Personal Training Questions Part I

I have a crazy schedule today so I busted out the crock pot for dinner. Actually this is going to be Ben’s dinner and I’ll eat leftovers. But, I wanted to mention it because this is a lifesaver if you are busy! Plus, someone asked what size slow cooker I have – it’s a 5 quart.IMG_6673 (800x600)

And today it’s filled with pot roast, potatoes, carrots, spices and an inch of vegetable broth. Again, I won’t eat red meat but this meal makes Ben love me significantly more and since I’m such a pain in the azz I really need all the help I can get Winking smileIMG_6674 (800x600)

Lunch was a massive salad (that doesn’t look very massive in this picture) with tons of peanut dressing. I already need a new bottle!IMG_6676 (800x600)

When I mentioned I’d be doing a Q&A on personal training I got a TON of questions. So, I’ll be breaking them down into a few different posts and then putting them on my FAQ page.

*For those of you just catching up, I wanted to be a trainer for over a year but the craziness of life and moving across the country for the second time in one year (!!) delayed my studies. I finally started my new life as a trainer in May and the rest is history my reality!personal trainer shirt

Personal Training FAQs Part I

1. How flexible is your schedule? Do you have input in your schedule, or do they just schedule you when there are clients who need you?

A: Technically, I create my own schedule. I say what hours I’m available for fitness evaluations with new members. And I set up training appointments with my clients as needed. BUT – I need to be available when people can train, not just when I want to work. So, this means I need to train clients before  and after “normal working hours”.

I have clients that have to come in before they go to work at 7am and I have clients that need to train at 8pm. In between I try to fill in my “day time” clients in blocks of time so I am not constantly going back and forth, but it doesn’t work out perfectly most of the time.

For example here is today’s schedule:

I had a 7am client. Did my work out. Went home to change.

Had 2 mid-morning clients.

Went home for lunch and blogging.

Have 3 afternoon appointments. (Not sure if I’m coming home in between these yet).

Then, have 3 evening clients. The latest one is a 8pm appointment that’s a 30 minute session.

2. Do you just do training or do you have to do other stuff at your gym, like show old people how to use machines and wash dirty towels?

A. In addition to actually training people, I do fitness assessments, Equipment orientations and Answer questions on the floor.

I don’t wash dirty towels. Not even at home. Hence, the reason I stink.

3. Are you on a salary or paid per client?

A. I am not salary. I have a set hourly rate for assessments. Training hours are a different (higher) rate. I only get paid for the hours I’m working with a member or client. So, if someone cancels with 24 hours notice and I can’t fill that spot I’m out of a job for that time. And this happens A LOT in the summer. A LOT.

4. Are you making enough money to survive?

A: Define “survive”.

Winking smile

Since I’m still so new to the job it is taking a while to build up clients. I’ve been told by other trainers that once I have a good number of them it should be easier.

I would say if you are in a salaried position right now, this would be a step down for 99% of you. Personal Trainers can get paid a lot hourly, but it’s hard to secure 40 hours of clients. Very hard. Most of my co-workers work 20 to 25 hours training. Many have other jobs to supplement.

I supplement my PT money with a little side project called, “Run Eat Repeat”. And since we’re on the subject, feel free to check it out whenever you get the chance since it really helps Winking smile

*Edited to add: If not for the blog and Ben’s income I could not pay my bills by myself. Plus, it’s not completely stable because it’s sales so I would have been very afraid to do this if I didn’t have that safety net.

5. What are you clients like? Age? Fitness level? Body odor?

A: My clients range from early 20s to mid 60s. They are varying fitness levels and all getting fit for different reasons. Some of them are pretty bad azz already and just want to get better. I really enjoy working with all of them!

(And I’m not making the ‘body odor’ part of this question up) Since you asked, no one smells nearly as bad as I do. I stink. Hope they don’t fire me!

6. You and I are about the same height and weight and I’m wondering if you ever feel like clients think you should be in super tip top shape? I don’t know how to ask this question without being offensive. I’m in good health and decent shape but am certainly not thin and I have arm flab and a jiggly butt.

