De-Leatra Bolton (“De”) was at a point in her life that many young mothers face – asking the question what to do when her youngest goes off to school? After 12 years at home raising her kids, it was time for her to begin her journey of self-discovery. To find the part of her identity that wasn’t her children’s mother, or her husband’s wife.
She decided to begin a journey in weight loss. As she entered the second year of her journey, she felt the weight loss coaches she was working with weren’t experts in their field. They seemed to have earned a certification, but weren’t deeply educated in fitness or personal training. De began a search about personal training and fitness certifications. While searching, she responded to an online ad for Bryan University and spoke with an admissions representative about their fitness and exercise science programs. Within two hours, she decided to enroll in the Associate Degree in Applied Exercise Science and Fitness. In her mind, finding Bryan University wasn’t just happenstance – it was a purposeful choice that has made a positive impact on her life.
To keep pace with trainers already in the field, De says: “I knew I needed the knowledge and information. It’s never going to trump the experience, but I felt it put me on a level playing field.” The online learning environment at Bryan U was better than she had expected, and she very much enjoyed the fact that she had live classes to attend – it made the accountability part that much easier. The live classes also paved the way for her and her classmates to make connections – friendships that she continues to have after graduation.
“Oh my goodness, I loved my teachers!” she states. De’s positive educational experience was enhanced by her instructors. Whether they were taking complex ideas and breaking them down, showing support and guidance, or challenging her to “step up her game,” she was grateful for the instructors she had.
Six months before her graduation, De began an internship at Athletic Republic Escape, a gym located in Mount Laurel, NJ. Within three months, De was offered a job at the gym. Once she obtained her NASM certification, she began training clients on her own. Currently, De is a fitness manager and marketing coordinator at Athletic Republic and enjoys training new interns. As she looks back on the process that got her to this new career, she acknowledges that having support at home was a huge plus and that she had to take it step by step. Her advice to those interested in pursuing further education: “Just walk through it, you don’t have to run. Just go through it step by step.”