Guillermo Perez, 2014 Personal Fitness Trainer Graduate
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer / Certified in Functional Movement Screen (FMS)
Trainer at Cranston YMCA & for the Functional Electrical Stimulation Bike
"I thought I knew about physical fitness because I worked out lifting weights. There is so much more to being a Fitness Trainer! I didn’t know I could help people who have medical conditions, until, at MTTI, we studied anatomy & physiology and covered all different types of illnesses and injuries. Now at the Y, I train fitness clients and assist people who have neurological conditions or spinal injuries to use our FES Bike to restore muscular strength."
"Since I have been using the FES Bike under the supervision of Guillermo, I have seen much improvement in my spasms and pain in my legs."— Michael
Cranston Y Member
I first attended MTTI in 2007, when the school was located in East Providence.
I graduated from the Computer Service Technician/ Network Installer program, and worked as a service tech and a field tech for several different companies. Going to MTTI was a positive experience; I knew it was a good school.
I always liked weight lifting; I wanted to be a trainer for a long time.
I personally lost over 100 pounds with diet and exercise alone; I understand the struggle to lose weight and improve fitness. I like to inspire others on their fitness journey.
During December 2012, I was involved in a car accident.
I drove by MTTI after the accident, on the way to bringing my car to a body shop. I saw, on their electronic sign out front, MTTI was enrolling for classes in a new Personal Fitness Trainer program.
I met with Jen Morin, who developed the curriculum and taught the program.
I was still receiving physical therapy for injuries from the accident. By the time the second class began in June, I was ready to enroll.
Being a student in the program was rough for me at the beginning.
I thought I knew about physical fitness because I worked out. I really only knew the basics of weight lifting. There is so much more to being a Fitness Trainer!
Jen was a good teacher.
When I had a question and she didn’t have an answer, she would find out. Jen would recommend books in addition to the course text that addressed my specific interests.
Jen talked with us as equals.
During the program I had some financial and life issues that could have interrupted my progress in the program. I was able to talk with Jen. She listened and was helpful to me in figuring out how to handle those issues and stay in school
My class members came from all different backgrounds.
We learned a lot from each other—as people and also from one another’s knowledge and experience about exercise and nutrition.
Before coming to MTTI, I didn’t know I could help people who have medical conditions.
We studied anatomy & physiology and covered all different types of illnesses and injuries. We learned how to work with clients who have lung capacity problems, obesity, fibromyalgia and even mental health problems.
Becoming a Trainer opened my eyes to how people have very different fitness needs.
Some people have never lifted a weight; others are preparing for competitions. Clients may come to a fitness center to get fit and feel better or with the goal to fit into a wedding dress.
If I hadn’t completed MTTI’s Personal Fitness Trainer program, I would have no idea how to cue people.
You have to be taught how to guide a person through new exercises. Every client learns differently, so you have to try different approaches. If you can get them to do the movements in a way that makes them feel successful, they will keep coming back. You need to help them recognize their accomplishments.
Everything began to fall in place when I started searching for an internship.
On search day, I thought, 'I'll hit the YMCA first.' I walked in and asked about internship possibilities. The Manager, Ashley, happened to be at the front desk. She had me fill out an application for employment, and then called me the next day to offer me the internship.
I started interning at the Y on Saturdays.
On the final day of internship, someone resigned and I was offered a job.
At first I felt like it was going to be hard to make a living.
I was nervous when I started working with clients at the Y. My first client had never worked out before. I had to figure everything out to get her started. I was encouraged when she, and the others I trained, bought more sessions.
There was a short period when I wondered if I should go back to working in IT.
During the first year, building clientele was slow; I had some doubts about whether I could make training my career.
Then the Y approved the purchase of the Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Bike.
FES bikes enable people who have little or no voluntary leg movement—due to injury, stroke, Multiple Sclerosis or other neurological conditions—to regain muscular strength.
Computer generated, low-level electrical pulses stimulate the peripheral nerves.
