Andy Cameron treats all his clients like professional athletes. He respects effort and hard work, and he expects that each and every client will approach the Built on Bravery training program ready to give it all he/she can. Cameron’s Eden Prairie-based training programs are designed to help people with physical and mental challenges be their strongest and healthiest selves.
Everyone doesn’t come through the door looking forward to being challenged, but Cameron is a motivator. He says the connection he establishes is a foundation he can, as a trainer, build on. “I connect with them and create a bond that makes them want to come to the gym,” he says.
Cameron is a certified trainer and certified sports nutritionist and holds certification as a trainer for special needs populations, as well as being a Special Olympics certified coach. His involvement with the Special Olympics began with his relationship with his cousin Steven Eull, who was born with Down syndrome. As Cameron became active in sports as a young man, he got Eull involved, too. Cameron first became a unified partner in golf. A unified partner is someone without physical or intellectual challenges who joins a team that also includes athletes with special needs. From golf, Cameron and Eull moved on to bowling and flag football.
“Over time, I realized that being a unified partner just was not enough for me,” Cameron says. “I wanted to do more; so I became a coach. I now hold Special Olympics coaching certifications in golf, bowling, flag football, track and field, floor hockey and powerlifting.” In 2014, he coached the Minnesota Special Olympics golf team at the national games. The following year, he coached the USA team at the World Games.
Built on Bravery isn’t just about working out, though. It’s lifestyle training that includes nutritional education and support for healthy choices outside the gym. “Really, the biggest challenge is the nutrition piece,” Cameron says. “When they get home, they don’t always make good choices about what they eat…good eating habits are hard for everyone, but if there isn’t someone in their home environment helping with that, it’s really difficult to develop those habits.”
Work in the gym seems to be the fun part. “We have group classes that get them involved, not just in training, but also with each other,” Cameron says. “It gives them a social outlet, too. Group classes are fun, and it makes them forget that it’s supposed to be work.”
Built on Bravery hopes to expand into a non-profit venture that will make its programs available to anyone who needs it—whether they can afford it or not. Cameron also looks forward to branching out in other ways, including work with Paralympic teams.
Cameron says his commitment to his Special Olympics team is unbreakable. He describes himself as someone with a “can do” attitude, and that’s what he brings to the work he does. “We like to say we take these athletes from impossible to 'I’m possible',” he says.