A. I do think clients think I should be in tip top shape. But, I have told many clients about the blog (Hi!!!) and so they are aware of my goals to get better, lose weight and say bad words on the internet.

I would feel like a better trainer if I looked like Jillian. But, I have to say that many of the other trainers at my gym look like ‘normal’ women. So, I don’t feel too bad about it.

I have had one client comment on my body. Not in a good or bad way, but just in a way that informed me she is very well aware of everything going on with my stuff.

Oh, and I will always have a jiggly butt. So, if I don’t get clients because of it I’ll assume God didn’t want me to train them anyways Smile


Bonus Posts: Here is my 1 month of Personal Training post.

Here is when I got CPR and AED certified (again).

My ACE Personal Training Exam Tips

Got more questions? Email me at runeatrepeat at gmail dot com

Any trainers out there are welcome to throw in their $.02 too!


  1. says

    thanks for posting this!!! i am seriously considering a career move to PT, just in the VERY beginning stages of researching it. i’m an RN now, but have always HATED it!!!! where did you do your training, get your cert from?

  2. says

    There are a few trainers (and group exercise instructors) at my gym who have ‘normal’ physiques, which I find kind of comforting. I’d probably feel really intimidated by a Jillian Michaels type of trainer.

    Thanks for sharing your PT info. It seems like you’re really enjoying your new gig. :)

  3. says

    What do you prefer to use: free weights, kettlebells, bands/tubes, or machines? For yourself? For your clients?

    What is your personal routine for strength training? Do you do full body 3-4x a week or vary upper & lower per day?

  4. says

    When I coached figure skating, March and August were the worst for cancelations. I was also really bad about making them pay for sessions when they cancelled without enough notice.

    The physique of personal trainers is funny. I definitely notice when someone is in amazing shape, especially when I see their workouts and I want to become their shadow. I don’t really have an opinion of the so-called “normal” sized trainers, aka people my size plus or minus a few. Funny thing though, there is a new trainer at the gym that I would flat out categorize as overweight. I’ve never seen him work out, so maybe he’s one of those “world’s strongest man” types. However, when I hear him talk to him clients, he sounds like a freaking genius. He explains everything perfectly and really places an emphasis on form instead of just going through the motions. This is where I smack myself in the face for judging a book by its cover.

    Another random though, back on the skating thing. I was by no means elite, but I was high-ish level. There were skills that I could no do, but I could teach them. I could help others with them and I could diagnose potential issues. Just for whatever reason and had developped bad habits and couldn’t make my body do what my brain said. My point is, just because you don’t look the part, or even if you can’t even complete the skill, doesn’t mean you can’t coach/teach it effectively.

    Tangent/soapbox over.

  5. says

    Great post! I feel like there is this idea that trainers should be super skinny and ripped, and have overall insane bodies, but that is not the best way to measure how healthy someone is, and it is DEFINITELY not the best way to measure how much someone knows about fitness! I can’t wait for Part II!

  6. says

    I’m sure you get asked about this (annoying) subject all the time but I was wondering how you feel about calories and weight maintenance. I run between 5-8 miles each day but find it hard to figure out how many calories I should be eating in order to maintain my weight. Every one of those dumb calculator websites say something different! Just wanted a personal trainer’s perspective.

    Also, do you eat less on your rest days or do you keep it relatively the same?

  7. says

    As a personal trainer myself, it’s always fun to read about other personal trainers’ jobs and how they work! It sounds like our job’s responsibilities and requirements are very different, but a lot of it’s the same, too (I train people from mid 20’s to mid 60’s too!:) )

      • says

        Well, Im not an actual employee of my gym – the owner just hands out my business cards to members who ask for a trainer. So I work independently with the clients.. I just use the gym to train them. The owner just does it as a courtesy to his members. And I just do assessments during the client’s first session.
        Maybe responsibilities wasn’t the right word? Gym protocol?
        But it’s cool seeing how it works with other trainers and other gyms, ya know :)
        Either way, great post Monica!

