Fitness Career Spotlight on Gabbi Berkow, Dietitian, Personal Trainer, and Pilates Instructor
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA, RD on JANUARY 1, 2018
Meet Gabbi Berkow, MA, RD, CPT, who has embraced fitness, nutrition, and health by designing a complete wellness, fitness, and nutrition package for her clients. She has taken many extra steps to get educated with both fitness and nutrition degrees so her clients can get the best benefits possible. Read on to learn how knowledge is power and how it can enhance your business success. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of fitness and exercise?
I am in this field 100% because of my personal struggles with my body, nutrition, and fitness, and the work I have done to overcome these challenges. I have danced since age 3 but never had the optimal anatomy for ballet. I struggled with my body a lot as I was dancing and training intensely as a teenager. I also have severe scoliosis. I began studying the Alexander Technique – a somatic method of postural retraining and movement re-education – in high school. My teacher explained to me why my scoliosis and anatomy made dance technique difficult for me. I had to retrain my body to not give in to my curvature and worked on my posture constantly – I had to relearn how to sit and stand up straight and do daily activities and dance movements without giving in to my scoliosis. After 2 years of Alexander Technique, I was introduced to Pilates by a fabulous, seasoned instructor. I was drawn to Pilates immediately and my instructor explained to me how the core strengthening and focus on symmetry in Pilates would be really beneficial for my back. I have practiced Pilates every day ever since and always knew I wanted to earn my Pilates certification so I could share the benefits of Pilates with others. My interests in fitness and the body were growing tremendously. In my first semester of college, I took an exercise science class and it piqued my interests – learning how the body worked finally helped me make sense of my own. My college didn’t have an exercise science major, so I researched undergraduate and graduate programs in exercise science and designed my own major to take the courses I needed. The more I learned about human anatomy and physiology, exercise, nutrition, and health, the more I wanted to learn and the more passionate I became! After college I pursued a Master’s in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. I also struggled with food, weight, and body image for my entire life, and these struggles eventually culminated in an eating disorder. Working with the appropriate treatment team that included a fantastic dietitian, I successfully recovered from the eating disorder in 2012. My struggles with food and weight, and my journey through the eating disorder and recovery, made me want to become a Registered Dietitian so that I could help people with nutrition in addition to exercise. As a Registered Dietitian, certified personal trainer, certified Pilates instructor, and dancer with a Master’s in Exercise Physiology, I’m very unique in the sense that I have training and educational backgrounds in both fitness and nutrition. I provide comprehensive nutrition and exercise services – a “one stop shop” for food and fitness needs – so clients can reach their goals, achieve their desired results, forge lifelong healthy habits, and ultimately achieve happiness and balanced wellness.
Your Job Title:
Registered Dietitian, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Pilates Instructor, Exercise Physiologist
Company you are with now:
My own practice: Gabbi Berkow – Dietitian, Personal Trainer, and Pilates Instructor. I offer nutrition counseling, personal training, Pilates, and online nutrition/ exercise coaching (I write personalized nutrition plans and workouts for clients to do on their own, provide 24/7 support via email and text, and check in with each client every 2 weeks to see how they are doing).
– Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gabbiberkowfitness/
– Instagram: @gabbiberkow
– Twitter: @gabbiberkow
A typical (or not so typical) day in the work-life for you:
A typical day for me involves client sessions, charting, writing plans, scheduling, rescheduling, my own workouts, and getting back to a million texts and emails! My day will include a mix of personal training, Pilates, and nutrition counseling sessions, which I do in person and virtually. Since many clients like to meet after work, I work until very late at night. I get my own lift or a HIIT class in after or between my client sessions. During the day my iPhone is always very active with clients confirming and rescheduling appointments via email and text, so I have to check it constantly. I record everything in my iPhone calendar and schedule all sessions through my online scheduling system immediately. When I finally get home I record everything from my client sessions in my electronic medical record system, and finish writing nutrition plans and workouts for my clients. I also keep track of all client sessions and payments in a spreadsheet, which I continually update. I contact clients who need to schedule sessions and to confirm all sessions. At the end of the night I make a to do list for the next day.
How did you get your current job in fitness and exercise?
I built it! I began personal training and teaching Pilates 6 years ago, and I worked in a variety of fitness facilities and Pilates studios to gain experience. When I began my coursework and training as a Registered Dietitian, I began building my own business so I could fulfill my dream of offering both nutrition and exercise services to clients. I began by working with friends. My friends saw results, so they referred their friends to me. I built up my online presence by building a website and Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. I made a profile on fitnesstrainer.com to get personal training clients. I sought out expert trainers and attended sessions and seminars with them so I was continually learning to provide the best possible services to my clients. I networked with people I knew and on email list servs, and received additional client referrals through those avenues. I gave presentations and lectures and handed out business cards to attract more clients. As my business grew I began using an electronic medical record, payment, and scheduling system to keep track of everything.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I have always been diligent, disciplined, conscientious, perfectionistic, organized, type A, self-motivated, perseverant, determined, and a hard worker, yet also very giving and sensitive to people’s needs and emotions. Along the way I have learned to be self-reliant, consistent, independent, assertive, and confident in my value and what I do. I have also learned to not take on too much and to develop organizational systems that help me keep track of all of my clients and run my business in an organized, efficient way.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Be persistent. Never stop learning. Seek out expert trainers/ professionals and learn from them. Stay organized – keep track of all of your clients, everything they tell you, and everything you do and recommend in sessions. Document everything. Have organizational systems in place so you stay on top of everything. Building a business is hard work and takes a lot of perseverance, but don’t give up and keep working towards it if it is your dream. Always follow up with your clients, confirm all sessions, and keep them engaged. Always do your best in every session – give your clients what they want and what they need, and make sure to develop a good rapport with each one. Network and build an online presence showing your value and expertise. Show your passion and show your clients that you care – both about their results and them as people. Love what you do.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
My clients getting the results they want, reaching their health goals, and cultivating lifelong healthy fitness and nutrition habits.