VIDA Specialty Squad: Ed Saunders
By Mekita Rivas, VIDA editor and member
VIDA is home to dozens of the District’s best personal trainers. But did you know that many of our trainers also have specialized certifications and expertise? Each month, we’ll be introducing you to one of these superstars in our brand new blog series: The VIDA Speciality Squad!
Up first? Ed Saunders, a trainer at VIDA Fitness Renaissance who is an Olympic Track and Field Level 2 coach. Sure, the Olympics may be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t train like a champion! Check out Ed’s story and discover how he can help you elevate your running game.
How did you know that you wanted to be a personal trainer?
Boxing and track and field made me interested in personal training. You don’t really “play” either of these sports — you have to lock in. You only get better via precision. So that gives me a different focus when I’m training clients. I am very focused on performance enhancement no matter what you’re working on.
One of the big things I focus on are macrocycles and microcycles. I make sure clients know exactly what they will be doing from now to the next three to six months. A lot of that comes from how we train in track and field. You don’t constantly run intensely. You don’t constantly lift heavy weight. You don’t constantly do power exercises. Everything has a rhyme and a reason, and you only get better by doing it correctly. I knew I could take that into personal training.
Describe your workout routine. What kind of workouts are you drawn to?
I typically work out about five times a week. I’m a fan of challenging workouts that makes sense. For example, I’m interested in powerlifting, but not just for the sake of doing it. I do my powerlifting to make my body more explosive and more precise. I’m looking to train more for the long jump, and I’ll probably compete in the next Paralympics. My favorite type of conditioning is boxing workouts or sprints on the track.
What do you enjoy about being a VIDA personal trainer?
Connecting with a clientele base that desires to get better and grow is what I most enjoy about being a VIDA personal trainer. It’s always great when you have a group of people who want to do the work you’re giving them. And I really enjoy building connections with people. I’ve been with VIDA for five years, and it’s meant a lot to help people change their lives. I end up with clients who have serious long-term goals, and we do a lot of good work together.
How would you describe your personal training style?
I am whatever my clients need me to be at the time. I wouldn’t say I have a particular style per se. I’m not the overbearing trainer. I’m not the laid-back trainer. I’m not a bunch of different things. I am whatever makes sense. I focus on a strong needs analysis. Based on what you need and want, I figure out how we have to approach the situation. So if you look at me doing eight sessions in a day for instance, all eight sessions are very different because the clients are very different. I try to figure out the wants and needs of each client so they can continue to grow and be happy with the services. Buy-in from clients is extremely important. So I always make sure to teach my clients exactly what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.
What does it take to become an Olympic Track and Field Level 2 coach?
Track and field is my favorite sport. I wanted to make sure I had the appropriate credentials so that I could move around freely within the field. Getting the Level 2 certification was quite challenging. Initially, you have to be accepted to the course. You do this by taking the Level 1 course, and then you present a résumé of what you’ve done in the field. Once you’re accepted, that’s when it gets really intense.
You have two months to go through 18 different portals of information in four major categories: biomechanics, physics, sport science, and psychology of sport. Then you go to the training center in Indiana for a week. When you arrive, you have to take two exams on the very first day. If you don’t pass those two exams, you do not move forward with the program. The next day you have an additional two exams with the same stipulations. From there you go to practicals with USA Track and Field coaches. For the rest of the week, you have three days of 12 hours of classes, two practical exams, a presentation, and a final exam based on the last three days of work. At the end, if you completed it with at least an 85%, you get your certificate. It was a pretty rough process, but you learn a lot.
What would you say to someone who’s on the fence about working with a personal trainer?
Everyone who comes to the gym can benefit from my training. Plus, so many people like to run. I take clients through the gate analysis, teach them proper technique, make them more efficient runners, and keep them from getting injured. When you’re working with me, you’re not just doing a stream of exercises. You get a chance to work directly toward your goal, and you can understand why each rep in each exercise is going to get you where you’re trying to go.