Being a Personal Trainer Is 100x Weirder Than You Think

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If you think your wake up call is early, think again

You might be setting your alarm before the sun rises, but personal trainers are up even earlier. So early, in fact, that even Starbuck’s probably isn't open. Some trainers told us they do their coffee run the night before and utilize their microwave’s, “reheat” setting. Mmm, lukewarm.

...Which inevitably calls for a crazy-early bedtime

Trainers don’t have the luxury of staying up until the wee hours of the night watching Netflix, catching the crazy Hail Mary end to the game, partying or all the other awesomely fun things that happen after 10pm, because they have to be up bright and early to train their first client.

Their social lives are doomed

Since personal trainers have to be awake before it’s socially acceptable to text another person, then be in bed before most people even think about taking out their contacts, it’s pretty difficult to maintain any normal kind of social life. That, paired with the fact that most clients schedule training sessions either before 9am or after 5pm, means trainers and their outside-the-fitness-world friends can pretty much only meet up for lunch. Which is … definitely not exciting.

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Death stares are part of the job

If you’ve never wanted to kill your personal trainer, they probably weren’t doing their job. Personal trainers are regularly on the receiving end of stares that range from angry, to happy, to those pleading, “WTF?!” While it’s rewarding to see clients push themselves further than they ever thought possible, that normally doesn’t happen without a little , well, hate.

They become an automatic therapist/life coach

There’s no end to what someone might reveal during their most vulnerable moments (finishing 50 squats before the sun comes up can make someone pretty vulnerable). Exercise in itself is a form of therapy, but clients usually take it a step further, revealing personal goals, career aspirations, relationship problems and even family drama to their trainers, who must be willing to listen and respond like a friend would. In a sense, trainers don’t just take on the task of changing a person’s body -- they take on the task of changing their clients’ lives. That’s deep... deeper than your squats, dude fix your damn form.

Sometimes, the most interesting part of their day is a pool of sweat

You probably think that personal trainers get a kick out of torturing you with deadlifts and treadmill intervals, but what really excites them is how much sweat you leave behind on your mat or under your bike in the spin studio. One trainer we talked to admitted to keeping a tally with coworkers on which clients leave behind the biggest sweaty creations -- a totally weird, albeit entertaining, activity.

They deal with A LOT of crap

Specifically, yours. Trainers get colorful excuses including the weather (it’s too cold!) or dead pets (my cousin’s best friend’s pet goat died!) every day. It’s a trainer's job to call them out on it, and remind them to keep their eye on the prize (or a smaller pant size).


They shower up to 3x per day

Yes, that’s an unnecessary amount of showering. But depending on how smelly and sweaty his or her clients are, personal trainers may need to shower in between sessions. Factor in a shower before their first client and then of course before bed (to avoid smelly, sweaty bed sheets, because ew), and you're talking a serious portion of the day just dedicated to getting clean.

First dates and family parties become impromptu training sessions

It’s hard to go anywhere -- or meet anyone -- without people teetering into professional territory. Easter brunch becomes a chance for your Uncle Earl to ask about his hip injury, while first dates become a Q&A for the other person to find out how often they should be working out or if gluten is “really that bad.”

Smelly pits and back sweat are just another part of the job

From adjusting a newbie’s spin bike, to assisting in stretches at the end of a session, trainers have to turned a blind nose to... whatever that smell is secreting from a client’s pores. Don’t try to hide it for their sake, though -- those who pour on perfume pre-class smell just as horrid.

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They struggle with exercise and diet, too

Just because their bodies are ripped and they spend all day in the gym doesn’t mean trainers don’t get the same cravings everyone else does. The only difference is that personal trainers are expected to turn a blind eye to unhealthy snacks (and other unhealthy habits, like binge watching TV) because their career is based on maintaining their technically good physique.

If you think you spend an unnecessary amount of time on Spotify, you have no idea

A high-energy, rocking playlist is essential for any workout, so it’s only natural that personal trainers spend hours every week creating the perfect playlist and looking for new material. They’re also ready to use the Shazam music identifier app at any given moment -- in the car while driving, at the movies, and even at the dinner table at a restaurant.

They have to expect the unexpected

Like a deranged rando joining their 6am outdoor bootcamp session in the park. Or a weird gym stalker who is clearly using their sessions to oogle a trainer’s body -- not improve their own.


And for all that, they don’t make much money

While private trainers can make up to $128,000 annually if they work with top tier clients (think Madonna and J Lo) or in big cities, the median salary for personal trainers is just $18 an hour -- which is a small stipend to receive for dealing with all the above, no?

*Special thanks to Esther Collinetti, Heidi Kristoffer, and YG Studios' Joni David-O'Connor, Lacey Stone, Jason Bayus, Carmel Louis, Ray Wallace, and Amanda Murdock for sharing their bizarro job descriptions with us.

Erin Kelly is a writer, runner and triathlete living in NYC who has definitely daydreamed about punching her spin instructor. You can follow her on Twitter at @erinkellysays.