Director of Health and Fitness at Planet Fitness

Brian Zehetner, CSCS and personal trainer

Zehetner is a devoted and proud father of three, and he works out almost daily with his children. They play tennis, practice Taekwondo and, during the winter months, downhill ski. In addition, Brian encourages employees at Planet Fitness’ headquarters to partake in their corporate step challenge — and he is an avid participant himself. Brian typically averages 90,000-95,000 steps per week.

Here’s a look at Brian’s weekly workout schedule:

Monday: Strength training (30 minutes of chest and biceps at work); Taekwondo (60 minutes at a studio with his son and daughter)

Tuesday: 90 minutes of tennis. This is an advanced drill session with other adults; rigorous intensity.

Wednesday: Rest day

Thursday: Coach youth basketball. “I am walking around most of the time, but occasionally running for demonstration purposes,” he says.

Friday: Rest day

Saturday: Rest day

Sunday: Indoor cycling (30 minutes of intervals on his bike at home)

Key Takeaway: Make exercise part of your everyday life and find activities you can share with his colleagues, friends and family.

5 Things Your Personal Trainer Wishes You Knew

Sept. 15, 201703:33

A New Father Who Still Fits in Fitness

Ronnie Lubischer, CSCS and Owner of Lubischer’s Burn and Blast

But in January 2018, his whole life changed. “We had our first child and all of a sudden being a gym owner and competitive bodybuilder became much more complicated. Throughout the last year over many attempts and reiterations, I’ve managed to fine tune my schedule to accommodate being a new and involved dad, an owner of a growing business, and maybe no longer a competitive bodybuilder, but certainly someone who still looks close to one with a relative amount of balance in my life.”

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His new daily schedule looks like this Monday through Saturday:

3:45-4:15am: HIIT cardio (he wakes up earlier now so that he can fit in his workout.) HIIT is either a 2-mile jog or 1 mile sprint splits on the assault bike, rower or elliptical. He says, “I choose my fasted cardio based on what body part I’m lifting later in the day. For instance, if I’m lifting legs then it’s the rower, on a back day I’ll use the elliptical, and I’ll make sure I’m not using the rower on a back day because that would be too much work on the back in one day.”

4:15-4:45 a.m.: Shower, walk dogs, kiss wife and baby goodbye and off to work

5 a.m.-12 p.m.: 7 one-on-one personal training appointments (1 hour sessions)

12-1 p.m.: “I lift weights, but not the way I use to because I don’t have the time,” he says. Now, he bases his workouts on 2 giant movement circuits that combine power, strength and hypertrophic training in one. Then he leaves 15 minutes at the end of each workout for an additional set of HIIT training (either using cardio equipment or functional training equipment like kettlebells, bands, or med balls). He performs the circuits “supersetted,” which means back to back without any breaks. He does different muscle groups every day except for Sunday.

4 -7 p.m.: After spending a few hours with his wife and one-year-old at home, he returns to the gym for 3 more personal training sessions.

7:30 p.m.: Return home for bath time and goodnight book time with my wife and baby, then some adult time with my wife and some Jeopardy on DVR. Then bedtime and do it all again!

Key takeaway: It’s never impossible to make time for fitness, but it may take a little work to find an exercise schedule that works for you. (If you’re strapped for time, HIIT is a good place to start).

Off-Season IRONMAN Triathlete

Ali Cook Jackson, owner of Never Give Up Training in Philadelphia, IRONMAN coach and athlete

What does Jackson’s life look like when she’s training for an IRONMAN versus living everyday life? “In the thick of IRONMAN training, I am working out approximately 16 hours a week; in the off-season, it’s half that, and filled with restorative and different workouts that I love to do and don’t always have time for during race training,” she says.

In the off-season, she works out about four days a week for an hour at a time while juggling kids and running her studio. While her weekly exercise plan does vary, an example week looks something like this:

Monday: Hour-long trail run

Tuesday: Hot yoga class

Wednesday: 1 hour of strength training at her gym including weight training and body weight exercises

Thursday: 1 hour of Flywheel

Friday: Swim for 45-60 minutes followed by 30 mins of self-guided yoga

Saturday: Stationary triathlon bike in my training room or gym

Sunday: Rest day! Play with her kids and relax

In addition to her workouts, she stays active with her kids. In the warmer months, she walks her two kids in the stroller for 90 minutes to two hours a day. She also picks up her baby and does lifts and squats: “I time myself just like I do my personal training clients — I go for 30 seconds on and 15 seconds off, for as many times as my little guy will tolerate it,” Jackson says. While her kids are playing or watching TV, she’ll do ab workouts. “I’ll try to time myself for 45 seconds to a minute, or challenge myself to go until the next commercial. It’s all about squeezing these workouts in while the kids are occupied,” she says.

Key Takeaway: Every week doesn’t look the same. Change your workouts and fitness plans based on your goals and schedule.

