Lawyer and Personal Trainer Aaron B Discusses Chasing Dreams and Working Hard
I sat down with Aaron Bernstein, founder ofAaronB Fitness. He is an attorney with a personal training certification who recently launched his own fitness program after a life-long love of health and fitness. Here, we discussed his path towards the legal profession, what has inspired him to put more time towards his self-developed fitness program, and advice he can give others who neglect or forget what gives them inspiration and purpose. Life is a balance, work and enjoyment can go hand-in-hand, and it is never too late to make time for something you love.
What made you choose law as a profession?
I had a technical background. Electrical Engineering. There is a special field of law, patent law, which is the only sort of law practice that only certain people can take up. To be a patent lawyer you must have a science or engineering degree. So, it makes for a good career choice – not that many people can do it. Since law is analytical much like engineering, law appealed to me to. I was lucky to get a scholarship to law school and really enjoy law and my lawyer career.
Name a few of the best things about the legal field that you've experienced and a few of the most challenging.
Practicing law involves a lot of thinking, communicating with clients and opposing counsel, and problem solving. I love to think, and problem solve. That's the engineer in me. Also, I enjoy communicating, explaining things that might be hard to understand. I teach patent law topics a few times a year for one of the well known continuing legal education firms. And I like to help both sides find a middle ground to resolve disputes. I like to try to be the objective, fair, and sensible perspective in the room. That serves everyone in the legal dispute environment.
Most challenging – that relates to the last comment. Practicing law typically involves, each day, engaging in conflict. Whether you are negotiating a business contract or dealing with a lawsuit. People are often emotion-driven rather than practical and rationally driven. As a lawyer, by definition, you represent one side, and you must be the "zealous advocate" for your side. That is literally in the code of lawyer's ethics. Which makes sense. That's why your client hired you. But that means you spend most of your time as a lawyer engaging in conflict. If you're a sensible peace-maker at heart, that can get to you after a while.
When did you decide to get certified in personal training and why?
Since I was a kid, I had enthusiasm for fitness. To be honest, I'm sure it was mostly vanity-driven. I lived for a long time in southern California and I wanted to look good at the beach – smiley face, hah hah. I even lived in Venice Beach (the famous Muscle Beach) and saw Arnold Schwarzenegger there in the gym a few times. World's Gym in Venice California.
Anyway, the fitness industry is always what my "voice inside" told me was my strongest interest. But sometimes if you have the opportunity and the capability you follow the path that conventional society urges. In my case, a high-paying lawyer job in a specialized legal field. Nevertheless, several years out of law school I still wanted to keep the fitness industry in my life in some meaningful way. So, I obtained a Personal Trainer Certification through ACE, American Council on Exercise, one of the more well-established certification organizations. I've held the certification for 17 years now.
What is the inspiration behind and the goal of AaronB Fitness?
I've finally gathered the energy and focus and enthusiasm to really take a run at doing something with my fitness training and interest. The internet, websites, YouTube, and all the social media channels open infinite possibilities to offer value and interest and audience reach that were not available in the past. Seeing the great, helpful, and entertaining things people are doing from an online and social media platform is inspiring. If they can do it, I can too (although I'm not sure I'll ever generate more interest than the quirky cat videos do.) The goal is to truly help people on a practical level. Most of the "fitness industry" is greed-driven false promises that set you up for disappointment. I want to be honest and helpful.
Aaron B in his gymaaronbfitness.com
What makes AaronB Fitness different/better than other fitness plans?
My central proposition is, and we all know this deep down inside, the fitness industry is selling you a lot of "hooey," false promises and unreasonable expectations. Greed-driven, they tell you you'll have six-pack abs or a modelesque bikini body in six weeks if you just join their gym, swallow their pill, or buy their fitness training program. AaronB Fitness is willing to poke fun at this RIDICULOUS, traditional greed-driven fitness industry whose sole objective it to see that you part with your hard-earned money for something that is NEVER going to work in the long run. And more importantly, AaronB Fitness is here to provide you real weight loss and fitness advice in a way that will move you toward your goals quickly and realistically, and in a way such that you'll have fun in the process.
AaronB Fitness aims to entertain and give you truthful, accurate, and realistic weight loss and fitness advice. No lies, no false promises, no impossible expectations that just lead to let-downs. The truth that works and is fun! That's our philosophy and that's the foundations of everything we offer.
Are you trying to reach a specific audience?
Yes. We're trying the reach the "everybody." The "fitness pro" bikini perfect ladies and shirtless guys (real or Photoshopped, who knows?) -- Who are they trying to reach and fool?!?
