Meet Carlos Serna

Meet Carlos Serna

Kyra, our customer success manager, had the privilege to interview Carlos Serna, one of our earliest trainers. Carlos has served as a personal trainer since 2001 with certifications from ACE- American Council on Exercise, NFPT- National Federation of Professional Trainers, CPR, and First Aid. His workouts incorporate body weight, resistance, and high-intensity exercises to help individuals achieve their fitness goals in a fun yet challenging way. He particularly enjoys working with special needs kids, assisting in developing their motor skills, overall conditioning, and communications skills by working with them in a group setting.  His mantra is that “your success is measured by pushing past your limits.” Therefore, Carlos always tries to push his clients so they achieve a greater sense of accomplishment.

He currently has the following programs up on Trainnr:

  • 21day jump start program
  • Body Weight Challenge
  • Upper Body Ripper
  • Body Weight Challenge 2
  • Full Body Beat Down
  • Lower Body Blaster
  • Core Blaster

Check out the full interview below! 

Kyra: So, I’m here with Carlos Serna. Carlos, would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself, who you are and where you’re from?

Carlos: Well, who am I? Originally, I’m from Colombia. Born there, been in this country for about 30 years. I got into the personal training industry about, honestly, about 20 years ago. Started mostly as a hobby, because believe it or not, I used to be in the computer industry, and I did this on the side, and the company I was working for, went under, so they got rid of everyone.

And I just kind of went on full time to do this, and I’ve been doing this since. So that’s where I’m at as far as a personal trainer in that. But yeah, that’s how it started.

Kyra: Sure. So 20 years and you said it started as a hobby, did that just develop from your own personal interest in going to the gym, or?

Carlos: Yeah, I mean, I’ve always, I’ve always been athletic all throughout school, I was pretty athletic, not always like working out and, you know, doing things and people would always come to me for advice and come to me for you know, can you work out with me? Can I work out with you etc. etc. So, I decided to get my personal trainers certification, just to get it just to have it. I just did kind of on the side here and there. But then once I lost that job, I kind of went into a full time and I’ve been doing it since. 

Kyra: It sounds like growing up, you mentioned people asked to work out with you. Is that kind of what gave you your foot in the door and how to train other people and teach other people?

Carlos: So, it was more or less like a passion for me, like sports in general, like, you know, I was just very athletic.

Kyra: Which sports?

Carlos: Well, I played soccer, I did track I mean, yeah, so I was just athletic all around. So, it’s just something that I liked doing. So again, that’s why I started as a hobby.It’s just something I’d like to do. And I never thought I was gonna actually fall into it and stay on it full time. If it wasn’t because I lost that job, I probably wouldn’t, you know, I wouldn’t know where I’d be right now. But that’s how I found personal training and I’ve been doing it since. A little tough to build a career out of it though.

Kyra: Right, right, to build up new clients and …

Carlos: …To where you could actually live off of it.

Kyra: And when you transitioned from your old job to being a personal trainer, were there any skills that you felt that you learned from your old job, that you kind of transferred over naturally to being a personal trainer?

 Carlos: It was in a computer industry? So, it’s totally different, you know.

Kyra: Totally different.

Carlos: Totally different. But not me not, not really, I can’t really say that I did. There’s nothing I could say that transfer from one job to the next. I mean, I love what I’m doing now more than I, whatever I did then.

Kyra: Well that’s great that you’re following your passion. Right?

Carlos: So yeah.

Kyra: What would you consider? Are some of your training or fitness accomplishments that you’re most proud of?

Carlos: Personally, or with my clients?

Kyra: Let’s, let’s do both but start personally.

Carlos: What have been my biggest accomplishments in this industry?

 Kyra: In the personal training industry, I think I recall, you ran your own gym, right?

Carlos: Yeah I had my own gym opened up until COVID. Again, I’ve been pretty much self-employed, for most of my personal training career. I’ve always liked to be just working on my own. As far as my biggest accomplishment, I guess I could say, yeah, the fact that I was able to get to a point where I could actually open my own facility. Unfortunately, you know, COVID hit, and it kind of just took me out. But I did get to that point.

