Jack Goldberg was interviewing for a job in financial services, but he knew something wasn’t right. He could hear himself answer the questions—minus the enthusiasm he thought he ought to feel.

Goldberg, now a Fitness Manager at 24 Hour Fitness Glendora Sport and a Virtual Personal Trainer, had prioritized his education and his career, and had planned his path: Get an undergraduate degree, get an MBA and then become a financial planner. Goldberg always had enjoyed athletics and played baseball, football and other sports. He even worked as an assistant coach in college. But fitness, he thought, would always be a hobby.

After graduating, Goldberg began pursuing positions in the field of financial services and quickly started to realize his heart wasn’t in it. Using his leadership skills from years of involvement in team sports and his passion for fitness, he decided to change careers.

Goldberg is featured in the latest 24 Hour Fitness ad campaign, and we asked how he started his fitness journey and how he navigated through his change in career.

24Life: How did your path lead to 24 Hour Fitness?

JG: I wasn’t always into fitness but I was always into sports. I started to love fitness while I was attending Husson University and did an assistant strength coach internship for the football team during undergrad. Coaching, I was able to develop my skills as a leader and increase my knowledge about fitness.

After I did my assistant strength coach internship, I was a personal trainer for two years at a YMCA in Bangor, Maine while earning my MBA. At the YMCA, I was mostly concerned about getting clients to reach their goals. I was used to training professional athletes, and it was humbling to work with an older group of clients because it presented me with new challenges in terms of strength and recovery that I had not been used to.

It took time to learn, and I was able to slowly grow my business while I was also going to get my MBA. My ultimate goal was to graduate and become a financial advisor. But when I began interviewing for positions in financial services, I didn’t feel like I loved it in the way I should. While I was looking for work, a recruiter from 24 Hour Fitness reached out to me and recommended I try applying for the fitness manager position, and I got the job. I’ve really fallen in love with it, especially developing trainers. When I first started I had my challenges as a fitness manager, but I was lucky enough to be surrounded by great general managers and partnering fitness managers, who took the time to help develop me. By my 6th month I began to have consistent results and earned a promotion to grand open the Downtown Long Beach location.

24Life: People had to change their fitness routines in 2020 when the gym wasn’t an option. How did it impact you, personally and professionally?

JG: Thinking back to March 2020 when all of this started, I was super lazy. The first week, I thought this is great—when was the last time I had a whole week off? Sleeping in every day, just generally being lazy, and that lasted about five days. By the second week, I had some anxieties come up, including about my own job security. Sitting at home and thinking too much is never a good idea, because there’s so many forms of anxiety that kicked in. All of that adds up. The one constant was my ability to work out. Whatever is going on, I can still work out. I tell my clients that, too.

When clubs temporarily closed in July 2020, my district manager Brad asked me if I was interested in staying on board as a virtual coach. I was assigned 10 clubs to cover, and it really took off from the very first day. I have eight clients who have been with me since then, and they continue to crush goals.

We would love to have the gym open, especially because the atmosphere can be hard to replicate at home, but we’re able to make virtual training sessions effective. Members’ goals aren’t going to be the same, but we can still create new goals. I have continued making new challenges for my clients, and new goals, because one constant is our ability to move and improve. We can go for a walk, we can do push-ups—there’s always something you can do. It’s really about changing your perspective.

24Life: Community is an important aspect to the gym. Was there an experience where you really felt the community aspect of your work?

JG: As a fitness manager, you have to focus on the business, and there was a time I would have let that get to me–until I met a member who had stage 4 colon cancer. When I met her, I had a lot of things going on in my head and when she told me she had cancer, I knew I had to train her. She said her goals were to be stronger, and the first day she couldn’t even do one squat. In two months, she could do 15 squats! Something as simple as doing squats made her feel like she just won the Super Bowl.

It made me realize I need to be more appreciative. I trained her until two weeks before she passed away. I told her she changed my life, and she said, “No, you changed my life.” Talk about fitness being essential!

24Life: Do you have any advice for people interested in getting back to a fitness routine but might be discouraged after a long break?

JG: It’s not easy to say be patient, but that’s what we have to do. Understanding that fitness is essential is huge. Don’t stress about what you can’t control.

Photo credits: Jack Goldberg