Personal Trainer Troy Brooks on Dropping the Pounds and Packing on a New Career
For fitness professionals, pushing their clients to be their best selves yet isn’t just about mantras — it’s about creating a sustainable change in order to overcome obstacles. Having overcome challenges of his own through a journey to lose 90 pounds, trainer Troy Brooks knows it’s not easy, but he’s determined to show that with practice and consistency, anything is possible and no dream is too big. We caught up with Troy to hear more about his path to success, how he stays fulfilled and what it means to have an impact in his clients’ lives.
How long have you been a personal trainer?
I just marked my fourth year in the business.
What sparked your passion for fitness?
I think what sparked my passion for fitness was ultimately the fact that I had lost 90 pounds myself. From there, I realized this is something that I enjoy and find fulfilling. It made me further my education in this to take it seriously, to help other people achieve their goals. I think I was at a point in my life, personally, where what I was doing just wasn’t self-fulfilling. I needed something that’s bigger than myself, that was going to help me achieve something that is bigger than I am, and for me that was to have an impact in as many people’s lives as possible.
What inspired you to pursue it as a career?
What inspired me to pursue it professionally was that I had many friends who had seen and witnessed the personal journey that I had made, had seen me lose weight, and were asking to join me at gym in order to work out with me, or to the park, or the turf in Long Island City. I thought, hey, I might be onto something here. Next thing you know, I had people coming to me more and more, asking about nutrition and working out. I said to myself, if I’m going to do this, I need to do it the right way — so I went to work and got certified, continuing my education.
What is your specialty or style as a fitness teacher?
I’m a strength and conditioning coach, so I focus on functional movement — I encourage movement by all and any means. I’m certified in TRX, strength & conditioning, plyometrics, resistance and strength training.
What’s the proudest moment or milestone in your career so far?
Honestly, I think it’s moments like with a client of mine who was 440 pounds, and we got him down to 340 in about 12 months — 100 pounds in a year, so definitely one of the biggest milestones that I can look back on. I myself had lost 85 pounds in 9 months. I met my wife in this business, so if we’re talking milestones, I have quite a few! Last year, I got to go to Nike’s corporate headquarters in Portland and got a tour of their campus along with my family, as a continuation of work that I did with Nike here in NYC. It was an amazing opportunity in itself! So, a lot of good things to look back on.
What is one unforgettable moment that you had with a client?
Last week, a client, Arielle, who comes to my group trainings as well as training with me one-on-one, had tried to get a cab to get to class over from the West side, and was having a tough time doing so. She texted in the middle of class to let me know she was probably not going to make it, and since she was already late, she was asking if it’s still “worth it” to show up. I told her, “Arielle, anything is better than nothing! You might have only 15 or 20 minutes left by the time you get here, but anything is better than nothing!” She showed about, got in about 20 minutes of the hardest part of the workout, and her levels, her positivity changed at that moment.
It’s small, but it’s the type of thing that lets me know just how impactful I can be for my clients, what fitness can do for you as a person — like how their energy could change. Working out can totally transform your mood, so what happened with her was a game-changer. It totally set my Friday off. Later on, she had told me, “Troy, that was exactly what I needed. It may not have been the entire hour, but even that little bit just changed my day.” It really sets the tone for the rest of your day, your week.
What do you say to motivate a client who’s exhausted and wants to give up?
I like to tell my clients that they can do anything for 5 seconds, for 10 seconds. You could do almost anything for 20 seconds. It’s about being transparent and reminding them of what their bodies can do, of their ability to do this and to become their best selves. My goal is to help my clients channel their best self, so I like to tell them that they’ve got to push a little harder than they did yesterday. It’s about telling them: “You can’t give up right now.”
Especially in this field, it really is about your personal journey, your path to success. We live in an instant gratification city, we want things yesterday. We’re very impatient, so when it comes to personal training, people are like, “Where are my abs? I want my abs! I’ve been working with you for three weeks! And it’s like, wait — you haven’t really changed your nutrition; you haven’t really a lot yet — we’re getting there slow and steady, but you need to be able to enjoy the process. You’ve got to learn to celebrate those small accomplishments — that has a lot to do with maturity and being humble. If you’re not self-sufficient, if you don’t have drive, the people around you should help you build it. It’s so important.
This isn’t just fluff. I have some really hard workouts, and I take some of the most insane classes, and I train with some of the best athletes in this city. When I step into a training, it doesn’t matter what is going on in my life, I leave it all behind me, I check my ego at the door, and I get to work. I might sweat, I might pant, I might drop to the ground, but I get back up and I keep pushing. I’m constantly challenging myself to be a better individual. The better I am, the more I keep my cup full, the more I can pour into others.
Where do you see your career going in fitness?
I see my fitness career elevating, I hope. This year has been an amazing year. I spoke things into existence. I believe in manifesting your destiny and practicing positivity. My wife and I have prayed and meditated on this, and decided on making this year a year of education, exposure and influence. If you have the education, and you have the right platform for exposure, you could be influential — and this year, I’d like to be in a position where I can reach the masses and touch more lives. I’m in a great place with the people and the brands that I work with, but I just really want to reach more people, and I think this is going to be the year to do so.
Who are some of your favorite fitness instructors? Someone you look up to or admire?
One of the biggest inspirations would be the owner of one of the gyms that I work at, and that would be Stephen Cheuk. He’s an amazing trainer. He leads by example and he’s an all-out beast. He’s a structured, successful businessman. He wasn’t afraid to take a risk, he sees that risk equals reward. I just really love the way he exemplifies what it means to be a fitness professional and a real hustler, and he’s definitely one of the guys I look up to most in the business.
There’s also my boy Pierre, Coach P. at the gym, he’s an amazing individual. The entire crew at Fhitting Room — those guys are amazing, the women are amazing, the FHIT pros on the platform are awesome, and the owner of the platform is just the most genuine, hard-working woman I know. I like to be around awesome people like that, who truly lead by example.
What is one tip you’d give someone who’s just starting a career in the fitness industry?
Trust the process, respect the process, and pay your dues. I think a lot of people are so quick to try and climb up the ladder fast, without really paying their dues first. Get as much knowledge as you possibly can, and get as much hands-on experience as possible. I don’t think people realize how important it is to be qualified in this line of work, as opposed to just being certified to do this. People can be really great at taking tests and exams, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are great at applying science — so take seminars, be hands-on, and don’t be afraid to fail.
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