Again, I always did personal training on my own, I really never really worked much for a gym. But it was mostly like in homes, etc., etc. But then when I got enough clientele to say, hey, look, I think I’ve got enough now to actually open a facility. I finally was able to do it, and then this hit but yeah, that was probably my biggest accomplishment, being able to actually have a facility and have people come to me, instead of me going to them all the time.

 Kyra: I know the pandemic has been really hard on everyone and you mentioned that it affected your gym shutting down. Could you speak to how you’ve had to adjust?

Carlos: Oh, it definitely had to, I definitely had to come out of my comfort zone. You know, we all kind of fall into that and I know we shouldn’t. We should always try and work outside our comfort zone, but it made me work outside in the sense that look, I have no equipment. I actually had to take my weights, dumbbells, kettlebells, and go and distribute them to all my clients, just like keep them on, virtually.

So, we could keep the workouts going, not just because they wanted it, but I also needed it from a financial standpoint, I needed to keep my clientele. So maybe think outside the box, because there’s all they have his pair of dumbbells and maybe a kettlebell.So, I had to really get creative with what I could do and try and change it every week. And I’m making it, so I like the same thing over and over again. So, I’m having to really sit there and literally, I have a little book, where’s it. So over there, where I keep and I lock everything, every workout I do, I log it in, and they always compare to the week before that I’m not doing the same workouts.

So, it’s definitely made me a better trainer, as far as designing workouts. I’ve had to; I mean there’s a well-known sentence ‘adapt or perish’. Well, you have to adapt to this, or you’re gonna, you know, miss out on a lot of things. So, it was a blessing in disguise I guess. If it weren’t for the pandemic, I would never have gone into this platform or virtual, you know, I just, I’ve always been a big believer of just doing things one on one.

Now I see it can be done this way, and clients are liking it. But I do also have to say that is a double-edged sword, because I don’t know, tomorrow, when everything opens back up, are people going to want to continue this way? And now that I don’t have a facility, I lost so many clients that I can go back and open up another facility because I lost some clients. So, it’s gonna be one of those things where like, okay, let’s see what’s gonna happen next.

 Kyra: Do you feel Trainnr will help you navigate the kind of this world of virtual fitness that the pandemic has kind of forced everyone into?

Carlos: So again, Trainnr came in, like almost the right time, right? Because now it’s giving me a chance to expose myself a lot more, and hopefully get a lot more clienteles that I’ve lost from not just locally, but from other areas. So yeah, I mean, they come the right time. And I think it will be something that, well, it will be something that in the future, even if gyms open back up, there’s still going to be some people who are going to be skeptical about going back to the gym.

So, this platform would probably be one of the best things to offer them to keep them going. So, I think it’s a great thing.

Kyra: What was it about Trainnr that excited you the most? Or what you saw the most potential in?

Carlos: Exposure.

Kyra: Exposure?

 Carlos: Yes, definitely. Because you know, you’re, you’re so limited when you’re a local trainer. You know you’re only limited to a 25-mile radius, because I won’t go outside of the 25-mile radius to a client, or clients are probably not going to come to me if I’m outside a 10-mile radius.

So definitely exposure to get new clients from across the country for now, across the world for all I know, there’s no limit to it. So that’s probably what I’m most excited about, being able to get myself out there more.

Kyra: Absolutely. And I know you spoke about getting creative with coming up with at home workouts, and keeping up the variety. What would you say, in your opinion, is the most important aspect of keeping clients accountable and motivated, especially in quarantine?

 Carlos: Keeping them motivated? I think one of the biggest challenges in keeping them motivated is, getting them up and moving is one thing that can be very hard. But again, if and when I do work them out, I challenge them in such a way that I make sure that every single day that we train, it’s actually harder and harder. I mean, no matter what, whether there’s more reps, more time, or whatever it may be.

So, it makes them feel like they’re actually doing something. You know, if once I feel like the workout for them is maybe getting easy, or they’re telling me that this is too easy – am I getting my sweat going? And then there that’s my key to really push them harder. And I think that’s what keeps them engaged a little bit more.

Also, as I mentioned this before, one of the things that I’ve always asked them is, what do you want to do? What do you want to work on? I’m always constantly asking them, and when I go into training clients, I don’t just go in with just one workout. I have two or three workouts and I say, ‘Okay, what do you  want to do, this, or that? So, I give them options. You know, I mean, I think that’s one of the ways I keep them more engaged.

