Personal Trainer – Shari Zisk

Stan T.

Day in the life of
Personal Trainer – Shari Zisk

Shari Zisk
Personal Trainer
Radiance Wellness

I spent 20 years in the fitness industry as a Personal Trainer, Fitness Director, and Personal Training Manager.

The workday of a personal trainer has 2 modes: on the floor, and off the floor.

The time on the floor is when you are ‘on’, and it is like a performance. A personal trainer must make tiny adaptations to their personality, and training style for every client they see. Some clients prefer a loud, high energy session full of praise and high fives. Yet, the next client may prefer gentle coaching and encouragement. Some clients are very chatty and your ‘on’ time might include an hour of chit chat, whereas the next client rarely talks and you must fill the hour with just teaching. Some clients require repeated demonstrations while others know it all.

‘Off the floor’ time involves sitting at a desk doing program planning and charting. For every hour on the floor expect to spend a minimum of 10 minutes charting and designing the next workout. New clients take significantly more ‘desk time’ since you must analyze assessment results, design a program from scratch, and plan teaching techniques, this takes an hour or more. Back to back clients means that you are probably spending your evenings doing paperwork.

A personal trainer generally falls under one of two categories. An employee of a fitness center or studio, or an independent contractor who essentially owns their own business. Often times an independent contractor will have arrangements to work out of several facilities. The day of a personal trainer who works for a facility can look different than an independent contract trainer who travels to their clients. I’ll separate the two here.

What does your typical day look like?

Most trainers appreciate a full schedule, and back to back clients means prep work has to be done before the day starts or the night before.

Prep (5 minutes to 1 hour per client)

  • Review schedule for the day
  • Pull folders for all clients that day
  • Review last session notes, design program for today’s workout, check sessions remaining
  • Set up studio or assessment room

On the floor

  • Deliver one-on-one, partner, or small group workouts.


  • Schedule next session
  • Review billing if necessary
  • Update client chart. Depending on how much time between clients, this may be done at the end of the day.

Personal Trainer (Employee at a facility, or with a company)


  • Working with a team has many benefits including camaraderie, a vast knowledge base, creativity, and problem-solving.
  • A strong manager can provide organizational support, motivation, and educational support.
  • Depending on the size of the company, they will often provide support staff such as a reception for scheduling, billing, and customer service.
  • The company is responsible for accounting, including taxes and janitorial services.
  • The company generally provides marketing and advertising strategies to support your growth.
  • The company may provide continuing education such as guest speakers and workshops at no extra cost.
  • The company may provide supplies such as office supplies, folders.
  • Your clients are always taken care of by other team members if you are away.
  • Equipment maintenance is covered by the facility.
  • A salesperson or manager may work full time to help recruit clients for you.


  • Facilities may require shift work with a start and end time.
  • Non-training hours may include facility cleaning or administrative work.
  • May require mandatory staff meetings or training.
  • The per session rate is generally less than an independent contractor.

Personal Trainer (Independent contractor, may work at one or several locations)


  • When you are an independent contractor you are the boss. You decide what to charge your clients, you set your own schedule.
  • You make all decisions regarding the look of your brand and the operation of your business.
  • You keep all the revenue generated.


  • You are generally responsible for marketing, accounting, and scheduling. If you are a solo employee, these essential tasks end up getting done in the evenings and on weekends. This makes for long working hours, especially if you cater to the early and or late clients.
  • Taking business-related calls and promoting the business often tends to happen at the expense of on the floor sessions.
  • Taxes and accounting are your responsibility. Tracking business expenses and revenue is a skill set that may require additional training or outsourcing.
  • Selling sessions and packages and collecting money can be uncomfortable for many people.
  • Cancellations are inevitable and can mean lost revenue. When you are training clients you may not have the time to make the calls or send the messages to fill those empty time slots.
  • You are responsible for all business expenses, which can offset the increased revenue. Insurance, accounting, supplies, support staff, etc… are often covered by a facility when you are an employee but a contract personal trainer must pay them all.
  • You are responsible for your own health insurance and liability insurance.
  • If you are mobile, you may not always have convenient access to facilities for your clients. Change rooms, assessment rooms, shower facilities, reception, or a juice bar.
  • Travel time to and from clients at various locations costs time.
  • If you train clients outdoors you must supply and transport all equipment
  • It may take a while to build up a client base

Shari Zisk, B.A.
Radiance Wellness

Shari Zisk
Personal Trainer
Radiance Wellness

Fitness Trainers

instruct or coach groups or individuals in exercise activities for the primary purpose of personal fitness. Demonstrate techniques and form, observe participants, and explain to them corrective measures necessary to improve their skills. Develop and implement individualized approaches to exercise.

Salary: $45650
Salary Rank: C
Education: Post-secondary certificate
Becoming One: Medium
Job Satisfaction: High
Job Growth: High
Suitable Personality: The Helper