Sergeant, US Marine Corps | Personal Trainer, YMCA | CEO, Be Sperry Fit, LLC
"CSP set a precedent for the rest of my life now that I have found a niche that I love and am good at."
In addition to her work as a language analyst with the United States Marines, Gina Sperry ’17 is a personal trainer and CEO of Be Sperry Fit, LLC. Though Gina had no prior fitness industry experience, she became interested in pursuing exercise science after she connected with a friend in the military who participated in CrossFit and training. We caught up with Gina to discuss how CSP helped her embrace her emerging passion for exercise science as well as empower her to help others achieve a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Q: Describe your current job role and responsibilities:
A: I am a Sergeant in the United State Marine Corps working as a language analyst. In addition to that, I am also a personal trainer at a local YMCA, and I am the CEO of my own business, Be Sperry Fit, LLC. My goal through Be Sperry Fit is to help men and women find the balance between mental, emotional and physical health within the flexibility of their own lifestyles. Currently, most of my clients are trained online via a personal app. I am working on marketing to bring the training into my home so I can reach clients who prefer to be face-to-face.
Q: What has been your career path?
A: I enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2013 with no fitness experience; my motivation for joining was to develop my language skills. I met a good friend in the military who did CrossFit and admired her hard work and physique. She started working with me, answering my questions, and giving me guidance. From there, I was introduced to another online fitness coach, who I started training with in 2015.
Through this experience, I realized I really enjoyed training and the idea of training people. I would go home and research training and knew it was a good fit because I never got bored! This is when I started thinking about getting a master’s degree.
It was a struggle to pursue this degree at first because my undergrad was a BA and I wanted an MS. Due to my work, I needed an online opportunity. After researching, I found Concordia.
Most of my tuition was covered by military benefits, and Concordia offered me a military scholarship. I began classes in the fall of 2015 and finished in the winter of 2017.
While I was working on my master’s, I started my business and finished a strength and conditioning certification and a fitness nutrition certification. I was also selected to lead a group of Marines in my company for a year to help provide remediation in regards to physical test standards.
In 2018, we moved to the Baltimore area with a lot going on; it was a new year, a new job, a new city, and a new baby.
My capstone project at Concordia led me to have the confidence to exercise during pregnancy and how that, alongside nutrition, would affect me and my son. I continued to exercise (squats, dumbbells, and gentle running) up until the day I gave birth. After I had my son, I was running four weeks later and lifting weights at six weeks. I kept my nutrition on point because of its importance in breastfeeding. I started losing weight and soon was back down to pre-pregnancy weight.
In 2019, I started working at the YMCA. I’ve been blogging on fitness and mom-related topics, which has increased my visibility on social media and ultimately brings in more clients. People are now reaching out to me to train with me personally.
Q: Why did you choose CSP?
A: I chose Concordia because of the quality of the program and that they were willing to work with my undergrad degree. The program was online, which meant a lot of flexibility, like being present in a virtual classroom every week and due dates for assignments. They accepted my military tuition assistance and the scholarship they offered me was helpful as well.
Q: How would you describe your CSP experience?
A: Going into it, I was afraid that I wouldn’t have the motivation to finish an online program. I had done one online class during my undergrad, which was a terrible experience. But the online experience through Concordia was very good. Ultimately, I was interested in the topic of exercise science and being in the class, so participating in discussion boards and seeing other people’s experiences were awesome and opened me up to a world that wasn’t there before. I don’t think you get that type of experience in just a lecture-style class.
Q: Who were some of the people at CSP that influenced you the most, and how?
A: The professors were fantastic. Towards the end of my time at Concordia, I was getting ready to be deployed and needed a lot of flexibility. I ended up in an environment with extremely limited Wi-Fi, and everyone was very understanding. I told them I needed help with deadlines due to the way my career was going.
During my studies, I also found out I was pregnant, and that had a large effect on my motivation. My capstone advisor’s wife was also expecting and he understood what was going on in my life and responded well to my requests for extensions. The goal was to be able to present quality work. I didn’t want to work in a pinch. It was wonderful to have the space to communicate my needs so that I could turn in the best possible work.
Q: What is your favorite memory from your program?
A: Definitely doing my capstone project. That brought my experience full circle. I was amazed at what I learned versus what we practice in society. If I hadn’t been pushed to do so, I would not have learned all of this valuable information and would have found myself in the same shoes as so many other moms trying to lose baby weight but not knowing how. The capstone project also helped me realize what my body is capable of.
Q: How has your CSP education impacted your life and career?
A: It has impacted both significantly. It set a precedent for the rest of my life now that I have found a niche that I love and am good at. I have become a resource for my fellow Marines who come to me for guidance. Friends and clients know they can trust me because of my education and if I don’t have the answer to something, I know how to do the research to find the answer. This is important for a client/trainer relationship. I’m there because I want to teach my clients, not because I’m just trying to make some extra cash. This is something I intend to pursue the rest of my life and after my career in the Marine Corps. I intend to stay in this field and expand upon my experience.
Everything in this interview is solely Ms. Sperry’s opinion and not that of the Marine Corps, Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.