Because the workouts aren’t the same thing over and over and over again. Every week I try and do something different and I change the workouts like lower body one day, upper body, the next day a mix of everything.

So, I’m always shocking them with what they’re going to get. And that’s what’s keeping them coming.And again, I think the key is I always ask them, how do you feel? What do you want to do? What do you want to work on? So, it’s not like, okay, here’s where you don’t do it. No, they also kind of give me their ideas, and I go, and I flow with them.

Kyra: Right, I think, um, as Trainnr rolls out this open table feature where you can have consultations with people online, I think that’ll be really great.As you mentioned, you have this amazing knack for delivering exactly what the client wants and giving them options.

I’m curious how, if you could speak to circling back to just some of your fitness accomplishments, what do you consider an accomplishment in regards to your clients? When they see progress, do you feel an immense source of pride?

Carlos: Progress is one thing, seeing results with them is another, right? One of my biggest accomplishments, and I think a lot of trainers could agree with me on this. When you have a client that’s been with you 7, 8, 9, 10 years, that says a lot. Not just about the client, but also about me. So that makes me feel like I’ve accomplished a lot with them in the sense of, if they’re sticking with me that long, then there’s something I’m doing that they like, and so just to keep them that long. Believe me, keeping clients is hard. You know, clients flip from trainer to trainer very easy, because clients seem to get bored with workouts very quick.

So if they stop seeing results with you, alright I’m gonna go try something else. But I have a lot of clients who have been with me for years. I’m not lying when I say 10 years, 9 years, they’ve been with me that long.

So that, to me, is an accomplishment on its own, that I’ve been able to retain the clientele for that long. And that’s probably, if I’m going to say that, that’s probably the biggest accomplishment, being able to retain my clientele for that long.

 Kyra: Right, absolutely. Nine years retention is not an easy feat.

Carlos: Not at all.

Kyra: Okay, could you speak to what motivates you as a personal trainer?

Carlos: I think I’m just a people person. I love dealing with people, and I think I’m a good people person. I can communicate well with people.I, you know, I’m not always business, I also become a friend, shoulder to cry on with them, and, you know, they tell me things, I tell them things.

You know, we actually go out to dinner, we go out for drinks. So, you know, it’s just, it’s just I guess, personality?

Kyra: Well, that’s, that’s a special ability to be able to connect with lots of people. Would you say that you have a big takeaway or lesson that you try and impart with your clients or push onto your clients when you’re working with them?

Carlos: You know, when I had my gym, the slogan for it was, ‘your success is measured by pushing past your limits’. You know, so I’m always trying to push them harder and harder, and have them feel like they’re accomplishing more and more every time. So that’s what came to mind.

Kyra: I think that’s a very powerful kind of mantra, if you will.

 Carlos: Right

Kyra: And thinking about, you know, keeping your clients motivated and quarantine, keeping them accountable  by staying up to date with them, right?

Carlos: Look, I’ve always said you could lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

So, a big part is the client wanting to work out, right. And I think one of the keys to keep them in is, like I said to you, you don’t want to make the workouts the same thing over and over and over again, you want to, I mean, there’s only an X amount of exercises you can do in a workout, right?

So, you are limited, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep it interesting. You got to always make sure that they’re being challenged and that’s the best way to keep them engaged. You know, and again, they’re motivating themselves because they feel like, I’m not doing anything else, I might as well be working out. And I’ve got clients that train at five every morning. And during this pandemic, they’re still getting up at 5am and they don’t have to go to work, but they’re still training five in the morning.

So, you know, it’s something from a mental aspect, I think it’s something that they know it’s good for them. And, you know, physically mentally, emotionally, they have to keep that at least going for them.

 Kyra: Do you think with your programs on Trainnr, it will be helpful for clients who maybe don’t have a set point in time in their day where they can work out, and it’s really a kind of on-demand class for them, convenient for their schedule?

Carlos: Oh, definitely. Definitely, I mean, that’s one of the great things about Trainnr. You know, with a personal trainer, we’re a business, right, so we keep to a schedule. And there are certain clients who like to work out at a certain time every day, right; and there’s clients who need to be floating around all the time, they can’t stick to one set schedule.

