We talked to our newest Certified Instructor Natalie Aversa about her journey to completing her certification.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you found Gym Jones, and why you wanted to be a Certified Instructor!

I grew up as a competitive athlete, but as I phased out of sports, my physical fitness declined,too. There was something about the ordinary gym experience that was un-appealing to me, and it always seemed like a chore to make sure I got my ‘exercise’ in for the week. When I first came across Gym Jones, I was 1 month postpartum with my second baby and I had never done any barbell training. My husband was exposed to Gym Jones as a tactical athlete and we both started following some of the programming. I didn’t think I would like it, because I had convinced myself that weights were boring, but within the first month I was hooked. We did a deep dive into the culture and philosophy behind the training – ‘The Mind is Primary’, ‘Unfuck your head’, … it was all very powerful to me. Combining the mental and physical aspects of training for growth not only in the gym but everyday life was a game changer. Gym Jones intrigued me. It was the challenge of doing really hard things–things that most people avoided–that drew me in. I wanted to become a version of myself that I didn’t imagine possible in the past. Watching the videos and photos of the seminars gave me butterflies. I wondered if I was capable of that level of training and intensity. I needed to know…and here we are.

Did you follow the Gym Jones method of training leading into going to the seminars?

We started with a really small setup in our garage – a small squat rack, a barbell and some weights. I followed the online programming available at the time. We didn’t have a community in the area so we built our own; we would invite family and friends to join and train with us. In addition to the training programs, I also did a lot of reading of blogs from the Gym Jones site as well as from other GJ instructors that I came across. Roughly a year into my training I knew I wanted to pursue this path. I began to seek guidance/mentorship from some of the Gym Jones coaches at Station 515 in Detroit and following that I began my seminar training.

Tell us a little bit about what you learned at the seminars, what you took away from the process of becoming certified other than the actual things that are required of you on paper.

Gym Jones was the first time I was able to witness and understand the difference between training and exercising. You see so many people killing themselves exercising but not necessarily making progress, because they don’t know how to train purposely for specific goals. Understanding how to train efficiently in order to become more capable is a huge part of what I learned.  In other words, I learned how to work smarter not harder. I do my best to incorporate that into my own training as well as for my athletes. Time and energy are finite, and this programming helps people achieve more with less.

Personally, the philosophy and the mental side of the training brought so much growth into my whole life in a good way. In addition to having more energy and being stronger than I ever have been physically, I am mentally more resilient. I became more accountable, I stopped making excuses, I take action quickly on things where in the past I would have procrastinated. So there was something about the growth I experienced in the gym that impacted my entire life.

Finally, I realized that Gym Jones isn’t one particular program or even one particular way of training. The program is adaptable. Nobody is stuck on one specific programming structure, everyone is open to questions, there’s room for so many things within the Gym Jones methodology. I am also a Conjugate Tactical coach. For me, the Gym Jones and Conjugate Tactical programs fit together so well. Both approaches are suitable for tactical and general fitness athletes alike due to the flexibility and focus on designing training to meet athletes where they’re at, then getting them where they want to go in a way that’s sustainable for each client’s needs and life priorities.

What kind of athlete are you most equipped to help?

Project Arete is run by both my me and my husband, and together we are equipped to support a variety of athletes. We offer small group training and private training which allow us to work closely with our athletes and invest in their growth. In addition to me being a Gym Jones Certified Instructor, I am also a certified Westside Barbell ‘Rule of Three’ coach for young athletes and we are both certified Conjugate Tactical coaches. Our combined experience in soccer, hockey, rugby and as a first responder make us an excellent option for both youth and adults who are looking to develop general, sport specific, or tactical training. As a mom of two, I am also thrilled to support women coming out of postpartum who are looking to get strong and dedicate a portion of their day to making sure they are taking care of themselves. I have a special connection to supporting the individuals who have had negative experiences with ‘exercising” or going to the gym in the past. I take great joy and pride in creating an experience that is positive, empowering, and sustainable–one that becomes an integral part of people’s daily life.

What advice would you give somebody who is interested in Gym Jones and wants to train?

Just take the first step and commit to self improvement. There is no perfect time to begin. This is not a 8-week ‘quick fix’ program. This training is designed for constant personal challenge and growth. Be prepared to take yourself to a place you didn’t know you were capable of going. This type of training is for the long haul, so be patient and have fun with it. Once you have built your base, adapt your programming to chase new goals outside of the gym that are meaningful to you. It’s rewarding and encourages the pursuit of new adventures and experiences.