So often college students feel confined by their major. You’re a journalism major, so you should be an editor; you spent four years as an econ major, so you have to go into finance, right? There is this notion that post-college, you are limited to the career path narrowly defined by your academic background.
As Alex Silver-Fagan proves, taking your passion and turning it into a career is possible—regardless of your major. During her time at NYU, Silver-Fagan found (literal) strength and passion outside the classroom and in her college’s weight room. What started out as way to cope with a difficult time turned into a desire to change her life and others.
Flash forward a few years and Silver-Fagan is a thriving trainer, model, personality, and entrepreneur in the fitness world. From regularly working with publications such SELF and Women’s Health to being a Nike Trainer to her recently launched e-book, Silver-Fagen embodies the notion that with plenty of heart, hard work, and dedication, you can turn your passion into a thriving, successful career.
We caught up with Silver-Fagan as she shared a bit about her journey, what she has learned along the way, and how you too can turn your passion into a career.
CollegeFashionista: So let’s start with the basics—where did you go to school and what did you study?
Alex Silver-Fagan: I went to NYU, specifically Gallatin—the school of individualized study. I was able to create my own curriculum and major based on my interests. This was perfect for me as I was interested in trying a lot of different industries. Ultimately I focused on consumption, consumer behavior, marketing, and also completed a business studies minor.
CF: Was there one specific event in your life that sparked your passion for fitness?
ASF: My passion for fitness was inspired by a difficult time in my life. During my sophomore year of college, I made my way into the weight room of NYU’s gym, and for the first time in my life I felt strong. Not because I could lift heavy weights, but because I was the only girl brave enough to be in the weight room with all of the guys. This confidence was what drove me to continue within fitness. I was determined to help others feel the same way.
CF: So then what ultimately led you to turn your love of fitness into a career? Was it always your plan, or something you found along your college experience?
ASF: There was never a specific moment where I decided to make fitness my career, instead it just kind of… happened. I was working for a company called Booya Fitness, but as a social media and marketing intern. I met a trainer who filmed videos with the brand and she inspired me to become a personal trainer. At the same time I was prepping for my first bikini competition, so the puzzle pieces just started to fit together. One thing led to another and I found myself fully immersed in the fitness world.
CF: I love that you let your experience and passion ultimately guided your career path. But forging your own path straight out of school can be scary. What was the biggest challenge you faced?
ASF: Not getting discouraged. It’s very easy to want to quit when your career depends on a constant hustle. But in those moments of struggle I remembered how badly I refused to be average, to live an ordinary life, and that motivation helped me continue to chase my dreams even when it felt impossible. Because the truth is nothing is ever impossible, you just have to realize that the struggles are necessary and if you begin to appreciate them and consider them to be lessons rather than downfalls, you will always succeed.
CF: You’re lucky to be succeeding in a career where your job and your passion are the same thing. That being said, how do you not get burnt out? How do you stay motivated and find work-life balance?
ASF: This is probably the hardest part about my job (and anyone who follows their passion). You have to constantly remind yourself why you started and remember to always take “me-time.” I’m learning to take little breaks from NYC every so often, and reconnect back to Alex.
CF: What attributes do you have that have helped lead to your success?
ASF: I’m very disciplined, and will often make sacrifices in order to get something done. I’m also secure in my own decisions and don’t waste time worrying about what others will think. At the end of the day, you have to stay true to your own instincts and your own ideas.
CF: You train, model, coach, are an athlete, and recently launched your own e-book! I know this may be a tough question, but what does a typical day look like for you?
ASF: The best part about my job and my life is that every day is totally different. Some days I have early morning clients, other days I teach class until late at night, and sometimes I’m booked for a photoshoot and the whole day gets thrown out of whack. It seems chaotic, but it keeps life interesting.
Basically my day starts early and is a combination of at least one to two private clients, teaching either BODY (a HIIT/crossfit class) or yoga, then doing my own workout, which is either a combination of weight training and HIIT, or taking a group fitness class. I also practice yoga daily; my favorite studios are Modo and Laughing Lotus. Then of course I have meetings! It’s crazy but I wouldn’t have it any other way
CF: For someone so young, you have accomplished so much! What has been a highlight of your career so far?
ASF: Actually realizing that I’ve inspired and changed someone’s life. Social media is a great tool for connecting the world, and I’m fortunate to be able to connect with thousands of people. It’s always really special when someone comes to class or sends me a message and lets me know that I helped them in some way or another. After all, that’s really what this is all about.
CF: What advice do you have for those who are interested in turning their passion into a career?
ASF: Enjoy the journey. It’s never an easy one when following your dreams, but if you constantly complain and don’t enjoy the struggles, you will never get through them. Enjoy the struggle! It’s necessary and often you learn your best lessons.
Photo credit: Jesse DeYoung and Keoni Hudoba