You’ve heard it before: No pain, no gain. Mind over matter. Push through the burn. No matter your mantra, there is no resource more valuable to a healthy personal transformation journey than a certified personal trainer. But what makes a good personal trainer? And more importantly, what drives them to get up every day and help us become our best selves ever? We caught up with NYC-based personal trainer Jamie Corso to find out.

How long has fitness been a part of your life?

Fitness has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a child, I was a competitive gymnast and later, throughout high school I played volleyball, track and field, and took part in cheerleading. It wasn’t until the end of high school, though, that I caught the fitness bug.

How long have you been a personal trainer?

I’ve been working professionally as a personal trainer since 2011, so it’s been six years now.

What is your style or specialty as a fitness instructor? Do you have a specific philosophy or approach you prefer?

Functional training is very important. I have a big weight-training background, and I work with many different platforms to get results. I believe that training hard – but also smart – is key. Injury prevention is equally important in any program. Ultimately, it comes down to what’s right for that person, and catering to each individual based on their goals and aspirations is important for success.

What fueled your passion to pursue health and fitness as a career?

I was headed into my senior year of high school and so many things in my life began to change, and I just couldn’t cope with it all. It made me super-depressed to a point where I stopped eating, it was like being a prisoner to my own thoughts. Unhealthily, I dropped a ton of weight – starving myself summed up the way I felt inside: empty and alone. The emptiness I felt inside physically and mentally just fed into my depression.

During this time, my pastor – who was also a personal trainer – began introducing me to weight training and working out. At first, I just used it to my advantage to lose more weight, but then he really took me under his wing and showed me true bodybuilding and dietary needs; my body began to change, and I was starting to like the changes I saw. Most importantly, he really cared. He devoted so much of his time to helping me. Finally, I learned how to love myself. Meanwhile, I was in the process of leaving my hometown and going away to college. Leaving a poisonous environment behind, and getting a fresh start. He really showed me how to appreciate my body and the amazing things it could do. I slowly gained weight and muscle, and I truly found myself through bodybuilding. It wasn’t really until he wanted me to compete that I remember feeling so powerful. I was so in awe that he believed that I could actually compete!

This experience taught me a lot. I learned to listen to my body more and appreciate it, and have evolved so much in my journey to where I am now. Finally I’m at a place where I am really proud of myself.  My body and mind have gone through so much – without bodybuilding I honestly don’t know where I would be today. Having gone through this experience has molded me and I want to help other people. I believe that building a strong and healthy body is the framework to a happy and healthy mind.

What is one unforgettable moment that you had with a client?

With just about every client I have had, there is an “Ah-HA!” moment where either they have grasped the concept of a movement, or feel a muscle they have never felt before, or simply have noticed their strength gains helping in everyday life – these moments are so important.

The proudest and most rewarding moments in my career have been helping multiple clients hit their goals. It’s the best feeling in the world!

What do you say to motivate a client who’s exhausted and wants to give up?

Pushing through moments like these will be the most rewarding in the long run. Nothing great comes easy. As a trainer, this is why it’s so important to set achievable goals early on in the program.

What’s one tip you’d give someone who’s just starting a career in fitness training?

To someone who’s just starting out, I would stress the need to build a network. Having and maintaining flourishing network will help you in the long run, especially when it comes to reaching new clients.

Who are some of your favorite personal trainers or fitness professionals?

A good friend of mine and mentor is Nick Johnson. He’s a great trainer and very knowledgeable.

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