. I always make sure I’m getting that protein to my muscles when I finish a workout. If I have time, I usually have a high protein/low carb/low fat meal about an hour or so after my workout as well. Chicken, quinoa, mixed veggies, handful of mixed nuts or almonds is an easy one that I usually have already prepared.

What is your typical day like as a trainer?

Wake up around 5:30am, shower, eat, let my dog Bumper out, head over to the studio. I generally train morning clients from 6am-11am. Mid-day if I have enough time, I’ll go home, eat lunch, and walk Bumper. After that, I am either studying (right now I am getting certified with Precision Nutrition), putting client plans together, creating content that I think my followers and current clients will find useful, working on my website, or focusing on some other aspect of the business. There is always a laundry list of things to do and never enough time. I usually get my workout in around 3pm, then it’s back to training my evening clients from 4pm-9pm.

What are some of the biggest issues that you see in personal training?

I don’t know if this is one of the biggest issues, but it’s definitely a pet peeve of mine. Out of shape trainers. In my view, if you can’t keep yourself in decent shape, then how do you expect to get others in shape and have people listen to you? You have to practice what you preach. Potential clients will not come to you if don’t at least look the part. A few years ago, my buddy was leaving Bally’s after speaking with someone about getting a membership there and possibly signing up for some training sessions. While walking to his car, he see’s two of the personal trainers taking a smoke break out back! Are you kidding me? First off, that’s just a terrible hire, maybe that’s why they’re no longer in business, but more important is just how degrading that is to the profession. Needless to say he didn’t sign up with them.

If you could train one celebrity who would it be?

Tough question. Probably a comedian like Kevin James or Melissa McCarthy, or someone like that. I’m a big comedy guy so I think those sessions would be hilarious.

Do you have any advice for those who want to go into personal training?

Yes. It’s not for everybody. The hours are long. You’re usually waking up very early and coming home late. If you’re someone who needs security, a steady paycheck, free time to spend with your kids or your significant other, this probably wouldn’t be the right field for you. To be a successful trainer requires a pretty big sacrifice on your time, at least for the first few years until you get established. Actually physically being there to train clients is only a slice of the hours that go into this. Plan on working 6 days a week, working before and after people’s 9am-5pm work schedule, continuing your education, attending summits and seminars, managing your expenses and income, putting plans together every week, and more. However, if you love learning about health and fitness, you are self-motivated, and you know how to fill your free time with things that are going to help you grow as a professional in this industry and grow your business, then this is one of the most fulfilling careers you could choose. Helping others achieve their fitness goals and live healthier lives is very rewarding. It’s a great time to be in the fitness business.

What drove you to become a personal trainer?

The idea of being in a position to help others with something that I truly care about. Without your health, you have nothing. People don’t go into personal training to make a ton of money, at least I didn’t. There are better career choices out there if money is your main thing. You have to truly care about your client’s health and respect the field of fitness to want to do this full time.

Is there something that you enjoy keeping consistent with all clients?

Yes, monthly measurements and goals. The first week of every month we do weigh-ins, body fat readings, circumference measurements, and set goals for the month. You have to have markers to gauge your client’s progress and keep people on track. If you’re not assessing, you’re just guessing.

How do you make working out a fun and positive experience for your clients?

I create monthly challenges for my clients. Last month we did a paleo challenge, the month before that we did an intermittent fasting challenge and got some great results! Often times I will offer incentives like free sessions for clients that hit their monthly goals. The truth of it is, working out isn’t always fun. Some days you are tired, you know it’s going to hurt, maybe you had a rough day at the office, whatever the case may be. The bottom line is, you always feel better after a workout. I don’t know of anyone who ever regretted working out. I like to think that my clients leave my sessions feeling better then when they came in. I try to be the best part of my client’s day.