True Grit: Aaron Williamson

Aaron Williamson was on deployment with the Marines overseas in Okinawa when he first truly started training. He dedicated all of his free time to lifting, trying every technique under the sun, and started to see incredible results. Soon he found himself getting asked for advice by his fellow Marines, and suddenly, without warning, he was a physical trainer to many. So it only made sense that when he returned after his service, and fell on hard times, that he found his path helping clients in a 24-hour gym back home in New Orleans. Then one day, the producers of The Lucky One approached him about being the military advisor to Zac Efron, while they filmed in Louisiana. He not only schooled Efron on the tactical skills he needed but also started to lead the actor’s workouts once his own trainer went back to Los Angeles. So began an impressive career training leading men like J.K. Simmons, James Marsden, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Now he is excited to share his secrets with the Playbook community.


How He Got Here:

I tinkered around with weights for a while in high school. Then I went into the Marine Corp and I was deployed to Japan. That is when I first put real time in because I was out there for about seven months and there wasn’t much to do. I found the gym on base and that became my new home. Being in the Marines helped build the discipline and structure that allowed me to take my training to a whole new level. I had the determination to be the best that I could be. Those words always keep me going.

No matter where I was in the world, or what duty I had. Whether I was working in the infantry or as a security specialist, everyone knew me for fitness. I would give tips but I never thought anything about being a personal trainer. My ambition was to be a bodybuilder. Every breath I took was to be a better bodybuilder. I came back from Iraqi in 2009. I fell on some hard times finding work. The job I was expecting to get didn’t end up panning out. I turned to training people as a last resort. I had nothing else. I knew I was good at it. So it wasn’t until 2010 until I started taking on clients.

How He Trains:

The majority of my work is body transformation, but it really depends on what their goals are. I don’t want to train someone just to make money. This means much more to me than that. The fact is my clients are a direct reflection of me and what I am capable of as a trainer. I take a lot of pride in what I am able to do. I want someone who is going to show up to work, not just want to stand around and talk about whatever. It really comes down to the building blocks that have been put there, especially through the nutrition. The more that I can help the person eat right for the results that they want, the more success that we are going to have. I absolutely approach the nutrition aspect of it. I will dive in as much as they are comfortable with. If that means texting me when they are out to dinner, I am good with that. There are people who take it that serious, and if they are open to that I am going to go to that level.

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His Driving Force:

For me the gym is a sanctuary. It is truly my sanity. No matter what is going on in my life, and no matter what I have, the gym is there. Back when I had to live out of a car, and didn’t have any money, I could always go there to clear my mind. Seeing the psychological benefits that it has had for me has helped motivate me, because I have learned that it is a tool to keep my head right. I always feel good leaving. So why would I not want to go?

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