Leaving NASA to Coach Fitness

Brandon Heavey: Why he left NASA for the fitness industry

OPEX CCP coach Brandon Heavey is the owner Evidence Based Athlete, a company he owns and runs with his wife Nicole Latimer in Camdenton, Missouri.

Running a personalized online coaching business is certainly not what Heavey or Latimer expected they’d be doing with their lives, he admitted. Heavey, 38, has his Master’s degree in electrical engineering and worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for almost 10 years, while Latimer has her doctorate degree in pharmacology and completed a postgraduate residency in primary care medicine.

While he was working as an electrical engineer, Heavey discovered OPEX and completed the Coach Certificate Program (CCP) in 2012. He was immediately sold by the OPEX model, he explained. 

“It just seemed to mesh well with my engineering personality. It appealed to my analytical brain,” said Heavey, who stumbled across the OPEX when he was the owner of a CrossFit affiliate in Pasadena, California.

CCP took his coaching game to a new level, he said.

“CCP exposed me to major blind spots in my coaching, which have fundamentally altered the way I work with clients,” said Heavey, who signed up for the program specifically to learn more about program design.

“While I did come away from that training with a lot (about program design), it was the impact of (OPEX’s) training on client assessment and life coaching that affected me most,” Heavey said. What he learned helped him “develop an appreciation for the uniqueness of each client and provided (me) tools to connect more deeply with them.”

Specifically, he was drawn in by the attention to the importance of individualized care. 

“There’s not one single template (for training people). There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. James (Fitzgerald) lays it out there and lets you make sense of the information, and his approach has helped us build this business in a way that we can now work with all sorts of people,” he said. “And a big piece of this was just learning to better understand how different people work.”

While this can be particularly challenging to do in a remote setting with online clients—as Heavey and Latimer do—Heavey said it’s still possible to develop close connections with their clients because of the individualized, one-on-one nature he and his wife take with their 50 clients.

They rely not just on the TrueCoach app for delivering their individual training programs, communicating and sharing videos, but also on FaceTime and video calls to really dig into their clients’ lives. Sometimes this involves working on their clients’ nutrition, other times it’s about sleep or emotional stress in life, and other times still it involves doing lab work to check hormone levels and blood chemistry.

Latimer concurs. Though she went into the field of pharmacology to help people, she said she’s doing way more of that today as a coach at Evidence Based Athlete.

“As a pharmacist, my main role was counseling patients on their medications. In my role as a coach, I have the time and capacity to develop a well-rounded lifestyle approach, including nutrition, sleep, stress-management, as well as training protocols,” Latimer said. “Taking the time to learn about their training, nutrition, and medical histories, I can develop an individualized plan for their specific needs.

Not only does Heavey feel like he’s making a bigger difference in others’ lives today than during his engineering days, he’s also living a personally more fulfilling life.

“I left engineering after burning out from 60-plus hours a week and continually prioritizing my career over my health,” he said. Doing the CCP helped him figure out that he wanted to make a change in his own life, he explained. 

“For me, I realized financial reward isn’t the big driver. As long as I’m making enough to make ends meet. We don’t make nearly as much money as we did make before, but that’s intentional. We wanted freedom and time and to really love what we do. So that’s what we’re doing,” he said.

Latimer added her lifestyle today is much more enjoyable than it was as a pharmacist: “I train in the middle of the day. I take my dog for a walk in the afternoon. We also travel a lot because we can work from anywhere. …t’s pretty amazing to have that flexibility to live the life you want while also making an impact on others’ lives,” she said. 

None of this would have been possible without what OPEX’s teachings, Heavey added.

“It’s probably the single largest contributor that has helped support our business,” he said.

Get an introduction to the same coaching education that has changed Heavey’s coaching business with The Free 7-Day OPEX Coaching Course. Sign up today and get exposed to the same principles we have used to educate thousands of professional coaches over 25+ years.

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