Welcome to the Successful Personal Trainer series of interviews! In this installment I speak with Darvis Simms, a personal trainer in North Carolina. Darvis is a veteran self employed fitness trainer and author who shares his unique insights on our industry so others can learn from his experiences.
Joe Cannon. Who are you certified by
Darvis Simms. I’ve been certified by ACE since 1993.
JC. What lead you to become a personal trainer?
DS. I’ve been working out since I was 12 years old. I don’t know if you remember but, I was one of those kids who ordered the Charles Atlas workouts a long time ago. I got into personal training because it makes me happy to help someone improve their quality of life by becoming a healthier, more fit person. I love to see people become more self-confident when they achieve their fitness goals. I feel like personal training is what I am meant to do.
JC. Any college?
DS. Yes, I have an Associates Degree in Mechanical Drafting and Design and a BS in Mechanical Engineering.
JC. How long have you been working as a personal trainer?
DS. I’ve been a trainer for 17 years.
JC. What’s the most important thing you learned AFTER your fitness cert?
DS. People don’t care how much you know about fitness until they know you care about them.
JC. How long does a typical training session last?
DS. About 45 minutes.
JC. Are you self employed now
DS. I’m self-employed and I have always been. My company is Fit To Be, Inc.
JC. Did you ever work at a gym?
DS. No because I was in the corporate world for over 16 years. When I became a trainer I wanted to work for myself.
JC. As a fitness trainer, you sometimes go to gyms to meet clients. Do you ever run into problems/issues with the trainers at the gym you are visiting?
DS. The number one problem I encounter with trainers at gyms is that for some reason they take my working in their facility as a threat. I don’t have any desire to take away business from anyone nor compete with anyone for clients. I feel that there should be more of a cooperative atmosphere among trainers. I learn from you and you learn from me and that makes both our businesses better.
JC. Since you’ve been in the fitness industry for over a decade, what is the biggest change you have seen in personal training or fitness?
DS. Two things. One, I think personal training has become more diverse and that’s a good thing. Fitness trainers are becoming more creative in their programs for their clients. Second, and not so good in my opinion, is the formation of big personal training companies that employ anyone who claims to be a personal trainer. These services are just in it for the money and I think they bring down the quality of the fitness training industry.
JC. Without naming anyone, any embarrassing moments as a trainer?
DS. Plenty! One of the funniest and most embarrassing for me was this high school volleyball player came to me to increase her foot speed. So, the very first session I set up this drill where you step on and off a plyometric box as fast as you can. I go to demonstrate the exercise and I fall flat on my back and I get up and tell the client “now that’s the way you shouldn’t do this exercise!”
JC. How many miles do you drive in a typical workday?
DS. About 25 miles a day.
JC. What equipment do you bring to clients' homes?
DS. Dumbbells, resistance tubing, a therapeutic ball, an aerobic step, and a mat.
JC. How do you motivate clients?
DS. I motivate my clients by being the role model. I don’t have clients do anything that I don’t do. I try to be a walking advertisement for what I do.
JC. What do you feel is the biggest hurdle for people when it comes to getting healthy?
DS. Getting them to change their habits. If I can get people to incorporate healthy habits into their life, then I can get them to see some long-term improvements in their health.
JC. If you did were hiring a trainer, what would you look for?
DS. Someone who is professional in their interaction with clients, someone who pays attention to details, and someone who has good people skills.
JC. How to determine your current rate?
DS. By comparing my rates with the rates of other trainers with comparable experience and skill.
JC. Do you remember your first client? Do you wish you did anything differently?
DS. Yes, I do. Poor thing I worked her way too hard the first session we had. If I could go back in time I would have eased her more gently into a workout routine.
JC. What types of people do you primarily work?
DS. My clients are primary over 40 years of age.
JC. What lead you to work with this group of people?
DS. I’m led to this segment because I’m in my fifties and I know what it takes to keep myself healthy and fit and I want to pass on this knowledge to my clients. I want people over forty to change their concept of aging and to understand that they have many more years of being healthy and fit ahead of them if they adopt a healthy lifestyle. I hate the phrase “I must be getting old”.
JC. What do you like about working with this group?
DS. Helping them break down the myths of old age.
JC. What’s your book about?
DS. My book is titled Forever Fit and Firm. In it I try to convey the message that you are never too old to get fit and to firm-up your body. The book covers the mental and physical aspects of a fitness program. I talk about the importance of a positive mental attitude, the importance of maintaining your muscle mass as you age through strength training, the importance of cardio, and the importance of adopting healthy eating habits.
JC. What will a personal trainer learn from your book?
DS. A personal trainer will learn how important it is to incorporate strength training into their client's programs over forty years old. Basically, I illustrate some good basic exercises that should be a part of every strength training program. The book will also make personal trainers understand the importance of balance and moderation in eating and a healthy diet.
JC. Are you on Facebook, twitter, YouTube etc? Do you have a website?
DS. Yes I am on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.
I also have a blog called Forever Fit and Firm.
JC. Your website is good! Did you do it yourself or did you hire somebody?
DS. I do my own website. I had someone do it in the past but the problem was that was it took too long to make changes. I like to be able to think of some new service or something I want to try and put it on my site and see what happens. I can’t wait 2 weeks before the change is made to my site (I’m already off to something new by then).
DS. Thanks. Yes, I plan to do a lot more educational videos. They are fun to do and I hope they educate people on the proper way to exercise.
JC. What’s your favorite exercise?
DS. The plate-loaded 45-degree leg press. I like to use heavyweight on this exercise because I think strong legs is the foundation for building a strong, fit, and firm body.
JC. Do you take any supplements?
DS. I take a multi-vitamin, an omega complex, and glucosamine. I have been recently taking a supplement called Akea Essential that I really like. It’s an all-natural food-based supplement formed from a study of what people eat who live in places where it’s common for them to live 90 to 100 years.
JC. If you could change something about the fitness industry what would it be?
DS. I would like to see personal trainers go through a licensing process. There are far too many certification agencies in the field now.
JC. Where can people get your book?
DS. It’s at my website at right now. It will also be available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in a couple of weeks.
JC. How do you market yourself?
DS. I’ve been in the business for 17 years now and I have been fortunate enough to build a good reputation. So, I get most of my clients by referral.
JC. If you could say something to personal trainers reading this, what is one thing that you would like them to know about how to be a better personal trainer?
DS. Two words, “Be Professional”. In my opinion they is way too much unprofessional behavior in this business from the way trainers dress to the way they interact with their clients.
JC. Thanks, Darvis. Keep me updated on everything!