A Celebrity Trainer Making Every Second Count With HIIT

Jorge Cruise is a Celebrity Fitness Trainer and New York Times Bestselling Author

As a celebrity fitness trainer, Cruise does it all. He coaches clients on finding the most efficient workouts they can do in the shortest amount of time — and he takes his own advice: Every morning at 5 a.m., Cruise does an 8-minute HIIT workout. He does this live with his clients via Facebook. (He personally does more when he can.) For the 5 a.m. workouts, Cruise puts together a series of two moves — one high-intensity and one low-intensity — and alternates between them performing each move for one minute, for the duration of the 8 minutes.

Cruise breaks it down by day, and follows this structure on weekdays:

Monday: Arms and abs

Tuesday: Butt and legs

Wednesday: Chest and back

Thursday: Core

Friday: Total body

Weekend: Cruise also loves to stay active with his kids. They go to the gym at Equinox or 24-hour fitness together as a family. Cruise’s son, Parker, loves to surf and Owen likes to do gymnastics. The family also hikes at Runyon Canyon.

Key Takeaway: By setting up your workouts first thing in the morning, you’ll make sure you get them in.

A Personal Trainer Who Gives His Body and Mind a Workout

Omari Bernard, personal trainer and CSCS

For Bernard, it’s not just about physical fitness; it’s about mental fitness as well. First he shares his weekly workout schedule, and then we’ve got the daily activities he does to keep his mind in check, too.

Monday: Weight training, lower body

Tuesday: Cardio for 35 minutes on the treadmill at 60-70% of his heart rate max. “Pace and incline all depends on my ability to stay within my zones, but the treadmill is always at least at 1% incline to prevent joint injury,” he says. He says he enjoys going to a community yoga class, but if one isn’t available he’ll do an individual practice.

Wednesday: Weight train, upper body

Thursday: Same as Tuesday

Friday: Weight train, total body workout

Saturday: Fun day! He bikes, kayaks, does an obstacle course, takes a different class that he doesn’t normally take (i.e martial arts, barre, dance etc.)

Sunday: Farmers market and reflection. “I’ll either go to the beach, pool or park if the weather permits and disconnect myself from my devices for an hour and sit in that space and see what comes up. Then I’ll journal about it.”

Bernard works his brain just as much as his body. In the mornings, “I meditate at my desk. I read my devotionals, then say prayer for the day, followed by a 2-minute silence and mediation,” he explains. Then he’ll list out 3 things that he’s grateful for.

In the middle of the day, he sits in silence for 1 minute and thinks of one thing he’s grateful for. He has an alarm set each day to remind him to stop and sit in silence for 1 minute.

In the evenings, he commits to disconnecting from his devices by a certain time, does some light stretching and reflects in a journal. “I have an alarm set at 10:10 p.m. every night so that I can start my nightly rituals. I pick 10:10 since I typically wake up around 6:30 a.m. every day, and the goal is to get 8 hours of sleep a night,” he says. After journaling, he lies on his back and brings both knees into his chest, then does a figure four stretch, a seated hamstring stretch, a quad stretch, and holds child’s pose for 20 breaths before getting into bed.

Key Takeaway: Try to incorporate some of your own mindfulness activities into your daily routine and see if this leads more consistent workouts and less stress.

A Professional Ballerina Getting His Ballet Body Back

Craig Ramsay, personal trainer, currently playing “Lord Capulet” in Romeo & Juliet at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Canada.

You may recognize Ramsay from Broadway or TV (he co-hosted “Thintervention”, popped up on multiple BRAVO reality shows and worked the soap opera circuit), but recently, the TV personality and fitness expert has shifted his focus back to one of his first passions: ballet. He has dropped 20 pounds (of both muscle and fat) over the past two months to get back into the professional ballet world. This is what his weekly workout routine and rehearsal schedule look like:


Morning: Ballet class, which consists of isolated consistent contractions of nearly every muscle in the entire body (lots of deep squats, lunges).

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Rehearsals with the ballet in preparation for “Romeo & Juliet.” (He also fits in 300 pushups using different hand/arm positions throughout the day.)


Morning Cardio: 20 minutes includes walking on the treadmill at an 8.0 incline, 3.6 speed. 10 minutes of shoulder exercises.

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Ballet rehearsals. Stretching throughout the day, which not only burns calories additional calories but helps the body heal from rigorous rehearsals.

Wednesday: Same as Monday.


Morning Cardio: 20 minutes on the recumbent bike at moderate resistance level, incorporating 5 lb. dumbbell in each hand performing a series of upper body exercises, like shoulder presses and bicep curls, for 30 seconds each. Finishes workout with 50 floor burpees.

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Ballet rehearsals.


Morning Cardio: 20 minutes (walking again); 10 mins of weight training with a moderate weight dumbbell (for Ramsay this is 20-lb dumbbells); 100 jump squats in a wide ballet 2nd position (also called sumo squats).

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Ballet rehearsals.

