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Creve Coeur Trainer Wants To Do More Than "Pump You Up"

Robbie Kessel gets his own personal reward out of training others.

Personal trainers practice their craft in a variety of health clubs and fitness centers all over the St. Louis metro area.

They design exercise programs to help us lose weight, improve physical vitality and increase our muscle tone and flexibility.

Robbie Kessel, a graduate of Marquette High School, has worked for Dynamic Fitness Management for four years. Kessel works with clients at in Creve Coeur, which is a partner of his company. He considers his occupation to be a calling.

“I always wanted to do something with fitness and helping people,” he said. “And I always wanted to do something with sports.”

The trainer played baseball, soccer and ice hockey for Marquette. Kessel said his career has allowed him to be a part of many success stories, including helping those that are deaf, paraplegic and overweight. He’s seen people liberated from medicine for heart disease due to his exercise programs.

“I’ve seen many people grow happier and show a better range of emotion in everyday life,” Kessel said.

The trainer said working with a paraplegic makes one think “outside the box,” as he had to figure out ways to help them use the club’s exercise machines.

“He’s (paraplegic client) playing wheelchair rugby right now,” Kessel said. “So, keeping him in a dynamic training workout that’s challenging is difficult. It’s hard work.”

Kessel said many clients come to him for weight loss. He said his programs exercise the whole body and concentrate on “functional training,” which works on muscle imbalances.

The trainer usually works with 25 to 30 clients, which he said is typical for a full-time trainer. This load means 50-hour work weeks.  Kessel sees each client two or three times a week for a one-hour session.

Kessel’s clients range in age from teenagers to people in their 60s. When it comes to the future of the fitness industry, Kessel said there is a huge surge in corporate wellness as companies want their employees to be well to increase productivity.

“The training industry is going along with it,” he said. “If you can prove that a fitness program will reduce their stress level and make them more productive, any company would want that.”

Local personal trainer Andrew Tucker, meanwhile, works at The , a recreational facility funded by Clayton. He said he was drawn to the field because it allowed him the opportunity to help and heal.

“It’s one of the few careers where you can actually help someone and help yourself,” he said. “It’s just very enjoyable. I find that changing lives, not just emotionally, but mentally, is a very rewarding thing. I feel good about myself because I’m getting healthy along with my clients.”

Tucker started working as a trainer 15 years ago. He is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine as a health fitness specialist and also a personal trainer. Before starting with The Center of Clayton five years ago, Tucker worked as a trainer for Barnes Jewish Hospital where he designed programs for patients suffering from diabetes, hypertension, hip injuries and obesity.

“I now work with a more healthy population,” Tucker said. “We don’t do any testing here. We do an assessment on the people we work with. It’s something that’s less stressful.”

But Tucker admits there are similarities between working in the medical field and as a personal trainer.

“You have to make sure the people you are working with are healthy and the program isn’t rushed,” he said. “You have to teach them how to stretch, eat, and hydrate.”

When Tucker first meets a client he discusses goals with them and then designs an exercise program. Tucker trains many high school athletes, particularly Clayton High athletes as The Center of Clayton is located near the school. But he also works with families.

“I train a lot of families, so I see the younger kids,” Tucker said. “In the video-game era, a lot of kids sit. Some of the families I work with are pretty active. This in itself will combat obesity.”

When it comes to childhood obesity, Tucker recommends people spend time exercising with their children.

“Walk with your kids and make the activities fun so it doesn’t seem like its something you don’t like doing,” he said. “And when the kids get to a certain age they won’t rebel against it.”

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