By Alex Silver-Fagan
Trainers and fitness professionals preach about balance all the time. Balance in diet, balance in exercise. But what most people don't realize is the balancing act that trainers have to handle on a daily basis. It comes with the territory and even though it can be difficult and often stressful, the pros of this career definitely outweigh the cons.
As trainers and instructors, we don’t just simply give you a good workout and then leave. We work hard to create an experience, a relationship, and in the end simply make you believe that you are in fact strong enough.
Trainer schedules have a chaotic harmony. An average day for me starts with teaching a 6am or 6:30am CITYROW class, then usually 1-2 private clients, and a casting or photo-shoot, before teaching again. This time two classes at Solace New York, before heading back to CITYROW to teach another class at 7:30pm.
During my free hours I make it a priority to schedule time to workout with friends, take classes from my colleagues, practice yoga (3-4x a week), create playlists for my classes & programs for my clients, write articles, network, attend events, etc. (Note, I didn’t even mention simple things like grocery shop and laundry…)
What it really all boils down to: true passion. I love what I do, and I do what I love. The special hustle that it takes to be known in this industry is thrilling and rewarding.
When I say passion, I mean passion for everything it means to be a trainer/instructor. The early mornings, late nights, sometimes forcing a smile to inspire others, hustling to stay at the top of your game, learning from others around you, seeking advice and feedback, swallowing your pride on occasion, being sore — all of the things that make this job so difficult. Because when you’re able to appreciate these things, you can truly love the positive sides of this world as well. And even start to shift your focus from negative and positive, to just overall positivity.
Really at the end of the day, the not-so-glamorous parts are what make the job worth it. Often people forget that, and when they do it’s a short spiral down from success.
Being tired and/or stressed comes with the territory, and often some less experienced colleagues forget that even though it’s fun, it’s still a job and it’s all a part of the deal.
It takes a lot of energy and dedication, and the only way to get through 12-hour days (like mine and my fellow trainers) is to love it, embrace it, and keep calm through the chaos.
Now in addition to passion, balance can't exist without an understanding of momentum. As professionals in an industry, the goal is to continue to grow and cultivate an upward trajectory. In order to develop a positive momentum, fitness professionals (the successful ones) must be respectful of both their health and their minds.
One aspect of this longevity that is often overlooked is the importance of an off day. I even initially thought that a day off was unnecessary, and for months worked 7 days a week. Especially in a service industry, trainers need to make the time to serve themselves. Because if you can’t take care of yourself, how are you going to genuinely take care of others?
It is only recently that I’ve discovered how necessary a day off is (or even just a morning/evening). Since realizing this and adjusting my schedule accordingly, I’ve noticed tremendous growth in my energy and my ability to perform in all my many jobs.
Another key part of this momentum is organization. This comes in a few different forms. First, organizing your schedule to have an off day as mentioned before, as well as organizing your energy and where it’s utilized. For example, if you know you’re going to be teaching 5 classes in a single day, it’s wise to choose a calmer form of activity for your own workout during that particular day or use your free time to work at the computer rather than overly taxing your body. The days I teach less classes, I workout harder. I’m cognizant of the energy I need to adequately perform my job, and I organize my days in response.
Additionally, trainers need to be organized the way that businesses are. It’s ironic that in an industry that isn’t corporate, the individuals who are most successful understand how to run their business like corporate entities.
Even finding the time to write this article, for example. Carving out time to sit behind my computer during a day of running between 2 studios, castings, clients, and my own workout is a task. I make sure to stay on top of deadlines, and organize my schedule in response to the responsibilities I have on my plate and on my horizon.
One final aspect of balance in the training profession and respecting the momentum of the career is practicing what you preach. In order to be successful, trainers/instructors simply must have a true respect for fitness as a lifestyle, and not just say (or post on social media) that they do.
Not only are our bodies and the way we move our business card, but it should also be something that we enjoy. We preach to others constantly the various benefits of a healthy lifestyle dedicated to fitness, and thus our inspiration should be legitimate. While the majority of the population sees finding time to workout as a burden, true fitness professionals should look forward to this time.
Basically, we should move because we love it. Not just because we say we do.
So in conclusion, if you haven’t noticed the common theme throughout this article — it’s love for the grind. The balancing act of a trainer is difficult and one that takes getting used to. No one jumps into this field without faltering a few times and figuring out the schedule and best practices that work for them. But if a trainer/instructor truly loves and respects what they do, all aspects of it, they’ll find the balance and be successful.
To all my fellow trainers: Love your work, love your clients, love yourself… and the rest will follow…
Born and raised in the New York area, Alex Silver-Fagan graduated from NYU with a degree in Marketing and a minor in Business. Shortly after realizing that her heart and body felt happiest in motion (i.e. not behind a desk) she shifted her focus to physical fitness. Alex holds an ACE Personal Training Certification, Kettlebell Athletics 1 Certification, and the Functional Movement Screen Certification. She is also a WIlhelmina Fitness Model and works regularly with publications like SHAPE, SELF, and more. Currently, Alex teaches at CITYROW and is also a NIKE NTC trainer, teaching group HIT classes to the public, as well as personal 1:1 sessions with VIP/celebrity clientele. Additionally, she is a TEAM Bodybuilding.com Athlete and a Cellucor Sponsored Athlete. Alex’s goal is to change the way the world views fitness and movement. Rather than being thought of as a punishment or something you "have" to do, exercise should instead be fun, enjoyable, and make you excited to FEEL good.