Saturday: Rest day! Stretching hamstrings and calves in a warm bath; after warm bath continue stretching for 20 mins, rotating body parts and holding stretches for 30 seconds each.

Sunday: Day off from ballet. 5k jog, either outside or on the treadmill at a 2.0 incline and a consistent 5.5 -6.0 speed. Challenging, yet manageable.

Key Takeaway: It’s never too late to pursue your passions, or go back to something you once loved.


  • Back to basics: Your one-month treadmill workout
  • A one-month resistance band workout you can do anywhere
  • 10 core exercises that are better for your back (and body) than crunches
  • A 10-minute cardio workout you can do at home
  • 5 complex exercises that will give you a full-body workout

Want more tips like these? NBC News BETTER is obsessed with finding easier, healthier and smarter ways to live. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Do You Have to be Ripped to be a Personal Trainer?

I used to work with a fat trainer.

He wasn’t a little chunky like he enjoyed a beer or 7 on the weekend — this dude had a belly on him. He was bald with a pudgy face. Every time that he spotted a client on the bench press, he had to contort his body into an awkward anterior pelvic tilt so his belly wouldn’t get in the way.

I worked with this individual early on in my career. Admittedly, I was immature and negative in my thinking. I couldn’t understand why anybody in their right mind would want to train with this guy — he wasn’t particularly attractive and in no way exuded a healthy lifestyle.

To top it off, he would come into the gym with a take out container from Nando’s Chicken and quickly sneak in a few bites between clients. Looking back, his floor demeanor seemed good but I remember him constantly complaining of fatigue in the staff room.

Perhaps the weirdest thing was the sugary purple drink he sipped throughout the day. It just didn’t seem like he cared about his health — yet, his schedule was chocked full of clients paying good money to get into shape. In my eyes, it was irresponsible.

How to be a Personal Trainer – The Coaches Responsibility

Dan John, in his timeless classic Never Let Go, spoke about the importance of coaches walking the walk. If you follow me on Facebook (, you will know that I’ve struggled with everything from exhaustion, malnourishment, narcolepsy, and anxiety in building up all of my various web ventures. 2012 was a busy year for me.

Both my workouts and health suffered and it got me reflecting back to the story from above. Admittedly, I was not in shape to train my clients. I want to revisit my experiences with this trainer from early on in my career. In addition, I want to give you my answer of whether it is irresponsible for a trainer to train clients unless they are ripped.

The Frustration That Every Personal Trainer Goes Through

I was a personal trainer, but I was also a human being. As a human being, I freakin’ love key lime pie. One of my first jobs pretty much anywhere that I travel is to find a hook up for key lime pie. Seriously, I’m not kidding.

It got under my skin whenever anybody would make a snide remark the second I reached for a piece of dessert. If I asked for dressing on the side for my salad, you bet I would hear the token “always being healthy Jon — live a little”. Like everybody else, my workouts always experienced an ebb and flow. True, I’m healthier than most but others didn’t seem to understand that I occasionally gave in to temptation and I got ridiculed for it.

Are we supposed to be ripped superhumans? Is this what the public looks for when they choose a personal trainer? Do you have to be ripped to be a personal trainer?

Things aren’t always as they seem

Remember the trainer above with his purple drink and Nando’s? I found out years later that he was in remission from cancer.

Before the cancer struck, he was a bodybuilder — ripped to shreds. That, and he had 15 years experience personal training.

Admittedly he took some PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) in the past. Not enough to make a major league baseball team, but some. He was the stereotypical model of fitness. Strangers would stop him on the street and ask him what his secret was. Then, out of nowhere, cancer struck, and he found himself undergoing chemotherapy.

The chemotherapy took its toll and he had to take strong drugs to deal with the side effects. A side effect of the drugs was irritation of the intestinal track that caused his stomach to balloon out. The purple drink? It so happened that the mysterious purple drink was an electrolyte mixture meant to help with his constant nausea. The fatigue makes sense now doesn’t it?

It took me 3 months to learn what this man was going through. That whole time I harbored negative feelings towards him because he was successful. I always thought that, because he wasn’t a ripped personal trainer, he didn’t deserve to have a full client roster. Clients loved him and begged to train with him while I struggled.

I ignore that the guy had 15 years experience and both a great theoretical and practical education.

Why Did You Become a Personal Trainer?

Many trainers enter the profession because of powerful obstacles they’ve overcome. They want to help others make the same life changes that they made. A trainer doesn’t have to be ripped to make it as a personal trainer. Maybe they lost 50lbs and live a vital happy life and have no desire to go to the lengths needed to attain and maintain a six pack.

More importantly, trainers that have been through challenges themselves have the passion required to empower others. Albert Bandura’s expanded social cognitive theory shows the powerful affect that this type of modelling can have in developing clients self-efficacy.

Do Trainers Have to Have Visible Abs?

No. Abs don’t define fitness. Six pack abs are a result of low bodyfat.

Thankfully the anorexic teen look is out. Get some meat on dem bones.

