Becoming a personal trainer and plant-based nutrition coach plus accepting the realities of being an entrepreneur did not fall into place easily for me. It's been a long road full of life lessons, but worth every struggle and bought of self doubt.
IN MY mid 20's I was disillusioned with my attempt to build a career in teaching and I felt lost. I came from a modest middle class family, and going from college right into a steady job was instilled in me as the safe choice. But, nothing about it felt right. I wanted something more. I wanted to travel, to have my own experiences, and along the way to find my true passion. How was I supposed to help people best and make myself happy at the same time? As my dad put it, "Once I realized that you truly walked to the beat of your own drummer, I learned to just accept you were going to do things your own way and enjoy watching the process". Looking back, that must have been frustrating for my parents to watch, but I was going to figure out life my own way.
In my vision quest search for discovering what I was really meant to do for a job, I realized that my initial love for teaching came from my formative teenage years training hard in my dojo (martial arts school) under the guidance of incredible sensei (teachers). And as I advanced in rank, I took on the shared responsibility of instructing youth classes in the dojo. I lived and breathed karate. So much so, that the biggest factor in me staying in college was so that I could live and study in Japan as an exchange student. (shout-out to Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka) Despite the fact I knew I was far from qualified to open my own dojo at 26 years old, I realized I could still follow my true passion in life, training and teaching, another way - by becoming a personal trainer. So in 2007 I enrolled at the National Personal Training Institute and I finally felt I was on the right path. After a couple of years gaining some ground experience as a trainer in corporate big box gyms (what a nightmare that was), I embraced the world of entrepreneurship, and started my own personal training business. ( I can't say my parents were thrilled, but in a certain way they were proud) I was on a clear mission to help each client reach their untapped potential and optimal health through a holistic approach to fitness, nutrition and mindset coaching.
After a few years of training on my own, I was investing quite a bit of my coaching time writing nutrition plans in order to maximize my client's results. However, there was a problem- I have been a vegetarian over half of my life, yet I was never presenting a meat-free diet as a healthy option to my clients. I just was not confident enough in my nutritional education to boldly present vegetarianism in a way that benefited their health. Because of that, my clients felt the disconnect.
In early 2011 after watching the groundbreaking documentary Forks Over Knives everything became connected. I was blown away by the power a whole food plant-based diet had to prevent and reverse disease. I immediately knew I had to make plant-based nutrition the cornerstone my nutritional training philosophy.
In 2012, I earned my certification in plant-based nutrition from eCornell and the T.Collin Campbell Institute which opened up whole new world of coaching to me. My work became not just about helping someone with their outward appearance, but was now about fundamentally changing their health on the inside. As a plant-based nutritionist, I am able to help my clients prevent and even reverse diseases such as type II diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, and other chronic inflammatory illnesses. Working as a preventative healthcare coach has been empowering and so rewarding. It has created a much deeper connection to my clients because their results truly are life changing.
Thanks to Forks Over Knives, I have discovered my niche market, aligned my personal and professional morals, and my business has grown steadily in the right direction.
It's an exciting time to be part of the plant-based lifestyle movement. We are living through a huge paradigm shift in the way people eat and how they view their relationship to food and the planet and their health. I truly believe that PPBC (although still a small business, world domination is yet to come) will be a leader the future of the health fitness industry. I am proud that Plant Based Boot Camp has grown from a small 1 to 1 personal training business in NYC to a dynamic, worldwide, supportive, plant-powered health and fitness community.
Taking charge of your health and wellness can be a life changing decision. Start your transformational journey by joining the Plant Power Boot Camp community today!
- Coach Erika
MY TRAINING JOURNEY
Always eager to challenge my own discipline, I signed up for my first bodybuilding show in December of 2010. It was the NPC Grand Prix in Los Angles. Over my 12 week transformation journey, I lost a total of 15 lbs. I gain an incredible amount of muscle and became the strongest that I've ever been. I also cried more than once at how hard it was to train daily, be on a competition diet, work full time in retail, and still be running my personal training business on the side. I almost quit, but I didn't. I stepped on stage in the best shape of my life physically and mentally. I placed in the top 5 out of 20 competitors in my category, and was nationally qualified to compete for my pro card. Pretty good for my first show in the LA NPC scene. Although I knew I was not interested to compete at the pro level, I did get "the bodybuilding bug" and a year later, I competed in my second NPC LA show on my 32nd birthday.
The next year I moved back home to Massachusetts and I competed through the INBF and OBC bodybuilding organizations.
One of the main motivations to compete in bodybuilding shows, ( besides wanting to be in peak physical strength) was to put myself through the mental challenge of adhering to an extremely intense fitness regimen and meticulous diet.
