Vinh Duong was always on the skinnier side as a kid. As a computer science student in college, Duong was interested in building a bit more muscle, so he started going to a gym nearby. Not long after joining the gym, Duong began noticing a trainer working with his client day after day, week after week. One day it hit him: “I wanted to help others the way he was helping her,” he says. “I changed my major to kinesiology after that. And the rest is history.”
Helping others wasn’t Duong’s only incentive for wanting to become a personal trainer. A self-described “introvert,” Duong knew that being a trainer meant getting out of his comfort zone and talking to potential clients.
“I wanted to be more sociable. So I took it upon myself to not only get into this field to help other people but [also] as a challenge to myself to make myself become more communicative. You’re talking to people every day,” Duong says. “I think that was probably my biggest triumph, personally.”
After college, Duong applied for a job at 24 Hour Fitness, where he currently works as a fitness manager and helps empower others through fitness—what he says is his pride and his passion. Duong has even inspired his family, including his twin brother and his wife and her family, to care more about their health and fitness.
“They were initially taken aback—not because they were discouraged but because they weren’t introduced to fitness a certain way,” Duong explains. “So for example, my wife and her family are very much into running, but they weren’t really introduced into the weight-training side of things. Educating them and showing them how to do particular workouts has helped them. And now, they go to the gym all the time. They take classes. And I just introduced them to the 24GO app, so they’re starting to use that, as well.”
And while Duong is still working on his parents, he’s continuing to inspire his clients to be better, fitter versions of themselves every day inside and outside the club. Below are four tips from Duong to help you commit to a fitness journey, stick with it and get the most out of it.
“When you start a fitness journey, consistency is the first step. And it doesn’t just apply to fitness—it applies to anything,” Duong explains. “For me, it was talking to more people, being more sociable. But what I always tell my clients, and even my team members, is don’t focus too much on the nitty-gritty details—the workouts, the nutrition. Focus more on developing a pattern, some sort of habit to develop that consistency, because if you don’t have that, you’re not going to be able to stick with it. And that’s going to determine if you’re successful or not in whatever fitness goal you’re doing.”
“I usually recommend my clients write down a list of things that they want to accomplish and then pick three that seem easiest to start with,” he says. “I always tell them to start making those three a habit for the month. If you’re able to consistently perform a routine or perform something that you want to do three times a week, that’s going to help you create that consistency. Then we can start adding more month over month, as we worry less and less about completing the ones we started [because now they are habits].”
“I think it’s important to take a step back and realize the position that you’re in,” he says. “[For example], if you’ve gained a little bit of weight and you’re putting yourself down and are discouraged. If you’re not where you thought you should be in this moment or you’re a little too ambitious, and now you’re getting discouraged. Just to take a step back and realize where you are right now so that way you know what steps you need to do to move forward. Sometimes we just get too caught up in what we used to be and not where we should be going.”
Sleep is your playground
“Sleep is very important to recovery and also to your progress,” Duong explains. “For me, sleep is everything. Sleep not only helps you recover, it helps you de-stress, it helps you make progress. It’s the only time throughout the entire 24 hours of the day that you have just for yourself to create dreams. You have aspirations? You want to progress? You want your own journey? You have to have some sort of time to yourself to think about that. And what better place than your own playground at night?”
Photo credit: Christa Mortimore