RPAC Head Personal Trainer Alex Janis training client on banded pull-apart technique. Credit: Courtesy of Henry Tennant

For some people, it takes a lifetime to discover their passion. For Alex Janis, a fourth-year in exercise science, not only did he find his a long time ago, he’s practically perfected it.

While considered to be an expert on all things fitness among his peers, Janis said his job as head personal trainer at the RPAC isn’t just about what he knows, but how he uses his knowledge to help people succeed.

“Helping people achieve [their] dreams is rewarding on both sides,” Janis said. “You get to see them improve and I never thought I would be a part of something that does that, and I really feel like I’m helping people.”

Janis maintains a 6 percent body-fat percentage year-round, one of the reasons his clients and co-workers say he’s a walking poster-child for fitness.

“If you look at him, it’s very obvious he’s passionate about what he does just by his physique itself,” said Ian Li, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in consumer sciences. Li has been meeting with Janis four times a week for almost two years and said Janis is the best at what he does.

Growing up, the people in Janis’ life have all made physical fitness a priority in one way or another. His father was very passionate about weightlifting and set the tone in the household at an early age. Janis played sports throughout school and attributes his love of fitness as coming from his athletic friends at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland.

“At orientation, one of the speakers was a personal trainer and when I heard her talk about it, that’s when I found out I could even do it, and I knew that’s something I was interested in,” Janis said.

To become a personal trainer at Ohio State, students take a semester-long personal training prep course. After passing, students take the American Council on Exercise exam to receive a national certification before being eligible for hire by the RPAC.

After three years in the program, Janis believes the most difficult part of the job is being able to think on his feet.

“You have to be a problem solver,” Janis said. “If you go in the gym and all of the equipment is taken or your client has physical issues, you need to have the knowledge that will allow you to be innovative and come up with new ideas.”

Rashelle Ghanem, a fourth-year graduate student in public health and a personal trainer at the RPAC, has been a part of Janis’ journey from Day 1 and has admired his progress.

“At first, he wasn’t the strongest personality [but] now he is a very prominent figure,” Ghanem said. “He’s very professional, his knowledge has exponentially grown over the years and I feel like I can go to him for anything.”

Janis said he encourages his clients to set a SMART goal, a fitness plan that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.

“[Your SMART goal] shouldn’t be too lofty and should be smaller goals you can achieve within the month or the week,” Janis said.

In addition to setting SMART goals for clients, he strives to separate fact from fiction. Janis said he found over the years the biggest myth among clients is how long a workout should be.

“You don’t have to train long to have a good workout,” Janis said. “Best workouts come from 45 to 60 minute sessions. Anything after that is really becoming a depleted workout.”

Janis will graduate from Ohio State in the spring with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a personal trainer certification. He plans to go to graduate school for physical therapy and visualizes himself ultimately working with young athletes.