I knew that I had to experience for myself what I ask of my clients. 100% effort and dedication. A complete lifestyle change. The mental mindset to get up early day after day to workout when you are sore and tired and you just want to quit. What it is like to make food choices that are completely different from your friends and family. To make small sacrifices day in and day out, knowing that at the end of the 12 weeks it WILL add up to a HUGE transformation. To surrender and TRUST THE PROCESS. To believe in yourself when there is a constant voice in your head that is doubting yourself.
Most personal trainers who compete successfully in bodybuilding show turn around and make the majority of their income by coaching other's to the stage. ( I will from time to time take on a competition client) But that's not my path. I am much more interested in taking my first hand experiences and using that to coaching the "non athlete" general population.
It is crucial to understand that even though you might not look exactly like you can compete in a bodybuilding show at the end of your own personal transformation journey, the fitness and nutrition program you are on will demand just as much from you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It will challenge you in ways you have never been tested before. And for that, you need an experienced coach who has been through it themselves and who will be there for you every step of the way.
The first time I decided that I wanted to do a triathlon was when I was 27, right after I had moved to Santa Barbara, California. I was outside all day enjoying the mountains and ocean, and there was a big community for it, so it was only natural to want to accomplish that goal. My roommate was on the UCSB cycling team and was on the swim team in high school so we set to work training. My attempt at one swim lesson ended in tears because I was shocked at actually how hard swimming was when you technically had never trained in swimming before. The bike came easily to me and was the most fun. I could put in 30-40 miles easily. But ,my attempt to buy my own bike ended pretty quick, because I barely was making enough money to pay my rent and buy food.
Fast forward to when I met John a few years later, and BOOM - all gear supplied!
I trained for and completed a triathlon SPRINT in 2016. It was considered hard ( mainly the swim, I always almost die on the swim)
So my first Olympic race was the 2017 NYC TRIATHLON. I was part of the first Farm Sanctuary tri team, which gave my race great meaning.
I will boil the highlights of my experience down to 5 points:
1. Yes, swimming in the Hudson was super gross. And I had a panic attack and it took me 3 times as long as it should have to complete the swim, but I didn't die and so I got on the bike and kept going.
2. I went from not being able to swim 1 lap in a pool, to doing open water ocean swims 1.5 miles! apparently swim training is fun, but swimming in a race is actually the worst thing ever.
3. Triathlons are super expensive because you need expensive gear for three sports. If I didn't have an Ironman boyfriend who is a total gear head and gave me everything I needed, I don't know how I would have afforded it.
4. I still really love biking and biking is my favorite sport to do for fun, even if I'm not training for a race.
5. I hate running more than a 5K, and that is okay. ( hey, I'm a sprinter )
Overall, I will never forget how proud I was of myself when I crossed that finish line in Central Park. It was a surreal moment etched into my memory forever. I was so happy, and so thankful I had John coach me though the process and to have such awesome teammates. My time sucked. I was the last one on my team to finish. But I didn't care. I overcame wanting to quit during the training process about 50 times. I pushed through my injuries that were causing me pain. I had finished, and that meant I won. And I never want to do another triathlon again. I learned that I am 100% NOT BUILT TO BE AN ENDURANCE ATHLETE. I am so glad I did it because it was on my life goal list, but boy oh boy, I am so happy I never have to do another one ever again.
MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING
These days I've turned back to my first love, martial arts. Being able to live in a city that offers some of the best martial arts instructors form all over the world is a blessing. I never feel more alive and in tune with the true essence of my being than when I am in the dojo. The path of a sincere martial artist is truly a life-long journey, and despite all the twists and turns life has thrown at me, I am staying the course. Perhaps someday I will have a little piece of land in the country and out beyond my house, in a converted barn I will have a secret dojo.
One of the best things about training hard with a dojo again, is that has inspired me to keep on weaving that energy and philosophy back into my business. I want people to know that you don't necessarily have to practice a martial art to be considered a modern day warrior. Everyone can be a warrior. It is exemplified in the goals you set for yourself, and how you choose live your life day by day based on those goals.
Currently I reside in New York City. It's a magical and mad city, with unending adventures, people and places to explore. It is a place that puts to test my ability to "sustain inner peace in the midst of storm", and I'm loving the challenge of it. I stay balanced with yoga, tai-chi, meditation, photography, and eating at some of the most delicious vegan restaurants in the world and taking care of my amazing 100lb pitbull fur baby, Stormy Bear.
National Academy Of Sports Medicine, CPT
National Personal Training Institute, CPT & Nutrition Coach
Cornell University, Certified Plant-Based Nutrition Coach
Main Street Vegan Academy, Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator
KwanMuKan Karate, 1st degree Black Belt
American Ju-jitsu Federation, 1st degree Black Belt
American Heart Association, CPR & AED certified
INTERESTED IN BECOMING A Certified Personal Trainer AND and a certified plant-based nutritionist?
These are the certification programs I recommend: