• Trainer Talk with Robert Linkul
    Robert Linkul is the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) 2012 Personal Trainer of the Year and is a volunteer with the NSCA as their Southwest Regional Coordinator and Secretary for the Personal Trainers Special Interest Group (SIG).
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    Robert Linkul, MS, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D 

    Robert Linkul is the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) 2012 Personal Trainer of the Year and is a volunteer with the NSCA as their Southwest Regional Coordinator and Secretary for the Personal Trainers Special Interest Group (SIG).  

    Linkul has written for a number of fitness publications including Personal Fitness Professional (PFP) Magazine, Healthy Living Magazine, On Fitness Magazine, the NSCA Hot Topics, the NSCA SIG Newsletter, and the NSCA Performance Training Journal (PTJ) as well as being an international Continuing Education presenter within the fitness industry and the Career Development Instructor for the National Institute of Personal Training (NPTI). 

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    1. Describe a typical day in your life  
    I wake up at 2:45 am and arrive at work by 3:30 am. I split my duties at Arden Hills Strength and Fitness as both the Fitness Director and a Certified Personal Trainer. The first two hours of my day are dedicated to updating and managing the systems that we have established in the fitness department (i.e., fitness director duties). I start training clients at 5:30 am and focus on small semi-private groups ranging from two to ten clients. My groups end at 8:00 and I start my private one-on-one training that goes until 10:00 am. I’m back in the office from 10:00 to 1:00 in which I lead team meetings with the training team, have private mentoring sessions with each individual trainer as well as work to maintain the department marketing, equipment, and facility maintenance.  
     
    I try to get at least three workouts in a week so I will do that around 1:00 pm or I will head to the National Personal Training Institute (NPTI) depending on the day, to teach career development to the new up-and-coming Certified Personal Trainers (CPTs). Usually I’m home by 3:00 am and that's why I get up so early. My wife and I are expecting our first child (a little girl) and I want to be home in the afternoons to teach her all the basic necessities in life, like how to do a clean and jerk! 
     
    2. Can you identify a key turning point in your life/career that put you on your current path?  
    From 2005-2008, I was focused strictly on training athletes. I wanted to develop the next great athlete and take them all the way to the pros. I think most trainers want to do this in the beginning; however, to make a living, I took personal training clients in the morning to supplement income. Slowly, I started to develop a reputation to training my clients like athletes. They liked the challenge and enjoyed a training program that was different every time they came in.  
     
    After a few years, I found that my “success” training athletes was very low. I was trying to force something that was unnatural and it wasn’t going well. The whole time I was trying to become a sports performance coach, I was actually become a decent personal trainer. The moment I knew that this would be my career was when I mentioned to one of my clients that I might leave to go get a job at a college as a strength coach. She got really upset and told me what a huge impact I had had on her and her health. 
     
    I started to think about all the improvements that I had made with my personal training clients and it was very overwhelming how much hard work and success they had put in and accomplished. After that day, I was sold. I was one hundred percent committed to being the best personal trainer I could be. 
     
    3. Do you have any mentors? 
    Yes, quite a few! I am very passionate about career development and improving the quality of CPTs in our industry. I become even more passionate about this after I heard Alwyn Cosgrove present. I have attended one of his events every year for the last five years, as I always leave motivated and educated.  
     
    I love the “From Counting Reps to Counting Revenue” conference presentation; it changed my career, that's for sure. Thomas Plummer focuses on business techniques as well so I really enjoy learning from him. Brad Schoenfeld, Mike Martino, Lou Schuler, and Rick Howard have been great mentors as well.  
     
    4. Why did you choose the NSCA when selecting your certification(s)?  
    I hate it when someone tells me something but they can’t support it with any evidence. That is why I picked the NSCA, they don’t publish anything if they can’t show a research study or case study that gives some kind of in-depth look at the topic. With that information, I can decide where I stand in regards to a particular topic.  
    The NSCA demands professionalism and holds high standards.   
    I think that is exactly what we, as fitness professionals, need. We need someone to set the bar and keep the industry moving in the right direction. Education is the key and I love learning. There is so much content on the NSCA website that I could read one article a day, every day, for at least five years and still not read all the articles on there. Education is the key to success! 
     
    5. Describe your area of expertise  
    As a trainer, I focus specifically on training clients between 35 and 65, typically in small groups that are focused on general fitness improvements, increases strength, and decreased body fat. I also work with clients who have lower back pain. I’ve had personal experience with both lower back pain and low back surgery.  
     
    I have written about my personal experiences in our company magazine so most of our members know about my health issues. They can relate to it and know that I have gone through what they are going through so that builds a small connection for us right from the get go. I’m by no means a “specialist;” however, I have had a lot of experience working with clients who have low back issues and the majority of them have done really well. 
    As a teacher, I focus specifically on career development/business techniques for personal trainers. Our biggest problem, professionally speaking, is that most trainers do not learn how to manage their business and develop their careers. Most certifications have maybe one chapter that covers these types of things but these are most important. Trainers must learn how operate as a business.  
    You are “me incorporated” and you need to learn how to be a CEO that manages your marketing, human resources, career development, liability insurance, etc. components of your business.   
     
    6. What advice do you have for up-and-coming trainers who are interested in developing their career in the fitness industry?  
    First, I would check out the brochure the NSCA recently put together on career development. This brochure lists the steps to developing a successful career for personal trainers, strength coaches, tactical coaches, etc. and many more. Second, I would make sure that trainers get the education they need. Knowing how to exercise and teaching others to exercise are two very different things. Learn as much as you can, never stop learning, and keep striving for more knowledge.  
     
    Third, get a good mentor. Find someone who has been there, done that, and is still doing it (that's an Alwyn Cosgrove line). Learn from someone who is doing what you want to do; again, learn as much as you can. Fourth, hold yourself to a very high professional standard. Doing just enough will result in a career that will just get you by. If you hold yourself to a high standard and demand a high level of professionalism from yourself, you will stick out like a sore thumb, clients will seek you out and your reputation will be known for what a great professional you are.  
     
    Fifth, protect your reputation—it’s all you have in this industry so protect it at all times and make sure that your reputation is always affiliated with quality and success. 
     
    7. If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?   
    Don’t let your career take over your life. Health, family, and career should be the primary focus, in that order. Don’t let that order get mixed up.  
     
    8. Tell us about yourself - what captures your interest, what do you do for fun?   
    I love the outdoors. I am obsessed with outdoor survival type information (I love Bear Grylls). I think it would be fun to get dropped off in the middle of nowhere and have to find my way back to civilization. I am an avid trap shooter and have a personal best of 45 of 50 targets hit in a single session; I like to golf, but I’m terrible; and I love the University of Nevada. I am a Nevada Wolf Pack football fan through and through. I have been attending games since 1986 (when I was 6) and have never turned back. Go Pack! 
     
    9. Do you have any upcoming speaking engagements?  
    I’ll be speaking a few times in the near future:
    • September 22, 2013 at the Southern California State Conference in Los Angeles, CA  
    • October 2, 2013 at the Nevada State Conference in Las Vegas, NV 
    • January 24, 2014 at the Southwest Regional Conference in Sacramento, CA 
    • February 8-9, 2014 at the Rocky Mountain Regional Conference in Denver, CO 
    • March 14, 2014 at the NSCA Personal Trainers Clinic in Colorado Springs, CO    
  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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