A Personal Trainer Is a Role Model

Personal trainers are role models and shouldn’t be harboring negative feelings towards other professionals as I did with my co-worker above.

Instead of being jealous, I should have tried to learn from him. He was at a disadvantage with his physique, yet was chock full of clients at a time when I was struggling. He was fighting cancer, undergoing chemotherapy, and constantly fatigued yet had to support his family. So he fought through it every step of the way. Even though he wasn’t a ripped personal trainer, he was a role model all of us should aspire to be.

Do You Have to be Ripped to be a Personal Trainer?

The answer doesn’t lie in physique or whatever your definition of ripped is. The answer lies in setting a good example. Whenever anybody is looking for a personal trainer, I suggest looking past the superficial and focus on finding somebody with these traits:

1. Health and vitality – A trainer can’t look worn out. My ex co-worker above always had a big smile on his face and endless energy for his clients. It’s because he took care of himself before, during, and after the treatment even though it wasn’t easy.

I was never a ripped personal trainer but I was always healthy and energetic. The biggest reason why I grudgingly quit personal training was because my other responsibilities were draining my energy. I found myself constantly tired and not setting a good example, so I stepped down from the job and allowed another skilled trainer to take over.

When I did train clients, I slept and ate well (except when my clients brought me chocolate, then I slept well and ate lots of chocolate). I exuded energy. I laughed all day long and smiled as hard as I could at everybody I saw.

Most personal training clients are not looking to get six pack abs because they’re not willing to make the effort it takes to maintain such a low body fat. Instead, they want to be healthy and active for as long as possible. What good is being ripped if you can’t enjoy life. We’re all human and we all have different goals in mind.

2. Experience working with people like you – Let’s file this under physique. Do you want to be a bodybuilder? Then you should probably be ripped. Are you a post-menopausal women who has had at least one child and lead a busy family and professional life? You’re perfect to train busy active mothers, but you don’t need a six pack. What you need is to be healthy and to lead a good example. (Note: Neghar Fonooni wrote a great piece a while back on how to cope with training for busy mothers. Check it out here)

What it comes down to is this. A personal trainer doesn’t have to be ripped unless they are training you for high level aesthetic goals like PTDC coach Nick Mitchell does at Ultimate Performance. Your physique should resemble the desired physique of your population and your lifestyle should follow suit. If you’re a strong man you probably aren’t ripped. But holy hell you’re strong.

There is no ideal physique for personal trainers. We come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. Our background, desires, and experiences shape us. Getting ripped is a goal of some clients and if you train those clients your body should show it.

Most of the time, clients want to be healthy and vital and, as a trainer, there’s no excuse for you not to be. Maybe the next time you foster negative thoughts towards your co-workers, you should look past the purple drink and try to understand what’s really going on.

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Further Reading:

Gym Before Work? 10 Habits that Help a Busy Mom Cope with Training, Coaching and Life – Neghar Fonooni

Never Let Go – Dan John

Photo Credits:

highstrungloner Ian Spanier Photography 2012

The Author

Jonathan Goodman is the founder of the Personal Trainer Development Center and author of multiple bestselling books for personal trainers. In addition, Jon founded the first-ever certification for online fitness trainers, the Online Trainer Academy. Originally from Toronto, Jon and his wife Alison spend their winters traveling the world with their baby boy, Calvin.

10 signs you need a new trainer

Typically, I work out in my own home gym.

Sometimes, however, I venture out and grab a workout at this really great warehouse-type gym in town.

Either way, I love my gym options.

Yet because of where I train, and when, I sometimes forget what it’s like for exercisers who aren’t, well, me.

Recently, though, I was reminded of just how bad it can be out there. And that reminder came courtesy of a terrible personal trainer.

Trainers: Some good, some bad

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’ve met tons of great trainers over the years. In fact, many of them are actually PN readers and customers.

However, I’ve also met some that aren’t qualified to shovel the sidewalk in front of the gym, let alone charge $50-$100 an hour to “help” people get in shape.

And unfortunately, as in many areas of life, the bad seem to outnumber the good. And it’s the people who need help who ultimately pay the price.

So, in today’s update, I’d like to share with you my top 10 strategies for telling the difference between a great trainer and one that shouldn’t even be washing your gym towels.

Note: the bad nutritionists aren’t safe either. Most of these same differences apply to them too.

10 characteristics of bad trainers and nutritionists

#1: They Don’t Do Any Assessments

The best trainers perform thorough and complete assessments when working with a new client, before doing anything else.

On the training front, that means doing movement screening and even basic performance tests. And on the nutrition front, that means looking at the client’s current intake and assessing a host of lifestyle variables, including: schedule, primary complaints/discomforts, current level of social support, willingness to change, and more.

But is that how most trainers and nutritionists do things? Heck no.

Most trainers perform no assessments whatsoever! And if any are performed at all, they’re usually done in the “free consultation” that comes with your gym membership in order to embarrass a client into purchasing personal training.

