Fitness Career Spotlight on Michael Clausen, Performance and Lifestyle Coach, NASM CPT
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA, RD on SEPTEMBER 4, 2012
Meet Michael Clausen, personal trainer and lifestyle coach. Learn how he finds balance and free time while co-owning San Francisco’s leading personal training facility. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of fitness and exercise?
Since I was child, I was always active. My parents put me on ski’s when I was 3, and from then I was always playing sports; soccer, baseball or swimming. Growing up in California, I was able to spend most of my days outside playing and being active. This active lifestyle as a kid led me to continue on my path of incorporating fitness into my life. I started weightlifting at the end of high school which has continued to this day. I started a career path as a firefighter and paramedic, but once I had completed those courses and field classes, I realized that it was not a path that I wanted to continue down. I knew that I wanted a career where I was active and could be my own boss. This was something that I wasn’t going to find using my Business Administration degree – I refused to be stuck behind a desk working for someone else.
I met my husband 11 years ago and he was a self- employed personal trainer. This was actually something I had never heard of, but he loved what he did and made a pretty good living. I knew that I wanted a career where I could continue to help people succeed in being healthy, while keeping myself happy and healthy. Once I started working with my own clients, and saw the change that I could help them make, I knew that I was embarking on a career that would not only change others live, but also my own.
Your Job Title?
I have two job titles which both keep me very busy. The first is Owner, DIAKADI, a Performance & Fitness Training Center; the second is Performance and Lifestyle Coach. I find that with both of my certifications, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach, that I am constantly teaching people not only about what to do in the gym, but how they can lead optimal healthy lives. I find that by just calling myself a personal trainer I am limited to teaching people exercises. I feel that the field has become much more evolved and we as coaches and trainers can integrate every aspect of health (nutrition, sleep, stress and lifestyle management) into our clients’ lives – not just exercise.
Company you are with now?
I currently own DIAKADI and train my clients at this location
A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
A typical weekday for me is that I wake up at 540am and heat the oven so that I can place my prepped food (which we cook on Sundays) in the oven. I’ll jump back in bed for another 10 minutes so that I can slowly wake up. Then it’s on to the espresso machine for my morning jolt. As I try to limit my caffeine intake, I am not above making myself this delicious kick start to the morning. I’m at DIAKADI every weekday by 7am, where I will train my first 3 clients. Once I’m finished with my morning clients, I will sit down at my desk and go over my tasks for the day. I am in charge of the financials and operations of the facility. I will go over the financials and do any ordering that needs to be done. Then I will train a couple more clients before I take my lunch. I have about 4 days a week, where I will hop on my mountain bike and grab my lunch before my workout. I workout at Equinox in SF. As great a facility that DIAKADI is, I need to be able to step away and get my own workout in, without worrying about email or cleaning. It’s my escape. Plus I love riding my bike around the city, dodging busses, taxis and pedestrians. I’ll head back to DIAKADI around 3 where will settle in to train 3 or 4 more clients, with a small meal in between. I will head home about 730 or so and eat some dinner and relax on the couch and either read, catch up with Billy or watch one of my guilty pleasures saved on my DVR, which lately has been Pretty Little Liars, Revenge, or The Vampire Diaries. I tend to head to bed around 945pm and get ready for the next day. The upside to being your own boss, is that you can pretty much set your own schedule. I am lucky that I have clients who have somewhat flexible jobs, which helps me to keep my schedule flexible. I have now made it so that I have only 3 days a week where I am actually working till 730pm. I have kept 1 day a week, where all of my clients are in the beginning of the day, so I have the entire afternoon and evening to do anything I want. I am trying to make these “free days” times that I can better myself, through either classes, reading or just enjoying my life and not letting the craziness of work get to me. There are days where I could literally be at DIAKADI for 15 hours, working with both clients (either physically or on their programs) or tackling the work load for the gym. I know that I am extremely lucky that I have the ability to keep my schedule how I want it.
How did you get your current job in fitness and exercise?
I mentored with Billy as I studied for my exams. Once I became certified as a CPT, I started working as a staff trainer at various gyms in SF, all the while prepping myself to become an independent personal trainer. I began working at an independent facility where I trained my own clients. 2 years later, we decided to open DIAKADI. We wanted a space that we were proud to bring our clients to. From there we created a top-notch facility where we could train clients and that other trainers could run their business out of. Since then, we have over 60 independent trainers, instructors, and therapists. DIAKADI has grown to become the top training facility in San Francisco. We have been named Best Place to Get Fit by San Francisco Magazine, Best Gym in SF by the SF Chronicle and the list goes on. I am lucky that I am able to work with my clients in a facility that I helped create. I am surrounded by extremely gifted and talented trainers and clients. We have worked hard to make it the best training facility around, and I really do love what I do every day.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
The skill that I was born with that has most helped me in this field is that I am a people person. I love being around people and I come from a family that is all about helping others. My mom is an educator, my dad a firefighter and my sister a nurse. I love being around people and helping them achieve their goals. Along the way, I have had to develop my skills to become a better coach and leader. There is so much involved in teaching people how to lead healthy lifestyles. You have to not only teach them exercises, but help them to figure out their roadblocks, etc. I had to learn not to be frustrated when clients don’t get things, or refuse to follow my advice.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
My biggest piece of advice to others is to do what makes you happy. This is your life. From my personal life to my career, this has held true. Had I done things that others wanted from me, I’d probably be married to a woman, with kids, working either behind a desk or with a fire crew, ALL of which would have been pretty miserable for me. You can’t worry about what may happen if you follow your heart, but that you work hard towards achieving your goals and getting all out of life that you want. I am extremely fortunate that I found someone I love and that we have built an amazing life and business together. None of this would have happened if I didn’t take control of my life.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
If I could be paid something other than a paycheck, it would be a pretty hefty travel budget. Traveling around the world is my absolute favorite thing to do. I try and take mini-vacations each month (in the winter these all consist of snowboarding trips) and in the summer, Maui and NYC are on the must do list. If I’m going to do a big trip, every couple of years I like to hit Europe and explore the architecture and history of that region. So I would need enough money to cover these expenses.