The No. 1 Myth About Being a Personal Trainer

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The opportunity to inspire and educate people to live happier and healthier, and the ability to make money doing something you love while making a difference are two common reasons people pursue a career in fitness. However, if you’ve been under the assumption that life as a trainer means you get to work out all day—and get paid to do so—you may want to think again.

As someone who has worked actively in the fitness industry for the last 15 years, one of the most common statements people make upon learning my profession is, “That’s so awesome that you get to work out for a living.” While I can certainly understand where this idea may come from given that I talk health and fitness at any chance I get—combined with the fact that my work wardrobe consists of yoga pants, athletic tops, and minimalist-style sneakers—the reality of what I do day-in and day-out is actually quite contrary to this commonly held misconception. [Tweet this fact!]

Just as the people that I work with as a personal trainer and health coach struggle to find balance between the many important responsibilities they have in life—including making time for exercise—so too do personal trainers. Our job is to educate and motivate our clients, and to be there to support and guide them 110 percent throughout their health and fitness journey.

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While creating workouts is certainly a part of what trainers do, it’s just that—only one piece. As a trainer and coach, in order to provide the most positive impact on my clients’ lives, I have to take the time to get to know them and develop a sense of mutual trust and understanding. I do that by actively listening to their challenges, goals, likes and dislikes, individual needs, and much, much more, and there’s no way I would be able to do that to the best of my abilities if I were trying to squeeze in my own personal workout at the same time. I also wouldn’t be able to effectively assess their readiness to make a lasting behavior change, current fitness level, and which movements and exercises are most appropriate for them, and then create a customized approach to exercise that best serves their needs.

It’d certainly prove challenging as well to provide appropriate feedback on proper form to ensure the safety and effectiveness of each exercise, offer motivation and encouragement throughout the session, and educate my client on the hows and whys behind what we do to enhance their knowledge about health and fitness and enable them to in time become an independent exerciser, which is the ultimate goal of any good personal trainer.

You see, the time I spend working one-on-one with my clients is their time to become a better version of themselves, both physically and psychologically, and being a part of their journey is what makes me a better person and ultimately a better professional.

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In order to enhance my own health and wellness, I employ the same tips and strategies that I give my clients to help them create a lasting commitment to exercise. Like most people, I work long hours, so I pack my gym bag and my meals the night before because I know come my 4:30 a.m. alarm I’ll be thankful that I did. I use my calendar to block off time during the day for my own workout sessions, and I’ve shifted my mentality so that I treat that scheduled time just as I do any other important meeting or appointment.

I also make “dates” to take yoga classes with friends, and I spend quality time with my husband doing things that are fun and active such as stand-up paddleboarding or hiking. During the day, I do the little things like take the stairs, park farther away, and walk to where I’m going whenever possible because every bit of movement adds up. I also acknowledge and accept that sometimes unexpected things will come up, and I simply adjust my approach to exercise as best I can on those days that get crazy.

At the end of the day, my “job” as a trainer might not mean that I get paid to work out, but it does mean that I am able to wake up every day—even if it’s before the sun rises—and make a living doing what I love and loving what I do. 

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