A native of of Tennessee, Jason Kozma was making an impressive debut in amateur competitive bodybuilding even before moving to the Los Angeles area in the 90s. He decided to concentrate exclusively on building a solid base of clients in the very competitive personal training field. Having gone beyond even his own expectations in personal training, he decided it was time to return to the bodybuilding stage for new and greater challenges. In 2003, he began to train to compete again, and in the seasons that followed won high placings in the heavyweight class, a heavyweight title at the Mr. America event in 2005, and more high placings at other major California events in 2007. Here he discusses both his own training and the insights he has brought along in helping a wide variety of body types achieve their own personal fitness best.
Building a Professional Fitness Profile, California Style
MasterMuscle: How did you find the time to return to competitive bodybuilding in addition to managing your extensive personal training business?
Jason Kozma: Well, for those first seven years here in Los Angeles, I was just focused on building my business. I had five years of concentrating on business and my practice was really large and solid enough to the point where I didn’t have to spend every moment trying to optimise my websites or getting new clients, it was kind of supporting itself. So then I needed a new goal to work towards and I wanted to work on focusing on my physique more, so I started to train harder and really pay attention to how I eat and stuff like that, because I was just getting by before on my weight sessions. Then I wanted to get my physique back to competition level, just for the look, to look the part, so I started training really hard again. In 2003 I got back into it. I did the Orange County Championship and the California State Championship, taking third in both. I didn’t want to start competing again until I was confident I could potentially win.
MasterMuscle: What were your next moves back into competition?
Jason Kozma: I read in Musclemag that they were holding the Mr. America contest again and I said cool, and it’s going to be in California. And I did win the heavyweight class. And that was great, I did it for the title, you know, because it was a cool title and it didn’t matter who sanctioned it.
Getting the Personal Training Client on a Winning Track
MasterMuscle: As a personal trainer with many years of experience, what do you find new clients are often still misinformed about?
Jason Kozma: People know they have to work out, but most of them are doing all of their exercises wrong. It’s quite rare to find them doing any single exercise correctly with the exception of something like curls – they’ll do that one a lot! So most people are doing every single exercise wrong because they don’t understand what the exercise is supposed to be training. They think “up and down” – take the dumbbell and move it up and down, or pull the cable down. And that’s not what it is – you’re supposed to contract the muscles and the side effect of contracting the muscles is moving the weight. Most people don’t understand that.
MasterMuscle: How do you usually deal with the clients who don’t want to compete but do want some definition?
Jason Kozma: They often say I don’t want to get huge, I don’t want to be like a bodybuilder. Well, if you want to have a physique, if you want to take off your shirt and not be embarrassed by it, you need to train like a bodybuilder. Otherwise, you’re not going to have a physique, you’re just going to be a regular “dude.” You didn’t come to me to train to look like a regular dude – you want to look spectacular, and this is what we’ve got to do to accomplish that. One thing that’s kind of different about training people nowadays is that women are more open to building muscle. It’s not because they want to become bodybuilders, it’s because they don’t mind building some muscle. It’s kind of cool for them to have some muscle, so you don’t have to make up crazy ways to train them just to not build any muscle. It looks good, to be honest, now that girls don’t want to just be sticks anymore. That’s something different nowadays as opposed to say ten years ago, where they just wanted to be slim.