Personal Trainer Of The Month: Tony Sabanos

Aspiring weightlifters put incredible faith in their personal trainers. Trainers must dedicate their time wholly to each client, in and out of the gym. Tony Sabanos is a consummate pro.

Name: Tony Sabanos
Age: 32
Education/Certification: Bachelor of Science in Business from Pennsylvania State University, International Sports Sciences Association Certification.
Location: Sinking Spring, PA
Phone: 610-334-4120
Number of Clients: 300+ clients
Rates: $60-$100 an hour

Could you tell us a little about your background - personally and professionally?

Growing up as a child, I was a competitive swimmer from age six until I was a sophomore in high school. In high school, I lost interest in swimming and starting strength training. I found that I loved training and decided to go to college because I wanted to own my own business.

While in college, I became certified as a personal trainer through the ISSA and started working for a small independently-owned personal training center. I worked with various individuals for weight loss, sport-specific training and rehab. It was an excellent learning experience.

However, after taking over as General Manager of the facility, I decided I wanted to work at a larger venue. I took a position as an Assistant Personal Training Director at a large gym facility with more than 4,000 members. After five years, I became Personal Training Director, helping increase sales from $5,000 per month to $25,000 per month. It was at that point I decided to start my own business, Xcellerated Speed Training. I have been in the fitness industry for 13 years and have been operating my own business for 5 years.

Personal trainers do more than spot you in the gym. They are responsible for your fitness success, but they should also care for you as a person.

When and why did you become a trainer?

I became a personal trainer in college because I had become addicted to strength training. I thought it was a beneficial tool for teaching individuals how to achieve their goals. I love helping people who think they cannot attain their goals and relish in proving them wrong. It is my greatest joy to see someone be successful in a positive and supportive environment.

What is your training style? What methods do you use?

My training style varies depending on the individual client. Typically, I am not a drill sergeant, yelling and screaming for compliance. Each individual is motivated differently and the key is to be able to get results with everyone, not just a specific demographic. I always use positive reinforcement because I believe there are too many negative influences in our daily lives already.

Do you have examples of success stories from clients using your methods?

I was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for our local indoor football team. The team achieved the AIFA Championship in 2009 with a winning record of 14-3. I currently hold the position of Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Reading Phillies Dance Team. During my first year, I helped two of the members become part of two NFL cheerleading squads. On the high school level, I helped a 12-year-old tennis player rehab her back; since then she has won several district titles. I also helped a high school soccer athlete who originally was the number five player on team become the number one player on the team. As a result, he now also plays on the Philadelphia Union's U18 team.

It takes effort to lift yourself off the ground! Tony will push you to go farther than you could ever go alone!

Who are some of your most notable clients?

Our clients include:

  • Exeter High School Football team
  • Oley High School Field Hockey team
  • Reading Express Indoor Football Team
  • Reading Phillies Dance Team
  • Reading Rage
  • Reading Railers
  • Tulpehocken High School Baseball Team
  • Wilson High School Soccer Team
Can you please you give me an example diet and training program you put together for your clients?

I can't give you specifics as far as a diet goes because there are too many variables involved when calculating caloric intake. These include: gender, activity level, intensity level, age, hormone response, medications, thyroid levels, cholesterol levels and food allergies. Typical suggestions for nutrition are: eat every three hours — assuring you consume a protein, carbohydrate and fat every time you eat — and if for weight loss, start low calorically to see where deficiencies may arise.

What are the most common mistakes a client makes?

The biggest mistake clients make is assuming that working out will alleviate any of their poor nutritional choices. Most people believe that what worked for them in high school will still work as they continue aging.

What are the most common mistakes you believe a trainer makes?

The first mistake trainers make is training everyone the same way and expecting the same results. Another common mistake is not taking the job seriously. I have seen trainers who text on their cell phones during the middle of a session or talk to other fellow gym members while training someone. Their focus should ALWAYS be on the client.

Do you set your clients up with a full diet and training plan for them to follow by themselves?

At Xcellerated Speed Training, we have a variety of options. There are some individuals who want a consultation and wish to make the journey on their own. We will set them up to do so and check-in periodically to see how they are progressing. For individuals who want to be accountable to someone, we offer our services on a regularly basis to keep them motivated.

The relationship between a trainer and client is an individual experience, as opposed to giant gyms, which deal with giant groups.

How do you keep your clients motivated?

There are a variety of ways that I use to motivate. Each individual has something that motivates him/her — a spouse or significant other for example. Or it could be they want to get in shape for a specific event or activity. My biggest motivator is results. I want people to get results, so they can show off their new accomplishment to whomever they choose.

Do you train a male client differently to a female?

I train everyone differently because each individual has specific things that may limit or impede what I can do. Male clients typically like to focus on upper body, while female clients usually prefer lower body. I believe in total body training, so I make sure I work all muscles in the body, not just certain ones. The other reason that I train everyone differently is because each person is motivated by something different or needs a certain type of motivation to achieve his/her goals.

How have your changed your approach to clients over the years of experience?

When I first started training, I was a sponge and tried to absorb all the proper ways to train effectively. I wanted to learn as much as I could in order to help my clients achieve their desired results. I have now been in the industry for 12 years and have worked with a variety of people over those years. Each person brings new challenges. I am at the point now that when I train someone, I have the experience and intuition to know what will work and how to help them reach their goals. This doesn't mean that I have stopped learning or claim to know everything. Rather, my experience has given me a specific way to be successful with my clients. I am always looking for new and different ways to get results faster.

How do you start a client on a new program? Do you do some kind of assessment?

When an individual starts our program, there are several forms I have them complete before doing anything. The first is a medical history form so that I can obtain some insight into the person's health background. I want to know about any injuries, medications or limitations that might impede the program. The next form is a release from liability form, something that is standard throughout our industry. The last form is the prepayment and 24-hour cancellation policy. I also require prepayment prior to any services, which helps me to determine the seriousness of the individual. During the consultation, I look for imbalances in their posture, differences in gait and identify problem areas. Body fat percentage, weight and measurements are taken at this point. Then I outline a program based upon the client's needs, desires and finances.

Do you prefer to train male or female clients and why?

I do not have a preference to training males or females. Each gender has some common tendencies and/or problem areas. Females are usually more willing to listen to my suggestions and their results are highly successful. Males get results much faster, but are not always as receptive to suggestions. These are general statements as gender. However, each individual is different and has different personalities.

Personal Trainer Tony Sabanos

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Do you feel just as much like a psychologist as you do a personal trainer?

I believe that part of the job of a personal trainer is to help guide individuals through the trials and tribulations of life in order to make them successful with their training goals. My number one focus is results. If I cannot determine what is troubling an individual or what motivates someone, I will not be successful as a trainer. I limit the amount of conversation with someone while keeping them moving throughout the workout in order to maximize efficiency. I have had individuals who talk consistently throughout the entire session and a great way to stop their discussion is to increase the intensity such that their focus becomes more on breathing and less on socializing.

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