His demeanor certainly doesn’t match his profession, at least not what you’d expect from your typical personal trainer. Darren Floro-Bryant has learned to love what he does through humor and mishap. It might seem counter-productive especially when many of his clients are first-timers nervously looking to buckle down and get serious with their 2019 resolutions. They’re looking for someone who knows what to do and how to do it efficiently. Floro-Bryant does it all but with humbleness.
“I try to give a real human approach to it …and show clients ways that I’ve done things wrong and where I’ve gotten to now,” he says. “I try to teach everyone to have a sense of humor about themselves. I teach fitness classes, and I have to demonstrate exercises all the time. I’m rushing through, and sometimes I’ll trip or mess up. I have to laugh at myself.”
At first glance, you’d think Floro-Bryant was this hardcore, hardass, military-style gym nazi looking to beat down and bruise even the most determined goal-getters with this “tough love” mentality. It’s how many trainers in the past used to market themselves. Add that to a gym full of complicated machinery and hundreds of other people hogging equipment, and it’s no wonder people quit their resolutions before they’ve had a chance to break a sweat.
“The gym is very intimidating if you don’t know what you’re doing,” says Floro-Bryant. “When you don’t show up at the gym, it weighs on you. You feel guilty for not showing up. You hear about other people who are still going to the gym, and it deters you even more.”
He’s lived the struggle. More than three decades ago before he jumped on the fitness bandwagon, Floro-Bryant was like most newcomers. At the age of 21, he weighed close to 230lbs. He wanted to lose weight and live a healthier life.
“It took some time to change my eating habits, my daily habits,” he said. “My mindset was to be more disciplined.”
Floro-Bryant even strived to be on the cover of Men’s Health, a coveted title that any fitness junkie would be honored to hold. However, his body wouldn’t allow it, so he re-organized his goals once again. Some he’d accomplish, others he’d never even touch. It was a continuous cycle of disappointment and guilt that ultimately drove him to tweak small parts of his fitness regiment. He uses his past experiences to show clients he used to be where they are today.
“There’s a time when I didn’t go to an actual gym. I had a Bowflex in my basement. I’d get up every morning or on the weekends and start out on the treadmill. I’d say, “Nobody’s going to do this for you.”
He started with a large goal, broke it down into smaller, more achievable goals, and tackled those on a strict timeline. For example, if one of his clients wanted to lose 50 pounds, he’d cut that into five 10 pound goals. Each time a goal was achieved, he’d put them on a different path to reach the next one, so on and so forth. That way, the ultimate 50-pound goal seems more attainable over time rather than trying to accomplish it in one or two sessions.
And with that ultimate goal, he says clients were likely to have more setbacks and failures because of the added pressure to lose so much in so little time. He began to emphasize that it’s ok to fall down, it’s ok to make mistakes. From missing a day in the gym to indulging in tasty treats, he says it’s all part of the journey.
“If you’re out with your friends and everyone goes out for a birthday, and there are cupcakes, you might have one,” says Floro-Bryant. “If you feel like you need to abandon your whole workout goal now because you had that cupcake and then feel like you need to have another one … just accept that you had the one cupcake and start fresh again the next day.”
“Have a sense of forgiveness,” says Floro-Bryant. And also practice accountability. “Keep a calendar. Have a visual paper calendar to write down the number of times you went to the gym,” he says. Add an accountability partner (A friend or family member who supports your fitness journey) into the mix, someone who can help you take measurements and before and after photos. And if you choose to hire a personal trainer, find someone who can take your goal and transform it into a healthy lifestyle.
At the end of every workout and every accomplishment, he always takes it back to his clients.
“It’s them that does the work. Even when clients thank me for getting them to a certain goal, I turn it around and say you did the work,” says Floro-Bryant. “I may have shown you and helped you stay safe with it, but you still did the work.”