This was my schedule when I was at my busiest. It could be considered quite a horror story, but I was actually having a ton of fun. It is not a normal day for every trainer, but this is as wild and busy as it ever got for me.
Words of Warning
I am not recommending any kind of normal person hold these hours. I did this when I was young and had enormous amounts of energy. I was learning a ton about the industry and getting paid well by the gym I worked for.
Waking up at 4:15AM
My alarm goes off at 4:15AM. Between getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, getting dressed and walking out to my car, I’ve started the car at about 4:35AM.
The drive is 12-15 minutes to the gym.
We open at 5:00AM. It is my responsibility to unlock the gym, disarm the alarm, turn on the lights and clean up anything randomly left out the night before.
First Client Walks In at 5:00AM
What kind of people come to a gym at 5:00AM?
In my case it was a bunch of surgeons. See, surgeons typically need to start surgeries early in the morning – like, they are in the operating room before 7:00AM. There are many reasons for this, but we won’t get into them here. The early birds were typically surgeons.
I had a whiteboard and wrote the workout on the board. This is how I liked to train my small groups at the time, and it is still a workable system today. The “meat and potatoes” of the workout was written on the board and how it was scaled/modified for each person was worked out as they showed up.
So, I would be there with my coffee just getting everyone going. It is a solemn group at 5:00AM. Not a lot of hoopin’ and hollerin’.
Then there is the 6:30/7:00AM rush.
This is apparently when the working class people like to work out before they go to work. We would have group fitness classes, spin classes, yoga classes and lots of personal fitness training going on during this time.
The sun has risen, the people are moving.
Then they all leave at 8:00AM. This is when I’ll sneak some almonds and a protein shake for breakfast. I’m not totally off the hook, I always had people to train booked back to back on the hour. It was just less people in the gym overall.
9:00AM Soccer Mom Rush
This was, by far, the largest amount of people that hit the gym at once. And 90% of them were moms who just dropped their kids off at school.
Again, we had spin classes, group fitness, personal training, yoga as well as an open gym for people to work out. I did both group fitness classes and personal training. We trainers alternated between group fitness classes and personal training so that there was a regular change of face for the members.
Lots of bodies in and out and that lasted until about 10:30AM
By this time I would be starving. Depending on how busy it was, I would either have another snack or just stick it out till noon.
11:00–12:00 One-on-One VIP Session
The owner accidentally signed up a very wealthy person.
She wanted one-on-one training, but we weren’t really geared up to handle that. We were short on trainers and had a great system worked out whereby we were each very familiar with each other’s clients (they were all really the gym’s clients and we worked for the gym).
So to pull one trainer out of the mix to train one person just didn’t make economic sense.
But the owner said that our prices for that service were such and such and the woman, without hesitation, pulled out her purse and paid.
So, I had this client for four days per week during the last hour of my morning. She wasn’t difficult or anything, but she did pay good money to have my attention, so I delivered great training sessions and taught her as much as she was willing to learn.
It was very formal.
When we said our goodbyes, I hit the mat until the room stopped spinning. I needed food.
12:00PM-3:00PM Lunch and Errands
This is when I actually got to have a life and go out and do stuff. Very few people like to work out during this time so I was off for a bit.
I would eat, run errands, and sometimes catch a quick nap.
3:00PM My Workout Time
This is when I hit it hard. Sometimes I would start at 2:30PM.
The gym was dead quiet and I loved it. I would take my pre-workout on my way back to the gym. I’d pick my playlist for the workout I had coming.
The stereo in the gym could get loud but it usually wasn’t put up that loud because it wasn’t appealing to everyone. Lots of open space, loud music and just killing it at crazy CrossFit workouts. This was back in the day when CrossFit was under lots of fire in the news and from other trainers. We were the pioneers.
So I did my CrossFit workout during this time and wrote my time or score on the board for everyone to see. Accountability was king.
4:00PM – 8:30PM
This was the afternoon rush. The people who work 7AM-4PM or 8AM-5PM, then came and worked out right after.
So we trained them, had classes, etc.
At about 8:00PM the last of the personal training clients were finished and it was time to clean up. However I wanted the gym to look when I got in at 4:50AM was however I left it right now.
I spent some time cleaning up the place and bugged out of there.
8:30PM – 9:30PM Travel, Dinner, Shower
On the way home I would pick something up or I’d already have some meat cooked and ready to heat up with whatever else I had planned on my diet. At the time I was on a version of the Zone diet. Everything was weighed and measured.
Then at about 9:30PM or 10:00PM I would start working again.
10:00PM – 11:00ish
This was my time to update the social media accounts for the gym, respond to any of my online personal training clients (yes, we had that as a service at the gym, too), check out the responses to our blog and the workout of the day and write short articles to keep people interested and the site alive.
I would usually hit the sack around 11:00 or 11:30PM and wake up at 4:15AM the next morning.
That was a typical weekday for me.
Saturday was an 8:00AM – noon deal, with a trainer workout after.
Every other Sunday I would come in and hold the fort open for a few hours in the morning for anyone who wanted to come.
There was a bit of unnecessary experimentation with sleep deprivation here. If I handled all of the computer stuff in the middle of the day, I would have been able to sleep from 9:30ish – 4:15AM.
I would crash on some weekends and just chill, but most of the time I was hiking and swimming and enjoying being outdoors.
But the truth of all of this is that personal fitness trainers do work hard. They can be some of the hardest-working individuals on the planet.
Part of why I write so much about the ins and outs of personal fitness training is to help other trainers learn from my mistakes and make the most of it.
Fitness training is a good trade. If you’re going to jump into it, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Running a gym is tough work when you’re wearing all sorts of hats.
And to reiterate it again: most of the time my schedule wasn’t this crazy.
I learned from this experience.