Marc Megna, '99

Marc Megna, '99

January 2, 2014
Former football player draws on personal experiences to develop career as a fitness coach

Marc Megna, ’99, doesn’t mince words when he describes himself as a child. “I was a very out of shape, lazy little kid,” he says. “If I had a dollar for everyone who laughed in my face when I told them what I was going to do, I would be the wealthiest man on the planet.”

The support of his mother changed his path, and provided the mantra — “Dream big. Never quit.”— that still drives him today.

“She constantly told me that I would play in the NFL,” he says. “And that’s just the power of having a positive role model. If someone tells you what you can do and totally believes in you, then that makes you believe in yourself.”

Megna’s childhood was marked by a singular focus. Posters of professional athletes covered his bedroom walls. He studied their actions constantly — how they trained, what they ate, how they lived. He watched football games and broke down the films, integrating what he learned the next night at his own high school football games.

That drive earned him a spot on the Richmond Spiders football team and, after graduation, in the NFL. He moved between the New York Jets, the New England Patriots, the Cincinnati Bengals, and a few teams abroad.

But a series of injuries — a torn ACL, and later a lower back injury — ended his career in 2005. Megna dabbled in TV production, but knew it wasn’t the right fit.

“So I picked up where I left off,” he says. “Which is in movement and physical activity.”

Megna set out to earn his certification as a strength and conditioning coach. An internship placed him back in familiar territory — helping train more than 300 NFL football athletes. And by 2009, Megna was out on his own and has been training private and corporate clients ever since.

Megna’s clients range from a 12-year-old to a 92-year-old with a pacemaker to professional athletes. “Not only do I train people with physical obstacles and physical hurdles to overcome, but I train people who are anywhere from a blue collar worker to billionaires who own professional sports teams,” he says. “They have very similar characters; they’re all workers and they all want to be better. If you can just give them a little taste of that greatness that they have in themselves, then it leads to extraordinary changes.”

But the various fitness levels do require Megna to take an individual approach. He starts by getting to know his clients: who they are, what they’re hoping to do, the current state of their health, and their medical history. Then he puts them through a series of functional screening tests to find where they need work. As Megna explains, just because someone comes in wanting a stronger bench press, that doesn’t mean that’s where they need to focus their attention out of the gates.

“We have to address the weak point before we can strengthen the body,” he says. “So it works like this: test the body, rehab the body, work on the correctives, then strengthen the body. Through all these things, we’re just trying to maintain and improve health at all times. I want to keep them in the game of life or on the field of play, whatever it may be.”

Along the way, Megna has realized that his training career is a perfect parallel to his own experience, where his dedication, coupled with the support of others, made all the difference.

“The best part of my work is I get to help people change their lives,” he says. “A lot of people not only come with a level of health and fitness, but they come with lots of physical issues, emotional issues, and we really change their life around.

“I help them build confidence. I boost their self-esteem. They walk with their chest high, with their head high. They feel better about themselves. And that trickles down to their loved ones, their husband or their wife, their young ones, and sometimes it even trickles to their community. It’s very rewarding being a small part of that change.”