So, I think that’s where Trainnr really works, because they have that access, or whatever time is convenient for theme.

 Kyra: Absolutely. And just to get a more holistic overview of you as a trainer, do you have anything that you specialize in in terms of fitness?

Carlos: So, there’s a couple things I love working with special needs kids. I don’t have enough kids that I work with. But I do have a couple and that’s one of the things that I like to put a lot of emphasis on if I do or when I do get people who have special needs.

Just because they’re special needs, doesn’t mean they can’t do things. I’ve worked out with these kids and they’re amazing. I’ve even had to tell them to slow down, because, you know, they’re just so ambitious and go-getter about it.

As far as my business goes, as far as my personal training and experience or, or life or whatever you want to call it. That’s something that I’ve always loved to gravitate towards to special needs.

Kyra: That’s, that’s wonderful. And…

Carlos: And don’t get me wrong. There’s also like, just, you know, I’m a big believer that you don’t have to go to the gym for an hour and a half to get a workout. You can get a hell of a workout in 30 minutes, if you know how to do it.

Kyra: And that’s where you step in!

Carlos: Right those 30 minutes, because most of my clients train for only 30 minutes. But they feel like they train for an hour – hour and a half because the intensity I work them out in. And that’s what you need.. And I know a lot of trainers are gravitating towards that fast, high intensity workout, right.

I think that’s one of the things as to why a lot of my clients have stuck with me. They like that intensity that I work them out. So that’s something, I guess, I feel like I’m a little more different than the next trainer, as far as my workouts go.

Kyra: And specifically, with these workouts you are weight training and HIIT focused. Correct, or are there other areas that…

Carlos: I use everything; I use body weight, I use weights, I do a lot of functional training calisthenics, I mix a lot of time wraps, you know, circuits. I just try and mix it all up just to constantly be shocking the person I’m working with. The body, I mean that you need to shock the body. The body will get used to whatever you throw at it. So, I’m always constantly changing everything about them.

Kyra: Right, and just to also keep the client engaged and interested in…

Carlos: Right, because when they think they’re doing okay, I throw a wrench in there. And they’re like, ‘oh, my God’. That’s just the way it works!

Kyra: That’s certainly keeping people on their toes.

Carlos: Right, right.

Kyra: So how do you envision your business post COVID?

Carlos: I’ll be honest with you; I have a lot of hope in this Trainnr app. Again, I would love to really be able to get my name out there. Not just locally, but expanded a lot more.

And I think a lot of people are realizing that, you know, nothing’s guaranteed in life. We have this pandemic that has hit us in such a way that we need to adapt in other ways.

So, I’m hoping that this platform just gets me to the next level. Because there’s only so much you could do. I’d love to be able to open up another facility. And I think that Trainnr may be able to allow me to hopefully one day again open up a facility by getting me more and more clients through Trainnr.

Kyra: Absolutely right, because not everyone, like you said, is willing to leave their home right now, as they shouldn’t for some safety reasons. And..

Carlos: And again, with Trainnr you have the potential to be exposed to hundreds of thousands of people. You know what I mean?

Kyra: Yeah.

Carlos: At a local gym, it’s only a few 100. You know what I mean? So, I’m hoping that Trainnr can get me to the next level, you know, as far as clients, as far as exposure, and maybe being able to open up another facility.

Kyra: Have you found that in writing programs for Trainnr that that’s forced you to think more creatively about what you want your digital presence to look like?

Carlos: Oh my god, yes. I’m the biggest critic of me. You know, I mean, like, I’m always criticizing myself. Because, you know, I don’t want to look dumb on there. I want my workouts to be interesting. You know, I want people to say, ‘wow, that was a really good workout!’

So yeah, it’s making me think outside the box all the time. Because when I’m writing out a program for Trainnr, I want to make sure I’m putting something good up there. I want that wow factor from people.

I think that we all have to do that if we’re going to work Trainnr, we all have to, as personal trainers, really give our best when designing a program.

Kyra: Well, I love your seven programs. It was great to talk to you, Carlos, thank you so much for your time and we’re looking forward to expanding your digital presence.

Carlos: Thank you. Thank you.