As a fifth grade math teacher in Loudoun County public schools, Keith Sager needed to attend a 5 a.m. class at LoCo CrossFit that would allow him to work out before heading to the classroom. When nobody was willing to coach one that early in the day, he stepped up. After the owner of the facility got Sager certified, he began offering the class three days a week. It wasn’t long until he had to switch to five days and amassed a loyal group of regulars who faithfully came in and filled the available slots.
Sager has participated in sports all his life, playing rec league basketball and slow-pitch softball competitively on the weekends into his forties, and has also dabbled in weightlifting since his mid-twenties. He’s going on his seventh year of teaching CrossFit and also coaches Shape Up classes and provides personal training services. As the recipient of a kidney transplant, he credits his lifestyle in part as what will keep him healthy for years to come. Sager, who lives in Leesburg with his wife and five daughters, tells us what motivates him, what an average day looks like for him and how things have changed since the pandemic.
What services do you provide?
“I provide both live and virtual personal training sessions. Typically, my clients come to Loco Crossfit twice a week and we have either a 30- or 60-minute session. I’ve also been working with family groups; it’s fantastic to have a mother, father and teenage son coming in together to exercise and enjoying it while they’re there. I also provide programming for people that just need a plan and work out at their home gym or a public gym. Everything I do is based upon the clients needs and goals, and anyone who starts training with me has an initial goal setting session so that we can make sure we are all on the same page.”
What does an average day look like for you?
“Typically I am at the gym by 5:30 or 6 a.m. Monday through Friday. I typically work out six days a week and take Sunday completely off, and try to get into the gym early enough each morning to work out before my clients come. A lot of the time I will test the wor out that I want them to do, so that I can make adjustments as needed for their ability. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to focus on maintaining strength, keeping my core strong and focusing on moving well and not necessarily moving fast every day. After I leave the gym, I come home and work my full-time job, which I am lucky enough to work from home most of the time. Typically I’m back at the gym in the evenings to train clients after 5 p.m. If I can sneak in a short workout I try, but I also enjoy touching base with our members that are there for class and just spending time around everybody enjoying fitness. I eat fairly healthy throughout the day, including a lot of fruit, vegetables, protein and good carbs and very little refined sugar, and drink nothing but coffee and water. I also try to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night; as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned the value of a good night’s sleep!”
Talk about the impact of your kidney transplant on your philosophy and daily routine.
“Kidney transplants used to last 10 to 15 years if you were lucky, but my doctor told me that I could possibly keep my transplanted kidney for the rest of my life if I took care of myself. With exercise, being generally healthy, taking your medicine and staying hydrated he told me I can possibly not need to have another transplant. It is very important to me to set a good example that taking care of yourself and following the doctor‘s orders can keep you healthy!”
How has your career changed since the pandemic?
“We have smaller class sizes and are limiting the number of people in the building at one time. Luckily for personal training it does not affect our sessions as much, we just keep distance while the client is exercising. This does limit the ability to give tactile cues, but we’re making the best of it! We spent a lot of time sanitizing and cleaning before and after clients, and we’ve had to limit close Interactions as best we can.”
What do you find most rewarding and most challenging in the personal training world?
“Most rewarding is seeing clients meet their goals and then strive toward new ones. One of my first real clients ended up losing 100 pounds and 30% body fat in about 16 months and he looks like a totally different person; more importantly his self-esteem has grown so much and he finally feels good about himself. When you can make a difference in somebody’s life it makes all the challenges rewarding. The greatest challenge we are facing now is obviously Covid. It is important for both our mental and physical health to exercise, and we are taking every precaution necessary to make clients comfortable coming in to the gym to exercise and be as healthy as they can be.”
What goals have you set for 2021?
“Every day that I wake up and can move and exercise and I’m healthy is a good day! I hope that I can maintain my health, and give other people the opportunity to be healthier and be the best they can be!”
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