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From Certified Personal Trainer to Certified Financial Planner®

I often joke with Jim when I become interested in something, I go down the proverbial “rabbit hole” and go very deep on a specific subject and try to learn as much as I possibly can. As I look back at my career thus far this holds true. When I became interested in fitness and nutrition, I became a Certified Personal Trainer and when I became interested in personal finance, I became a Certified Financial Planner®.

My fitness journey began when I was training for soccer and high school. I was heading into my senior year and looking to add some muscle to increase my performance on the field. 

As I began to work out, I soon found I liked training more than playing soccer. I diligently researched the optimal training routines to maximize my performance and muscle growth. I meticulously tracked my exercises, sets, and reps. I studied diet and nutrition to understand the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats I needed to intake daily. I spent the majority of my income from working at Discount Drug Mart on supplements to enhance my workouts.

After learning so much about fitness and nutrition I decided I wanted to share this with other people and thought I could make a career out of it. I began to train and counsel friends and family and attained my Certified Personal Trainer from the International Sports Science Association. In addition to my personal training certification, I decided to study nutrition at the University of Akron and got a job at the Rec Center on campus, and began seeing clients.

I soon realized that not everyone has the same passion and commitment to fitness and nutrition as I did. This was very discouraging for me, as my clients did not see the results I expected. This was mainly due to only training them for 30 minutes twice per week and having zero control of their behavior outside of the gym. 

As I was training clients, I also discovered there was not a lot of money to be made in the personal training business as an employee. If I wanted to make a career out of it, I would have to open my own gym.

This led me to study finance because I thought people who worked with money would by default make a lot of money and I could then use that money to open a gym. As I got exposure to personal finance and got an internship with a large insurance company, I learned that you were able to help people as a personal trainer or coach would. 

I then began digging into all information related to financial planning and striving to become a Certified Financial Planner®, which I saw as the gold-standard in the industry. It wasn’t until I graduated from the University of Akron and began working at a Registered Investment Advisory firm where I saw the difference between product sales and real financial planning and seeing there was so much left to learn beyond the Certified Financial Planner® designation. I began to dive deeper into specific areas that interested me. The first was taxation, where I decided to get the Enrolled Agent license as a good way to have a thorough understanding of the US tax code. 

Then I was then drawn towards the area of retirement planning once I found out the number of decisions and complexities that surround this time in someone’s life. So, enrolled in the Retirement Income Certified Professional® designation through the American College to explore this area further.  

I will always have a love for fitness and nutrition and I’m more than willing to help anyone who has questions in these areas, but I see this as a passion rather than a career. My transition from fitness to finance has shaped me into who I am today. I look forward to guiding clients through their retirement journeys. Who knows maybe someday I will open a gym to help clients get in great financial and physical shape. 

Gage Paul, CFP®, RICP®, EA

Gage Paul is a financial planner at Western Reserve Capital Management. He works with the firm’s clients to create sustainable financial plans and investment strategies.

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