I purposely chose to put the title of Jay-Z’s tribute to New York City in the title of this article, since both the artist and the song exemplify so much of what it means to be a part of this crazy, nerve-wracking, amazing city.
Here are a few key lessons that I learned while personal training in NYC, that have benefitted me while establishing the next chapter of my career in Philadelphia:
Learning the hustle without getting caught up in it.
In NYC, everyone is a hustler. White, black, rich, poor, green, blue, if you’re not hustling in some way, shape or form, you will not succeed. NYC teaches its visitors that “learning the hustle” is a mandatory part of success. That being said, the importance of learning the hustle without getting caught up in the hustle is a much less advertised lesson that must be learned. The hustle can manifest in a type of religious governance that only those who have lived and worked in NYC can understand. All too often, it is only when you’ve reached the dreaded burnout state that you learn to not get caught up in the hustle. While the hustle may lead to success, if you make it the sole focus of your life, you will be miserable. I am grateful to have learned this lesson so that I can be mindful of it in my personal training career in Philadelphia, embracing the hustle without becoming caught up in it.
The benefits of taking it easy in a fast-paced environment.
This is a life lesson that relates to experiences with personal training. In the case of taking it easy in a fast-paced environment, the first thought that comes to mind is how I often need to enforce water breaks when running my personal training sessions. I have witnessed many clients (especially ones I had in NYC who were on tight schedules, strict deadlines, etc) try to avoid taking a water break in the effort to get as much as they can out of their personal training session. Inevitably, when people work out in this push-yourself-to-the-limit state of mind and do not take the time to rest in between exercises or even take a water break, their form suffers and so do their workouts. Furthermore, if people work out too hard consistently and do not integrate rest days into their routine, their physical fitness and overall progress will suffer as well. Thus, I enforce water breaks as well as short rest periods when I see a client pushing past the point that is healthy. This is also why I never run my sessions like a drill sergeant, which is a misconception about personal trainers that many first-time clients have. Regardless, my time in NYC has taught me the significance of the benefits of taking it easy in a fast-paced environment, in more ways than one.
The mentality to be the best of the best rather than settling for “good enough” – New Yorkers always want to reach the next-highest level, even if they’re making it up for themselves.
NYC embodies a culture of striving to be the best of the best. However, what I learned as a personal trainer was that this mindset is found not just in the workforce and social settings, but also in the gym. For example, even my notoriously non-athletic clients would aspire to complete a set of plyometric box jumps just as well as a natural athlete would. Many clients would engage with and commit to a consistent exercise regime, then eagerly try to advance to the next level of exercises with the same motivation I’d imagine they’d display with seeking a promotion in the workplace. This is a reason why I love this career: helping my clients reach their goals as they benefit from my knowledge of training.
How to find something in common with anyone from any background.
This one is self-explanatory. This advantageous feature will not only ensure your success in NYC, but it is simply a combination of common sense and manners. Traveling and open-mindedness help to nourish this trait but, if you don’t have it or learn to cultivate it somehow in NYC, you can kiss your hopes of a good career and fun social life goodbye.
While I admit I learned this life lesson while living in NYC, I believe it is universally applicable and beneficial to practice it worldwide.