It’s 4:15 am and the first chime of my alarm goes off.
4:45 am and the last allowed snooze has been used up. I know I have to force my eyes open and get moving otherwise I risk falling back asleep and not showing up to train my 6am client.
It is a bitter morning in every way. It snowed last night and I stayed up late to shovel the driveway. My dog refuses to go outside to do his business. So I, still in my pajamas and socks, have to step out and try and convince him to go. Enough time has been wasted now so I can’t make my usual breakfast of eggs, bacon, fresh herbs, and veggies.
I opt for a cup of black coffee and a Siggi’s Icelandic skyr instead. For those of you wondering, Icelandic skyr is like a really thick greek yogurt. Higher in protein and lower in sugar, making it one of my go to foods for when I am in a hurry.
Walking out to my car, coffee in hand, Simba my dog hears some snow fall off a tree. He pulls on the leash and then remembers that he is a good boy and is not supposed to do that. It is too late, I now have scalding coffee covering my hand and soaking my jacket sleeve.
I get in my frozen vehicle and already the coffee burns are turning into little ice crystals. I pop open my skyr and take a bite.
Expired. Way expired.
Well at least I have a half a cup of lukewarm coffee to finish on my way to the gym. Glass still full right?
I get to the gym at 6:01 and I don’t see my client’s car in the parking lot. She works the night shift and comes to see me at 6am after she gets done with work. She is usually there about 15 minutes before me and waits. So I knew something was up.
I check my texts from last night. “Oh crap!” I think to myself. “She meant she was canceling today and not Thursday.” I had read the texts wrong and now had a rushed morning only to be an hour early. Nevermind, the glass is still full because I brought my dogs kibble with me and took advantage of the time to do some training in the empty gym.
7:05 rolls around and my next client still hasn’t replied to my text message informing her that she could come in early if she wanted. I text her again to make sure she is ok, but after 15 minutes I figure she has probably overslept her alarm and is still fast asleep.
She later texted me very apologetic and I told her not to worry. In my earlier years as a trainer I might have let a morning like this one ruin my day. In my 6 year career working as a personal trainer, I have learned to roll with days like this. I take it as a case by case on weather I charge the clients or not. Having started most of my work days at 5 or 6am now for the past few years, I know that “wasted mornings” and “I could have still been asleep!” moments are a part of the job.
So why would someone voluntarily begin and remain in a career where days like this are not uncommon, your paycheck is dependent on the economy and people’s motivation, 6 day work weeks, an inconsistent and fragmented schedule, usually strict bedtimes, and the constant criticism/ feedback from other trainers or everyone on the internet?
Throw in the fact that I don’t work for a corporate gym and I in fact run my own business. You get the added stress of being tasked with marketing, accounting, troubleshooting tech issues (mostly for my online clients), business taxes, web design, etc. You get the point!
Yeah there are days where I think, “screw it, I’ll just find a stable career in a good company with benefits.” How nice would it be to have a real social life again? No more turning down invitations because you have to work when everyone else is off. I’ll be honest, sometimes that 9-5 sounds really appealing. Like everyone, I get burnout and fatigue too. I question my choices, have insecurities, and worry that I am providing my clients with the highest quality training for the most affordable price.
Then there is you, my client. When you text me a 7pm on a Saturday night to tell me you are wearing you old favorite dress out again that you haven’t worn in years. When we look at your progress chart together and your eyes widen at line on the graph trending perfectly towards your goal weight. When I had you a 30lb dumbbell and say, “you have lost this much weight.” and you can respond only with a teary eyed smile.
Yeah this job really blows sometimes. Just because I get up at 4:30 every morning doesn’t mean I like getting up at 4:30 every morning. As stupid and cheesy and ridiculous as it sounds, I do this for you. There is no other reason anyone in their right mind would be a personal trainer. The hours stink, the pay is lousy (Unless you have the opportunity to train in Hollywood), the job can get boring of counting reps all day long. Plus the stress is SO SO immense. I have everyone’s hopes, dreams, and expectations riding on my shoulders. If they don’t look, feel, or perform how they expected to when the deadline hits. That is on me 90% of the time, unless there have been obvious shortcomings in my client’s ability to follow through with their diet or exercise plan. Even so, I still feel like there is always a way I can do better to motivate and inspire.
So there you have it. I don’t want anyone to have the false idea of the glamorized lifestyle some trainers pretend to have. Most of the work we do is very stressful and can become quite monotonous. If you are thinking of hiring a trainer, consider this; that person may only see you one hour a week, but they will think about you constantly. Trainers often have big ol hearts to a fault. I find myself looking back on clients I had years ago and thinking about how I would do their programming now.
Ultimately, I really want to say thank to to the good people who give my life purpose. My clients who come to me with trust that I will help them achieve their goals. You guys are so awesome I can’t believe it. I am 100% a better person because of all of you. Namaste friends.