By Alex Silver-Fagan
Breaking into the health and fitness industry, particularly in NYC, takes a lot of patience, persistence, and progress. Besides studying like crazy for your certifications and credentials, working your way up in a world of highly established and experienced individuals takes a humble understanding and a hunger to learn from the best. To truly “break into” the fitness industry, a newbie like me needs to push the ego aside and realize that this is a completely different ball game.
Growing up, I was fairly inactive. (Okay, that’s generous.) I was the type of girl who would come home from theater rehearsal, and plop down in front of the TV for hours waiting for the pizza delivery to arrive. I’d then proceed to wolf down 5 slices. Luckily for me, my metabolism decided to be a doll and I remained relatively tiny. Because my body didn’t LOOK very different, I always assumed exercise was unnecessary and only for those wanting to lose weight. It wasn’t until I started to move and experiment with fitness that I realized how amazing my body could FEEL when being active.
At first, I stuck mainly to the cardio room at the gym — as most ladies unfortunately do. But, as my interest in different types of exercise increased, so did my experience. Once I finally stepped foot in the weight room, I never looked back. Lifting weights became my obsession, and a time that I could unwind — and also feel pretty damn badass. It was intoxicating.
As I became bogged down with schoolwork, internships, and part-time jobs to cover the cost of living in the greatest city in the world, the “me” time in the weight room slowly disappeared. But all the meanwhile, I still followed and looked up to fitness professionals on social media sites, particularly NPC Bikini competitors. To me, these girls had the perfect combination of a beautiful physique and a positive outlook on fitness. They’d spend time at the gym lifting heavy weights, and then refuel with super clean food. The bodybuilding lifestyle that I was witnessing was extreme, and one I never thought I could maintain.
One day however, I decided to let go of my fears and just do it. I quit my bartending job, organized my priorities, and registered with the National Physique Committee to compete in my first bikini competition. And then I competed in my second. And I won.
During this time, I also started to work with a fitness start-up that partnered with many of NYC’s top studios and trainers. While transforming my own body and lifestyle for my competitions, I had the opportunity to watch from the sidelines and learn the back-end of the NYC fitness industry. Naturally, the wheels started turning and I began to crave the energy and excitement for fitness that I saw in these individuals. I no longer wanted to be behind-the-scenes. I wanted to be one of these trainers. I wanted to do what I love by filling my day with fitness, while simultaneously helping and motivating others to achieve their goals and feel their best.
It would have made a lot of sense to continue competing and just focus on being a bikini competitor, but the entire process began to feel a bit selfish. I was concentrating only on my own fitness goals — meanwhile, people were constantly reaching out to me for questions and advice on my transformation. I needed a change. I needed to give back. I needed to switch the focus.
So I did. My new goal wasn’t to step on stage in a bikini; it was to be a trainer.
While studying for my Personal Training Certification, I made it a point to take as many classes as possible and meet as many people in this industry as I could — network, connect, and sweat with the people who’ve inspired me to change my career. Through this path, I was introduced to CityRow by one of my mentors and friends, Jared Stein. At CityRow I’m not only learning how to teach the studio’s signature class, but am really focusing on how to expand my abilities as an instructor and truly connect with my clients.
In addition to learning the true form of instructing, I’ve also learned to be willing and open to try EVERYTHING. No one likes the bodybuilder who shuns CrossFit or the spin instructor who shuns yoga. The fitness industry is so wonderfully diverse that in order to truly find your style and “break into” the industry, you must be well rounded and understanding.
Everyone I’ve met thus far has inspired me in some way or another. And that is what makes me so blessed to become a part of this industry: these instructors haven’t just taken me through some good workouts — they have truly pushed me to chase after my dreams.
Yes, I am new to this industry. Yes, I am learning something new each day. But I know that I’ll be able to reach my goals, and in turn, help you reach yours.
An NYU graduate with a degree in Marketing and Business, Alex Silver-Fagan spent her college years working in a variety of different industries, but ultimately found her true passion within fitness. Alex is now an ACE certified personal trainer, National Level NPC Bikini Competitor, and fitness model. Her training philosophy emphasizes using health and fitness as a platform to embrace one’s true strength and abilities. Pushing boundaries, feeling strong, and squatting heavy.