Time Magazinereported in October of 2017 that according to National Center for Health Statistics, 40% of adults and 19% of young people in the United States are obese (Not just overweight, but clinically obese. And nearly 75% of American men and more than 60% of women are obese or overweight. Nearly 30% of boys and girls under age 20 are either obese or overweight. Now, I'm a big fan of personal responsibility. But the fact is, we've been victims of other greed-driven industries, for example fast food and refined sugar. And now we have a catastrophic health crisis on our hands. I want to help work on addressing that. And as importantly, help people be happier in their lives.
Look, we all love the idea of beach perfect bodies and six-packs abs. Something to aspire to. But that's not what we need to be aiming for. First things first. We need to learn to sensibly drop some pounds, which we'll be very happy with when we look in the mirror. And we need to sensibly bring activity and exercise into our daily and weekly routine. The audience AaronB Fitness is trying to reach is all of us "real people" who need to deal with first things first. Lose some weight. Get active. Get educated about how you can do that in a fun way. In 6 to 12 months we'll start working on the six-pack abs and the perfect beach body.
What has been the most difficult thing thus far setting up your website and program?
Setting up a professional-looking polished website and filming decent quality video Vlogs is pretty complicated. For example, how do you set up taking credit card payments on your website? What camera and microphone and lighting do I need to make quality videos? How do you set up a YouTube channel and a Facebook business page? And also, our first system for sale is a digital interactive product that has a ton of software programming behind it. I did every bit of all of it myself, including all the graphics and web design and photos and videos. And every bit of theFirst Things Firstsystem that we sell from the website. So, there was a huge technical learning curve. But I enjoy that kind of thing, so I had a blast doing it, and I'm definitely still learning.
What would you say to people who think staying in a more "stable" career is the smarter move?
Certainly, that makes practical sense. I will continue to make my legal career as my primary source of income. But don't let life pass you buy. Life is not a dress rehearsal and all those other clichés. If you have a passion for something, don't regret never putting legitimate time into it. Get up a few hours earlier, watch a little less TV and avoid other time stealers to put time into whatever it is that lights your fire.
Do you see any similarities between being a lawyer and being a personal trainer?
Sure. In both fields you deal with people one-on-one. You have clients whom you need to listen to very carefully to understand their goals and objectives. And then very effectively help them accomplish those.
If you could talk to your 18-year-old self, what career advice would you give?
I don't at all regret being a lawyer. It's a terrific career. But I would have put more serious energy into the fitness game much earlier on if I had it all to do over again. What I would tell my 18-year-old self is, listen to your gut. Trust what it is telling you. If there is a pursuit that motivates you to want to get up early in the morning and stay up late at night, do lots of it.
If someone feels stuck in a job or is afraid to make a change, what can you advise them?
Sure. You don't need to make a change. Meaning you don't need to ditch everything and turn to something new and very risky. Rather you just need to gut-up and make the time to add something new to your life and routine that you're passionate about. It takes lots of hard work and discipline, but you will absolutely not regret it. In fact, you will likely regret not doing so.
Do you have a personal motto/mantra?
I think I have many. And from time to time they will be the focus of some of the AaronB Fitness blogs and video vlogs. One that stands out is a paraphrase of a quote from Henry David Thoreau's Walden. Live life deliberately, so that you do not reach the end of your days regretting that had not. That's not the exact quote, but that's how I paraphrase it. Meaning, guide your own life and chose your own endeavors. Don't live someone else's life or society's prescription for you. Don't just go along for the ride. Are you leading life or is life leading you?
Anything else you'd like to share about yourself or AaronB Fitness?
I'm so glad I put the work into launching AaronB Fitness. It's just a baby and it will grow and evolve and improve. But it's a platform now that will let me stay involved with something I've been "shoulding" to do most of my life but put off for so many years. Everyone reading this should gut-up and do the same. Another quote I'm fond of is by a famous ultra-marathon runner, Dean Karnazes. "Somewhere along the line we seem to have confused comfort with happiness." You'll never regret putting hard work into something that matters to you. Rather, you will surely regret not doing so. Just begin. Once you begin you'll see immediately what I mean.
Visit AaronB Fitness for more information and inspiration!
AaronB Fitness aims to make fitness doable for normal, busy peopleaaronbfitness.com
Looking for a job? In addition to encountering those annoying never-ending job interviews you may find yourself face-to-face with an artificial intelligence bot.
Companies worldwide increasingly use artificial intelligence tools and analytics in employment decision-making – from parsing through resumes and screening candidates to automated assessments and digital interviews. But recent studies claim that AI does more harm than good.