That’s a huge mistake. Good assessments are the only way to gain real knowledge of a client and make the critical coaching decisions — without which you have about a snowball’s chance in hell at seeing real results.

If you’re not put through a thorough battery of assessments in your first session, RUN.

#2: They Can’t Demonstrate Previous Successes

Personal training and nutritional consultation isn’t cheap. In fact, meeting with a trainer 4x per week for 6 months can cost between $5,000 and $10,000 dollars.

So, what are you getting for your 5-10 grand? Well, if a trainer or nutritionist can’t demonstrate his or her previous successes, you have no idea. None at all.

The best trainers and nutritionists keep detailed statistics of their clients. They track client adherence. They log how their clients’ bodies are changing and over what time period. They record performance and lifestyle changes. They keep photo albums with before and after photos.

And they can point to compelling testimonials from previous clients about their services. They can probably even introduce you to a few, so you can talk to them directly about the experience.

The worst trainers and nutritionists have nothing. No photos. No testimonials. No data. Nothing.

If your trainer can’t show you compelling evidence that they’ve helped people like you get the results you want, assume that it’s because they’ve never actually done it before.

#3: They Don’t Have Multiple Certifications

Most personal trainers in the world today have nothing more than a high school diploma and a personal training certificate they got at a weekend personal training seminar.

And most nutritionists have little to no training specific to exercise nutrition. (Registered dietitians do need to possess an undergraduate degree. But this degree specializes in clinical nutrition — i.e., what to serve hospital patients — NOT exercise nutrition. Big difference.)

So if you have exercise and performance related goals, are these the types of folks you want to throw your money away on? Not me.

If it were me, I’d look for someone with multiple certifications. Someone who has clearly made it a priority to seek life-long education. Someone who’s gone out and sought a diverse knowledge profile, learning about training methodologies, body composition, nutrition, supplementation, and more.

The best trainers go out and do this. They’re life-long learners. They spend 5-10 hours per week reading top-shelf training and nutrition information from the best in the field.

The worst trainers, they stick with their weekend certification. They waste their time reading muscle magazines, or People magazine. And they end up not even knowing how much they don’t know.

#4: They Aren’t Healthy or Fit

Just like realtors who’ve never owned a home and financial planners who are broke, out-of-shape trainers and nutritionists piss me off.

Now, let me clarify. You don’t have to look like a fitness model to be fit and healthy. So that’s not the standard here.

However, if a trainer doesn’t have more muscle, less fat, and a better health profile than the average person, why would I listen to any advice on building muscle, losing fat, and getting healthier from them?

It’s a no brainer. If a trainer or nutritionist isn’t healthy and fit — and doesn’t practice the behaviors necessary to remain that way — they can’t be my coach.

#5: They Don’t Know The Difference Between an Outcome and a Behavior

“I need to lose 10 lbs,” that’s an outcome goal. “I need to exercise 5 times per week,” that’s a behavior
goal. Trainers and nutritionists who don’t know the difference between the two should be fired immediately.

You see, focusing on outcomes, that’s the job of the trainer/nutritionist. Their program needs to be built in such a way that the outcome is an inevitable consequence.

However, focusing on behaviors, that’s the client’s job. Therefore any trainer worth a damn knows that to achieve success, their clients must be rewarded for successful behaviors, not for specific outcomes.

Followed this week’s habits 90% of the time and didn’t miss any workouts? That’s worthy of a reward — regardless of the outcome — because it’s this pattern of behavior that’ll eventually lead to success.

In addition, the best trainers have ways to monitor behaviors and track client adherence/accountability (such as the PN adherence chart, the software we use in the Lean Eating program, etc).

The worst trainers, on the other hand, they make progress seem like voodoo, separating the outcome (weight loss, etc.) from the behaviors necessary for the accomplishment of that outcome (X exercise sessions per week, eating X servings of vegetables per day, etc.).

Your trainer should give you simple behaviors to practice, track whether you’ve done so, and reward you when you have. That’s their job. So are they doing it? Or are they just asking you to step on the scale? (Or worse yet, neither?)

#6: They Don’t Have A 3-Month Plan From The Start

Before day 1, session 1, after all the assessments are complete, the best trainers and nutritionists will already have, in hand, at least a 3-month plan based on their client’s level, needs and goals.

When I walk around commercial gyms, it seems like a cruel joke (and the joke is on their clients) that most trainers are making up workouts as they go along.

There’s no plan. There’s no “big picture.” They’re making stuff up as they go. What a waste of everyone’s time and the client’s money. I mean, seriously, where else in life do we find noteworthy success coming as a result of no planning, no forethought, and such obvious lack of care?

If your trainer or nutritionist can’t show you their 3-month outline on day 1, session 1, after all the assessments are complete, get away. Fast.

#7: They Don’t Carry A Clipboard or Notebook

Clients want to achieve something measurable. So what happens when your trainer or nutritionist measures nothing at all?

