Billy Hamilton is the fitness director at Valdosta Country Club in Valdosta, Georgia, and has been personal training for upwards of 15 years. He got his start after seeing a newspaper advertisement for a personal trainer position at the YMCA and applying years ago. His experience with fitness and personal training goes beyond the average health transformation story, however.
Before Hamilton first began training, he had custody of his two young daughters and was looking for work that would fit around their schedules.
“I had a job that I just wasn’t happy doing and was feeling really unfulfilled,” he said. “I had always liked athletics and enjoyed working out, so it (the YMCA) just seemed to fit.”
Hamilton has been through hard times and views his faith and his career in fitness as two threads that have worked together throughout his life. At one point, he was in two severe car crashes within a few months’ time. He should’ve been hurt based on the severity of the crashes.
“I walked away from both of them without a scratch,” Hamilton said.
After the car crashes, Hamilton felt like he must’ve survived for a reason.
“God is not finished with me yet,” he said. “He has something here for me to do.”
That something is helping others become healthier and remaining healthy himself for his family and clients.
Hamilton’s words about his faith spurring his career are inspiring: “As far as my faith and my work are concerned, and my fitness journey, well, I believe that we have all been given gifts. Each of us has something we are good at doing. We aren’t given our gifts to keep things to ourselves, but to help encourage and lift others up. I just feel that one of my gifts happens to be athletics and working out.”
The gifts Hamilton shares benefit a variety of people. He is involved with a recovery group.
“When people hear ‘recovery,’ they often think pills and alcohol and other substances.,” Hamilton said. “Truth be told, there are so many things out there that people need recovery from that don’t have to do with substances.”
For Hamilton, improved health and recovery go hand in hand.
Whether Hamilton is helping people build muscle, lose weight, or recover from addiction, he believes in putting in the effort to change.
“If you want something different, you have to do something different,” he said. “So, if you are a stay-at-home mom, a high school soccer player, a cancer survivor, or a heart transplant recipient and you want to be better, it will take work. I have been so blessed to have been part of so many lives and so many journeys just simply because people showed up and trusted the process and did the work. [Change] doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen.”
Hamilton is willing to work with anyone, even clients whom others might consider more difficult to train.
“I don’t have any particular clients or client types I prefer, but I do enjoy working with those who have a major health issue to address,” he said. “I have done a good bit of work with injury recovery and some transplant individuals as well. I have had several cancer-related clients and conditions along those lines, too. The thing is, no matter who the trainer is or what kind of program the individual is on, it is still up to [the client] to show up, to do the work. To me, that’s where you find the real heroes.”
Helping others through personal training not only benefits Hamilton’s clients, it benefits Hamilton as well.
“Working out and staying in shape and helping others maintain and improve their health makes me feel good about me, if that makes sense,” he said.
Written by: Jay Summer | Photography by: Jesse Taylor