City: San Francisco, California

Passion: Fitness, Running


Basic Training, a type of bootcamp workout, is so good - it’s addictive, I was told. My curiosity overcame my laziness and I finally went to check it out; I found that Basic Training’s instructors are what it’s all about. Alex Ho, one the core teachers, loves what he does and you can tell just by observing him interact with his students: he gives it his all, always with a smile. Four years ago, Alex started training with Basic Training, while working in construction and had just begun working out regularly. Today, Alex is an ultrarunner, trains and teaches outdoor fitness, and most importantly, he is a motivator who loves, runs and writes about his passion. We met with Alex at his favorite spot by the Golden Gate Bridge on a quintessential sunny, windy San Francisco Sunday morning to hear his full story on how he went from rarely training to go on becoming a 100 mile race runner.



On Passion

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In 2010, I started taking outdoor fitness classes with Basic Training and discovered my inner athlete. I was in the midst of my “yes year” when I needed to get out of my rut and decided to change up my gym routine by exercising outdoors. The classes pushed me harder and further than I could have ever imagined and turned me into a runner - I previously hated running. It was only 6 months later that I wanted to help other people change their lives and find their inner athlete.
I decided to pursue my passion when I noticed that my mood during and after leading classes and training clients was always great. I found myself talking about training and running more and my interest in construction was diminishing. One year after becoming a personal trainer, I decided to quit my job to pursue training full time.

On Mastery

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After I passed my personal trainer exam, I would teach classes in the morning, go to my old job in construction management during the day, then teach classes or train clients after work. For a year, I did both jobs as well as trained myself for running my first races: a 10K, a half marathon, a full marathon, and surprisingly, a 50 mile race.
I started reading as much as I could about training. To stay updated, I still read as many books and articles as possible as well as take classes and workshops. The profession is always growing so staying updated is necessary.

On Transition


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My current boss/mentor convinced me that I would be a good trainer and told me to buy my books and set a test date. After I passed my personal trainer exam, I would teach classes in the morning, go to my old job in construction management during the day, and then teach classes or train clients after work. For a year, I did both jobs as well as trained myself for running my first races: a 10K, half marathon, full marathon, and surprisingly, a 50 mile race. I decided to work both jobs for at least a year to be sure that personal training was actually what I wanted to pursue as a career. Once I was confident that personal training was the right choice, I put my notice in to my old company.

On Fear of Failure

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I have been lucky enough to not have experienced any big failures. One of the tough things about training is having clients leave or tell you that they aren’t interested in training with you. As a person who always wants to help someone, rejection also feels like failure. Letting go of my ego and just being supportive of whatever decisions people make is the best thing I have learned.
Today I deal with failure by looking for support in others. One of the hardest things for me to do is ask for help but I am quickly realizing that just as I like to help people, there are others who really want to help me. Becoming more vulnerable is an ongoing process but when I fail, I look at it as an opportunity to grow.
Fear to me is failure and disappointment. My goal in life is to inspire others by what I do and how I live so when I fail at my pursuits, it feels like I am disappointing them. Fear is also a great driver. Without fear pushing us, I don’t think we would be able to accomplish anything. I overcome my fears by telling myself if I am truly passionate about what I am doing, it will all work out in the end. Others recognize passionate people so if you are able to exude your enthusiasm about what you do, great things will happen.

On Money

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I was able to save up some money while working my old job so I would have a cushion for when I quit, and so far things have worked out pretty well - but I have had to change my lifestyle a little bit. Instead of going out to eat, I decide to cook more. As a trainer and a runner, I wake up early so going out to bars and staying up late isn’t really an option anymore. Coping is sometimes hard when friends always want to go out, but if they are good friends then they’ll understand what you’re trying to do. It’s all about surrounding yourself with the right people if you want to succeed.

On Self-Love

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Self-love is realizing that you are good enough to be doing what you want to. It’s about having confidence in yourself and believing that you are or will be successful in your pursuits. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing then other people won’t want to follow you.
I take care of myself by living the life that I promote. As a trainer, I feel it’s necessary to be in good shape and take care of my body. Since I am also a run coach, I keep a schedule of races that I train for to keep me motivated.

On Inspiration

There are a number of people that inspire me. My clients inspire me because of their willingness to change their lives and ask for help in doing so. My mother inspires me because she had a similar transition in her life when she was in her early 40’s. She became a personal trainer, worked 2 jobs, eventually quit her other job and now owns her own business. She trains people out of her garage which she transformed into a gym.
My mentor, and boss, Jenn Pattee inspires me because she is working on transforming the way people and corporations look at fitness. She is the owner of the outdoor fitness company I work for and her passion for the profession and helping others is very motivating and hard not to follow. Other runners that I meet are always inspiring me with the races they’re doing and their stories about how they got into running.

On Support

The running community is full of people who are all setting amazing goals for themselves and helping others reach theirs. My friends and family have given me nothing but support and encouragement. I was chosen to be an ambassador by lululemon and they have challenged me to set and meet some very tough goals. The team at the Union St. Store has been amazing at helping in any way possible.

Advice to the Community

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My advice to anyone looking to leave their job and pursue their passion is to do it. I’m not saying you should immediately quit your job and jump into what you want, but find a community of supportive people and test out your passion. If you still have the fire, don’t hesitate to let it burn. There is a term in running called “tempo runs.” I like to describe it as running at a comfortably hard pace. If you follow your passion with a similar mindset, “pursuing with a comfortable fear/risk,” then you can succeed at anything.