He benches 400 pounds and has his eye on the world record. He spends his weekends at church teaching kids about personal health, and his work week at the Pacific Science Center gaining job skills. He’s got a big heart and even bigger aspirations for his future.
His name is Tevin, and two years ago, he called himself “a shy guy” with a speech impediment and a goal to one day become a full-time personal trainer. These days, he’s quite comfortable speaking to the large crowds who attend movies at the Pacific Science Center’s IMAX Theater or shows at the Laser Dome, and his progress toward personal training certification is right on track.
When Tevin first connected with Northwest Center through the School-to-Work Program, an employment program for high school seniors with developmental disabilities, he had already determined that he wanted to be a full-time personal trainer. All that was left was setting goals to reach it. At the urging of his job developer, he applied for a job as an IMAX usher to strengthen his communication skills.
“Part of the job is you have to give an introduction before the movie,” said Tevin’s supervisor, Kalen Knowles, at the time. “I knew that he was uncomfortable with it, but it was something that he was going to have to do, and he was okay with that. He was going to work towards it, and I knew Northwest Center was going to work with him.”
But to the surprise of Knowles, Tevin jumped in, working with his speech therapist to nail the speech before he was even asked to give it. “He just did it, which was pretty cool, taking that initiative,” says Knowles.
A year later, Tevin continues to strengthen his skills, now working at both the IMAX and the Laser Dome, one of the most powerful laser light shows in the world. But his focus remains on his future. He’s worked steadily toward personal training certification with friend and mentor Reggie Baker, Program Director of BFITT4Life, and spent last summer assisting at multiple community training programs for the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, the Seattle Police Department, and the United Negro College Fund.
“Right now, I’m an assistant trainer instructor,” Tevin says. “So if the trainer needs to give [a client] more information, he’ll ask me to give more information on what the topic is. And if he wants me to give any part of a workout or conditioning or calisthenics, I’ll do that.”
Baker sees nothing but success in Tevin’s future, including becoming a nationally certified trainer in the next few years. “The thing about Tevin is, you can’t put any limits on him, because he has been breaking the limits ever since he was born. That right there just sets this young man up for a great future in my eyes,” Baker says. “He can go to any place and set up his own business and do personal training from there, or he can go work at any of the corporate gyms. The certification he’s going through at the National Academy of Sports Medicine is one of the highest level certifications that you can have within the personal training realm.”
With his dream of becoming a personal trainer at hand, Tevin is setting the bar even higher: becoming a world powerlifting champion.
“He’s definitely on the right path,” says Baker. “He’s mentally there, and also physically. That is one of his next great pursuits, so I definitely see it happening for him.”
Baker never had doubts about Tevin’s success; the way he sees it, it’s not about focusing on a person’s disability, but on what someone can bring to the table. “I don’t put boundaries on anyone,” says Baker, who employs a trainer who uses a wheelchair. “Give them a chance, that’s the first and foremost thing. Sometimes that person will be one of the best employees that you could ever have.”
As for Tevin, he’s looking forward to helping others meet their own fitness goals. “A lot of people have helped me over the years,” he says. “I got a lot of knowledge and I’ve learned a lot from them. Now it’s my job to pass it on.”
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