The peripheral nerves receive messages from the brain via the spinal cord, to control the muscles and internal organs. When the spinal cord is severed or bruised, or the brain is damaged from a stroke, or nerves are damaged from disease, some or all motor (movement) functions may be lost.
The FES bike delivers electrical stimulation that creates patterned movement in the arms, leg and trunk.
It enables weak or paralyzed muscles to work and perform activities. Regular use of the bike helps prevent atrophy (muscle wasting) from disuse, until stem cell or other technologies could potentially repair their nerves.
I trained to assist clients using the FES Bike.
Preparing to qualify for the live training was intense. I watched videos and took tests from home. To use the machine, I had to pass multiple section tests online with a score of 95% or better.
After passing the online tests, I attended an 8-hour hands-on training.
I set up different people on an actual FES bike. The instructor also placed pads on our muscles to give us an experience of how it feels.
The FES bike is programmed specifically for each person’s needs.
We change the amount of electrical stimulation to increase run times and resistance. My IT background helps me understand how to program the tablet. I can create a lower leg program or an interval program that varies speed or level of difficulty.
The most difficult part is learning to set people up to use the bike.
Everyone is different—no two people can be set up exactly the same way. I work with people from 11 years old to 80. Clients may be tall or short, heavy set or thin.
The training videos tell you, in general, how to place the pads on people’s limbs.
I’ve had to learn by experience how to position the pads for individual clients.
The video training didn’t guide me about how to touch clients.
When I first set up women to use the bike, I wanted to be careful not to be invasive. I didn’t want to make a woman uncomfortable, or have her feel I was being unprofessional. I had to figure out how to set up someone without placing the pads on the inner thigh area.
Paula, a Y member who uses the FES bike, appreciates how Guillermo handles her set up.
“Guillermo is very discreet. He places the pads on the outside of my leg to respect my privacy and dignity.”
The FES bike is booked solid for 7-8 sessions a day, six days a week.
Initially only two or three people used the FES Bike each day.
Right now we can assist people who need to strengthen leg muscles.
We plan to fundraise so that we can purchase the attachments to deliver electronic stimulation to arms. We could serve more people if we had a second bike.
In addition to assisting people with the FES Bike, I train about two clients a day.
I work with about 12 clients per week. I prefer coaching one-on-one or in small groups, so that I can see what they are doing. That way I can help them make corrections right away and get better results.
I start by screening new clients to assess their fitness level.
If they haven’t worked out before, I introduce them to basic exercises. I’ll progress them to working with resistance bands, cables and then weights. I also work with clients who have fibromyalgia. This is tough, because some days, they just can’t make it to the gym.
Now I have clients returning to train with me long-term.
I have clients I have trained for a year or more who come regularly. Seeing that I can help them achieve the results they want has increased my self-confidence.
Once you’ve been a student at the school, you are always part of the MTTI Community.
I experienced this when, after I had graduated, my apartment was ransacked and robbed. I was left with only my furniture and some clothing; the intruders destroyed all of our Christmas decorations. I was so upset that I made a rant about what happened on Facebook. I was speechless when my former instructor, Jen, showed up with Christmas gifts for my daughter and a donation from MTTI staff members. My family and I will be forever grateful.
Cranston Branch YMCA
The Cranston Y is a community-focused nonprofit established in 1844 with recreational programs & services for all ages.
Executive Director, Cory Guglietti
1225 Park Avenue, Cranston, RI 02910
The Cranston YMCA is the only place in Rhode Island that currently is offering the use of the FES bike. We are also fortunate to have the FES bike at our Newman YMCA location in Seekonk, MA. Use of the FES bike is part of a YMCA of Greater Providence membership. For members, there are no extra costs associated with using this bike. Only with the assistance of trained YMCA staff may members work with the technology.
For more information on these bikes, please contact the Cranston Y at 401-943-0444, or the Newman Y at 508-336-7103.