The right program can help you discover new ways to specialize in your career
“You just don’t know where your education is going to lead you,” says Susan Gouin, Professional Fitness Trainer Program Director at Branford Hall’s Windsor campus. “There are so many different avenues to go into, it’s just incredible.”
Gouin speaks from experience. Before coming onboard in April 2009 as the first professional fitness training instructor at Branford Hall, she made her living as fitness trainer. But her career path wound up taking a more circuitous path than she anticipated.
“When I started, I was more into working with people who were fit,” she recounts. “I was teaching aerobics classes and other fitness classes similar to that. After completing an externship in cardiac rehab I found that I loved the clinical aspect of exercise. I continued my education in more clinical, corrective exercise.”
Abundant opportunities in personal fitness training
Gouin enjoys helping students discover new and unexpected avenues within personal fitness training, much like she did. “I do have students who say ‘I’m not sure what I want to do yet,’ and then they end up finding their focus toward the end of the program.
“We teach them how to work with children, seniors, people who have chronic illnesses or musculoskeletal issues, and athletes,” she explains. “We have a registered dietician teaching nutrition. We have instructors who excel in different areas, such as sport coaches, post-rehab, and sports nutrition. When students first come in, they don’t realize how much there is to do in the field.”
“I’d say that’s one of the hallmarks of Branford Hall,” adds Paul Ferrise, Regional Director of Branford Hall Career Institutes. “We don’t just focus on one in-demand area. We provide a very comprehensive training so that you’re well prepared to enter the job market in any of several areas where there’s opportunity. And we only hire practitioners from the field for the core courses in your major. So for every class you’ve got someone who’s really a specialist in that subject matter.”
Bringing real-world experience to the classroom
In addition to teaching at Branford, Gouin still works in post rehabilitation. Staying active in her field allows her to share a unique and valuable perspective with her students.
“I’m working on developing a program for cancer recovery. Right now I’m researching available grant opportunities. Since I’m teaching a business class at the moment it ties into what we’re talking about in the classroom,” she says.
“Of course I’ve had my own business as well,” Gouin adds. “And in the business class we only have instructors who have had their own business in the field of fitness. It makes more sense than just having a person who has a degree in business management. And that’s what makes Branford more unique than going to an academic school. When I was in school, a lot of my instructors hadn’t been personal trainers. Our instructors can tell students what to expect.”
Investing in your success
Gouin recounts an example from her early career that she often shares with students. “We always tell them ‘Don’t miss an opportunity.’ I remember traveling 45 minutes to teach a 45-minute class, to drive an hour and a half back home because of the traffic, for $15. But I did it so I had the experience of teaching all those classes. And of course it gets your name out, so you can network and things like that.
“We want to make sure our students understand this is not just your job, it’s your profession now. You’re a professional and this is your career. You’re going to sacrifice – it’s not all just about money,” she states. “So if you’ve lived it, you can explain. We bring the real world into the classroom. We don’t just say that as a catchphrase – we really do that.”