At this point in each New Year, many Americans seek assistance in recovering from holidays packed with the pleasures of food and parties. Add in two years of COVID-induced isolation, and more than a few of us have gone a little, um, “soft.”
If your fresh start for 2022 includes searching for a good personal trainer, one candidate who warrants a look is Julie Phommasak. In addition to her avid participation in GoRuck challenges and Strongman competitions (even qualifying for the national round in 2017), Phommasak is a highly successful National Personal Training Institute-certified instructor, as well as a licensed massage therapist.
Not only do her professional credentials stand out, but her clients speak of her as a patient, gracious, considerate, and deeply knowledgeable person. That client roster includes people from all walks of life—students, medical professionals, stroke survivors, athletes, LGBTQ community members and allies alike. The fact that she is a proud member of Houston’s LGBTQ community (as well as a dog lover) is simply icing on the cake.
“I’ve found that my own desire to grow has a direct impact on my clients’ achievements. It is very rewarding me, but it works really well for them, too.”
Still, how has she managed to stand out in such a competitive field? This personal trainer thrives on assisting others to arrive at the pinnacle of their fitness potential. “I have always enjoyed learning, and I treasure a physical or mental challenge,” she explains. “I stay on top of the latest [scientific] advances in the pursuit of fitness. I’ve found that my own desire to grow has a direct impact on my clients’ achievements. It is very rewarding me, but it works really well for them, too.”
Experts in the field of fitness agree that it’s critical for trainers stay on top of the research, and that education should never stop with certification because the industry is always evolving as technology and science provide ever-greater awareness and answers.
Longtime client Lydia Smith was a high-school teacher who did not like the direction her body was going when she sought the help of Phommasak in 2018. “Before I started with Julie, I noticed my arms were getting really thick,” Smith admits, laughing. “After working with her, I gained strength and endurance, my posture and balance improved, and I even lost some weight!”
Most people who seek the help of a personal trainer anticipate heavy-handed attempts at motivation to “whip them into shape.” And while Phommasak is a woman of considerable physical strength, her demeanor is that of a gentle and considerate teacher or healer. She motivates through her dedication to results, not by inducing misery.
“One of Julie’s gifts is her endless patience,” adds Smith. “She is always there encouraging and motivating me, and her knowledge of the human body is amazing. She really understands the relationship and interaction between muscle, tissue, and bone, and how one impacts another. That helps target and solve problems. She has astonishing insight.”
After two years of COVID running rampant across the nation, the personal-training industry is finally recovering from a near-fatal blow. “When the epidemic first appeared, it was very hard on my profession. Gyms closed and people stayed home. At one time, I lost almost all my clients. But as things got better, they all came back. I have not lost one of them,” she notes with a smile.
Personal training was not Phommasak’s first professional venture. Originally from Amarillo, she had always enjoyed working with her hands and spent five years studying and working as a mechanical engineer. While financially rewarding for a young woman, it was far from a dream career for a natural-born teacher and athlete.
“One morning I woke up and started crying. I could not stop,” Phommasak recalls.
“I just could not go back to work as an engineer, so I took a chance and sold my house and my car, and I started advanced studies in health and fitness. Today, I know it was the best move I ever made. But it sure was frightening for a while,” she says with a gleam in her eye.
For more info, visit kinitrofitness.com
This article appears in the January 2022 edition of OutSmart magazine.