For Adam Goldberg, physical fitness became a way of overcoming life's challenges.
Growing up in Hillsborough, N.J., he says he struggled in school. He was physically fragile and socially awkward. He was bullied by other kids and just wanted to fit in. As a 100-pound freshman at The Hun School in Princeton, N.J., he thought trying out for the football team might be a way to do that, but he broke a rib in practice.
That's when his parents set him up with a personal trainer, August Leming, who also had a Ph.D. in psychology.
"Exercise became my real refuge," Goldberg said. "Having to push myself mentally and physically past my pre-determined limits in the gym started to impact other facets of my life."
Now, Goldberg has made helping others improve in mind and body his profession. A 2015 Penn State graduate with a degree in psychology, the 24-year-old returned to State College last fall to start MBI Fitness, a health and wellness company specializing in personal training, corrective exercise and golf performance with an emphasis on improving physically and mentally.
MBI, he explains, stands for "mind and body integration."
"It is a concept that true change must occur on a mental, physical, and spiritual level in order to achieve self-improvement," said Goldberg, who is working on a master's in counseling from Seton Hall University. "The medical, mental health and fitness industries all preach about wellness, but almost never work with each other to achieve it. I want to change that by being a mental health and fitness professional, so that I can have a larger positive impact on my clients’ lives."
MBI offers personal training services in-home, online, or at Anytime Fitness State College. Goldberg said that MBI starts with an in-depth, comprehensive fitness assessment.
"It goes over one’s medical history, exercise history, nutrition, lifestyle, body composition, movement screens, and optional performance tests," he said. "This is to ensure that each person is getting the most individually tailored exercise program possible."
He then works with clients in their homes or by setting up an online program. For online training, he visits with clients for an assessment and develop a custom program. Through an app on iOS or Android devices, he schedules exercise programs and clients can watch instructional videos and see target ranges for reps and intensity. The app will track performance and nutritional intake, among other functions.
In-person clients, meanwhile, receive a free gym membership with Anytime Fitness. "I found that the owners and I shared the same vision for our members/clients and the facility is top notch when it comes to quality of equipment, 24-hour access, and cleanliness," he said.
Goldberg also has certifications in golf fitness from Titleist Performance Institute and corrective exercise from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
"Many of my clients come for fat loss, building muscle, functional movement, among many other goals," he said.
Back when he was in high school, counselors told him getting admitted to Penn State might be a reach. But he said that his personal training made that a challenge he wanted to overcome. That dedication stuck with him in college, where he says he stuck with his fitness regimen and commitment to personal growth.
A dean's list student as a senior, Goldberg also was a member of Sigma Pi Fraternity and got involved in THON, eventually dancing in the 46-hour event.
While at Penn State, he had an internship with Bob White, a co-captain on Penn State's 1986 national championship football team and now the Nittany Lion Club's director for suites and club seats at Beaver Stadium.
"He taught me a lot about work ethic," Goldberg said. "He would not let me do the functions of the internship until my readings for school were completed. I would sit in his office for hours doing my reading because I hadn’t done them before I got there. After interning for him I constantly think about how admirable his work ethic is. Not to mention he looks like he can still play football because he takes that same work ethic into the gym every morning at 5 a.m."
After graduating, Goldberg went back to New Jersey and worked as a personal trainer for two fitness clubs. He moved back to State College in 2016 to start his company because he loves the area, and because his parents were now living in Toftrees.
Goldberg credits the example set by his parents as both battle their own physical challenges. He said his father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 13 and has since gone blind and had to relearn how to walk while still working to provide for his family. His mother has a rare form of gastroparesis, a serious condition that affects the stomach muscles, and experiences extreme pain on a daily basis.
"My parents are the world’s greatest role models," he said. "They both live with chronic illnesses and constantly preach positivity."
He continues to draw inspiration from his time in high school when he first fell in love with fitness while working with Leming, his personal trainer.
"It was the lessons and virtues instilled in me during those years that set me up for life," he said. "I look back on my high school years as an awakening of my passion for fitness and the genuine love for helping people. Having to overcome the academic, social, and physical limitations is what inspires me to give back through my own personal training services."
For those who are pursuing fitness-related resolutions for the new year, Goldberg said pushing through to stick with the commitment is key.
"My advice is similar to what I would tell people who come to the gym in May and want six-pack abs for the summer. There are going to be days that it is tempting to be lazy when you know you should go to the gym and workout. We all have them, but it is on those days where the results are made. By showing up on those days is how we train ourselves to become resilient."