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Why I'm a Movement Specialist and Clinical Bodyworker


Why I'm a Movement Specialist and Clinical Bodyworker

I’ve always thought that hearing someone’s story about why they do what they do can be one of the most fascinating ways to get to know a person. I get to understand where they come from, what type of experiences they’ve had, what they’re passionate about, what drives them when life gets tough, and if I’m lucky, I get to learn something that I might never have known about them through regular conversation and interaction. Through hearing the stories of others, I’ve been able to learn from the experiences of others, grow in my respect for those individuals, realize that I have much to be thankful for in my own life, and become inspired to press on with my dreams. I wanted to share with you my story about why I’m a Movement Specialist and Clinical Bodyworker - why I do what I love to do. I realize now how much I’ve hyped up my story so just as a disclaimer, I’d like to say that I don’t think my story is so crazy that you’re going to learn from the experiences of my 23-year life or become inspired to take over the world, but hopefully, I’ll be able to entertain you and you’ll be able to learn a thing or two about me that you didn’t know before.

The Origin Story

The first time I ever went out of my way to work out on my own (I’m making a point to emphasize this as I grew up playing a variety of sports casually and competitively), I did so because I was being a dramatic teenager in high school and I thought my world was shattered after a girl had “broken my heart”. The truth was that I was just a dumb and awkward teenage boy. In my dark, spiraling depression, I told myself that I didn’t end up with that girl, and that I was never going to end up with any girl at all, because I didn’t look a certain way - because I didn’t have a six pack and I didn’t have arms so huge that they couldn’t be lifted above my head.

So what did I do? I turned my emo pain into anger, and I used that anger to fuel my intense P90X and Insanity workout routines. I didn’t know a thing about exercise, so with P90X and Insanity’s promises to get me ripped and lean, I was sold on the video workout plans. I worked out twice a day during one summer, and when the school year started up again, I’d get up an hour earlier than normal to work out before classes - only to have to go to tennis practice for hours after school was over. Every time I wanted to give up during a workout, I reminded myself of what it felt like to have been rejected so that I would press on. At first, it seemed as though my efforts were futile, but as time went on, and as I consistently pushed myself and strictly adhered to my diet, I began to see results.

To make this part of a long story short, I wasn’t facing my romantic problems appropriately and I was only using fitness to cope with my issues instead of using it to better my health. I did, however, learn something extremely valuable: I learned that if I set my mind to something, if I put in hard work and sacrifice and countless hours of dedication, I could achieve anything.

Fast forward to my freshman year of college at the University of San Francisco. I was a biology major with hopes for going to medical school, which means that I was a biology major with family, relatives, and friends who had extremely high hopes for me to go to medical school - no pressure or anything. That pressure was then coupled with dwindling hope as I was barely passed my core classes and was withdrawing out of the chemistry class that I was about to get a D in.

The Epiphany

So what went wrong? What happened to the all-knowing and wise Austin who just learned that he could achieve anything he set his mind to? Why was he getting a D in freshman-level chemistry? The problem was that, instead of studying compounds and electron configurations for classes, he was studying set and rep schemes on so that he could figure out how to get jacked. He was learning that you can’t just achieve anything, but rather that you can only achieve something that you actually give a damn about.

And that was the problem: I didn’t give a damn about chemistry or biology. I loved movement and I loved the way the human body worked, especially in relation to exercise and nutrition. By the end of my freshman year, I had switched my major to kinesiology and it was the best academic decision I could have ever made. Instead of studying “life” by staring at bacteria in a microscope, I was running a living person on a treadmill to figure out their cardiac output. Instead of figuring out how elements were interacting in a beaker, I was learning how the perfect balance of macronutrients can fuel various athletes for optimal performance. For me, kinesiology was the perfect balance of science and movement, and I couldn’t be happier.

The Journey

My time at USF flew by and before I knew it, it was the summer before my final semester of school. I was loving everything I was learning about, and I was very seriously considering a career in personal training. I wanted to help people feel good and look good, but I also wanted to use training as a medium to share with people the lesson that I found so valuable: that they could achieve anything if they worked hard and set their mind to it. I looked into personal training internships and I happened to stumble upon one at Perform for Life.

I applied and was interviewed by Bryant and Justine and accepted for the summer internship. It was everything I wanted and more - like, lots more. Lots more of waking up at 5 AM, and lots more of doing difficult and seemingly endless business assistant work. It was hard work, but I learned more than I could have ever hoped for - I learned the value of community, what customer service and networking in the real world is like, how concepts of training and exercise physiology pertain to real people and not just textbook examples. While learning these positive skills, I also had to learn a hard lesson early on during my time at Perform for Life: how bad the feeling is of my client getting hurt.

