• TrainerTalkBannerTrainer Talk | Anthony Sayo
    Anthony Sayo, NSCA-CPT
    Anthony Sayo is one of the first few Filipinos to become an National Strength and Conditioning Association-Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) in the Philippines. He is a graduate of the University of the Philippines, magna cum laude, with a degree in political science. Sayo is one of the pioneers in the professional fitness industry in the Philippines and has quickly established a successful personal training business, training mostly multinational company executives, expatriates, and successful businessmen in the Philippines’ business capital.

    “Exercise became a top priority in my life during my college years, where people would jokingly say that I can be found only either at the school, or at the gym," Sayo said. "Interestingly enough, the discipline and work ethic I learned in the iron dungeons transcended into other areas of my life, particularly in my studies, as a student in the country’s premier university. I learned how to set goals and tenaciously go after them.”

    “I finished a degree in Political Science, became a university instructor for a short while, and got engaged in our family business. I would only know about a career in professional fitness training about a decade later after graduating from college.”

    “A personal training career is not so popular in the Philippines, let alone a career in kinesiology or exercise science. Not a lot of people would be able to pay for professional training services. Personal training is maybe even unheard of in most places in the country, except for the most well-off cities. I was fortunate I have a cousin in Los Angeles who is a Sports Management graduate, and he advised me to research about the personal training profession in America. I was astounded by what I have learned – exercise science degrees, professional training certifications, etc. Without second thoughts, I immediately set my sights on becoming a professional fitness trainer. I learned about the NSCA, signed up for the NSCA-CPT exam, studied well, passed the exam, got my certification, and started, with total conviction, a professional fitness career.”

    1. Describe a typical day in your life…
    On most days, I will be up by 5:30 am to prepare myself to travel to the city of Makati. I live in Manila, and I have to travel to Makati, where most of my clients reside. Makati is the business capital of the Philippines. It is a busy city but it is also one of the most organized in the country. People here have relatively higher paying jobs, and thus, they have the financial capacity and understanding that it is worth spending their money on professional exercise instruction.

    My morning schedule in Makati usually starts at 6:30 or 7:00 am. On my busiest days, I will train three clients in the morning and three of four in the afternoon/evening. I am trying to keep my training sessions at a reasonable number in a given day (about 4 - 6) as I would like to give quality sessions to all my clients. I would not be able to train effectively if I am worn out. I usually do my own workout around lunchtime on any given day, but I certainly am looking for 3 - 4 workouts per week. I still have my own fitness goals and I do not want to be left behind.

    On a typical day, I will train a client in his condominium gym from 6:30 – 7:30 am. Afterwards, I will eat a good quality breakfast, take a short rest, and travel to a hotel gym to train a client by 10:00 – 11:00 am. Most of my sessions are not done in commercial gyms, but condominium gyms and hotel gyms, because my clients usually prefer to work out in a “private” setting. I will usually take a short rest and then do my own workout at the same hotel gym facility around 12:00 - 1:00 pm.

    Then I will eat a good post-workout meal at the mall just beside the hotel. At about 2:30 pm, I will have another client come to the hotel gym to train. I am fortunate to be training in a five-star hotel facility so I can wait for my next client while relaxing in the hotel lounges. While waiting, I often read books related to exercise programming or to the fitness business. I like to spend time continually educating myself in this field as I want to give the best value to my clients. I like to provide them with the best exercise programs that will help them achieve their personal goals. Plainly speaking, my clients’ success is my success.

    Then, usually I will have one or two more clients coming to train with me in the evening. Then I head back home, have a protein snack, and sleep. So it is a long day away from home.

    2. What attracted you to a career in Personal Training?
    I grew up in the 80s and idolized muscled heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme. I also watched a lot of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) when I was younger. I admired muscular physiques and I wanted to build one for myself. I started to lift weights at 17 and I have developed a deep commitment to exercise ever since. I became so into it that I quickly realized its benefits—not just the physical aspects, but the emotional and spiritual too. Eventually, the work ethic, discipline, and positive outlook I practiced in the gym transcended to other areas of my life.

    I finished a degree in political science, but soon after graduation I realized I did not want a career in that field. If there was a degree in exercise science in the Philippines I may have taken that instead. When I took up political science, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer but as soon as I discovered exercise and bodybuilding, I felt more challenged and excited. And then when I learned that there is indeed a professional career path of a personal trainer, I knew that is what I wanted to do. It is a life-saver for me; it is a great gift to find a means of living doing the things that you love. I knew of the tremendous benefits of exercise from its effects on me, so sharing this “miracle drug” to others seems like the best thing to do.

    3. Why did you decide to become an NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer? Has your NSCA membership and/or certification helped you? If so, how?
    I wanted to establish myself as a professional in the industry and not just to be a “professional gym rat.” It has been fortunate that I have a cousin from Los Angeles, CA, who is a sports management graduate because he encouraged me to research the personal training profession in the United States of America. Everything after that was all research from the internet. Information gathering ultimately led me to choose a certification from the top five most popular certifications, and I picked the NSCA. I wanted the best, most distinguished and reputable certification that would go along with my academic reputation. Now I am proud to belong to the NSCA.