The best trainers and nutritionists measure everything. They monitor and record performance variables like sets, reps, and rest intervals. They monitor nutrition habit and behavior compliance. They monitor workout attendance. They monitor body composition. They take pictures. Need I go on?

The point here is that you miss what you don’t measure and record. Also, without metrics, no one knows if progress is actually being made. So isn’t it time we got rid of all these trainers who don’t measure or record anything in favor of those trainers who do?

#8: They Don’t Know How To Help All Types of Clients

There are basically three types of coaches. First, there are the coaches who are simply terrible, who can’t get great results with any of their clients. Of course, there are plenty of these out there. But if you’ve got your head up, these are easy to spot.

Next, there are the coaches who are great, who can get great results with all of their clients no matter who they are or where they’re coming from. Of course, these are few and far between. And if you find one, you lucked out.

And finally, there are the in-between coaches, those who seem to get great results with some clients but can only help a small percentage of those that actually come to see them.

The goal of every trainer and nutritionist should be to learn the techniques and strategies necessary to help EVERY type of client that comes to see them. That’s the hallmark of the great ones.

#9: They Don’t Integrate Training and Nutrition

In order to change your body, there is something you need to know. And you will likely never learn it at a commercial gym.

Exercise, alone, doesn’t work.

Time and time again, the research has demonstrated that without a dietary intervention, even performing 5-6 hours of well-designed exercise programming each week leads to surprisingly little body composition change.

So you can bet that the best trainers offer an integrated nutrition solutions as part of their programing. They schedule private nutrition sessions. They assess your nutritional intake and compliance regularly. They show you around the grocery store. And more.

The worst trainers? They either leave you to figure it out on your own. Or they offer useless nutritional sound bytes in between workout sets.

#10: They Don’t Care

Let’s be honest here. If your trainer or nutritionist doesn’t do most of the activities I’ve listed above, regardless of whether or not they say they care, they simply don’t.

They don’t care about being good at their job. They don’t care about helping you achieve your goals. They just don’t care.

And that’s the worst part of this all, isn’t it? People are throwing thousands of dollars a month at people who just don’t give a shit. It’s a shame.

But it’s not necessary. Armed with a little knowledge, informed people can choose wisely if a trainer or nutritionist is in their future.

The Precision Nutrition Certification

This article comes down kinda hard on those trainers and nutritionists sleepwalking through their day jobs. And for good reason. If they don’t care, I want them out of my field — immediately.

However, for the trainers and nutritionists who follow Precision Nutrition, the ones who DO care, the ones willing to go above and beyond to be excellent and truly help people, I’m going to do everything in my power to change things.

We’re going to raise the bar in the fitness industry. For good.

PN Certification begins April 8th, 2020. Join the presale list and save $200.

If you want to learn more about exercise nutrition and add legitimate nutrition coaching to your skill set, the Precision Nutrition Certification is perfect for you.

The program is based on over 10 years of research and statistical data from over 20,000 Precision Nutrition clients. In essence, it’s a comprehensive nutrition coaching course. And it’s designed to teach fitness, strength, nutrition, and rehab professionals how to get clients in the best shape of their lives.

Since we only take a limited amount of students, and the program sells out every time, I strongly recommend you add your name to our presale list. When you do, you get the chance to sign up 24 hours before everyone else. Even better, you save $200 off the cost of the program.

11 Confessions From A Personal Trainer

  • Ronak Patel
  • May 18, 2016

By Tommy B.

Trainers, coaches, fitness pro’s…its all the same thing.

Like any industry, there are some unbelievable people out there and many more times shady ones that you wonder how anyone ever signed a check with their name on it.

There’s the:

  • Trainer who wants all their clients to walk around with Tupperware all day
  • The one size fits all person who found one discipline and never expanded or learned more
  • Shady one who walks a fine line and may be sleeping with half their clientele

Or worse of all, the one who is 40 pounds overweight and has a massive beer belly (true story, I hired this person once.)

However, the coaching and training industry does attract quality people who truly want to help others.

They come in with positive intentions and although few last for a while, the cream always rises to the top.

I’m going to share 11 confessions from a decade of training, running my own gym(s) and having conversations with the best of the best.

It’ll include common thoughts and misconceptions about fitness, training and unveil some of the truths of what it’s like to be on our side.

1: Training Isn’t That Important

There, I said it.

The training aspect of the entire deal truly isn’t that important.

Sure — training matters, but if you think of a pyramid-style hierarchy, it doesn’t matter that much.

The base of the hierarchy is going to rely on nutrition, lifestyle factors such as stress, sleep, habits and routine.

I’d argue we’ve become a culture that emphasizes too much training as a badge of honor — leading the average person to believe they have to train 6 times a week and be carried out of the gym to see results.

Adam Bornstein, trainer, speaker and author of Born Fitness sums it up here:

“First of all, the idea that you need to burn an enormous number of calories through exercise – or that you even can—can be considered a myth.”