While AI screening tools were developed to save companies time and money, they’ve been criticized for placing women and people of color at a disadvantage. The problem is that many companies lack appreciable diversity in their data set, making it impossible for an algorithm to know how people from underrepresented groups have performed in the past. As a result, the algorithm will be biased toward the data available and compare future candidates to that archetype.
The City’s Automated Employment Decision Tools (AEDT) law is designed to offset the potential misuse of AI and protect job candidates against discrimination. It was enforced on July 5th, 2023 in New York City - with other cities and states expected to gradually follow suit. Employers must now inform applicants when and how they encounter AI. Furthermore, companies have to commission a third-party audit of the AI software used, and publish a summary of the results to prove that their systems aren’t racist or sexist. Job applicants are able to request information regarding what data is collected and analyzed by the AI. Violations of the law can result in fines of up to $1,500.
Replacing Human Hiring Decisions
However, should a job applicant want to opt-out of such impersonal judgement by a bot, the new law's scope is quite limited.
While the law specifies that instructions for requesting an alternative selection process must be included in the AI screening disclosure, companies aren't actually required to use other screening methods. Not to mention that the law only applies to AI in hiring and not any other employment decisions. It also wouldn't apply if the AI, for example, flags candidates with relevant experience, but a human then reviews all applications, making the ultimate hiring decision.
Some civil rights advocates and public interest groups argue that the law isn’t extensive enough and that it’s even unenforceable. On the other hand, businesses say that it’s impractical, costly, and burdensome, and that independent audits aren’t feasible.
Responsible use of AI in hiring
Although this law may be a good first attempt to assign more regulatory guardrails around AI, it remains to be seen if it ensures the responsible use of AI in hiring processes. At the end of the day, perhaps recruiting talent should remain a human-made decision.
The good news is that AI can help companies without harming potential job candidates in many ways – such as connecting new employees with internal organizational information and company benefits during onboarding. Or helping employees to do their jobs more effectively rather than replacing them.
The world of travel is not the same as it was two years ago. From the surge in "revenge travel" to the TikTok-inspired itineraries that make the most random destinations suddenly the most popular, there's so much about traveling that's out of your control.
What you can control — to some extent — is how much you pay for it.
According to CNBC, “Between dining out and taking trips, Americans are now spending an average of $765 more a month compared with last year when much of the country was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Index … Young adults, in particular, are determined to make up for lost time. Millennials and Gen Z, who reported feeling the financial impact from the rise in reopenings and social gatherings, said they are shelling out $1,016 more a month, on average, than they did during the summer of 2020. MassMutual polled 1,000 U.S. adults from July 21 to 28.”
While some are okay with making up for lost time by gleefully spending all their money, not everyone has the desire to blow up their budgets on trips. Yet, the allure of travel still calls. Thus, the appeal of travel hacking.
Travel hacking has been around as long as credit card rewards have. But during the pandemic, travel hacking gurus found unprecedented fame on TikTok and Instagram. With time to learn about the points and miles community, suddenly people were planning for future travel using tips and tricks gleaned from experts sharing their knowledge on social media.
Though it might sound complex, anyone with a fair credit score can enter the travel hacking game. Here’s how:
What Is Travel Hacking?
Travel hacking is using reward points and miles from airlines, hotels, and credit cards towards free or heavily discounted travel. This ranges from opening a number of credit cards for the reward bonuses, optimizing your normal spending in order to max out your points per shopping category, and leveraging loyalty and status for awesome perks.
To a lot of people, the term “travel hacking” can sound shady. The “hacking” scares people off. Is it illegal? Is it a scam? Can you get punished for opening too many cards? Will you ruin your credit score? The answer to all of these concerns is no.
There’s no hidden trick to travel hacking. It’s not a game of risk or cheating, it’s a game of research and planning.
Travel Hacking 101
Most commonly, travel hacking hinges on the points you can get from certain travel credit cards. Credit cards aren’t merely a way to manage cash flow. Many offer rewards programs that give you points for each purpose. These points can then be repurposed to pay for part or all of a trip.
Different networks have different systems, but most can be transferred to a range of partners. Top credit cards are with Chase, Amex, Citi, and Capital One. Simply accumulate points on your credit card, then you have the option to transfer those points to airlines, hotels, and more — for free.
When learning travel hacking, The best tip is to go backward. Don’t just open popular cards with high bonuses. Identify where you want to go, then find out what actions to take. Which airlines travel there? Which cards’ points can be transferred to that airline? Where do you want to stay? Which hotels can you book with points? Once you’ve planned out your dream vacation, see how many points you need. Then strategize for the best way to nab them.
Choose which cards are right for you, then start stockpiling those points towards free travel.
