Leader of the Six-Packs

A former athlete finds a new career helping others get fit

December 10, 2012

When he’s not managing other trainers, Justin Greene works with his own clients.

Justin Greene, 30

SALARY: $90,000

POSITION: Fitness director, Old Town Sport & Health (209 Madison St., Alexandria, 703-548-6822)

WHAT HE DOES: Greene oversees a team of 20 personal trainers while still making time to help his own clients get fit.

Rather than settling in behind a computer, when Greene arrives to work each day, he hits the gym floor, inspecting machines and greeting members. “I’m just the mayor — shaking hands, kissing babies,” he says with a smile.

As a trainer, Greene looks to correct imbalances. If a client has a weak hamstring, for instance, Greene will devise a program to activate that muscle group. This strategy of “corrective exercise” aims to help clients have fewer injuries and become better athletes.

Part of Greene’s job is making sure his trainers guide their own clients properly. He encourages his team to take both in-house as well as national educational programs to learn the newest techniques in fitness. “The secret to training is staying fresh,” Greene says.

He’s responsible for a lot of numbers, too: revenue goals, budgets and billings. Greene takes care of contracts and payments so that his team of trainers can focus on their clients. “I don’t want my trainers to feel like salespeople or money people,” he says.

HOW HE GOT THE JOB: While working toward a communications degree, Greene was a running back on the Bridgewater College football team. After graduating in 2003, he stayed on the field, playing semi-pro ball for the Hampton Roads Hurricanes and later the Roanoke Steam in the Arena Football League. A knee injury sidelined him for good in 2004.

While rehabbing, Greene learned about ways to strengthen his leg to speed recovery. At the same time, he was considering his career options: “I could chase down jobs and then sit at a desk and put on weight, or I could share my experiences with fitness — like rehab and weight loss — with others.”

In 2004, Greene completed a 10-week certification program and began training clients professionally.

Greene moved into management in 2006, running both the personal training and group-exercise programs at a Bally Total Fitness in Chesapeake, Va., and then transferring to Bally’s “East Coast flagship club” in Pentagon City in late 2008. He made the move to Sport & Health in March 2011.

WHO WOULD WANT THIS JOB: Greene makes his own hours and wears gym clothes all day, but that doesn’t mean his job is all play and no work. “If you choose to be a fitness director, your job is to hit your budget,” he says. Greene’s department brings in seven-figure annual revenues.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” says Adam Wharton, who oversees personal training across Sport & Health’s 24 D.C.-area clubs. “But when it’s something that you love, it’s so much fun.”

HOW YOU CAN GET THIS JOB: A college degree in an exercise-related field helps, but a personal-training certification is a must.

“All certifications are not created equal,” Greene says. Out of the scores of certification programs available, Sport & Health prefers three: the National Academy of Sports Medicine, American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Condition Association.

Eight years since he first became certified, Greene continues to learn. He now holds 11 active certifications, including one from the highly regarded NASM.

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