With over 20 years’ experience in the industry, Shannan Ponton, celebrity trainer of Channel 10’s The Biggest Loser fame needs no introduction. A trainer to 4 of the series’ winners so far, Ponton boasts extensive experience and knowledge in exercise, fitness, nutrition, health, interpersonal skills and handling the media – landing him a role as one of Australia’s favourite personal trainers for the ninth season running.
In an interview with Open Colleges, Ponton expressed that his involvement in the industry began by accident after having to give up on his dream of playing professional rugby league following two shoulder reconstructions and a knee reconstruction by the age of 20. “As a building apprentice at the time, I had to make the devastating choice to say good-bye to my dream of playing footy” he mulls. For Ponton, personal training gave him an outlet to stay “connected, involved and passionate about what I loved”.
After studying hard and graduating at the top of his courses, Ponton left construction by the age of 24, to focus purely on health and fitness. “[What] at the time felt like life’s greatest travesty turned out to be a blessing” Ponton muses.
Ponton has had his fair share of professional challenges to overcome, his biggest being the unpreparedness of the industry for personal trainers at the time. “When I first started in the fitness industry there was no personal training. You got paid twice as much teaching aerobics as you did on the gym floor. To make a decent living you had to ‘teach’. The problem was that I was totally uncoordinated and couldn’t even hear the beat of the music!” he laughs.
With “dogged determination and a hell of a lot of practice” Ponton mastered all class styles available at the time, later becoming a course designer and instructor trainer. Ponton claims the journey did not come easily, but says that through his efforts, he proved to himself that if he willed it, it would be: “if you want something bad enough and make the appropriate sacrifices, even a guy with two left feet like me will prevail!” he shared.
With his newfound attitude, Ponton committed himself to learning everything he could in the gym including nutrition, health, fitness and even helping to clean toilets!
It is through his thirst for knowledge and can do attitude, that Ponton has made himself into the success story he is today: “Versatility is my strength- there’s not a class or training style that I don’t know about or that I can’t teach. Step, spin, aerobics, body attack, pump, trx, vipr, boxing, kick boxing, circuit, boot camp, teams, running, and so on” he boasts. Even now, despite his public profile, Ponton still studies at Personal Training Academy in his ‘off’ season to “stay at the forefront” of the industry.
Ponton claims that his climb to stardom came “slowly at times with many setbacks, but always moving forward”. Despite the distractions of his new stardom, Ponton maintains a genuine love for fitness; “I loved being both an instructor and PT and was happy to serve my time out on the gym floor. Being on The Biggest Loser was just ‘the icing on an otherwise nice piece of cake!” he jokes.
Despite his success, Ponton is quick to warn against seeking celebrity stardom as a trainer “That should never be the end goal. Simply focus on helping your clients and learn everything there is to know about movement, fitness, well-being and health. Don’t just do one course and suddenly think you’re a fitness professional. It takes years of training, study and experience to become a great personal trainer. Once you earn your reputation for being masterful and effective, many great doors can open.”-wise words for any budding personal trainer.
Ponton was open to sharing some advice for those actively seeking media recognition: “When you’ve been on television, people expect quality – so begin with your own development first. Choose the best education provider… Be patient when developing your business and training style and study under many experienced mentors. Be exceptional- better than other PTs of the same vintage. That’s what ultimately gets you noticed and to the top of your game”.
Outside of his work on The Biggest Loser, Ponton is the author of ‘Hard’N’Up’ (an all-in-one guide to weight loss, fitness, nutrition and motivation), has his own brand of exercise equipment, created an 8-week online weight loss program in conjunction with The Biggest Loser Club and designed The Biggest Loser Express Rapid Weight Loss Kit.
Ponton is also an ambassador for a number of important charities and causes, including The McGrath Foundation, CanTeen, Obesity Prevention Australia and is also associated with The Millennium Foundation, RSPCA and Cancer Council.
This article was edited and reproduced by OneFitStop from an interview conducted by Open Colleges. See the original article here: https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/careers/fitness-advice/the-biggest-loser
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