Another Interview!

Time for me to tell you all about my second interview! I ended up interviewing a personal trainer that is very close to every member of my family and has worked with each of us. Eddie Conley, football coach and performance specialist, was kind enough to sit down with me and discuss his job and how he has seen it connect to happiness. It was definitely a different feeling sitting across from him at a desk and instead of being told to give him ten more push ups. He is one of the kindest, most amazing people I know and I’m super glad I had the chance to talk with him for my project!
Here’s the link to his own blog:
You can listen to the full interview here:

LD: “Why don’t you start out by telling me what you do and what your job involves.”

EC: “I am a performance specialist in the area of fitness training and my job is to improve the performance of my players in sport and for my adults in their regular performance and their strength and stamina.
LD: “So you’re a trainer and also a coach?”
EC: “Yes, I coach football at Evanston Township High School.”
LD: “Do you normally track how clients feel or do you ask them kind of self report?”
EC: “It depends on the situation. For my kids, the kids who are younger, I generally have to track their progress because they are a project of ever changing variables. So, a 14 year old is growing, he’ll be two inches taller the next year, so if he’s a continual client, his variables are changing regularly. For adults, their variables don’t change that much, so they are more stable, so it’s easier to track the stuff themselves because they know themselves and they’ve been working out for a while usually, so most of the time they can do it themselves, unless they ask me to do it. But for kids, I do it for them.”
LD: “So what would you say the level of happiness is of the people that you work with?”
EC: “I would say that my younger clients are generally happier. Part of the reason is because they are usually coming to train for a sport which they’re already participating in and they just want to get better. That doesn’t mean they’re completely happy, but you know, they’re usually pretty excited and ready to go because they think they’re gonna get better performance, and they are. With the adults, they’re usually here for a different reason because they have some bad numbers at their doctors office, or they used to be athletic and now they’re feeling like they’re gaining a little weight, you know, there’s all kinds of different things, but usually they’re a little less happy. And if the kids, if they’ve come to me it’s because they can’t do it themselves.”
LD: “How did you get into this field and how did kind of know that this is what you wanted to be doing?”
ED: “Well, I was working at a company in Skokie, Searle Pharmaceuticals, which turned into Pfizer, Pfizer decided to move out of the state of Illinois, and I decided not to go with them. I’m from Evanston. I was already coaching football at the youth level, and the high school coach actually asked me to coach at the high school when I was coaching youth, and I couldn’t because I had a job. So I said, ‘well you know what, I’m not gonna take the job offer to move to Ann Arbor or La Jolla, California, I’m gonna stay and I’m gonna have to start a business that gives me the flexibility to coach.’ So that’s where the fitness training came in. I could set my own hours.”
LD: “So do you have experience with playing sports?”
EC: “I do. I played baseball and football in high school and college. I played at Lewis University baseball, and then I got the great idea to go play football at Arkansas Pine Bluff, which for my football career was a bad experience, but for my personal career it was a great experience. And then I came back to Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. So, I gave it the ol’ college try with football, it didn’t work out from a career standpoint, but the experience was invaluable. As, I’m a football coach, so it definitely sunk in, the experience that I had.”
LD: “How does your work make you feel?”
EC: “My job makes me happy, very happy because I’m in the business of making other people happy. I’m in the business of creating success. When my clients do well, my kids do well, they play their sports, they get through high school, they go on to college, they grow up, I get to watch all of that stuff happen. And it just makes me happy, how could that not make you happy? It’s like the benefit of having children over and over and over again and watching them grow up, and do well. So yeah, it makes me happy. And when the adults don’t need me anymore, when they are off on their own and they achieved their fitness goals, or they get jumpstarted with me, and then go on and try all these new things, how could that not make me happy? I’m always happy when that happens.”
LD: “How would you say your work affects your happiness, and how does your happiness affect your work?”
EC: “The success that my clients have usually makes me happy, but in order for that to happen, I have to go in with the right frame of mind, I have be happy to make them happy. Because, we go through things, and people who come in here they’re all different kinds of people, they’ve had different days, different circumstances or situations, and I have to be, I have to put them in the right frame of mind and I can do that through being happy and being personable and being understanding, I’m going to push them, but, my attitude when I push them is what gets me success. My kids, understanding that they had a tough day, they might have a test coming up and they’re stressed, things that go on at home with their families, understanding those things and talking to them, and getting them motivated to do it…yeah my happiness is definitely a big part of that. If I’m happy, they’re happy. If they’re happy, I’m happy.”
