How to Become a Trainer/Coach to the World's Most Elite Athletes

Dr. Mike Camp works with elite pro athletes. Today, he's sharing his journey on how he got there in hopes it'll help those looking to get into the field.

Dr. Michael Camp is a highly accredited and recognized physical therapist and performance enhancement specialist.

He graduated from the University of Maryland, with a Bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a minor in exercise physiology. Upon graduation, he went to Osteopathic Medical School, then changed careers and earned his Doctorate in physical therapy.

Today, he is continuously courted by many top pros to design their strength & conditioning programs. He’s known as someone who can train with the best.

And today, he’s sharing how he got there.

Your Career Working as an Elite Athletic..?

“Physical therapist, chiropractor, power, strength, speed, performance… ”.

What do all these words have in common?

Attach any of the above professions and we have a rapid growing and rewarding career!

Follow these steps and you will be working with your dream clientele in no time.

Commitment to Working with the Best

Working with the elite level athlete is something that doesn’t happen over night. It takes years of proper education, reading, interning, and seeking out mentors who will share with you, their “in the trenches” experiences and knowledge.

Related: 7 Habits of Highly Successful & Motivated Gym-Goers

How I started my journey?

My commitment began at the age of 14, starting with an interest in learning, boxing, Judo and wrestling. From this, I became interested in becoming physically and mentally stronger, which led me to begin reading Inside Powerlifting, written by the late Dr. Terry Todd, World Champion Powerlifter.

The routines were based off the 3 big lifts: squat, bench, and deadlift. Later in my collegiate studies, I would get to meet and learn from these great lifters by traveling around the country and interning.

Enhance Your Growth Being Around the Right People and Proper Environment

Eager to learn more about training, increasing strength, and muscle, I joined a famous gym called Mr. Americas. Here is where I found my first mentor, Andy Sivert, former pro bodybuilder.

He took me under his guidance and trained me at the age of 17. I learned correct form, proper tempos of lifting, program design split of how to train body parts together and cycling my workouts to create a positive training affect. I had what they called, an “on job learning experience”.

In addition, Andy educated me in proper nutrition to feed my body and refuel after workouts and practice. Understanding how to eat foods with the right protein, carbohydrates, and fat ratios at a young age, allowed my body to grow at significant rate.

These early experiences helped guide me towards choosing a career of working with athletes in rehabilitation and performance.

Choosing Which Performance Career Is for You?

In what realm do you see yourself working with athletes?

Is it as a personal trainer, strength coach, physical therapist, or other medical professional? The good thing is that many of these fields can build on each other and provide opportunities in various settings.

Begin as a Personal Trainer; Build a Strong Foundation in Education and Experience?

Want to work with athletes but not sure if college is for you, or are you not financially ready for college? Then look into becoming a personal trainer to learn proper training methods, along with program design, skills that will allow you to develop and build upon in the future.

Most of these certifications are a self-study course with an online exam where you can prepare at your own pace.

Personal Trainers Work Where?

Personal trainers are often employed in a gym setting and work with various aged clients. Goals of these clients can include weight loss, muscle gain, or improving general fitness.

I began my career as a personal trainer while attending the University of Maryland, pursuing my degrees in kinesiology and exercise physiology. It was great way to implement my skills, education, and build confidence working with various clientele.

Learning how to design and implement various training principles was an important foundation. Training athletes from different sports has some common ground, but certain variables can change. Examples include, the sport played, athlete’s position, or how long you have to prepare an athlete. Some sports you may have a complete season, other sports, such as combat sports, you have only weeks.

What are Some Credible Online Programs?

The National Academy of Sports Medicine offers certifications in personal training, performance enhancement specialist, and corrective exercise specialist. The CES & PES apply concepts that include assessing joint range of motion, manual muscle testing, and a movement assessment screening.

These are important skills to learn to be able to recognize muscle and possible joint limitations that lead to movement dysfunction and ultimately could cause an injury.

Other notable organizations are The National Strength & Conditioning Association, American College of Sports Medicine, and International Society of Sports Nutrition.

A few certifications require a 4-year Bachelor’s Degree - One very popular certification that does is NSCA's Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist. But log online to each of the sources mentioned for further qualifications.

I’m College Bound. Which Courses and Degrees Should I Pursue?

The next level of applying your training is to pursue an academic degree. For myself, I knew I wanted to work as a medical professional, but wasn't sure if it was as a physician, or physical therapist.

So, I decided to study kinesiology, which is the study of human movement, with a minor in exercise physiology at the University of Maryland, one of the top programs in the world.

Related: Setting Goals - A Realistic Approach to Consistent Gains

To make sure I had my pre-requisites for medical school, I took biology, anatomy, physics, and chemistry courses along with my major.

Several areas one can specialize in are in the fields of nutritional science, exercise physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, physical therapy, chiropractic, physician assistant, and a medical doctor.

Be sure to Volunteer!

Volunteering in different professional settings is another thing I did during college.

What Types of Settings To Volunteer In?

All settings! If unsure of how you see yourself working with the athlete, take these steps.

Begin in a hospital; you can spend time in various areas, such as orthopedics. If you are in college, you can possibly be allowed to scrub in during a surgical orthopedic procedure.

From here, I went to an outpatient physical therapy center. Most facilities treat a variety of clients, from the athlete to the geriatric. Not many physical therapists truly specialized in athletes back 16 years ago, I think I was one of the first. If the athlete is part of a University, find the school’s athletic trainer and shadow them.

Next I decided to travel to various strength facilities continuing to learn and understand different approaches to training athletes of various levels.

Final Advice!

Use social media and contact professionals you admire. Most professionals are eager to share their knowledge and life experiences.

Continue to pursue your dreams, and as you know, working with the elite can happen, but will require consistent hard work!