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What does a personal trainer do?

A couple of clients recently asked me what a typical day looks like for me – who I work with, does everyone have the same needs etc. – and I realised that for many people, they have no idea what good quality personal trainer actually does and the range of people they work with. So, here’s a typical day for me…

I get a rare 8am empty slot – I’m still at the gym for 7.45am (usual arrival time), but I get a chance to tidy some stuff, have a coffee and have a chat with some of the gym members that are already in. One of our PTs has been in since 7 with his clients, so there’s already stuff going on.

At 9am, I’m with JC. He’s been with me for around 7 years now, through weight loss, in the background dealing with an auto-immune issue and with the aim the whole way through of getting stronger. We’re now still working on fat loss, and bringing his deadlift back up after a raft of (non training related!) injuries, most notably an inflamed shoulder that cost us nearly a year’s worth of proper training. Squatting, once a nemesis for him, has crept slowly but surely back up to all-time high levels recently…!

At 10am, I’ve got JG. J’s in his sixties, been with me for 6 years, referred by an osteopath client to help him with strengthening his legs. Walking was becoming a battle for JG back then, and the idea of climbing stairs at any real pace was a world away. Strength-wise, we started from scratch – as in, can’t do a lunge scratch. He’s been ultra-consistent, trained through thick and thin, and eventually succumbed to a hip replacement 8 weeks ago. He’s back in now working on that rehabilitation – we’re already doing trap bar deadlifts, split squats and building up his work capacity again.

At 11am, I have JB. JB’s in his mid-forties, been a client for the last 12 months, and came to me for help battling a pretty severe adrenal issue that can leave him, literally, floored at times. We’ve had to work around this, and try and be super-flexible in his training approach. For the most part, we’re winning, but it’s hard work for him to come and train when he feels like death – and it’s unpredictable. We’ve improved his overall strength and given him a slightly better platform to face the health issues I can’t help with.

12pm is a half-hour lunch break; homemade stew today, if you’re interested!

12.30pm sees BF arriving. He came to me 18 months ago having already independently lost around 30kg, and wanting to kick on, lose a little more and get stronger in the process. As with many people when they start training after a period of calorie restriction, he was a little injury prone. So, we’ve worked around pulled calfs, a suspected frozen shoulder and a lower back issue. Despite all of that, he’s continued to drop weight and get stronger. We’re working on a relatively new programme at the moment focussed on bringing up his fitness, and he’s helping that by doing a little bit of running between sessions.

1.30pm, and MB arrives. In his early fifties, M has cystic fibrosis and Type 1 diabetes. His lung function is in the mid 30%s (imagine how you feel with a chest infection, and that’s the norm for him). We’ve worked together for around 15 years, and I’ve helped him increase his lung function, get to a 70kg squat and deadlift, and a 60kg bench. These are big numbers for the issues he has to battle. We’re currently working on some very basic lifts to get his strength back to his baseline levels after he successfully fought off a bout of Covid recently – a big deal for someone with a lung disease.

2.30pm and JM is here. He’s been personal training with me since walking into the gym the first week we opened here in Colwick, wanting to get stronger and take up weight training. In his late 30s at the time, he’s since nailed a 200kg deadlift, 130kg squat and 100kg bench press. The constant aim is to get stronger, but J has a habit of random injuries – pulling his shoulder playing darts being the most memorable one that lasted months! Working around that and his work and family life requires flexibility, rather than just nagging about training!

5pm and it’s AB’s turn! My first female client of the day, which is odd as my client base is about 50/50 male and female, so today’s been very testosterone orientated! A’s been with me for around 4 years, and has strength goals in focus. Into her early 50s, she’s squatting in excess of 70kg, deadlifting well over 100kg and homing in on a 60kg bench press. The aim for her is constant improvement, no matter how small, and consistency of training. She’s probably my most consistent client – she rarely misses a session for any reason!

6pm and I’ve got AR in. He’s a gym member that noticed my clients always squatting with great form, watched me train a few times, and asked me to take his training under my wing. With a reasonable base of strength already, I’m helping him with his technique on the main exercises (squat, bench, deadlift) and building him a programme with some accessory work that matches what HE needs. This is his second session, so we’re finalising form checks and starting work building his bespoke training plan. He’ll then drop into seeing me once a month to keep him on the straight and narrow!

7.30pm and my final client of the day, NZ. N came from having had personal training elsewhere pre-Covid, and not really being taught enough to be able to train on his own when the isolation of lockdowns began. As a result, he got out of the exercise habit. He realised that despite the Personal Training he’d had, he’d never really be taught much – so he came here to set that straight. I’ve built his training from the ground up – he’d be told he “wasn’t ready to squat or deadlift”, which is PT code for “I can’t be arsed to teach you”. Within a week he was competently squatting and deadlifting light weights, and perfecting his technique. We’re now a couple of months in and he’s hitting some nice early numbers, feeling like he knows his way around a barbell, and not reliant on the machines for everything. Plus he’s a top lad, who makes training someone late in the evening after a busy day perfectly bearable!

9pm – the gyms been hoovered, tidied, the last members ushered out the door and I’m off home.

That’s a typical day as a personal trainer for me on a Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Wednesday is a day off (I’ll often see two or three people in the morning that I can’t fit into the week elsewhere), and Friday’s I escape by 2pm to do the school run and take my 6yr old daughter to gymnastics lessons. Saturdays are back on it – I’m usually busy 8am until 12pm, then train myself until the gym closes at 2pm. Sunday’s I’m religiously, pun intended, never at work unless I’m covering a holiday.

In a typical week I’ll cover 40 one-to-one appointments as a personal trainer, comprised of around 25 clients. I currently work with nearly 50 clients, mostly on a weekly basis, with some I see once a month.
So there you go – a standard day for me at RWF!
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