Instead, focus on the work in the kitchen; trade a workout for an hour on a Sunday prepping some healthy meals.

2: Everything works, to a certain extent.

Let’s be honest…everything works, up to a point of course.

Most people who have struggled with their fitness have always blamed the program, the trainer, the gym or maybe even possibly the weather or a bad hair day.

And I get it…there’s better programs for different types of people, zero doubt about that.

However, if you apply consistency, accountability and truly trust the process — it’s going to work.

So if you see a trainer that harps on the fact that his or her program is on the cutting edge and never done or seen before, you can smile.

It may be great, but so is someone else’s program online or countless other trainers.

3: We don’t love training all the time.

I was recently talking to a new client who signed up and the topic was on motivation and mindset, two of my favorites.

I told him flat out: if you’re inspired to go train, drop everything and use that energy now!

I also reminded him that even though deep down at my core I love fitness, I only feel very motivated to workout about 70% of the time.

Mind you, that’s a lot, but there’s sessions where we feel exactly like you: sluggish and don’t want to do it.

4: You may never achieve your dream body

Fitness marketing has led most to believe that if they work hard enough or take that specific pill or diet, they will look like the cover models or instagram folks.

Truth is, that’s impossible.

First, most of those models are on chemicals and high doses of drugs, that’s an absolute fact.

Second, they have been spray tanned, dehydrated and manipulated their nutrition in such a way that they show up as cut as possible for that day’s shoot.

A few days later, they are unrecognizable as compared to the pictures.

The contrast to this is you can become the best possible you and achieve ridiculous results on a long enough timeline.

5: We have it far from figured out, but we’re learning.

The best words a trainer can utter can sometimes be:

I don’t know.

Seriously — most trainers would rather make something up they read online than to admit they don’t know something.

One of my missions and quests in the field was to enter every world from endurance to powerlifting and in between, to truly learn about every type of training so I could achieve perspective and the pursuit of mastery.

The double-edged sword that occurs when you do that is you realize the more you know, the more you don’t actually know.

Now, this is what you want to find in a trainer instead of those who claim they know it all.

6: Our clients are very often guinea pigs

At one point or another during their career, trainers will use their clients as guinea pigs; it’s part of the process.

I don’t consider this a negative thing — research and data can only work so far.

For example, we understand and it’s been proven through countless research that resistance training is essential to keeping and building lean body mass and improving all the hormones that help us shed fat and look and feel amazing.

However, 47-year old Jane and 22 year old Michael are going to respond very differently to a resistance program and using clients to gather data and see what works (and for whom) is part of the process.

7: We have some very crappy nutrition days.

I’m definitely not a fan of trainers and coaches who binge on alcohol, poor food and all sorts of other things.

To me, there’s a lack of integrity in there and leading by example is an important trait.

However, it doesn’t mean we are perfect and we all struggle with our nutrition at one point or another.

We’ll make bad decisions and we’re human too — travel gets in the way and we have something super unhealthy or drank one too many beers at our friend’s wedding.

8: We started for our own self-interest

No trainer ever started training with the priority being to help others that was part of their growth, learning and journey.

We all started for self-interest; we wanted to look better on the beach, have more energy and use fitness as a way of making life better.

This isn’t a shocker, but it’s the truth.

9: We don’t doubt our program, but we doubt the trust in your ability to do it

Over the years I’ve realized the single biggest roadblock to anyone achieving any type of fitness result:


I can recall countless meetings at my prior gyms where they would state an objection to starting after having gone deep into what a problem their current state of their body was.

However, the objection masked a pretty obvious theme:

Their ability to trust themselves to complete the program, not the program itself.

Leo Babuta of Zen Habits discusses why we begin to lose trust in ourselves, thus perpetuating this cycle in all different life endeavors.

10: Sometimes, we don’t want to be there either.

There are times when we don’t want to be at your training session either – something came up, our dog died, we went through a break up or on little or no sleep.

In person training, in particular, requires a certain level of emotional bandwidth – because it’s never only about the training.

However, a true professional will never let you in on that secret and will do everything to give you a fantastic experience.

11: We wish we could sell you a 5-year program

In an industry that is based on getting results as quickly as possible, the best professionals wish we could sell you a 5-year program.

The reason is simple: we want this to become a new way of operating for you and truly impact your life on a grand scale, adding years to your life, allowing you to take more family adventures and basically level up who you already are.

However, a 5-year program is nearly impossible to sell and goes directly in line with 99% of fitness marketing.

Final Words

There you have it, some of the most common confessions from a decade in the training and coaching industry and what we truly believe.

At the end of the day, most trainers have developed a wide array of skills, which allow others to breakthrough in their personal fitness, nutrition and lifestyle factors and finding someone who you connect with is crucial.

As Precision Nutrition states, it’s important to do your homework when looking to hire someone who can directly impact how you look, feel and perform on a daily basis.

Understanding we’re all human and doing our best – much like you, isn’t something negative, rather, allows for us to both relate to one another.

