Personal Trainers Aren’t Always Fit: 5 Fitness Fixes For Busy PTs

As a personal trainer myself, I know you have a tough job.

You have to motivate people who find it hard to motivate themselves. You give your time, energy, and a little of yourself to each of your clients in order to help them achieve their physical goals.

This is commendable, but it often ends with little left over for your own fitness. What are you supposed to do?

Fixes for busy PTs

Why You, a Personal Trainer, Have to Be in Good Shape

A personal trainer has to look the part. It’s not enough to be young and healthy - you have to look like you practice your own effective techniques, otherwise it's hard to believe that prospective clients will trust you.


"You have to be able to motivate yourself in order for others to trust that you can motivate them."

Not all personal trainers have to be the pinnacle of fitness (like the guy above!), but we do all have to practice what we preach.

As a personal trainer, your best business card is often your physique or your own success story. These show potential clients that you know what to do and are willing to do it yourself. You have a "special formula" that obviously works.

Training Yourself Can Be Harder Than Training Clients

Finding the motivation to train yourself after training clients can be difficult. You’ve been giving all day and maybe you don’t feel like you have any more to give, even to yourself – especially to yourself. A beer and Netflix on the couch sounds much more appealing than spending one more minute in the gym!

Plus, there's the question of where you should exercise.​...

Exercising in the gym where you work is often difficult because you're more likely to be approached with questions from members, to socialize with other trainers, and to get interrupted by management.

Going to a different gym is an option many trainers choose, but this becomes an added expense, inconvenient, and can still have the feeling of being at work.

What can you do to keep your body fit, without feeling like you are just another client that you have to work for?

Be creative, be open, be persistent.

5 Fitness Fixes for Busy Personal Trainers

Use these five tips to stay fit, without increasing your time in the gym (a.k.a. your time at work!).

1. Be your client’s workout buddy

If you have a client who is training similarly to the way you'd like to train yourself, why not work out together?

Once your client gives you the thumbs up to do so (yes, ask first!), alternate sets or do the exercises simultaneously.

You can also use team dynamic body moves to get involved. Choose exercises that pit your body against your client’s. For example, push and pull movements such as arm wrestling, tug of war, hand to hand biceps curls against their triceps extension (see video below), and a whole host of others can get you in the action.

Another idea is to take your client outside for a run or walk. Head to a park to do a circuit of body weight moves together. Have fun with this and I guarantee your client will enjoy seeing you sweat while he/she does!

2. Make your demonstrations count

Every time you demonstrate an exercise to a client, choose a weight that challenges you, maybe even one close to your personal max. Do this with every exercise and with every client throughout the day. This will add up to a great workout without requiring a single extra minute in the gym.

3. Climb stairs like a boss

We all preach it to our clients, but do you practice this old fitness tactic yourself? Every chance you get, run or walk stairs with your clients and by yourself throughout your day.

Stairs are probably the single best exercise for a person’s fitness. They act as resistance training for the legs and endurance training for the cardiovascular system. Whenever you can take the stairs, do so, and don't be lazy about it. Turn a few flights of stairs into your own personal interval training session - make it count!

4. Think outside the gym

Would you tell your clients that exercise has to happen in the gym? Of course not. So, why feel the pressure to get your own exercise done with weights and cardio machines?

Joining a sports team may not help you build big muscles, but it will keep you fit and add some fun to your fitness routine. You might even make some new friends in the process!

Even if you are not a coordinated, athletic person, there are plenty of team-based physical activities that will help you stay fit. Think rowing, cycling, or even joining a run club. 

Tell me this won't get you in great shape, without stepping foot in the gym!

These are fun, they can act as great ways to relieve stress, and they give you a break from the monotony of gym-based workouts that you do with your clients all day long.

5. Commute with purpose

Another principle we often teach our clients is the benefit of "building exercise into your daily routines" - but again, do you practice this yourself?

If you can run or ride your bike to work, do so. It will help keep your body fit, decrease traffic, reduce air pollution, and save you money.

On top of all that, people will take notice. Your clients, and especially prospective clients, will appreciate that you really do "walk the talk" by doing something that very few other trainers make an effort to do. Little points of differentiation like this can only help your business grow in the future.

The Bottom Line on Being a Fit Personal Trainer

As a personal trainer, you need to commit to living out the lifestyle habits that you preach to your clients. This means you need to exercise daily.

However, as the above examples illustrated, daily exercise does not have to mean more time in the gym. Use your body every chance you get, and be creative about how you do this.

Just like your clients, it's easy to get stuck in a fitness rut, so be open to new ways of challenging your body. And most of all, be persistent and consistent when it comes to finding new opportunities to stay active, then act on these new ideas. They are not only good for you, but your clients can take advantage of this mindset too.

You found this article useful? Share it with your network!

About the author

Glenn Johnson

Glenn Johnson is a health coach, personal trainer, college professor and the founder of Live Fit Lean. His goal in life is to empower 1 million people to find good health and fitness – for life. His philosophy is simple, efficient, effective exercise and nutrition for an intuitive, healthy life. Learn more about Glenn and his programs at