When the 1990s gave way to the 2000s, Marc Ouellette found himself entering a new century without a job.
“I was in the printing field,” he recalled. “I was a production manager at a shop that closed down because everything was going digital. I saw printing was phasing out and I realized that at some point in my life I would have to do something else.”
Inspiration for Ouellette’s 21st century career reinvention did not take long to resonate. “I enjoy helping people and I enjoy working out,” he continued. “I’ve always worked out my whole life.”
After gaining certification as a personal trainer, Ouellette created Personal Training Alliance from his home in Shelton. Ouellette theorized that he could build and maintain a client base if he took his training focus into people’s homes rather than focus on gym-based exercising.
“I find most of my clients are very, very busy — they are on a very strict schedule and they don’t have the time to go to a gym,” he said. “But they need the accountability — they know they can’t do that on their own. They are going to be working with somebody who is going to give them accountability and motivation.”
When Ouellette began Personal Training Alliance in 2000, he began spreading the word via mailers sent around Shelton, and the local public school attended by his son allowed him to stick fliers in the school folders that students brought home for their parents. In a nod to the forces that fueled the conclusion of his first career, he began studying digital marketing and soon transitioned from paper-based promotions to Facebook advertisements and search engine keywords. He signed up 12 clients in his first year of business and now averages between 15 and 20 clients spread across Fairfield and New Haven counties.
Ouellette’s in-home training sessions run 45 minutes and he charges between $65 and $85 per session, depending on the clients’ needs and locations. His clients’ ages range from the mid-20s to the early 80s. “Age is not a factor in getting stronger and getting healthier,” he stated while mentioning that he brings his own equipment to the clients’ homes.
“Anything you can do at the gym except for the big machines, I can bring to them,” he said, noting that some clients already have gym-worthy equipment but rarely touched it until Ouellette came into their homes.
A key factor in Ouellette’s work is creating individualized diet and nutritional programs for his clients. “Most people want to know what they should eat every day,” he said, adding that he determines each person’s basal metabolic rate before recommending food intake quality and quantity. “I come up with a starting point of how many calories they should be getting within a 24-hour period minus sleep. That can come down or go up, depending on how their metabolism starts working once we start exercising.”
And while the year-end holidays can easily throw people off their diets in the name of seasonal festivities, Ouellette is not concerned with an occasional dining room overindulgence if his clients stay committed to their goals.
“It is a lifestyle change, but you will fit it into your lifestyle,” he said. “When you are working out, you want to get an adequate amount of protein, because protein is very important for the body — not only to heal the muscles, but to make you stronger and, according to some studies, to burn fat. So, I normally say, ‘Let’s stick with lean protein — stay away from processed foods. If we can just start with cutting that out, you will see a tremendous difference in the way you feel.’ ”
One area where Ouellette is not taking his clients is into the Crossfit arena. “A lot of people get hurt at it and a lot of trainers really push you to the point that you can break something,” he said. “Trainers need to make sure they understand your needs and that they’re not out to hurt you.”
Looking ahead, Ouellette is studying an expansion of Personal Training Alliance to include online training via video and text messaging. This would be focused on clients who are ready and willing to push forward, but need the map to help them reach their goals.
“Some people have the accountability and the motivation, but they just need the knowledge,” he said.