LD: “So, how do you see what you do make other people happy?”
EC: “Like we talked about earlier, it’s really just creating the success, you know, just giving them something, finding that thing, and pointing in out to them, and with 15 year olds, 14 year olds, they are having successes that they don’t even understand, you know just getting through some of the things they get through, graduating, completing a test, playing football, like I mean, 70 people in a school of 3500 get through a double session, a two a day session for football, or get through a whole season of football practice, and pointing out how difficult that is, and that they accomplished it, usually opens their eyes cause they don’t think of it that way. Especially if they didn’t participate as much, they didn’t play as much, or for my regular clients, maybe you just lost five pounds and you were trying to lose ten, but we got you going, so now you’re encouraging, maybe we introduced you to a new activity, something that you’d never done before. You learned a couple of new lifts, now you can go to the gym and do them yourself. It can be a big success or a small success. But finding it and pointing it out to them, usually gets them on the road to being happy.”
LD: “So what advice or tricks do you give your clients to feel better and happier?”
EC: “Do what you like to do. Find something to do that you like. Don’t limit yourself to what fitness things you can do, you know, you can be happy, you can do things to make you happy that are fitness related but they aren’t what everybody else does. And find your successes and measure them based on you, not based on other people. Don’t watch TV, and don’t watch the biggest loser, and for kids, don’t worry about what’s going on in the NFL or don’t go worrying about what’s going on in major league baseball, you just try to get better at what you do and you will get better if you keep doing it. You will always get better. And, look at that, and measure it.”
LD: “What’s your definition of happiness?”
EC: “Something that I have thought about over and over again, not your asking me, but just the definition of happiness because I think it’s an introspective thing, and different people will have different levels, and for me happiness has to keep moving. I can’t have it sit in one place, it’s a moving target. And, when you have a moving target like that, you will do a lot of things. For example, if you want to get an advanced degree, you’re gonna have to go back to school, you’re gonna have to take classes, you’re gonna have to get good grades, to get that advanced degree. When you get there, you may not be completely totally satisfied, or happy, but when you turn around and look at all the stuff you did to get there, you’ve accomplished something. And then, you go on to the next thing that you wanna do, and as you accumulate these happinesses you turn around and you say, look at all of these things that I’ve accomplished. But, the thing for me is, you know, I got to accomplish a lot, I got a lot of opportunities, but when I was able to look at my little kids and watch how happy they were when I got home from work, or hear them say ‘Daddy’, or hug me, or do all the things that little kids do, that is when I actually found out how happy I really was.”
LD: “How would you say physical activity and happiness are correlated?”
EC: “They are correlated. Happiness is, when you have that endorphin release, when you work out, that’s documented, that’s real stuff. I don’t even have to…that’s real, and the question is only: how much do you have to do to get that release? And when you do it, when you get it, and they call it your second wind. And everybody’s gotten that before, you know, when you’re really really tired, and all of a sudden you get this second wind, that’s a release of endorphins. That’s real. So the question is: how do you get to that point? And when you know, go back to what we said before, knowing yourself, knowing your body, and how you respond, you are reaching for that point. For me, it used to be if I lifted hard for about an hour and ten minutes, I would get really tired, and then I knew it was coming, and I was like ‘yes here it comes,’ so there is a physical correlation. And it’s documented and it’s real science. It’s not junk.”
LD: “Have you ever had a client or a player of yours not as happy after the session as before ?”
EC: “With regard to how physically they feel, sure they’re not happy. But from a level of accomplishment, no. I mean, I think the real correlation is how being physically exhausted when you finish an activity and your level of happiness are related. Yes, you are physically exhausted, but what does that mean, that means you gave everything you had, and you did everything you needed to do, and you didn’t have anything left. That is a feeling of accomplishment that while the pain is there, you may not feel, but eventually you’re gonna be like ‘yeah’. And that’s the thing that’s gonna get you to come back. Is the ‘I was able to do it, and I recovered.’