By Saravana Sekar

My life decisions were usually dictated around the sports I loved to play. Non-stop weekend baseball tournaments, practice, off season work, and the same schedule with soccer. I thought they would be the focal point of my life forever. For that reason, I knew my career passion had to be involved with sports. There was not a single doubt in my mind it would be anything but that.


That was my mantra for years and years. Countless hours practicing, playing, progressing, and studying how to become the best version of myself doing what I loved…

It’s funny how such simple decisions as joining a team, developing a passion for music and art, or a knack with numbers can dictate our entire focus of our lives? At first they seem like something fun or cool to endeavor, but there are a few that draw our attention and admiration to them.

After changing my field of study to Fitness Development while at Cortland, I geared my focus from preventative and rehabilitation sciences to shift into skill development and performance training. Without any hesitation, I set on a path to explore what avenues of training I enjoyed the best. Bodybuilding, endurance training, sprinting, kettlebells, yoga, biking… if you name it, I’ve most likely tried it. Sure, in order to become great at something you must dedicate most of your effort into it, if that is your aim. But why would I try to specialize so early on?

Trying many various modalities is my best advice to find what;

  • You enjoy the most while doing it

  • Challenge you to improve

  • Provides the most results

  • Help share the experience with others

When I agreed to explore this avenue, I then realized that the training aspect was only the tip of the iceberg in reality (which I was totally not prepared for). It was far deeper than picking how I liked to train and where I wanted to lead my career. For over 2 years, I was fully committed to trying anything new that provided challenge and stimulus to my body in hopes to develop the perfect combinations of all that physiological development could offer.

There are two moments that will always stick in my head during the beginning of my senior year at Cortland:

The first memory was during my group exercise instruction class that I was taking for credit. Basically, we practiced and implemented the core movement patterns, how to coach them, and were involved in group class workouts directed by our instructor. Towards the end of the class, we found out our final ‘exam’ would be to develop a warm-up, program, and cool-down and to lead the class through it. For those of you who don’t know, I have an unbelievable fear when attention is focused on what I am saying or doing (I’ve worked past it, but still rears its ugliness from time to time). At that point, our class of 18 was asked, “How many of you plan on becoming group class instructors in the future?” Only 2 hands shot up, and one was definitely not mine. The last thing I ever planned to do was lead some boot camp class, it wasn’t even close to what I planned to do, almost smirking at the idea…

And the second was the final practicum portion of my experience; being given an personal training client and to have 15 sessions to work with them. I was a bit behind in the game, so this was actually my first client ever that I was assigned to train (not very common by my age). The process of professionalism, assessment, questionnaire, setting goals, deadlines the whole nine was stressful and such a great learning experience I never took into consideration. This was the first opportunity I professionally had to have provide positive physical and mental growth! Fast forwarding to the completion, it came and went to fast, yet long enough. The road was not always smooth. Some things went great and perfect as planned, while others hit roadblocks where I always didn’t have the answer. There was genuine satisfaction I felt after each training session with Matt. His upbeat personality and desire to improve were just a few of the qualities to make our sessions even more enjoyable. Extremely willing to new concepts and ideas I brought to the table, the one on one time made my focus 100% on how he moved and the ability to execute the tasks at hand. Steady progression over each 3 phases of the program, each lasting 5 sessions, I varied stability, functionality, mobility, training and conditioning…

What I mentioned above describes what we did and the premise of why we met each day, but I learned that is not what being a coach or trainer is about:


When someone recognizes they need a change, in my eyes, is the beginning of a caterpillar forming a cocoon. They enter as one being, and are able to transform themselves into something much more beautiful. Adding in physical activity is usually one of the first steps to expose other ‘unhealthy’ lifestyle habits: poor diet and overeating, too many sedentary behaviors, poor movement patters, and most importantly their attitude toward their own ability to break out of that existing mold. People use fitness as a common area to facilitate a boat load of other changes in their life. They aren’t committing to develop lifestyle and learn it on their own. Since change is what they desire, that is what I find so important about my profession. My role is to build the bridge that brings them from their current state of being, guide them across with power and pride, and enjoy watching hem to explore the possibilities of their newfound strengths!


When I finalized the paperwork for my internship with Orca Empire, I had absolutely no idea what to be ready for. The best description I had was “general population, semi-private and group training, specializing in fat loss and facilitating habitual change”. Alright, not even one bit the road I thought I would be on. For those of you who are a part of Orca, you may have noticed I was completely out of my element and extremely timid. The demographic was something I had never been exposed to, and my head was on a swivel constantly to grasp how to act in this new environment. After a short while, I began to stop looking at this as an internship and treating it like my livelihood; engaging with the members on a more personal level, adding passion into my coaching rather than 100% ‘by the book’, and loosening up to bring my personality onto the floor.

After receiving the head coaching position after just 5 weeks into my internship, i was an amazing feeling of joy that I earned a job in my field of study straight out of college! Since becoming a part of Orca Empire, my view on this career has changed tremendously. I am astonished by the amazing work capacity these people have within them. Athletes are required to practice, train, and bust their ass all day, it is seemingly ingrained in their genetics at times. If they aren’t pushing to the fullest possible each day, they risk not making a team, the starting line-up, or getting the recognition they yearn for. Their lifestyle focus is on their performance, and nearly all else falls in line thereafter.

Graphic designers, financial advisers, restaurant owners, surgeons, nurses, teachers, and engineers are just a few professions of the wonderful people I’ve met thus far. Whether they train hard, lift heavy or stay committed has no influence on their careers; but they still come, bust their asses, and reap the rewards of self-empowerment. The governing force behind their motivation is within them, not a coach saying ‘do this or else’. A self-driven mindset is something much more powerful versus someone who follows directions in my eyes. The camaraderie of these different walks of life develop a support system and real friendships just from walking into a gym one day. They dedicate precious time to become better each day because they want to.

My perception and opinion on training “regular people” has taken a near 180° turn for the absolute best. I let everyone know how lucky I am to be able to do, what I do each day, it is a true gift. For any of you looking to find a path in performance training, I 100% recommend not remaining narrow minded and to explore any avenue that prevents a path to you, for you may surprise yourself in discovering a treasure you may have never knew existed.

Wishing you Great Health and Strength,

Coach Sean