Getting Personal

Posted on
Abby Laub

Lexington Healing Arts Academy program is training the next generation of personal trainers

Laura Coombs works with a student of the Lexington Healing Arts Academy's personal training program. PHOTO BY EMILY MOSELEY

Shane Burry said worry about getting in trouble for helping friends and acquaintances get in shape drove him to look for a personal training certification program.

Looking through a slew of personal training programs, from short online courses to four-year degrees, he found the Lexington Healing Arts Academy’s accredited Personal Fitness Training Certification Program and dove right in.

“I’ve loved it,” said Burry, who previously worked professionally as a musician and was in the military. “It’s been tough, they really push you here. It’s not an easy school, but the benefits and the rewards are well worth the time.”

He has never missed a day of class, and with only two months left, the Minnesota native said he already has a job lined up locally when he graduates from the program.

Attending class every day, the academy’s personal trainers go through rigorous scientific courses that cover nutrition and fitness, professional development and lab work. It was this multi-faceted, thorough curriculum that attracted Burry, and it is what Lexington Healing Arts Academy Executive Director Bill Booker expects out of the program.

Bill Booker is the executive director of the Lexington Healing Arts Academy. His wife, Debra, is the outreach coordinator and the director of the facility’s yoga center. PHOTO BY EMILY MOSELEY

The three-year-old initiative now rounds out the other instructional offerings at the Lexington Healing Arts Academy’s facilities on Southland Drive, which include yoga and massage training programs.

After having bad experiences with personal trainers at gyms, and seeing the rising popularity of personal training for the middle class, Booker, who received his master’s degree in business from George Washington University, decided it was time to enlist the help of some seasoned personal trainers and gym owners to start the accredited program.

“I didn’t know any better,” he reflected. “I went to the gym and I figured they (personal trainers) were very qualified people.”

It turns out, there is no statewide or nationwide standard to become a personal trainer.

“There are a lot of different ways to become a certified personal trainer, all the way from going to school for six years, to studying on your own on the weekend and paying for a certificate,” explained Laura Coombs, the faculty head for the personal training program. Coombs has a bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University in athletic training and a master’s degree from Queens College in exercise science. “We are at an aggressive level and it is accredited, which means that to take the test you have to have proper identification and have a testing center.

“And the faculty standards are the most tough,” she added. “We are all educated, experienced and have worked in the field so we hold the standard very high.”

She said experienced personal trainers like her would rather have qualified professionals following in the footsteps of their field to hold a higher standard.

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