THE VEGAS TRAINER
30 YEARS OF WISDOM AS A FITNESS PROFESSIONAL
by: Fatima Valeras
I knew from an early age that being healthy and staying fit was not going to be optional for me. Most of my family is shorter and wider than I am, most take medication daily, and both high blood pressure as well as colon cancer run in the family. Growing up in Southern California, exercise meant jogging around the block or riding my bike to the beach. When I was fifteen, my family joined the new Sequoia Racquetball Club (SAC) located across the street from my junior high school. SAC was cutting edge for the 80's. It housed racquetball, lap pools, aerobics classes, a gym, meeting space, and even a bowling alley all under one roof. I learned to lift weights by watching people move; by asking questions about the purpose of an exercise; and by repeating those general patterns of movement A LOT. As true as it was back then, it's just as true today: When you are a gym regular, the mentors are everywhere.
Build Career Capital
I navigated those awkward teenage years with exercise every day after school — and I loved it! I finished junior high and was voted Best Smile. Looking back, maybe it was the natural high of the endorphins or all that quality time spent physically earning my esteem that made me a happy person. When I graduated high school, I was given the Health and Fitness Award which, while not valedictorian, definitely set the stage for what I am doing today.
At seventeen and a half, I sat for my first fitness exam to become a Certified Aerobics Instructor. I would be 18 years old [and legal] by the time the results came in and, well, I passed! I came up in the era of thong leotards, non-breathable spandex, leg warmers, and steps that were made of three pieces of 2x4 nailed together. I remember my first teaching job was so nerve racking, literally. I taught on a carpeted stage cut between two racquetball courts and had to instruct to two different sides of the room, with a wall in front of me! My make-it-work attitude and learned confidence from back then remains a core value for my super-fit clients, the time crunched, newbies, seniors, young adults, and couples alike.
I transitioned from Group Exercise into Personal Training in my 20’s while attending Boston College. The job offered me the flexibility to work/study as well as the opportunity to travel abroad. I gained much of my practical experience by working with as many types of bodies as I could one-on-one. Many were post-rehab, some preventative (i.e. pre-hab), while others looked to gain weight and size, not lose it. As a career, both Group Exercise and Personal Training have awarded me the gift of maintaining the same weight I've had since college. Some say it has also proven to be de-aging throughout the years. Although I graduated with a degree in Linguistics, not exercise, I realized that how language works and how the human body works are the same: both are finite. My job as a trainer, then, is to figure out what the essentials are in your current level of basic health, fitness and performance. To assess where you are on this scale of averages, compared to where you want to be, and measure how we get there one exercise (i.e. syllable) at a time.
I became a Registered Yoga Teacher in 2009 and my fitness journey once again transformed. Even though I was a student of yoga for many years prior, I knew that my longevity as a professional meant I needed to learn more about the science of yoga to enhance my clients’ workout experience. Having wellness means mastering the mind-body connect. Harnessing the power of our breath to thrive, not just survive. I needed to study about this Eastern concept more, in order to help my clients bridge fitness as it was taught in the West through mostly sets/reps. As a yogini, I am reminded about the importance of being present, daily practice and ownership of my total wellbeing outside the gym, too.
Embody the Lifestyle
I added Nevada State Board of Massage Therapist to my repertoire in 2011, simply put, because I kept sending my clients to get bodywork and they didn’t return to working-out much better. Today, I apply what my clients need in order to get bendy at any stage of their workout. It’s one thing to feel ‘dented’ or, moreover, to feel like your ‘broken’ when your body is really just craving some hands-on help from a Board Certified and Licensed professional. Whether it be a need for assisted stretching; Aquastretch; Wat Po Thai Massage; or trigger point release, I appreciate it when my client's take full advantage of my talents and get back to training as soon as possible!
The real challenge for personal trainers in the 2020’s is folks coming through the gym door fatter, more stressed, and more sedentary than ever before. How do you workout with past injuries, special diets, media hype, medical concerns, or a laundry list of meds and also supplements that all do something to the human body? The answer can be overwhelming. You need a pro who has the right combination of experience, education and, of course, enthusiasm to help you navigate! I studied to become a Registered Nurse to better understand my place as an allied health professional in my client's world of today. Let's face it, you will see your trainer more often than you see your MD and if you don't have the time to be sick, then we must make the time to be well.
Invest in the Long Game
NATIONAL CERTIFICATIONS & SPECIALTIES
The American Council on Exercise, Los Angeles, CA – Group Exercise Instructor – Feb 1992
The American Council on Exercise, Boston, MA – Personal Trainer – Feb 1996
The American College of Sports Medicine, Boston, MA – Health Fitness Specialist – Oct 1997
The National Strength and Conditioning Association, Providence, RI – Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist – Dec 1998
The Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, Springfield, MA – Advanced Personal Trainer – Mar 2003
White Lotus Foundation, Santa Barbara, CA – Yoga Alliance Teacher Training – Aug 2009
Board Certified in Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork since 2011
Nevada State Board of Massage Therapy, #NVMT.5280, Las Vegas, NV – Licensed -- Jul 2011
Wat Po Thai Traditional Massage, Bangkok, Thailand -- Original & Advanced Medical Massage Training -- Nov 2015 & Dec 2016
Nevada State Board of Nursing Registered Nurse, Las Vegas, NV -- Licensed -- May 2020
XPT Certified Performance Breathing Coach since 2020