Personal Trainer Of The Month: Jada Kelly

This busy trainer, teacher, mother, and bikini competitor knows how to carve out time to make sure her clients meets their goals!

Name: Jada Kelly
Age: 30
Education/Certification: UC Riverside; AFAA certified Personal Trainer, Group Exercise Instructor and Indoor Cycling Instructor
Gym: LA Fitness, Los Angeles, CA
Contact Info:
Number of Clients: 15
Rates: Private sessions range $50-75, online coaching $100-150/month

Personal training needs to cater to the individual needs of clients, or else everyone involved is just wasting their time. Jada Kelly is one trainer who knows the special blend of communication and instruction that it takes to guide a person along the path to health and fitness.

Whether she is working with a large group or a single person, Jada strives to reach her clients on a deeper level. See how this busy instructor and bikini competitor keeps it all together as we feature her as this month's personal trainer of the month!

Jada's Training History

Could you tell us a little about your personal and professional background?

I am a wife, new mother, middle school P.E. teacher, personal trainer, and aerobics instructor. In 2010, I also started competing in the NPC Bikini Division. Life is fast-paced and I love it that way, as long as there is time for me to enjoy my husband and my son!

I started personal training during my junior year of college in 2002, working at the UC Riverside Rec Center on campus. Now, 10 years later, training is my favorite job besides being a wife and mother. I love the "light bulb" moment when a client "gets" a new exercise or understands why eating 5-6 times per day is important. It's those moments that inspire me to continue doing what I do!

When and why did you become a trainer?

I started working at the gym on campus in my sophomore year, but I was just cleaning machines and updating the monthly bulletin board. My boss saw a love of fitness in me that even I didn't realize at the time. He gave me an opportunity to get my group exercise certification and I started teaching classes at the gym.

The next year, he asked me if I wanted to be a trainer and gave me the opportunity to be certified. I took him up on the opportunity because I loved the idea of helping people be their best. I loved training even more than teaching aerobics! The "coaching" aspect of training is what I really focused on.

I worked hard to learn to clearly communicate proper form and technique while making that personal connection with each person I trained. That first training job and experience shaped the kind of trainer I am today.

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

My training style is pretty straightforward and simple. A strong foundation is key, no matter how experienced a client is. Good form is the most important thing, so I will spend a lot of time teaching correct positioning and alignment. Once that is mastered, I start to throw in more challenging moves. My mantra with my clients is "last set, best set," pushing them to give it everything they have until the end.

When training online clients, I believe in constant accountability, honesty and openness. Weekly phone check-ins, progress pictures, Skype calls, surprise texts and daily emails keep my clients honest and make them feel that they are supported and encouraged. I also teach aerobics at LA Fitness and train clients privately in homes and at parks.

One other method I use is to make a connection with each client's health and purpose. Even though everyone wants to look good on the outside, I encourage clients to identify how a higher level of health and fitness will help them to better pursue their purpose and goals. I believe bad health can hold you back from being your best and in turn, affect your dreams, goals, and purpose.

When you understand that great health is a part of success, your priorities shift and it's easier to skip that doughnut or hit the gym when you are tired.

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

One of my most recent online clients is a single mom who set a goal to compete in an amateur bodybuilding show. She was amazing. She completely dedicated herself to the process and lost more than 20 pounds in three months!

Another client I am especially proud of is a new grandmother who had always taken care of everyone but herself. In our first two months together, she lost 10 pounds and completely changed her thoughts about food and eating. She used to be an emotional eater, overdoing it with desserts and heavy meals when she felt overwhelmed with life's responsibilities.

Through our training, she learned about healthy foods, how to size portions, and when it was OK to go ahead and enjoy a little dessert! She started out clueless about proteins, carbs and fats and ended up being an inspiration to her family and the people at her job.

Who are some of your most notable clients?

Most of my clients are everyday people. Maybe someday soon I will add a celebrity to the list!

Can you give us an example of a diet and training program you put together for your clients?

Most eating plans have 5-6 meals per day, with proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats in each meal. The amount of carbs/fats changes depending on the client's goals and workouts.

A sample meal plan would look like this:

Meal 1
Meal 2
Meal 3
Meal 4
Meal 5
Meal 6

My training plans all vary depending on the client's specific goal. Most plans include 4-5 days of strength training and six days of 30-45 minutes of cardio.

What are the most common mistakes a client makes?

The most common mistake is not prepping food for the week and thinking you will stick to your eating plan. Preparation is key, and if you don't do it, it will be a tough process.

What are the most common mistakes you believe trainers make?

The most common trainer mistake is treating clients in the same manner. Good trainers listen for the "hot buttons" and learn the best way to communicate with each client individually.

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

I have all my clients answer a series of questions. If they are high risk, I ask that they check with their doctor before starting a program with me.

With face-to-face clients, the first session is a series of physical assessments so I can see their level of fitness.

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

My online clients are set up with a detailed eating plan and training plan to carry out on their own. Face-to-face clients can also sign up for eating and training plans in addition to what we do in our time together.

How do you keep your clients motivated?

I ask a lot of questions about what motivates them before we start. Most of the time, I have enough information to connect their fitness journey to that thing that motivates them and that works! I also have clients take progress pictures, so even if the scale isn't changing quickly they can see their body change.

With face-to-face clients, I use a lot of verbal encouragement and positive reinforcement. Used together, these things usually inspire great results.

Do you train a male client differently to a female? Do you prefer one or the other?

I train every client differently, no matter who they are. I pay attention to small details that help me know whether I should use a more in-your-face approach, a softer approach, or something in between. I also always bring everything back to the client's personal goals. Everything we do has to align with the goals they set for themselves.

I currently have only female clients, but I love to train both. My female clients are wonderful, and I feel like I understand their needs a little better. Most of the time, you can push a male client harder than a female client right off the bat. I found that my male clients are also a bit more straightforward, and I like that. There is no guesswork!

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

Over the years, the biggest things I have learned are that no two clients are the same, and not everyone will train as hard as I do.

When I first started training, I would take it personally when I had clients who wouldn't follow my plans perfectly or didn't like a workout I wrote for them. Now, I take much more time learning what makes them tick as a person and making their training program fit their life and personality.