Geoffrey Hurley is among those who took a career turn when the Buffalo Athletic Club was sold to LA Fitness in late 2013.
He was fitness director at the Eastern Hills BAC at the time, and decided to go back to school and get a master’s degree in health and physical education from SUNY Cortland State. It led to a job as a personal training teacher in the Riverside Institute of Technology Health and Wellness Academy.
“People want to feel good about themselves,” Hurley said. “They want people to notice they’re putting in the work.”
Next week, he will start his second year teaching Riverside high school students how to help others accomplish those goals.
Hurley, 26, a Getzville native who also holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education, comes from a family of teachers. He lives with his fiancée, Stephanie Bergquist, in Avalon. Each school day, he makes the 75-minute drive to Buffalo while she drives 50 minutes to her job as a counselor at Hornell High School.
“In my free time, I’m at the state-of-the-art weight room that they built about four, five years ago at Riverside. It’s the best in the city,” Hurley said. This summer, he helped former BAC personal trainer Dwayne Brinson, owner of FitNation, boost the size of his staff after a move into a larger space behind Buffalo Pharmacies on Transit Road in Clarence.
Q. How many students did you have last school year?
About 25. I’m looking for double that this year. I can have up to three classes with 24 as a max in each class. I have a solid base of 10th-graders who are going to be starting this year and had a solid base last year who attended the class regularly and will be back. There was not one day last school year that I didn’t like going to work. I liked the challenge and pace, and the way the students responded. The students at Riverside really are there to learn and the administration put in place by Ella Dunne, our principal, is turning the tide in a good direction. She appreciates what we’re doing.
Q. What are the lessons like?
The majority of the students might not become physical trainers, but I’d like them to have some sort of science background in physiology and exercise, and if anything, be confident when they leave in how to instruct other people to be physically fit.
At the BAC, I had to hire, recruit and develop personal trainers. It’s really the same thing I’m doing now. I really get a lot from what I do. It’s a hybrid course of classroom teaching as well as weight room. When I took over, I realized an hour and 25 minutes wasn’t going to work in the classroom and being a physical education background, I know how important it is to move around, so what I found is that with 10th grade, they’re learning anatomy and physiology coupled with beginning lessons on how to learn certain exercises, getting used to terminology. It’s foundation work. When they get to 11th grade, it’s an extension of anatomy and physiology coupled with kinetics and kinesiology, learning about the physics of exercise as well as energy systems. Why certain types of power training or resistance training work the way they do. I instituted a page on Riverside’s website that we call the workout of the week. This is a change to bridge connections with the community as well as faculty and staff within Buffalo. I videotape my students teaching exercises. Usually it’s four exercises. It’s about a three-minute video, all on YouTube. It’s fairly basic. I like it because these students don’t necessarily like to get in front of their peers and do teaching but when they’re doing it in front of a camera they have more of a chance to express themselves.
By senior year, they’re doing more career-based learning where they complete 54 hours in a structured facility. I hope FitNation is going to be one of the facilities they can utilize. Usually the trouble is transportation, but we’ll get over that. Then it’s certification review. This year, I hope to get more of the faculty involved in taking personal training from my teaching students. That way, they’re getting a free service and staff and teachers can use the equipment at school.
Q. What’s the best approach to take to get into the best shape possible?
You need to be at a point in which you’re willing to sacrifice certain parts of your life that keep you from having success. I feel most people are aware of what they’re doing wrong. Maybe they eat too much. Maybe they drink too much. Maybe they smoke. Maybe there are other free radicals they put into their body that keep them from being successful. Maybe they’re unmotivated or have no education. If you have any of those, you need to get with somebody who is motivated, who is focused on helping to make you healthy. It doesn’t have to be a personal trainer. It could be a family member, a teacher, a coach, a co-worker that you go on walks with during your lunch break or go to fitness classes with. You need someone to help make you accountable, to give you a push and to call you out when you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Eventually, that leads to behavior change. Once you see what’s possible, you start to see results.