From concussion to competition

 How a Baton Rouge student became a successful personal trainer

Standing at five feet, four inches, and weighing 103 pounds, Patte Keogh could see the physical toll her daughter, Katie’s, death had taken on her.

Katie Keogh died in a train accident in January 2017, and Patte Keogh lost a lot of weight. She knew she had to do something, so she looked into personal training.

“I was pretty frail looking with hanging skin,” Keogh said. “And I’ve always been active because it’s important to me, so I knew this was one thing I could do. I couldn’t control anything else, but I could control this.”

Keogh found photos of Chris Melancon, 21, on Facebook and asked one of Katie’s friends who he was. She connected with Chris and was soon training with him, paying what she could afford, and slowly building both her physical and emotional health.

Melancon has been personal training and competing in men’s physique shows for three years now, and Keogh is one of the many people on which he has imparted his wisdom and made a positive impact through health and friendship.

“The owner of my gym was a competitor, and I saw him in here working every day and how his body changed so quickly,” Melancon said. “I was ruled ineligible for sports in high school because I had five concussions, so I thought it was an interesting way that I could still compete.”

Melancon stuck to a strict diet for twelve weeks, exercising almost every day, before heading to the Crowne Plaza in Baton Rouge to step on the stage at his first show. In fact, he skipped his senior trip to the Bahamas to compete.

After his first show, Melancon decided to train people and began gathering a few clients. He now maintains about seven clients per month, charging $40-50 per session. He also coaches online clients, who pay anywhere from $175-250 per month.

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Chris Melancon, left, assists Patte Keogh, right, with her ab workouts. Melancon began personal training three years ago after competing in his first men’s physique show. “I like helping people, and it’s something that helps people on the inside as well as the outside,” Melancon said. “People want to be bigger, stronger, lose weight, and just feel more comfortable with themselves. Whatever you want to do, I’m going to help you do it.”

“I like helping people, and it’s something that helps people on the inside as well as the outside,” Melancon said. “People want to be bigger, stronger, lose weight, and just feel more comfortable with themselves. Whatever you want to do, I’m going to help you do it.”

Melancon mostly trains college aged women and moms because their schedules tend to match his the best. However, his clients span a range of ages, occupations, and goals.

Keogh enjoys training with Melancon because he is efficient and helps her see results while providing a fun hour in the gym.

“We get in and get out with no nonsense, but he lets me talk between sets,” Keogh said. “He also watches and shows me things. I’m so uncoordinated, and he has to show me every single time.”

Melancon said Keogh has become one of his good friends, despite the age difference between the two. He has also seen the impact he has had on her life, which encourages him to continue his work.

“She has been a great friend to me and is now one of my better friends, even though she is my mom’s age,” Melancon said. “I enjoy being around her, and I know I’m making a difference. You can visibly and emotionally tell she’s in a much better place than she was before.”

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Chris Melancon, left, shows Patte Keogh, right, the correct form for a hammer curl. Keogh said Melancon helps explain workouts to her because she can never remember them. She said she enjoys working out with Melancon because he is patient and pushes her to work hard and try new things.

The bond that formed between Melancon and Keogh comes as no surprise to Melancon. He said training requires a certain level of trust and intimacy as people learn to do exercises and become more comfortable in the gym.

Melancon said working out can be awkward when people first begin learning. However, he said training has helped him grow in his communication skills and hone the ability to work with many types of people to make them feel more comfortable.

“Half of training is being a therapist,” Melancon said. “You’re in here for an hour with someone two or three times a week, and you get to know them other than what they eat and how often they work out. It’s helped me grow, learning how to work with people who had a bad day and still making them want to come back.”

One of the biggest misconceptions Melancon said people have about trainers and competitors is their level of perfection. He said people assume he stays at the gym all day before going home and eating a healthy meal.

“I had a lady who wanted me to tell her everything I ate the day before,” Melancon said. “I told her for breakfast I had two muffins from Sam’s, for lunch I ate a large pizza, and dinner was three margaritas.”

Melancon said most of his days are consistent and healthy, but perfection is impossible. He said he expects his clients to work continuously toward their goals and get better day by day but to never expect immediate change.

“If you drink five sodas a day, I’m doing to try to bring you down to three,” Melancon said. “If you eat McDonalds every day, we’re going to try and cut it down. Those small changes make the bigger changes, and you will look better and, more than anything, feel better.”

Melancon said he encourages his clients to focus on feeling good because if they do not feel good, they will not look good or be happy.

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Patte Keogh, right, completes a set of seated rows as Chris Melancon, left, counts her reps for her. Keogh began training with Melancon one year ago and has seen both physical and emotional results. Melancon said he enjoys being around Keogh and has seen how far she has come in the past year.

While Melancon enjoys his work as a personal trainer, he does not want to turn it into a full time job. He is a full time student at LSU and works as a server at French Market Bistro, so he maintains enough clients to make good money and be busy, but also have free time for himself.

Melancon will graduate in 2019 with a major in sports administration and a minor in business, setting him up to reach his goal of owning gyms.

“I think everyone needs a goal outside of work,” Melancon said. “And with fitness you can always be better and do more. I enjoy showcasing my hard work, and it’s something I can be proud of.”

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