  8. Rika says

    I work at my local gym so it’s fun seeing what it’s like to be a fitness professional! Thanks for the insight! Looking forward to part dos. 😀

  9. says

    random question- i know you don’t eat red meat, but would you eat the potatoes and carrots you cooked with it? when i was growing up i HATED pot roast but loved the potatoes and carrots that were cooked with it!

  10. says

    Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and absolutely love it! Not to sound corny, but I just wanted to commend you for following your goals and achieving them! It is really inspirational to read about your journey to becoming a personal trainer!:)

  11. says

    Monica- What is the LONGEST you think you could have your slow cooker set for?? That would be an excellent idea for me and my boyfriend… I often cook different things for the both of us but two days a week he has Jiu Jitsu and needs to eat earlier… like essentially right when I get home. So, I don’t have time to make anything really… he will usually eat leftovers or other random food… which is fine but he just throws a whole bunch of food in a bowl, tops it with tons of cheese and microwaves it haha OR he will just get Taco Bell! Now this is not technically bad in his book… but I hate microwaves and I think it would be fun (and maybe healthier) if he had something way better in a slow cooker ready for him when he got home.

    I really enjoyed reading about your life as a PT so far… it was great insight. I considered getting a PT to help me with lifting because I focus primarily on cardio and rarely ever do any lifting. I am too stubborn… and too tired after running! Perhaps I should use ‘rest’ days to do some lifting?

    • says

      A lot of slow cooker recipes call for it to be on “low” for 8 hours. That’s pretty standard I think. I’m sure you could find recipes that are even longer though!

      • says

        I hope so! I think it would really work for us! Having something cooking for that long in the house while we are not at home kinda freaks me out but I’m assuming it’s perfectly safe considering so many people do it and that’s essentially what slow cookers are designed to do! I feel like I need to get renter’s insurance first though haha

  12. says

    I’m very jealous of your personal trainer job! I’m ACE certified, but since I have a mortgage and car payment, blah blah blah, I am not at a point where I can jump into it as a career…yet! Once I meet a rich doctor who wants to be my sugar daddy, watch out world, here I come! haha. I’m kidding…sort of…

  13. says

    I had a personal trainer for about a year and loved her! I didn’t realize how much it helped my running until I stopped. She had to move away and I got all distracted with karate. My trainer was the only female trainer for a very large gym (it sounds like Fa Litness) and was a stick! She had a naturally small frame and athletic build. Her size had absolutely no relevence to her work though. She was encouraging and helpful. I think it’s an odd standard to hold that a trainer has to be in shape. I’m an editor and I make spelling errors and typos all the time. Doctors smoke, teachers curse, police men speed, bankers go broke….

  14. says

    I give you mad props for sticking with the personal training on commission (small salary) wages. I worked at a bigger gym as a personal trainer for about 4 mos. and I realized that it just wasn’t for me. I still liked personal training but that type of setting just didn’t work for me. First of all, I lived a solid 25 minutes away from the gym, so the commute time was annoying (and not cost-effective) to come back and forth for clients. My boss told me that my hours were 8am-12pm and then 4pm-8pm. There isn’t a whole lot of people that can train in the 8-12 slot, so that hurt me right away. Also, you gotta be on your game during the fitness assessments to sell those packages. I, too, heard that it would get better as time went on, so stick with it if it’s your passion. I think you can make it work if you like the management, the gym, location, etc.
    I couldn’t pay my bills by myself at the time either. I was barely making enough to even pay for gas to drive there as much as I did.
    I’m working now at a little studio where they get me the clients and I just train them. It works out much better for me. I am only working part-time (12 hours/week) because 1) I go to school still and 2) that’s all they really have for me.
    Sorry for the long post, but keep it up!! You’ll get there:)

  15. says

    since your training so much do you still have to do daily workouts? i’d think that training multiple times a day would qualify as a lot of working out? unless you dont do the full workout with each client?

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