You never know where your passion will lead you. Fitness Director Brandon Lewis started off as a business major in college and would lift weights in the gym for fun as an extension of his high school sports career. His healthy hobby eventually grew into a passion that led him down the path to becoming a certified personal trainer. Today, Brandon leads and manages the team of expert personal trainers at O2 Fitness in Wake Forest and continues to train clients, helping to change lives everyday.
When did you first start your fitness journey?
Growing up I played football, basketball, and soccer, and I started getting into weightlifting my senior year of high school. I worked out twice a day, ate 6 meals a day. I'd have breakfast, 2 lunches, and 3 dinners. We had this elite club of the strongest kids on the football team called Terrior Pride. If you could lift a certain ratio of your bodyweight you were in the club. I still have my Terrior Pride t-shirt!
After high school I knew that I probably wouldn't have a career in football, so I chose ROTC over sports which required me to stay in shape. When I was working out in college, this older student told me, "Hey, your bench press is impressive, you should do a powerlifting meet." I had never done that before but I did it and won first place in my weight class. That was my freshman year and I lifted 320 on bench press weighing in at 169 lbs. That's when I got into competitive powerlifting.
Did you continue to compete after that first competition?
Yeah, I really got into it after that. I did it for the next three years in college and started competing in the community in Lynchburg. I did two state meets in Roanoke. I have the all-time school record at Liberty University, three state records in Virginia, and five other first place wins at small gyms in the area.
When did you become a personal trainer and why?
I'm really passionate about helping people. I've always wanted to help people with whatever I do. When I started getting serious about fitness, people always asked me for advice like, "Hey, how do I do this?" Freshman year I was a business major and I had no interest in exercise science, and then I ended up switching over to it. I became so passionate about it, I wanted to know all the science behind what I was doing. I wanted to get to the point to where there was no one I wouldn’t feel confident in helping.
This became my passion. Your passion is your gift, you just have to maintain it and share it with others. So that kept me driven and kept me accountable to working out. I started writing workouts for people and I did an internship. One of the first clients during my internship was the president of my school.
Did training your school president intimidate you?
No, I wasn’t really intimidated. It's just a name, it's still a body. I'd tell him to do 20 pushups just like I'd tell you to do 20 pushups.
What do you like most about being a personal trainer?
The fact that I get to help people. It keeps you well-rounded because every client is different as far as personality and goals go. And it's something that doesn’t really have a cap to it. You can train as many people as you want to or can. If it gets to be too many, you can do group trainings.
I’ve been training for over 5 years total. I would feel comfortable training anyone, that’s not to say I know everything, but I'm willing to do the research to figure out what would be best for someone. Some of my clients come to me with medical issues to work through. Things like that are an interesting challenge because as a trainer it grows your knowledge base so much more.
Why do you continue to prioritize fitness in your life?
I kind of have to, it's my paycheck! Just kidding. It keeps me accountable to what I'm preaching to other people. I enjoy it and it helps keep my stress levels down. My family does not have a good health history but since I've grown in my career, I've had family members as online clients. I led an early morning workout in Mexico at a family destination wedding. So having that positive influence on other people is really rewarding.
When you’re doing something really tough, what do you tell yourself to get through it? How do you finish?
Internally, I'm competitive. I imagine someone doing that exercise better than me and I think of someone with my dream physique and strength. Did they stop there or did they keep going? I also think about my technique, the correct form, when I should inhale, when I should exhale, that kind of thing.
What advice would you give to someone who hits a plateau or who needs fresh motivation?
Look for new goals. Look at why you’re complacent. Is it because you hit your goal, or if you haven't? If you haven’t, what's the reason? Have you changed your eating habits? Have you not been as diligent with your cardio? What's a new goal that you can shoot for?
What would you say to someone who wants to start a fitness journey in 2019?
Every journey begins with a step. Literally step into the gym and just do it. This is something I try to live by. It's always easier to keep up than to catch up. If you just get going, you made that first step so just keep going. If you miss a step, you'll have to keep playing catch up to do what you missed before. Just do it.
What does Look Forward mean to you?
It means keep looking at what’s to come and how you’ll achieve it or obtain it.
What are you looking forward to accomplishing next?
I want to do a physique competition. I want a new challenge. Mostly because I've never really pushed myself as far as nutrition and diet goes, and it's a new style of workout. Powerlifting is all about going heavy. It's not as much high intensity high reps and not as much cardio. It's something different that would be a challenge.