In Memory of Movement: My journey to becoming a Personal Trainer

30 years ago, I stepped onto this vast filled world with eyes wide open.

Sometime in these first 10 years of my life, I learned how to walk, run, crawl and play. Though my parents were not the most active back then, they instilled within me a routine of movement.

20 years ago, I started playing basketball. As far as I can remember, I hustled after every loose ball like my life depended on it. I sucked up to my coaches to get noticed, to stay noticed, and to be the best.

18 years ago in 7th grade, I was recruited to practice with the high school varsity basketball team. I thought I had made it. With custom Reebok basketball shoes, traveling South East Asia with the high school team, and 4-5 practices a week – I was proud.

16 years ago, I made it to high school. Crappy grades and all. Failing the tiger mom expectation of straight A’s but I was thriving with my fellow athletes on the varsity ball team. Throughout high school, we played tournaments in Shanghai, Beijing, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong. I’ll never forget the vivid memories of tournament home games in which we ran out from the locker room to a gymnasium full of family, friends and strangers rooting for us. Nerves running high, we only had one option – to play as hard as with can with class.

14 years ago, I had played the best tournament and game of my life. 30+ points as a high school junior, made 19 out of 20 free throws, and played 90% of every game. We didn’t win, but for the first time in my life, I knew I played well and felt I deserved recognition as a MVP of the team. I didn’t get it. From a combination of being burnt out from practices, and being upset about the MVP award, I quit.

Little did I realize, I had so much to learn. Regardless of how good I was, there was so much more to learn. I had full support in my decision to quit but at times, I wish someone had forced me to stay on the team.

13 years ago, I made varsity rugby in my senior year of high school. And thus, my career in contact sports began.

12 years ago, I played Rugby with the Cambodian National Team playing against other National teams in South East Asia.

10 years ago, I began my career as a collegiate athlete playing Quidditch. In an attempt to get stronger (without any knowledge of strength and conditioning training), I started coaching my team in and out of the gym (early morning runs, weight training days, and keeping accountability). In between crossing state lines to play tournaments, I held wine and cheese parties in my loft with the one rule that the team had to dress up with class. Being a part of the Quidditch community was by far my most vivid memory in my 4 years of college.

Thus prompted my goal of becoming a personal trainer. Or more so, getting a certification for my own knowledge.

7 years ago, I began my sporadic career journey in hospitality and property management living in California and Austin, Texas. Through it all, one thing remained constant – my commitment to fitness, health and movement.

3 years ago, I had to leave Austin Texas due to a lack of visa status. I was disappointed, heart broken, and lost. I had finally found a place I called home.

But the universe molds us in ways we don’t even realize.

That same year, I decided to find a job in the fitness industry while studying for a personal trainer license. It was merely a way to keep myself occupied as I tried to figure out where to move to next: physically and in my career.

2 years ago, I passed the American Council of Exercise Personal Trainer certification and began working as a full time trainer. Despite my fear and anxiety of getting no clients due to a lack of knowledge and experience, my roster built up within the blink of an eye.

I want to say I kicked ass with all my clients and got amazing results, but that would be a lie. As a novice personal trainer, I made mistakes, at times I coached programs that were not individualized and I promised goals I couldn’t help them reach.

1 year ago, I found myself at another cross road. Being burnt out from the personal training hours & having no work/life balance, I was looking for my next move.

I knew coaching wasn’t completely out of my life, but I was definitely uncertain about it as a career.

9 months ago, I rediscovered my passion for coaching. An old friend from 10+ years ago reached out from seeing my training videos about virtual training. She lives in Mexico. Our vibes resonate and vibrate on the same frequency, and has been ever since we met each other. I happily agreed to train virtually. She’s reaching her 100th session with me, and our sessions have blossomed into consistent space in which we build strength physically and mentally on a regular basis.

5 months ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to work with a small group training studio in Toronto with incredibly knowledgable and experienced trainers. I was unsure at first due to my innate fear of burning out, and hitting the same road block I reached just a year before that. However, I was learning immensely from fellow trainers, and with my rediscovery of my passion for coaching – knew I needed to dive in.

TODAY, I am virtually coaching Kettlebell classes, Strength & Conditioning classes, and training 1-on-1 clients on a regular basis. I am sleeping more than I ever have. I feel more mentally focused than I ever have. I feel and look stronger than I ever have been.

I am more determined than ever to inspire and guide you through your journey to feeling strong and being strong. This movement journey has changed my life, and it can change yours too.

I offer strength & conditioning classes for all levels 4 times a week, group accountability sessions to help you reach your goals (fitness and non-fitness goals inclusive), and private 1-on-1 training. Virtual & in-person (Toronto, Ontario). For more information, email

Are you ready to take the leap?

Published by Joanne Lam

📍 Toronto | STRONG w Joanne 💪 MovNat ACE & Agatsu Kettlebell Certified 🎯 Commit Confidence Consistency

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