Her Story by Laura Thomas
This week we're featuring the awesome Laura Thomas of Thomas Fitness Consulting.
Check out what exactly a fitness consultant is and why she cried once...
Tell us about you & what you do!
I am an 11-year Cleveland transplant having lived in Florida, Illinois and Iowa in my past. I really enjoy the people in Cleveland and the connections I have made. Despite the weather, it’s my favorite place I have lived. My husband is a born and bred Clevelander and we have been married almost 5 years.
The bulk of my career was spent in non-profit, retail and corporate marketing. In April of 2017, the writing was on the wall that I was going to lose my job and I decided to high tail it out of there. I had completed my personal training certification in December of 2016 and was ready to strike out on my own after chairing the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention walk and realizing I was pretty darn smart as well as resourceful and wanted to help people that would appreciate my time.
What exactly is a fitness consultant, anyway?
I think the term “personal trainer” gets a bad rep and I don’t just “train” people, I genuinely consult with clients on their plan and also become their friend and advocate.
A great fitness consultant or coach is someone who supports you in the lifestyle that you want to build for yourself and respects boundaries such as any physical limitations, nutritional preferences and the time you have to dedicate to exercise. As a consultant, I’m here to hold you accountable and design the best workout plan for you and your goals. My job is to challenge my clients and educate them. With this newfound knowledge they may eventually go off on their own to workout, but I feel that they walk away more empowered and confident than they were when we first started working together.
What kind of clients do you work with? Why did you decide to focus there?
I have 2 types of clients:
I work mostly with women who are skeptical about lifting weights because they have never lifted heavier before or are not sure how to best exercise for their goals or issues. I do not necessarily coach everyone with a barbell, but I teach them proper technique with other things such as dumbbells, kettlebells, bands and sandbags.
Many of my clients have had neck, knee and back issues and my goal is to show them how they can work around those without pain. Most of the time it’s what we call “surrounding the dragon” in the industry meaning strengthening the areas around the main culprit where the pain is located. For example, if someone has a weak lower back on the right side, my goal is to work on the upper back or lats on her left side so that it is not overcompensating when she moves throughout the day.
I personally have dealt with weight room phobia and thinking I did not know what I was doing as well as knee and migraine issues. I definitely think a combination of nutrition, physical movement, massage and chiropractic care were the reasons I have fewer knee issues and no migraines anymore. With the weight room phobia, I started loading up a barbell one day and never looked back!
My second type of client is pregnant or has had a baby in the last few months to years and has never been able to get back to physical activity comfortably. Approximately 85% of women will have children and they are under-served because most fitness professionals do not know how to help them. Unfortunately, there is so much misinformation around the internet and I am on a crusade to educate women on safe and effective movement both before, during and after pregnancy.
I saw many of my friends and family have children and had no clue what to do and what not to do for exercise and it drove me to become certified in prenatal/postpartum from Girls Gone Strong in June of 2018. Working with women in general, I felt it was important to learn what the body goes through when having children.
What’s the most memorable thing you’ve heard from a client?
I just received a card that said “You’ve changed my life in more than just my physical shape. You taught me that basics of physical strength training, all the while unknowingly strengthening my inner self. I am so thankful for your guidance and friendship. You gave ME back.”
I actually cried as I genuinely care about my clients and their lives outside the gym.
Anything else we should know?
Yes! If you have any questions as it relates to fitness, please reach out any time. I am constantly learning new exercises and ways to look at the most basic movements a little differently. I have to complete 20 CECs every 2 years. Education is super important and I think doing things that are in-person or certifications are the best way to gain that knowledge.
In addition to in-person consulting, I also coach virtually meaning I can write a plan for anyone across the greater USA who wants to train at home or their local gym but doesn’t want to pay the in-person trainer fee, (which can be very high in larger cities).
I’ll also be hosting the next Everyday Inspired Event with The Beauty Boost Cleveland in Broadview Heights on July 28th, which will be a “Why do we do this type of exercise and How can I progress and regress certain movements?” type workshop. You can register here. I am super excited to host this and answer lots of questions!
If you know anyone who is pregnant or postpartum, I have a couple of workshops coming up for that as well:
Event with Athleta Crocker Park on August 16th: https://healthymamaworkshoppreandpostn.splashthat.com/
Workshops with Hope Yoga Studio on August 25th and October 20th: https://www.hopeyogacle.com/events/2019/8/25/prenatal-workshop