by Nate Widom
If there is anything that HAC personal trainer Dom Tomlinson loves, it’s helping others. After helping his close family members gain confidence and the knowledge to work out, he knew he wanted to become a trainer. Now, he is an unstoppable force going out of his way to make the gym welcoming for all.
At thirteen, Dom joined his mother for a workout on her Beachbody membership and discovered he loved to exercise. As a student, he made it his mission to learn more about physical activity. “I was homeschooled throughout high school, which has really got me into what I wanted to learn, which is anatomy, the fitness industry, and exercise…,” Dom explains. “So, we actually made the gym part of schooling.”
Although he’s a fitness fan, he initially had extrinsic reasoning for going to the gym. “It’s kind of funny. It’s like a little kid’s story. When I was fifteen, I had my first heartbreak, and that’s what pushed me to join the gym at first. I was worried about how I looked, that’s what motivated me in the beginning.”
At the time, Dom was living with his family at an apartment complex in Easton, Pennsylvania. After getting his heart broken, he hit the complex’s fitness center. Dom then went to a gym for the first time in his life and has been in love ever since.
“I then started going to the gym consistently. A month went by, and I was still going strong, and I was kinda learning as I was going how to split my workouts into different parts and different muscle groups for different days…,” he describes. “And it was something that I really looked forward to every day.”
While originally Dom’s motivation for working out was for his appearance, this quickly turned into him working out for his own health and betterment. And now that Dom was in love with the gym, he wanted to share the benefits with his little brother.
Whenever Dom hit the gym, he would ask his brother to join. “I was telling my brother, Rocco, ‘You should come to the gym with me; you’ll get a nice workout,’” Dom recalls. Rocco was apprehensive for about a month or two before finally deciding to tag along.
“The first time he came with me, he had an amazing workout. We were just having a good time. We were really bonding,” Dom says. “And the next day, he’s like, ‘Alright, let’s go to the gym. Let’s have fun!'”
Dom and his family eventually moved to Oxford, Pennsylvania, where he remained physically active. Upon graduation, he was still determining what he wanted to do for his career. He only knew that he wanted to be involved in fitness. After a discussion with his parents, he took the NASM CPT certification.
Dom applied for a Personal Training position at the Hockessin Athletic Club so that he could begin taking clients for in-person sessions. He was offered to work as a cook in the HAC café while conducting a personal training internship at HAC. During his internship, he would shadow other trainers to gain more experience before taking his own clients. Fitness Director Maria Crennan and Café Director Chihiro Oka would coordinate to create a schedule that maximized Dom’s potential in both departments.
“I was working with training in the morning and a shift in the cafeteria in the afternoon,” he recalls. “It was a lot, but I loved the internship. I learned so much.” Dom would work with HAC personal trainer Keith Glines every Friday. Even though the opportunity wasn’t what he initially planned, Dom is thankful to have taken the internship opportunity rather than jumping in and immediately becoming a trainer.
“If I didn’t work with Keith and all the other trainers and learned what I learned from them, I feel like I wouldn’t be as good of a trainer as I am today,” Dom explains. “So, I really owe a lot of that to Maria and Chihiro for helping me along with that. I learned so much and found that personal training would be the best fit for me.”
Once Dom concluded his internship, he began as an official HAC personal trainer. He was eager to help people and believed he always had the characteristic to help others. “I guess I always had that trait in me,” he describes. “Like if somebody dropped something at the grocery store, I’d help them pick it up or things like that.”
In addition to training clients at HAC, he utilized his new experience to help his family. Currently, he’s helping train his younger brother, Rocco, and his granny. He furthermore plans to compete in the HAC Lifestyle Challenge with his mother.
Dom would train Rocco when their schedules would allow, which has helped Rocco gain muscle, confidence, and an incredible brotherly bond. “I always felt like the bigger brother before we started exercising together. We have a good relationship. I wanted him to come to the gym, so he was able to match the things I do so he doesn’t feel like that inferior little brother,” Dom mentions. “I wanted him to be able to be strong and be able to hang out with the bigger kids…” Now, the two brothers compete in a friendly way and compare strength gains. They often motivate each other on the fitness floor and are commonly mistaken for twins. Rocco now even works in the HAC Café.
In addition to his brother, Dom’s training allowed his grandmother to achieve a fantastic feat. Around the time Dom was born, his grandmother was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS and over time, has become unable to walk. Mostly inactive, his grandmother asked Dom for help once he became an official trainer. Her goal was to walk down the aisle at her daughter’s wedding.
According to Dom, his granny’s hamstring was shortened and one of her legs was atrophied. Every Monday and Thursday, the two would do low-impact home workouts. “We did some TRX stuff and a lot of stretching to lengthen the hamstring, lot of hip flexor, strengthening, glute, quad, everything,” Dom specifies. “Literally every muscle group on her leg we tried to strengthen.” Just a month before the wedding, she was able to walk with a cane.
On the wedding date, his granny successfully walked down the aisle. “She did end up
walking at the wedding, which is really cool,” Dom says. “I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment.”
He and his granny currently work out at HAC, and she even bought some of his personal training sessions. “We’re making really big improvements,” he describes. “It’s not even just her hamstring.” However, she and Dom continue to improve her mobility and range of motion.
In addition to his current certifications, Dom is currently working to become a corrective exercise specialist and plans to pursue another certification focusing on stretching and flexibility. Also, he is interested in senior fall prevention and senior wellness.
Dom especially wants to target new gym-goers, and he understands their nerves. “Don’t worry about what others think, he concludes. “Once you go to the gym long enough and you consider that you’re a gym-goer yourself, you realize that nobody is judging you or looking at you. Nobody cares what you’re doing as long as you’re doing it because you like it. Just be yourself.”