As personal trainer for more than five years, Geri Niess was looking for a refresher course to enhance her knowledge and in turn benefit her clients. She chose the personal trainer certification program at San Jacinto College because it was different and hands-on.
"Most personal training certifications are online," Niess said. "Trainers come out of those programs and get lost when it comes to dealing with clients. The San Jac program allows you to become client-oriented because you are using practical skills in the classroom."
As the first graduate of the program, launched in fall 2014, Niess now owns a thriving business through Camp Gladiator teaching classes six times a week with as many as 80 students at a time. Her boot camp enrollment of over 230 clients ranks her as the number one Camp Gladiator trainer in the Houston area and in the top five in the nation, but she's not stopping there.
"I started in 2015 with only five campers, and I want to be the first female Camp Gladiator trainer to hit 300 clients in the nation," Niess said. "At Camp Gladiator, we work as a team to grow each other's locations. It's a collaborative effort. Trainers are helping other trainers and 99% of my new clients hear about my boot camp via word of mouth from current clients."
For Niess, the biggest benefits of being a personal trainer is seeing lives changed and building relationships with her clients.
"Impacting lives is the key to being a personal trainer," Niess added. "When you see the before and afters of some the campers who have made a total transformation, you really understand the impact you've helped make on someone else's life."
Not only does Niess make connections with the new clientele, but she has also started recruiting her family for boot camps, including her husband and children.
"I feel like I'm not only impacting the lives of strangers, who become my family, but my own family as well," Niess said. "It's beyond rewarding."
Niess' son Jonathan is one of her children who attend the Camp Gladiator boot camp, but he says being coached by his mom is nothing new to him.
"I've just checked in for my 70th training session with Camp Gladiator," Jonathan Niess said. "She has always been a coach to me. She used to coach my soccer team as a kid, and she's been teaching me my whole life. It was a natural transition to join her camp, and I've seen such a difference in my energy levels and health."
Making a difference in the lives of others was only one of the reasons Niess chose to become a personal trainer. The other reason? Her passion for fitness.
"I've always been active, starting sports when I was very young," Niess said. "I signed up for another boot camp and fell in love with it. I love my job. It doesn't even feel like work. I feel like I'm playing all the time."