In 30 years in the training business, I’ve probably had affairs with more than 40 married women. Most of them were in their 30s, married eight to 10 years, with kids, and their husbands weren’t paying attention to them. They felt neglected. They didn’t feel attractive. Their husbands had become preoccupied with work.

In the beginning, I was scared about having sex with my clients. I was a shy, overweight kid and didn’t go to the prom, so I didn’t have much confidence at first. Then I got this physique and I discovered that I had this ability to charm women, and I made up for lost time. When I was 17, I put my first ad in a small paper, saying I was looking for clients to train. I had just won Mr. Bodybuilding Teenage New York State, and in my ad I was looking lean and ripped. The first day a woman called me and said, “Do you really look like this?” She asked what my girlfriend thought of my being a trainer, which I thought was strange. (I now know that when a client starts asking what my girlfriend thinks of my training, she wants to know if I’m available.) She told me she was married, that her husband traveled a lot for work and was never home. She said she found that being so sedentary had made her put on some weight. The next day I went to her house. I’d spent a lot of my savings and gotten some help from my mom to buy a really nice dark blue warm-up suit and brand-new white Adidas sneakers so I would look like a professional trainer. When the woman opened the door, she was wearing a black negligee. I went home and told my mother and father, and they forbade me to go back. My parents canceled my ad and said, “This will probably be a problem the rest of your life.”

It happens all the time now. The wives today feel they have just as much right, and drive, to have a playmate as their husbands do. It’s natural to want to have sex with your trainer. Remember that training is very hands-on. I’m touching them, motivating them, encouraging them, listening to them, relieving their stress and channeling their energy in a more positive way. Just as their husbands used to do at the beginning of their marriage. I’m trained to get inside their heads and push the buttons that will motivate them. But I’m also in their heads in other ways. They connect with me emotionally. It’s very important for a trainer to be a good listener.

I once had an interior-designer client who was very beautiful. Like every client, she started opening up about her life; women do the same thing with their hairdressers and trainers. “My husband isn’t attentive to me, he used to be so passionate,” she explained. It was her birthday and her husband had forgotten. I suggested we have lunch, and she said, “How about dinner?” And that’s where I went wrong. For a couple of months after that, we would work out, go back to my place and have sex. I would whisper sexy thoughts to her when I was spotting her at the gym. And then it ended. We got caught by the husband. He wound up calling me up and crying like a baby, asking me to stay away from her.

I don’t feel bad about having had affairs with married women, because they were feeling neglected and they just wanted to be loved. One woman said to me her husband had never looked into her eyes when they made love. He couldn’t have been that smart, because women love the eye contact. I come from a very passionate, Italian family. When I make love to a woman, I like to have spontaneous sex. I like to do it in the elevator, on the beach, underneath the table in the restaurant. I like to make them feel young, mischievous, alive. If they can have a taste of it again, they can realize they haven’t lost it.

I’m 47 now, and over the years I’ve learned to watch out. I realized I couldn’t be sleeping with everyone’s wife in town. Number one, you start sleeping with them and they want to stop paying–and I make $150 an hour. I was never paid for sex. I would never do it for that. Because for me it would ruin it. I like to make love to please someone. When they say, “I feel like a real woman again,” it’s the same thing as when I train them and they tell me how terrific they feel because they fit in clothes they haven’t worn for 10 years. The high of training is the same high as making love. I’ve written a screenplay about it all, called “The Trainer.” It’s “Shampoo” for the 21st century.

12 Shocking Confessions from Personal Trainers

Personal trainers want what’s best for their clients, but they often witness the very worst when pushing them to achieve their fitness goals. (Nix the 15 Exercises Trainers Would Never Do from your workout routine.) It’s a tough task to motivate, teach, and discipline-all while keeping a level head. They cheer for your success, and it’s just as frustrating for them when you slip with your diet or training regimen as it is for you.

Whisper asked their community’s fitness trainers what they’re thinking that they would, or wouldn’t, want us to know, and the anonymous answers run the gamut from inspiring to a little scary. Read through the confessions, and then give your favorite trainer a hug as soon as you get to the gym.

When you’re trying to get in shape, it’s important to understand the difference between your weight and your BMI.

We all know how much misinformation and quick-fix diets that pop up all the time. Those crazes drive them nuts.

Some of them face their own body image issues. They just don’t admit out loud when they’re doubting themselves.

Knowing too much is a fine line when it isn’t your place to give advice. They wish they could fix other gym-goers’ mistakes.

It can be really tough for them to deal with unhealthy clients.

Trainers sometimes love the same unhealthy foods you do. Some can’t help but give in vices or struggle with motivation.

They get sore too, guys!

They appreciate hard work, even if it’s not their own.

The road to fitness ain’t easy. In the end, they all want you to succeed.

For more confessions from personal trainers, check out Whisper.

  • By Megan Soll @meg_jean_

Out of shape personal trainers

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