During the last 25 years, we’ve certified over 110,000 professionals. To celebrate our 25th year in business, we’re selecting 25 grads to showcase this year. Meet our next featured grad, Brandi Jackson, a Personal Trainer and AFPA Holistic Nutritionist.
How did your interest and passion for health & fitness begin?
In my early 20s, I gained 35+ pounds in three months. I was so busy multitasking my life that I felt blindsided when I stood on the scale and weighed in right at the cusp of 200+ pounds. In that moment, I decided I was ready to change my habits and figure out how to live healthier.
What made you particularly interested in the Holistic Nutrition + Personal Trainer certifications?
I decided to pursue certifications in both fitness and nutrition after working as a mental health counselor for almost a decade. I noticed my clients who worked with me holistically for mental health and also practiced healthy nutrition and fitness reported feeling better and happier faster. Because the results were so great, I realized it would be a powerful offering to my clients to be more knowledgeable in fitness and nutrition beyond my personal research and practice. I felt like my support would be more holistic as a mental health therapist. My clients enjoy working with me because I provide holistic coaching, therapy, and expertise in wellness, nutrition, and fitness simultaneously.
Why did you choose AFPA as your certifying organization?
I looked at several certification organizations, and I really wanted to find an organization that was versatile in health and wellness expertise versus only offering fitness certifications. AFPA has a wide range of health, wellness, and fitness certification programs and such wonderful reviews from students, so I was excited to sign up for my programs. I really love the family vibe from the customer service team, and I genuinely feel they want to see their students be successful.
What was the certification process like for you?
The certification process was not easy for me. I had to be persistent and really map out my study time. I struggled to have enough hours in the day as a mom, wife, and full-time employee; nonetheless, I was excited to sign up, to plan ahead, and try my best to study with any free time I could set aside. The study time was definitely the hard part for me, but I enjoyed learning so much! I knew taking the certification courses with AFPA would be worth the time spent, and that’s what helped me stay motivated not to give up and to really focus on learning as much as I possibly could to be the best help to my clients.
"Receiving my certifications changed my life because I have a growing private practice with new opportunities to help clients while doing what I love and helping my clients achieve the results in a healthy, holistic, and sustainable way!"
Where were you in your health/fitness career prior to receiving your certification?
Before completing my certifications, I was in the second wave of building my private practice and wanted to shake things up a bit. I felt like I needed and wanted to revamp my client offerings so that working with clients one-on-one would feel more energetic, holistic, versatile, and fun for both me and my clients. Clients can always tell if you are passionate about what you do, and it helps that I can talk with them about all of my favorite subjects of fitness, wellness, and nutrition.
What do you do now?
I currently have a private practice that has been growing steadily. I offer holistic nutrition services, mental health wellness coaching services, mental health therapy services specializing in anxiety and depression, and HIIT personal training.
How did receiving your certification change your career?
Receiving my certifications changed my life because I have a growing private practice with new opportunities to help clients while doing what I love and helping my clients achieve the results in a healthy, holistic, and sustainable way! I feel so inspired and excited when I read my client testimonials and see that I’m really helping them. I think that getting my certifications was the best tool to build my informational knowledge and to feel confident to put myself out there and practice serving my clients with all of my specialized knowledge and to keep learning more!
Is there a story or certain moment with a client that has stuck out in your memory as being impactful?
I have many positive memories working with clients since receiving my certifications. On average, my nutrition clients have lost 20 pounds within 3 months of working together, and that is so cool! One of my first personal training clients was a high school teacher, and she completely changed her nutrition practice and was able to build a new nutrition lifestyle. Not all of my clients are working on weight loss. Some are interested in getting fit or stronger, and it is so fun watching them gradually become stronger with increased stamina and endurance. I also love helping my wellness clients gain clarity and feel more confident.
What are your career goals going forward?
My private practice is growing well. I’m finally at the stage in my career where I’m gaining momentum and filling all of my available slots for client sessions. I plan to open up additional slots for more client sessions to grow into a waitlist for future clients. I have so many great opportunities, and I know my certifications are helping me reach new clients and referral partners. I’m excited about the versatility of options for my growing business. I would love to close this year out by filling my practice to capacity, selling out the tickets for my summer wellness retreat, launching my holistic mastermind group, and attending a few more health and wellness conferences and workshops.
How has your experience been with the AFPA customer service team and education advisors?
I have enjoyed working with AFPA’s customer service team. The feedback from the customer service team and my education advisor has been timely and supportive. I really enjoyed the feedback from my assignments. I am excited to get my continuing education hours with AFPA. I love all of the unique and versatile courses offered for continuing education. I look forward to continuing my education under AFPA’s educational guidance and to keep working with the customer service team if I need help in the future.
How did this certification program impact your overall life?
My life feels great. I have more control and flexibility with my schedule. My clients are awesome and are getting great results ongoing. I see so many opportunities to scale my business and to meet other health and wellness professionals. Getting my certifications with AFPA has helped me meet new friends and business partners. I feel so much gratitude after getting certified in fitness and nutrition. I also notice my personal growth regarding my own health and wellness journey and practice. I thought my health was good before my certifications but now I KNOW it is. I feel confident to offer my clients the best fitness, wellness, and nutrition practices to get results.
What does a typical day look like for you now?
A typical weekday involves me working from home. Most of my clients are calling in for online sessions. I try to space my sessions out an hour apart. I try to get up early around 5 AM or 5:30 AM to practice my morning wellness routine of reading, journaling, meditating, and exercise. Then my kiddos (ages 7 and 10) are usually needing to get ready for school. I help my kids prepare for school and then return home to prepare for my client sessions. I complete my support tasks, review my client notes, and research information for client follow-up sessions. When I have breaks between sessions, I work on my business marketing, collaborations, and goal-setting. For my personal training sessions, I meet my clients at a local gym where I can rent space based on their schedule. After working with gym-based clients, I run my community-based errands to multitask my time away from home. My husband picks up our kids while I try my best to support dinner prep and share chores with my husband. My family has a pretty chill evening routine of dinner, chores, bath time for my kids, storytime, and finally bedtime. After my kiddos are down for the night, I go straight to bed. I usually fall asleep by 8:30-9 PM.
Would you recommend AFPA to others?
I have already recommended AFPA to some of my colleagues. I plan to continue sharing my experience and working with AFPA to maintain my education in the field. I’m excited to see how AFPA continues to evolve. I would be thrilled if AFPA offered an annual conference or local health and wellness workshops live!
Do you have any advice for other people considering making the leap into a health, fitness, or nutrition career?
My advice for people considering making the leap into a health, fitness, or wellness career is to go for it and have a plan to fill in the gaps. I personally wanted to have more time after my certification to observe how to coach and cue clients specifically from the standpoint of nutrition and fitness vs. my practice in mental health therapy and counseling. I found fitness and nutrition coaches that allowed me to intern and shadow them while working so I could observe their styles and feel ready to do the work while honing my own style. Just know you can be successful in health and fitness if you apply learning to every part of the work. Be ready to ask for help and being brave will be key.