Joe Pocaro: CSM Trained, ACE Certified

Trainer is Ready to Pump You Up, Nicely

When Joe Pocaro works with a personal training client he likes to push hard, strongly encourage and get the client over the hump–talking down to a client or screaming in their face is not his way. “I’m not telling them they are a bunch of wusses like they do on the TV show “Biggest Loser,” said Pocaro. “It’s not like that in my world, that’s TV.”

Pocaro, 50, of Hughesville, is a life-long gym rat who recently obtained his American Council on Exercise (ACE) certification following completion of Fundamentals of Personal Fitness Training through the College of Southern Maryland. He works out five days a week during his lunch period at his job with the federal government and on Tuesday and Thursday evenings while waiting for, or between, clients at World Gym in Waldorf.

“In 1985 I started working as a personal trainer part-time to make extra money—there was no such thing as certifications, if [a potential employer] looked at you and you looked like you knew what you were doing, you were hired,” Pocaro said. But times have changed and today most gyms require personal trainers to become certified, as was the case when Pocaro inquired about part-time job openings.

“As our community becomes increasingly health-conscious, the demand for wellness professionals will grow,” said CSM Fitness Coordinator Kim Vaccaro, who was Pocaro’s instructor. Personal Trainer Fundamentals will prepare students for the ACE Personal Trainer certification examination, Vaccaro said.

For the first time, CSM’s course will run as a five-session weekend series over the summer. “Based on feedback, we decided to offer Personal Trainer Fundamentals on weekends over the summer so that working professionals could take advantage of the course without having to rush from work,” Vaccaro said.

What started for Pocaro as enrollment in one fitness course grew to enrollment for Certificate in Basic Fitness Management with a goal to progress to a Certificate in Advanced Fitness Management. “I had a lot of transfers from military training and prior college courses,” Pocaro said. “I registered for an elective which should be one of the last classes you take, but it was a fluke that I took it first and then found out that it was for ACE certification.” He added that with his extensive reading on fitness and training over the years, he felt ready to take the exam after just one class. He passed.

In the two months he has been working, Pocaro has picked up three full-time clients by word of mouth or from gym members who see him in action, and he has picked up occasional ‘comps’ who are given a personal training session when they join the gym.

CSM’s Personal Trainer Fundamentals will run on Saturdays from May 29 through June 26 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The college credit class, one of several needed for an Associate Degree in Fitness Management, is also offered as a Continuing Education Course.

In addition to certification for personal trainers, the course benefits various allied health professionals, nurses, dietetics and massage and physical therapists, according to Vaccaro. The course includes instruction in muscle anatomy, nutrition, fitness assessment and exercise physiology.

For information on CSM’s fitness programs, visit