Fitness Instructors And Workout Coaches Are Sharing Things Most People Don’t Realize About The Industry, And Some Are Really Dark

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Note: This post contains mentions of disordered eating and drug use.

Every industry has its pros and cons, even the ones where you might think people have it easy by working in them.


Being someone who loves to workout, I’ve always wondered about the lives of those who work in the fitness industry.

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So I turned to the BuzzFeed Community to ask fitness professionals about all things related to working in the industry — the ups, the downs, and everything in between. Here’s what people had to say.

BTW, if you have a story to share, let us know in the comments below.

1.“I did not expect the toll that being an instructor would take on my mental health. When you are instructing a class, the workout is no longer for you — and you have to be ‘on‘ the entire time.”

A trainer leading a class of people squatting while holding weights
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2.“The hours and effort go far beyond the actual time spent leading a class — and most people don’t realize that. I spent hours outside of sessions and classes planning new routines, exercises, reading, researching, and taking classes myself.”


3.“In my experience, it’s a Mean Girls Club in most boutique fitness studios. We put on a smile and preach #girlgang. But in reality? It’s a super toxic environment.”


4.“You don’t get paid a living wage. We choreograph, prep, come early, teach the class, stay afterwards to chat, and clean up and in total earn $25. It is also incredibly expensive to pay for all of the continuing education credits and training courses.”


5.“Most people assume that you are in peak physical shape when you tell them that you’re a group fitness instructor, when I feel that isn’t really the case.”

A yoga instructor leading her class

“I teach spin and have been taking it for over seven years but my BMI still says I am obese — and I tend to not lose weight easily. I think we need to change the view that group fitness instructors are all either skinny or muscular.”


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6.“We are all walking around with insane injuries. I taught group exercise for four years and I have the body of an 85-year-old in a 24-year-old’s body. Make sure to stretch, people!”


7.“Many of my clients feel so self conscious to start working out with a trainer. But what you might not know is that we are often nervous to meet you, too. Finding the right personality fit will make all the difference in your fitness journey.”

A female personal trainer holding a clipboard and talking to a female client

“And in terms of ability, most of the people that we work with on a daily basis are in the same boat as you, that’s why we’re all here. Try not to feel embarrassed, we’ve seen it all before and are here to help you gain the knowledge to get to where you want to be.”


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8.“Those working in fitness are more like a therapist than anything else. All clients want to do is talk about their day, issues, spouses, or children. They just want to vent.”

A woman coaching a man through his workout
Kupicoo / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

9.“Imposter syndrome is a real issue. I teach boutique barre classes and while I know I’m physically strong and healthy, and deliver awesome classes for our clients, I’m also carrying around a few extra pandemic pounds.”

“I find it very hard sometimes because I consistently feel like I need to prove myself to clients because my arms aren’t as toned or because my abs are hiding under the wine and cheese I’ve been enjoying. It’s a bad cycle.”


10.“While you may love chatting with some clients, most don’t realize that you’re being paid to be nice to them. I don’t want to go out after and hear about their life and problems. Sorry!”

A trainer spotting a woman as she is lifting weights at the gym
Urbazon / Getty Images / Via Getty Image

11.“Trainers are constantly comparing each other’s bodies. A lot of the trainers I work with ended up with severe eating disorders and/or steroid and pill abuse problems.”

“I’ve also never seen as much body shaming and body dysmorphia in my life. It’s a very competitive industry where you are literally judged and judging others for what you look like. The better looking and fitter the trainer, the more clients they had.”


12.“Fitness and nutrition are completely different scopes of practice. Please don’t ask a group exercise instructor for nutrition tips.”


13.“I’m a fitness instructor and I technically work three to four hours a day right now. It sounds easy until you figure in that I wake up at 3:30 a.m., by 11 a.m. I have 18,000 steps in, and I’m out cold by 8 p.m.”

A woman laying in bed with her hands to her head and an alarm clock in the bed with her

“I’m working from the second I get there until I leave but I’m only getting paid for the actual hours I teach. Not to mention that I have to be in my best mood while motivating people who don’t always want to be there. It’s exhausting.”


Prostock-studio / Getty Images/iStockphoto / Via Getty Images

14.“You see quite a few creepy guys come to classes to try to hit on women — and it’s always unwelcome.”

A man and woman together at the gym
Freshsplash / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

15.“I’ve honestly never worked out less than when I worked in the fitness industry. All day, five days a week, you’re in a loud gym training clients. The last thing you want to do when you’re done training someone is to spend more time in there training yourself.”


16.“I love teaching and I love my members. When I teach, I do it with the biggest smile on my face. I yell ‘enthusiastically’ through the whole room and try to motivate the hell out of my class. But in reality? I am exhausted all the time.”

“I dread the drive to the gym after work and sometimes it is the last thing I want to do. 85% of the time I feel better when I leave than when I go but there are days when I do not. Be nice to your fitness instructors, they are showing up for you on days they wouldn’t come to class if they were just a regular participant like you.”


17.“The most uplifting instructors typically deal with a lot of self-hatred and depression. In my experience, male instructors are the biggest divas and cause all the behind-the-scenes drama.”

Charday Penn / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

18.“I worked in fitness studios for six years and I can confirm that lot of instructors do cocaine before their class. That’s why they’re so energetic.”


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