by Angelina Miller
“The one machine everyone needs to learn how to use is the machine they were born with. If you learn how to use your body, everything else will eventually fall into place.”
Those are the words of Damon Marable, HAC Master Personal Trainer.
Damon began his professional career outside of the health and fitness spectrum living a hectic lifestyle, traveling in between different jobs. Before becoming a personal trainer, Damon worked for both Wilmington Trust and PF Chang’s China Bistro. Despite the amount of work he had on his plate, stopping by the gym to get in a good, quick workout was always one of his top priorities.
“I was not the kettlebell, glute guy who you all know today,” Damon said. When Damon first gained interest in health and fitness, he was a little more vain about his style of training. Instead of prioritizing important aspects of exercise such as properly warming up, Damon put all his energy into bench pressing and lifting heavy weights. This method did not work out in his favor down the line.
“One particular day, work happened to go a little bit longer than I thought it was going to, but I still wanted to try to make it to the gym,” Damon said.
“I remember being on my second set of a chest workout, already doing like 235 pounds, and feeling my shoulder going ‘pfffff.’ The sensation was not anything familiar to me,” Damon said.
He decided to unrack his weights with his left hand to give his right hand a break and reverted to dumbbells in an attempt to get a couple curls out of the way. “I felt like I still had to do something,” Damon said. “But my left hand could pick it up, and my right hand couldn’t.”
By the time Damon got to his second job that day, he could not move his arm at all. He had torn both muscle and cartilage in his chest. Given the choice between surgery or a lengthy self-healing process, he chose to forego surgery and allow his injury to heal on its own.
“I’m thankful for people in my life who were nourishing and encouraging to me during that time, because I’m pretty sure I was a handful to deal with,” Damon said.
Since he could not go to work or do much of anything without having to ask for help, Damon began to think, “I can’t do this and I can’t do that, but I have to do something. This happened for a reason. What can I take away from this?”
One day while reading a Muscle and Fitness magazine, Damon came across an ad for ISSA, the International Sports Sciences Association. He figured that this was the time for him to at least work towards bettering himself mentally.
He ordered the materials to get his personal training certification. The manager of the gym that Damon was a member of at the time also told him that if he could get his certification, he would offer him a job, since he was there all the time anyway.
This is when Damon considered that he could not only use his injury as a learning experience but also as a way to get a personal training certification for an additional source of revenue. He then successfully completed his certification through the ISSA and started personal training.
“Once I did get my certification and started personal training, it completely changed my mindset as the months and years went on,” Damon said.
After getting his certification, Damon deepened his knowledge of training and functional movement alongside HAC Master Personal Trainer Ron Shoop. “He’s the real reason why I began functional training in kettlebells, and I always thank him for that,” Damon said.
Damon remembers Shoop and another friend of his doing kettlebell snatches in the gym they all attended at the time. Not knowing what a snatch was, Damon questioned Shoop and had him explain kettlebells and the idea of using your hips for functional movement.
“Ron told me to try swinging a 32-kilo kettlebell,” Damon said. “For that split second, I thought I could do it, but I didn’t think of the kettlebell swing coming back down with the weight and momentum, so it pulled me forward and I fell flat on my face.”
Instead of getting discouraged, Damon brushed it off and instead got intrigued. This made him want to learn more about functional movement, the importance of the posterior chain, and how to focus more on proper form for leg, back, and total body work.
This is when Damon truly started to form his current style of training, which focuses heavily on functional movement.
Damon now puts all of his time and effort into making sure that his clients work towards gaining the ability to move their bodies with proper muscle and joint function, for the most beneficial movement done with purpose. Whether it’s for sports and athletics, general fitness, or daily life activities, learning how to adapt to this efficient kind of movement is so important for maintaining good health and avoiding injury.
When Damon first got the job at HAC, he remembers being asked during his initial interview if he was here for the money or to make a difference. “I remember that line ten years ago because that line stuck with me,” Damon said.
Damon answered the question without any hesitation, saying honestly and genuinely that he was there to help. Now, ten years later, clients who come to Damon know that they will become some of the hardest workers out there from Damon drilling into them that they need to do what they need to do.
“I’m definitely not the ‘Okay, we have to do three sets of bench press, followed by three sets of this and that’ kind of guy,” Damon said. “I’m also not the trainer who just tells a client to move with crappy form and then tells them great job. That’s not benefiting them at all.” In any fitness facility, Damon believes that it is about the client and their progress, not the trainer and how much money the trainer can make off of the client with little to no progress being made.
“I first and foremost need to make sure a person knows how to use their body,” Damon said.
Damon now makes sure that each and every one of his clients does not move for the sake of moving, but actually makes a mental connection with their bodies as they move. “I’m always stressing the importance of letting your muscles do what your muscles are supposed to do, and letting your joints do what your joints are supposed to do,” Damon said. “Learn how to move, and be aware of your movements.”
Clients of Damon’s continue to do just that.
Those who work with Damon know that if a rep is not done the way he wants it done, they will do that rep over again. Damon emphasizes doing each and every move with thought and purpose to make sure that his clients make progress week to week and do not get injured.
“I want to make sure they move in such a way that I would get benefit from it, if it was me doing the move,” Damon said.
Damon also believes that realizing the how and the why of his chest injury benefited him and pushed him to learn and grow into his current style of personal training as well.
“In order to be wise, you must first be stupid,” Damon said. “If you make a stupid mistake, you have to think why or how did that mistake happen. When you figure out the how and the why, that’s how you learn and make corrections.”
Damon uses that thought process to enforce the idea of “the how” being more important than “the what” with all of his clients. If one of his clients is doing lunges, he makes them question and think about how they are actually doing the lunges.
“You are always constantly learning how to use your body, how to move, why things happen, and how to overcome that,” Damon said.
Overcoming his past failures also motivates Damon to better himself and the lives of his clients each and every day. “You failed, you got down, you crashed, you scraped, you got bloody. It’s okay. That is human nature. It happens to all of us, but don’t let that stop you,” Damon said.
“If you fall down seven times you get up eight. You continue to get up. Dust yourself off, figure out what happened, make adjustments, make corrections, keep going.”
Whether other people are working independently or alongside others at HAC, Damon always wants to make sure they are aware of what they are doing.
“Always pay attention mentally,” Damon said. “Feel what you are doing. Have that connection and make sure that it is the best that you can possibly do, because you actually felt the move and you feel it every time you do it.”