One way to quickly amass points is to take advantage of sign-up bonuses. Many credit cards use sign-up bonuses to entice users. And if you play smart, just one or two sign-up bonuses can account for one entire flight cost. However, there’s one catch: you must meet a minimum spend requirement to qualify for the bonus.
The best way to approach this is to funnel all of your regular expenses through those credit cards to chip away at the minimum spending. Pro tip: open your card right before you need to make a lot of purchases. The holidays are a good time to open a card so the cost of festivities ends up working for you.
And remember: it’s key to always pay off your monthly credit card balance before the due date! The benefits of those points are useless if you go into debt to accrue them.
And here’s a hack for you newbie travel hackers out there — be sure to manage your money and keep track of how much you’re spending for that bonus with the MeetCleo app.
MeetCleo is the personal finance tool that’s actually fun to use. Taking control of your money while “earning” free travel using your credit cards? Finances have never been more fun.
There’s all this talk about solo travel. And for good reason — no wasting precious time waiting for others to get their act together, take the plans out of the group chat and actually buy the tickets. Going solo, you can be spontaneous. You can plan your trips according to your precise tastes. You can hop on any flight and fly awayyyyyy.
But what if each time you flew you’d get a free ticket? That’s what you get with the Southwest Companion Pass.
Award status, upgrades, lounge access — there are many perks in the frequent flier game. But one of the coveted holy grails is the Southwest Companion Pass.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass is part of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. You get to choose one person to be your “companion,” and they fly with you for free (plus some taxes and fees) on every flight. That’s right. Two for the price of one. That’s half off each ticket if you split it! Whether you’re flying with a partner, family member, friend, or anyone else, they can tag along for free.
And it gets better: once you earn the pass, you can reap the rewards for that full calendar year … AND the next. That’s why people go mad trying to earn a companion pass during the early months of the year. The sooner you qualify, the longer you can use it.
There are also no blackout dates. There are no limits. And if you didn’t purchase the ticket (think: work travel, your companion, or a generous benefactor), there are no restrictions! As long as you’re the one on the plane, your companion can also … be on the plane.
You can also switch out your designated companion 3x a year. So, no need to stay in a relationship simply to get the most out of your companion pass! Ghost and fly away — with a whole new companion!
If this sounds too good to be true — it’s not. But there is one small catch. It’s kinda tough to earn this mega reward.
How to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass?
You can qualify for the pass in one of two ways:
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights
- Earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.
Clearly, this is no small feat — especially if you’re trying to qualify ASAP.
So how do you actually earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
Don’t worry, there’s a path to earning this amazing reward without climbing on 100 flights or spending an exorbitant amount of money.
Earning 135K reward points may seem completely impossible, but it’s easier than it sounds. Simply sign up for a Southwest Credit Card and turn those spending habits into a rapid rewards account. Through the Rewards Priority Credit Card, earn points when using local transit and commuting, plus score major points and miles whenever you spend.
Stay with me here. This is not some scheme to get you into credit card debt. Many airline cards come with potential savings, giantic rewards, awarding you points, and cashback with every purchase you make that can be redeemed for travel. And often they can come with passive sign-up bonuses. If you spend a specific amount of money within a certain timeframe of opening the card, you can be in for a windfall of points.
Now that’s where the companion pass comes in:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest has three personal cards and a business card. Each of these cards offers rewards between 30K-80K points. In the past, people could open two cards and get a bonus that granted enough points to almost meet the minimum. However, with new restrictions on personal cards, you can only get one bonus every 24 months. Boo!
However, this doesn’t apply to business cards. If you’re eligible, have good credit, and not likely to spiral into insane credit card debt, you can open a business card and a personal card, and accrue 100K+ points. The Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card will get you points after you spend money in no time.
Now to earn the rest of them.
The secret to gaining these credit card points is to plan your card sign-ups around big purchases. Just before a recent move, I opened a card . . . and the rewards came rolling in — a small balm to ease the pain of how exorbitant moving can be.
Put everyday spend — especially big purchases or bulk items — on your Southwest credit card and watch your award points quickly add up. Typically, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on your Southwest card and 2 points per $1 on actual Southwest purchases.
But there are other ways to earn points, including:
- Flying Southwest: Booking travel on Southwest earns more points. The cost of this travel will be worth it with your companion pass
- Shopping from Rapid Rewards Partners: Purchases with Southwest’s “Home & Lifestyle” and “Shop and Dine” Partners also earn Companion Pass qualifying points. While you shouldn’t make gratuitous purchases, browse Southwest’s partners to see if you could earn extra points for items you'd be purchasing anyway. All this, simply from enrolling in their Dining Program and shopping with their partners.
So there you have it! And since it’s almost Spring, get to earning and soon you’ll be flying two for the price of one!