Read as Cornell Key talks about his career as a Strength Coach/Business Owner.  Find him at www.key2sportstraining.com and on his Twitter feed in the sidebar of this interview.

What do you do for a living?

I am owner of Key 2 Sports Training, a business dedicated to helping athletes of all ages reach their maximum performance potential. I am a personal trainer, strength & conditioning coach and speed enhancement coach. Most of all I help motivate and inspire athletes through science based training and a competitive atmosphere unlike any other facility.

How would you describe what you do?

We design & implement programs based on our athletes’ goals and our own inside evaluations. We gather information on what areas of the athlete that need improvement and begin to assist the athlete in a program designed to bring out the best in their ability. Throughout the process we coach, encourage, and mentor our athletes so we train not only their physical approach to competition but also their psychological approach. This way we know our athletes are both mentally and physically prepared to perform at their highest.

What does your work entail?

Athlete evaluations, testing, program design, program implementation, skill training, re-testing and ultimately performance enhancement.

What’s a typical work week like?

A typical work week consist of 6 days of strenuous work. I usually work hours ranging from 8-12 hours a day. Most of my day consists of coaching athletes through programs and documenting/tracking results or changes made to those programs.

How did you get started?

I got started during my own personal preparation for sports. I came into contact with a company that helped me tremendously and decided to make a career out of helping athletes who were in the same boat as me.

What do you like about what you do?

I love what I do. Wouldn’t change it for the world.

What do you dislike?

I don’t dislike much. However, I do think working with athletes who lack ALL self motivation is challenging. Part of our job is to encourage, build self-esteem and character. However athletes who don’t “want it” on their own right, can’t be helped. The other thing I dislike it the long hours. However, I know it’s necessary in order to make a decent living in this industry. So you take the good with the bad.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated?

I get paid monthly for the service we provide for our clients. Training packages are paid for in 1 or 3 month increments. Once the commitment level is completed, our clients have the ability to re-evaluate and go into the next phase of training.

How much money do Trainers/Coaches make?

I get paid a salary because I am the owner of my establishment. Typically trainers get paid somewhere between $15-$25/hr. This however changes with some gyms.

How much money did/do you make starting out as a Trainers/Coaches?

When I first began I made a salary of 21,000 annually and received commission after I reached a certain session number for that pay period. So If I hustled I could make as much as $45,000. Well after a few short years, I was making over 55k and doing over 50 appointments a week.

What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?

Most commonly, a personal training certificate is necessary. People looking to work with athletes with NO athletic experience need to get certified by the National Strength & Conditioning Certification Commission. Those who do have prior athletic experience still need to be certified but in most cases will do fine with a personal training certification.

What is most challenging about what you do?

Learning all the newest material and how to implement it into the programs.

What is most rewarding?

Watching your athletes succeed on the field and in the gym. More importantly is gaining the trust and respect of the athletes. That has a ripple effect that happens over years and years….

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

Get experience training people before or while you look for certifications. Most people wait to get certified 1st before they learn the business of working with people. That’s a mistake, and in the process you waste time and a potential to get ahead. Gather a following, understand your niche market and allow your ability and passion for that take you places.

How much time off do you get/take?

Not much. I take 1/2  Saturday and all Sunday every week. But that’s about it. Every fall I try to take a week off since that’s my slow season.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

The biggest misconception is that all trainers are 1 size fits all. They think I don’t understand their limitations, injuries, etc.. and therefore I’ll train everyone the same way. Working through the stereotype that I’m going to make every client do “heavy squats” or whatever…that’s the biggest misconception about what I do.

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

My goals are to have an army of clients/athletes who trust and rely on our service for friends and family members for years to come. We want to not only enhance their performance but also assist in life/career longevity and good health. And ultimately I’d like to make a good living for my family in the process.

What else would you like people to know about your job/career?

Regardless of the path of training you choose, remember that you WILL have to put in more time and effort than your time may be worth in the beginning. Never despise small beginnings, because they are the spring board from which you can grow. Once you find and understand really what you are and what you want, there is NO stopping you!