David Lyons, our November 2018 Trainer of the Month award winner, is the founder, along with his wife, Kendra, of MS Fitness Challenge, a non-profit charity for fitness and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). A long-time fitness professional with over 35 years of experience in the industry, created MS Fitness Challenge after receiving his MS diagnosis in 2006. Since his diagnosis, he has been tirelessly committed to creating hope for those with MS and educating fitness professionals to safely train and empower those living with MS. The cause has a global reach to the 3 million+ MS sufferers including an impact in the UK, Canada, Germany, Australia, Finland and others with trainers currently in the US, Australia, South Africa and the UK.
Here is a look at how David is raising the bar…
Certifications/qualifications: B.S.; CPT; NFPT Trainer Educator
Business Name: MS Fitness Challenge
Year started in business: 1980
2009 Winner, National MS Society Milestone Award
2009 Winner, Most Inspirational Bodybuilder – Florida State Bodybuilding Championship
2013 Recipient, Health Advocate Achievement Award with Lou Ferrigno
2015 Recipient, Health Advocate Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Arnold Schwarzenegger
2016, Recipient, Lifetime Fitness Inspiration Award, Global Bodybuilding Organization
2016, Finalist, WEGO Health’s Advocate Hero Award and Lifetime Achievement Award
2017, Recipient, Special Recognition Award, National Fitness Hall of Fame (NFHOF)
2017, Named Founding Partner, National Fitness Hall of Fame, Institute for Fitness Trainer Education
2018, Recipient, Lifetime Achievement Award, United Intercontinental Bodybuilding Fitness Federation (UIBFF)
What inspired you to start your business?
As someone diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and told I was shortly going to be wheelchair-confined, I wanted to not only prove that through fitness would keep me mobile but I wanted to help others with MS do the same.
What is one hard lesson you’ve learned in business you believe has been most valuable?
When you want to accomplish a goal in business or in life, you cannot rely on others to make it happen. You must follow your vision, execute it and allow those who can help in this mission follow your lead. You must be the driving force and do the “heavy lifting” to success. Relying on others can lead quickly to failure.
If I asked one of your clients why they choose you over other trainers, what would they likely say?
I believe all the MS clients I have worked with through my MS Fitness Challenge cause would say the same thing: my passion to see them conquer MS through a lifestyle of fitness, proper nutrition and a mindset of victory, encourages them and gives them hope beyond their greatest expectations. They feel it and experience it with me and that makes all the difference in why they choose to work with me.
Name one or two ways you are trying to raise the bar in the industry.
I have been in this industry more than 35 years and I have witnessed amazing strides in training, trainer education and overall growth. But I have also seen many enter this business as a means to make “easy money” without the heart to truly provide results for clients. Trainers need to be accountable to obtain the proper education to help special populations like the MS community and those who have become part of the fitness training business for the right reasons will make the effort to do so. I want to continue to be a solution for these trainers.
I have authored books, provide fitness programs and developed the MS Fitness Challenge GYM Facebook Group that ensure people with MS have access to vital information and education on fitness. I also created an MS trainer course with NFPT for trainers to be educated to properly understand the struggles and needs of MS clients. In an effort to “raise the bar” in the industry I am now authoring a full MS certification with NFPT with video instruction for them to both read and see proper ways to work with MS clients along with the other keys to fitness such as nutrition and mindset.