So far, in this Local Athlete Highlight series we’ve:
This week we’ll be talking to my friend, Jonathan Branton, who graduated from law school several years back but decided to pursue his interests in personal training soon after.
Can you explain a little bit about your athletic background and interests?
I got tackled playing football my freshman year and got knocked out cold. As a result I developed a blood clot in my brain. It’s not nearly as serious as it sounds but needless to say, my mom wasn’t too fond of me continuing to play football. I wrestled in middle school as well.
My primary interests now are powerlifting. It is fascinating to me how something as simple as squat, bench, and deadlift can also be so intricate and nuanced.
When did you decide you wanted to become a lawyer?
I had to interview the head of my major at the University of Tennessee. I asked him what did students with Global Studies degrees usually do after graduation and he said a bunch of things including going to law school. I thought, “Yeah, that’s what I’ll do, go to law school.”
Where did you go to undergrad and law school? When did you graduate?
University of Tennessee 2008-2010, Marquette University 2010-2013
At what point did you realize you didn’t want to be a lawyer anymore? Why did you decide to switch careers after working for so long to get your law degree?
After my first year of law school. I had gone to Marquette because of their reputation for Sports Law. At some point that first year I realized that there is no such thing as sports law, just labor/contract/employment law with an athletes name listed as the plaintiff or defendant.
I would have dropped out of law school after my second year if my mom didn’t put that Jewish guilt on me. I finished school for her.
Did you initially realize you wanted to become a personal trainer instead? Or did you have other career choices in mind bedsides being a lawyer?
The summer after my second year of law school I made a rather large bet with a friend on who could run a Marine PT test with the best score. I had always lifted weights and ran occasionally but I was totally ignorant about nutrition and sports performance. I became obsessed and from there I found a passion in health and fitness.
I did want to become a personal trainer. At the time I thought I wanted to do that for a living. After training for about a year I realized I much preferred the management aspects of the gym business. I still have a steady group of 5 clients I have been working with forever. The only new clients I take have powerlifting specific goals.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do now? Where do you work? What is the typical client population you typically work with?
I am the area manager for all four Anytime Fitness clubs in the Augusta area. My official title is Member Experience Manager. I oversee all of our managers and the personal training programs at all four clubs. Basically I do it all, from training new employees to receiving calls at 3am that there is a problem at a club that needs to be addressed (the 3am calls are the best!).
My typical client population is someone with powerlifting specific goals. The typical client at Anytime Fitness is going to be a female 20-60 years old who wants to lose weight and get “toned.”
What is your own training like right now? Are you training for anything in particular? What are some of your goals?
I had a rough time with my shoulder over the past year and didn’t bench for over 6 months. As soon as that got better my hip started hurting so I haven’t deadlifted more than 225 in 3 months.
Aside from programming around injuries a typical week for me would be 4-6 workouts that last about 90 minutes. I will start with a powerlifting movement or a standing overhead press on occasion and do sets of 1-4 reps with varying weights based on how I feel that day and a percentage of my one rep max. It’s called undulating periodization but I’ve been doing that since before I had ever heard that term.
The first half of my workout will focus on that main compound lift and maybe another secondary compound movement. After that it’s pure bodybuilding and trying to get a pump with high reps low weight cause after all, we’re all just a little vain!
My goal the past 2 years has been to become as strong as I possibly can in squat, bench, and deadlift and always be at most 6 weeks away from being able to see my abs!
Throughout your own training, what kinds of injuries have you battled the most? What sorts of things have you done to alter your training to combat these injuries?
I am so glad my shoulder got hurt to the point where benching 95 lbs. was excruciating. I have been very lucky to have never had an injury and used to question people’s toughness if they said they couldn’t do something because of an injury. I’m glad it happened to me because I have so much more empathy for people with injuries now.
When my front delt hurt from benching I just didn’t bench until it felt better and did lots of bodybuilding style training for my chest, specifically cable chest flies. My chest has never been bigger! And of course I am a huge fan/enemy of the great/evil lacrosse ball to get all the knots out of my muscles after I work out.
Listen to your body!
Do you have any specific advice for people who have worked very hard to get through school, and/or attain a certain career, and then realize it isn’t something they want to do anymore?
I feel like every human being who is of above average intelligence at one point has to choose between money and happiness. I chose happiness. If you aren’t happy who cares how much money you make?
My advice would be to not do a job that makes you unhappy. There are plenty of options.
Information about Anytime Fitness in the CSRA
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