    Professional certifications are not so popular in the Philippines, so when people here learned that I am certified by an internationally recognized institution and graduated with honors from the University of the Philippines it has helped me to gain the trust of my clients, initially. But afterwards, I believe it is me being the “total package” which retains my clients.

    4. Who has had the greatest impact on your career?

    Arnold Schwarzenegger; back when I was a college student I got his book called “The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.” It became my exercise bible. I have developed a big commitment to intense exercise because of his philosophies. The passion and discipline I cultivated in the gym easily transcended even to my academic life. I just want to do well, or be the best, in things that I do. Now, we all know advances/developments in exercise science has come a long way, along with exercise techniques and methods, but the pursuit of excellence that was imparted on me by reading the book stays with me even to now. Philosophies in life are things that will stay with you. And I would not be so enthralled in exercise if it was not for that book. So yes, I do think if there is one person who has influenced me most, about choosing this career, it is Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    5. In your opinion, what are the three most important qualities that a successful trainer must have?
    Passion for exercise. You cannot encourage somebody to embrace a lifestyle of health and fitness if you have no love for it. You cannot inspire others to do something which you do not do yourself. I believe that if you are passionate about something, then the desire to get better at it follows. I also mean that a person who is really into exercise will keep his mind open and be abreast with current training knowledge.

    Another quality is the ability to connect with your client. It may sound cliché, but if your client feels that you put your “heart” into the training sessions and they feel that you care about helping them reach their goals, then they will treat you not just as a hired trainer, but as a friend. For me, this is really important.

    The quality is sincerity in helping the client reach their goals. A client comes to you with goals and you have to give it your best effort (within realistic boundaries) to help them achieve those goals. I mean that you just do not have to provide an exercise routine, but you have to be able to influence your client in a broader way, such as a positive view on the benefits of exercise, eating habits, etc. After all, their goals will be attained by lifestyle adjustments and not by just one hour workout sessions alone.

    6. What does a typical training session with you consist of? As a personal trainer, what do you think are your key strengths? Are there any areas you would like to improve?
    My workout programs are tailored to a client’s goals and current fitness exercise capacity. Currently, I am working with clients who want to have better body composition. Some would like to lose weight, some would like to add some size, and others would just like to enhance their health status and physical appearance. Given that better body composition is usually the common end goal, my sessions would mostly involve resistance training exercises such as bodyweight, free weights, and machine exercises. I would also use functional training tools like medicine balls, suspension trainers, and resistance bands.

    One of my key strengths is that I am able to establish good relationships with my clients. There is something really “personal” in personal training. A workout definitely involves hard work, but this “hard work” is also supposed to be enjoyable. As a personal trainer, you should be adding to that fun and there is no way you can do that if you and the client do not “connect.”

    7. How do you stay current on what is happening in the industry?
    I keep myself current through social media; this is the cheapest and the most practical way for me. And there is a ton of information out there, especially from other fitness professionals—so much information that it could either enlighten or confuse you. I listen to what experts have to say, but I keep my own judgment.

    From time to time I also buy some books. I love learning and I think investing continually on education is very important for this career. I also plan to attend some personal training conferences in the United States of America in the future, once or twice a year.

    8. Fitness trends come and go, how do you decide what to incorporate and what to discard?
    I have to try it out for myself first. I would try this new “fitness product” or fitness protocol and see how it feels, only then would I be willing to incorporate it into my programs. When designing a program, I see to it that it is safe, effective and comfortable for the client. So eventually, I always consider the client’s preferences. I believe I am in no place to force a client to do something which is really uncomfortable for them.

    9. What has been your favorite experience as a trainer?
    It is meeting fabulous, kind-hearted people and knowing that I have created a positive impact on their lives. Personal training is not just about teaching exercises. It is about helping people improve the quality of their lives. Initially with the health and fitness aspect, but later on, as with most cases, that positive effect will overflow to other areas of their lives, like work and family. The feeling is comparable to a teacher or mentor being appreciated and valued by his student. This is a priceless feeling. At times, I will receive emails and praises from my clients telling me of how much my influence or guidance has helped them in a big way.

    The relationships and friendships I developed with my clients are priceless. So I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all my clients, past and present, for giving me the opportunity to work with them, and for continually helping me attain a great sense of fulfillment with what I am doing.

    10. Tell us about yourself – what catches your interest, what do you do for fun, etc?
    I am a laid back person, not the party-goer type—I do not even drink beer. I love movies and enjoy a trip to the cinema or a nice coffee at a coffee shop. I also love travelling a lot; I have been to the U.S., Europe, Japan, and several countries in Southeast Asia. Given the extra time and budget, I will gladly pack my bag, ready my passport, and enjoy a nice vacation overseas.