Just A Personal Trainer

Something pretty funny happened a few months ago during a personal training session with one of my clients. They were in the middle of a workout, and like a lot of us do when we’re tired, they miscounted reps of one movement before moving onto the next. Conveniently, it was the movement they enjoy performing the least. “Whoa, nice try. Three more,” I said with a smile on my face. “No way, that was 10!” they replied back to me, obviously unimpressed with my challenge. “We’re in a gym with no one else around. I’m literally watching you work out and counting your reps for you. I’m pretty sure I know how to count to 10,” is the only thing I could think to say. Just waiting for the witty response I knew was coming, I was hit with, “I guess you’re right. Do trainers even know how to count past 15? I feel like you’re all just glorified counters!” We both laughed, they finished the three reps, and we continued the session.

It was during my Psychology class in high school with Mr. Will that I first thought to myself, “People are fascinating!” I liked the subject so much that I ended up majoring and getting a degree in Psychology in college. Every single person we come in contact with in the world is a completely unique individual with their own beliefs, past, goals, and quirks. How cool is that?

In fact, it’s what I consider one of the best parts of my job. In my line of work, I get to interact with people from so many walks of life. In one class there’ll be a high school sophomore tripping over his own legs as his body goes through some major changes, a stay-at-home dad coming to terms with not having a 9 to 5 because his wife is the primary breadwinner and his kids love having him home, a retired couple that has chosen to reconnect with one another through fitness, and the CEO who has to block out an hour on her calendar in order to make time to work out.

Now, I’ve been a full-time personal trainer, athletic coach, health and fitness professional (or whatever you want to call what I do) for over six years, and I have been doing some combination of all of those things part time for most of my life. Yet when I’m asked what I do for a living, I still don’t really know how to respond. When I say personal trainer the image of a person texting and sipping on a Big Gulp while standing next to a client who is “warming up” on a treadmill with a 20 minute jog for the first third of an hour-long session is the what pops into my brain, so I don’t love saying that. But, it IS what I am, right?

While it may sometimes seem like being a personal trainer is just reading words on a white board and barking orders at paying customers, I’ve always viewed it as so much more than that. It’s being given the privilege to help impact the lives of the people I coach. Did you have a stressful day at work? Do you want to celebrate fitting into those pants for the first time in years? Are you looking to let off some steam after a fight with a significant other? Is this where you’ll be earning the beers you’re going to have after work tomorrow? I’m tasked with navigating the “right now” of every person I train, every single time I see them, and understanding that tomorrow that same person could be in a completely different head space. The best part is that I absolutely cherish the responsibility.

So yeah, I’m “just a personal trainer,” but it’s so much more than that to me, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!