“It’s great to help people, opening up for them the door of opportunity”
Interview with Jerry Hyman, C.E.O., Elite Fitness Israel
Jerry earned his B.S. in Human Performance and Fitness at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, with a teacher certification in physical education, K-12. Jerry has spent more than a decade of summers directing, designing and implementing swimming programs at summer camps. In addition to teaching, Jerry owns and operates Elite Fitness Israel, a personal fitness training, massage therapy and private swimming business.
How long have you been a fitness trainer, and when did you start Elite Fitness Israel?
I have been a fitness instructor close to two decades. I started Elite Fitness Israel in 2006 upon the aliyah of my family. I already started as a physical educator on the elementary school playground as a pre-teen, and it just got more complicated and sophisticated as I gained experience and knowledge. I have always been a teacher, innovator and lifetime learner. A lot of the personal training programming I implement with my clients are effective methods I have already spent many hours developing or working with on my own and then tweaking them to work with others. Much of my work has been in the underground or subculture of training, way before many types of training have become the norm, or what is referred to as “industry standard”.
What motivated you to become a personal trainer?
As an educator it was another step in the direction of helping others, while being able to impart knowledge to others who may have had trouble disseminating the information and applying it. It is very exciting to see clients succeed and progress and to be part of encouraging the process. I work with many different types of people, from CEOs to seniors to forty pluses who need to get started, from pre-army to children with self-esteem issues to adapted P.E. It’s great to help people, opening up for them the door of opportunity in areas they may be quite capable and help them discover their power. Goals are set, objectives are reached and increased performance is possible. It depends on what the client wants to achieve, I can help them reach those goals whether it be for health or performance.
How is your approach to fitness different that other trainers?
Philosophically, I believe the body is capable of a tremendous amount and I believe it should be used in the way it was meant to be used in order not to lose its abilities. I do so in a way that will help enable safe transitions for movement and application of force. This allows proper exercise to develop muscles and assists in staying clear of injuries as well as creating longevity for lifetime fitness. This can be implemented in numerous ways, but client goals are paramount. The body can rotate, push and pull and press. All areas including flexibility, muscular endurance, strength, cardiovascular endurance and body composition are relevant to the process and approach. Each person is different in terms of what they are capable of and what they want to achieve. Yet this has the possibility to change. Often times the mindset changes as the body changes and vice versa. At Elite Fitness Israel I work with the mental and psychological aspects as well as the physical element. Programming is open to many different possibilities from swinging weighted clubs to functional workouts to power lifting to integration of movement and martial arts related activity.
Do you have other professionals working for you?
Currently I personally work with the clients. I want a quality product and have to implement it myself. However, as an educator I am not adverse to training people.
Who makes for the most difficult client?
I am not sure what “difficult” means. Everyone has needs or is looking for something, including respect! I am happy to listen to what someone has to say and assist them if I am able. What I find difficult is working with someone one time. My business runs with people committing to a block of time, investing in themselves and we pick it up from there. Sometimes it is necessary for someone to “try” a workout because they are not so sure and it doesn’t fly, so we part ways with no hard feelings.
What ages do you work with?
Being certified in physical education from K-12 gives me experience in a large age group, from late teens to my oldest client of 89 years old. The sky and one’s goals are the limit.
What is adapted physical education?
Adapted physical education or (A.P.E.) is adapting physical education, health or fitness to someone with a disability that might take them out of the mainstream and help them overcome that stumbling back to get back on track. An adapted PE client may be someone with autism, a physical handicap, or any other possibility. Back in the old country I was an adapted physical educator for the New England Home for Little Wanderers children center. There, I designed the PE curriculum, wrote individual education plans and worked with elementary school aged kids who primarily lived in a day resident program due to serious problems. I was trained by Cornell in therapeutic crisis intervention and a behavioral management program. Following that, I was a system wide instructor in the Brookline public schools doing similar work in small groups while testing students and helping others back into the regular school curriculum.
What is your water related background and can you explain what water exercise is and the benefits of exercising in the water?
I started swimming competitively in the Boston area from age twelve until eighteen. I also played competitive water polo for the same duration and for a junior Olympic team as well. I started teaching swimming when I was fifteen and became certified as a lifeguard, WSI and in first aid, and later I ran summer programs for which I prepared teachers to teach most effectively. Around twenty years ago I was introduced to a water exercise program at the Burdenko Institute by clients who used this method and had great success rehabilitating from injury as well as making fitness gains. I started to experiment with some of the work, discovering for myself its true value. The goal is to work with people in deep water wearing equipment that helps keep their head afloat. The water itself is a wonderful modality for free movement and resistance if force is applied properly. It allows flexibility and endurance to be built cardio wise as well as muscularly. One has less gravitational pull and therefore the water is more kind to those with certain types of pain. People I have worked with usually have their own pools. It is difficult to work in a place where too many people are invading one’s space.
I understand you give swimming lessons as well, can you give us more information?
I work in client’s private pools and can teach any age group, technical swimming, water exercise or children and adults with fears. Preschool age 3-5 was my specialty for years.
WOW! You are also a massage therapist! What can you tell me about your background? How long have you been practicing? What is your specialty?
I was certified in massage therapy in 1988 after studying in a vocational school in the Boston area. I learned basic massage technique and Swedish and I was introduced to many different modalities. Over the years I trained in shiatsu, the five element theory and sports massage with Ben Benjamin. For many years I worked the finish line of the Boston Marathon and at championship events for track and field doing sport massage or triage. I later studied structural body work (and body oriented psychotherapy) for three years with Matthew Cohen, who was an advanced student of Ida Rolf. Deep tissue (fascia) work and structure is what brought me to massage and is still my passion in this field and how it relates to helping performance and freedom of moment. I feel my specialty is in helping loosen up structure, but more importantly helping people understand their body, structure and self through movement freedom and awareness. Even as a massage therapist I view it as a vehicle to educate and I consider myself an educator more so than anything else.
How would you work with an adult who has never exercised in the past?
First we would “interview” each other. We would have to speak, find out the goals and objectives and give it a try. At the end of the day an adult who never exercised in the past is not disadvantaged. There is a new start, a new beginning. They are not tainted in any way and all possibilities are open and available. The only missing ingredient is the ability to commit and invest in oneself, one’s future!
What gives you the most satisfaction in your work?
Building good relationships over long periods of time. Getting to know people’s family and watching growth take place in many ways. Most importantly is seeing the clients resolve continue and their consistency and success over time.
Do you ever run groups, or is everything one-on-one?
I have a senior package that allows for two to train at the price of one. However the clients would need to be compatible. Often elder spouses work together! I also have clients who work out with a friend at a discounted price or sometimes more people. These are all possibilities that have solutions if talked out!
Tell us one of your favorite success stories.
I don’t have a favorite success story. All my clients are successful! Check out the testimonials on each page of my website, www.elitefitnessisrael.com and you will read about how people think about my services.
Who should contact you?
Anyone can contact me!
A son or daughter or grandson or granddaughter who would like a parent or grandparent to get started but don’t have the physical or mental resources to do so on their own. Someone who wants to give a gift to a spouse, pre-army son or daughter or anyone who wants to get fit, learn and get moving.
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