I asked myself all kinds of questions. Was it my fault? Could we have avoided the injury? How long will my client be unable to workout? How much is this going to impact their daily life? As you could guess, this drove me to become very careful and methodical in my approach to training. I obsessed over pain and injury management with movement and devoted myself to learning as much as I could about corrective exercise as a means to help people with serious issues. Immediately after earning my kinesiology degree from USF, I went to massage school for a year so that I’d have an additional skill to help my clients - but I didn’t stop there. I took functional neurology courses such as P-DTR so I’d have an even wider variety of tools to help people in pain. My client’s injury made me feel like the heart-broken high schooler again as I immersed myself in anything and everything I could learn about from courses and my mentors so that I could feel like I was making things right.

I may have been going a bit hard on myself, but this time, I wasn’t just using my learning to cope with my issue. I was learning about methods and modalities for healing in movement and bodywork that I genuinely had a passion for. I loved, and still love, learning everything there is to know when it comes to the ways our bodies move, function, and heal, and since our bodies are still such a mystery to us, I know I’ll be learning for a long time.

I think that’s what I love most about being a professional in the health and fitness field - I’m never going to stop finding new things about the way we move and the way we can heal. It’s a never-ending chase to learn about the latest finding or the new best technique and that’s what I love about being a Movement Specialist and Bodyworker. So why do you do what you do? What’s your story? Hope to hear from you soon.


#HowIPerformForLife : Ning


#HowIPerformForLife : Ning

What motivates you? What helps you get up in the morning?

My fiance, Noah, my parents and my dreams in life motivate me and help me to get up every day.

I met Noah six years ago. He really tripped me out the night we met. I thought to myself, "WHO is this guy?" Mainly because he had (has) a spirit that made me feel like anything is possible. I've been so grateful to have him in my life all these years and he's shown me that truly, anything IS possible if you work hard and don't give up. He's a very inspiring person, not just in his accomplishments and charitable work, but also how he is as a human being - in how he treats and takes care of people in life.

In 1971, my parents left the Philippines for the United States. They gave up living in their homeland and everything and everyone they knew to build a new life for our whole family, with a savings of five hundred dollars. In the years that followed, they worked hard to bring the whole family over...both sets of my grandparents, and ten aunts and uncles. I have very fond and clear memories of going to the SF airport a lot, to welcome a new relative who would end up staying with us for a time. I was always excited about it. It became a ritual of sorts. Today, when I'm at family parties, and I see my whole family...grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, and their kids makes me smile so much, because everyone is doing well. My parents worked so hard and taught me and so much of my family what persistence, hard work and true grit is. To see all of us - a big family flourishing here in the Bay Area - is an inspiration.

I've had a lot of dreams for my life since I was a child. All kinds of dreams that span my career, travel, relationships, personal fulfillment, philanthropic work and possessions. When I was a teenager and in my twenties, those dreams seemed so far out of reach. Today, seeing that my hard work and decision-making helped me attain and accomplish a lot of my dreams, it really proves that dreams come true. It inspires me to continue to work hard and make good decisions to accomplish more of my dreams. I aspire to be the person who never retires and is continually working on being a better person and a value to our community.

When was the last time you were proud of yourself?

In September 2016, I left the company that I loved working for - to go out on my own, as a freelance consultant and artist. In truth, it wasn't just leaving this particular company, but a big step in taking a very different step in the career I'd built over twenty years. It was such a hard and heart-wrenching decision because I loved my previous company, Atlassian - and still do. But my inner voice told me that I had to take the leap - to do things I'd dreamt about since I was five years old. So, I was proud when I resigned and said to myself....this is about me and my other dreams now. So far, I feel like I'm making good progress and am proud to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zones. I've been so touched that so many friends, family members and former co-workers are encouraging. Some folks have gone so far to say that I'm an inspiration to them. That makes me super proud!

Have you had any proud moments here?

I've had many proud moments at P4L.....accomplishing a tough workout, learning new things about wellness and implementing them, pushing to accomplish exercises that Justine or Cheri have me do, giving a talk to the staff about career development and seeing friends enjoy their workouts who I referred to P4L. One of my proudest moments though was when I saw P4L win the first place on Yelp for a personal training gym - because in the first months I could see and feel that P4L was top-notch and amazing - and I wanted other people to know and experience it as well. So that win validated that it truly is a special and wonderful place that others believe in, as well. That was three years ago when I joined the P4L family and I feel even more pride today!


#HowIPerformForLife : Brendan


#HowIPerformForLife : Brendan

What motivates you or what helps you get up in the morning?

I think love and fear are the two basic underlying motivations behind literally everything I do! I am motivated to exercise because I’m learning to love myself more every day.

When did you start performing for life and what are some milestones since then?

I started at P4L a few weeks after it opened! The biggest milestone for me was when I finally opened up and started making friends at the gym. It was, in the past, a very intimidating environment for me and so I’d try to sneak out as quickly as possible afterward!

What’s your go-to work-out song?

Whatever Anthony’s got on his playlist!

Tell us how you came back from the setbacks you've experienced. How did you get through it? 

In the past, I would encounter a setback and throw in the towel. Now I see them as gifts, ways to make the story a bit more interesting. I understand now that challenges shape me and I discover more about who I am through them and how I choose to react to them. When I face a challenge or obstacle, I just find one thing I can do that feels like progress. Then I do that. Then I do the next thing, and then the next.