During normal school hours, Monique Freeman can be found in the classroom teaching special-education classes for HISD. And during her evenings in the gym, the out lesbian fitness expert finds herself passionately spreading the gospel of working out smarter, not harder. This metabolic specialist has become one of Houston’s most popular trainers by blending her technical expertise with a deep desire to help her clients reach their individual goals.
For Freeman, fitness is a family affair. “My dad, Johnny McCoy Sr., played professional football when I was a kid, and moved to Canada to play in the ’80s.” Freeman explains. “When he retired, he took his money and invested in a gym called Fitness Unlimited in Garland, Texas.”
McCoy Sr. was a graduate of Rice University, where he ran track and played football. His Garland gym welcomed familiar faces including Dallas Cowboy legends Tony Dorsett and Tony Hill.
“I just kind of grew up a gym rat,” Freeman recalls. “My dad made me into the athlete I became. I ran track in college and went to the 2004 Olympic trials. I was a fairly celebrated long jumper in the state of Texas. Still, I was always excited to be in the gym environment and watch my dad train and compete. I didn’t know any other way of life besides that.”
It was the former long jumper’s mother who encouraged her to figure out her career goals. “My mom asked what I wanted to do when I was going to LSU. I told her I wanted to own a gym,” Freeman says. “I figured out [that I needed to study] kinesiology.” The athlete began learning about anatomy, nutrition, and physiology in the LSU Bachelor of Science program. “I became my own [research] subject in college, applying all that information to see what worked for me.
“I always tell my clients that I wouldn’t put them through it if I won’t do it myself. I’m able to break things down and tell them the reasoning behind it. I over-communicate with my clients to give them what they need from a professional standpoint and integrate [the particular goals they want to achieve],” she says. “If they want to get fit for their wedding or reunion, we work on meeting those goals and learning how to maintain that. The first word in personal training is ‘personal,’ so I build a trusting foundation with them. I want to give them something they can walk away with and replicate in case they get back into a rut and need to apply this on their own.”
After a job pivot, Freeman was given the opportunity to pursue work as a metabolic specialist. “Metabolic testing demonstrates that not everyone is built the same. Some may need a minute more or less than the person next to them, so you have to focus on each client as an individual. I take clients through a stress test that involves measuring their oxygen exchange to find out what their threshold is,” she explains. Once a client finds their threshold, Freeman uses that data to create a personalized interval workout.
Freeman touts the impact of applying this type of data to workouts. “It results in less time in the gym. We do 15- to 16-minute workouts, max. Clients are burning calories more effectively, their lean muscle mass improves, and their metabolism improves.”
Once her clients meet their goals, she administers the stress test again to find her clients’ new threshold, and they continue to expand on their goals. “Clients have seen faster results. I learned that efficiency and effectiveness is way better than longevity. That’s really appealing to clients, because it’s not about working out longer, but working out based on your threshold. I apply that to myself. You won’t see me out for an hour-long run unless I need some time to think. I do what is best for me, based on my current fitness level.”
As an all-around bad-ass trainer, Freeman reflects fondly on her dual career path that has struck a balance between teaching in a classroom and training in a gym. She is proud that both her students in special education and her gym clients receive the attention they deserve as they strive to reach their full potential.
For personal training inquiries, contact Monique Freeman by email at [email protected].
This article appears in the January 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.