Subject: Annette Lang, MS

Annette Lang Education Systems

The Spark. When Annette Lang first entered into the fitness industry, personal training as a career was still very much under the radar. A fitness enthusiast, she was quick to notice that she seemed to sail through life with greater ease than many who crossed her path; from this she drew parallels between physical activity and a positive mindset. “I always knew I wanted to work in this profession, but I had no idea what the profession was!” she exclaims. “I knew a few things: there were many people who seemed unhappy with their jobs, their families and their place in life. I also knew that my being active seemed to help me maintain a positive attitude toward myself, my family and friends and my life in general.”

Lang then realized that she could use her interpersonal skills and love of fitness to help others. She first took a job working the floor at a health club in Gaines­ville, Florida, and was then asked to work in sales, which she wasn’t initially enthusiastic about. “I realized that the best thing about selling memberships was the rapport I had with potential members.” After 9 years of working as a “fitness counselor,” she decided to pursue a master’s degree in health education. “It was at this time that I remembered hearing about people who were making money under the table by working out at a health club and also helping other members, without being part of the staff.” Inspired, Lang first went to work as a personal fitness trainer (PFT) at Equinox Fitness Clubs in New York City and then eventually took to the streets as a mobile trainer.

Overcoming Roadblocks. Currently, Lang works about 15–20 hours per week as a PFT and spends the remainder of her time helping colleagues enhance their skills and knowledge base. “In 2007, I taught more than 70 workshops,” she says. “I am therefore not in town every single week, and sometimes I travel during the week.” Such extensive travel might interfere with her clients’ successes, but with careful planning she has managed to avoid any major hiccups in the programs.

Living in the city, however, can pose a few issues, such as the logistics of making it from client to client on a timely basis and making enough money to sustain a quality lifestyle. “I didn’t get into this business because I wanted to make a lot of money, but I sure want to make a great living doing this,” she says. “I can usually make more money in 1 day teaching a workshop than I can personal training. The problem is that I can’t teach workshops every week because there aren’t enough clubs that want them consistently.” In addition to the financial challenges of life in NYC, Lang concedes that one of the greatest difficulties lies in navigating the city, as she heads from client to client. “I ride my bike most of the time and that is by far the most efficient way to go, albeit a bit dangerous! If I need to depend on the subway or taxis, then it gets stressful sometimes.”

Realizing Respect. One of the many things Lang is known for, aside from her educational background and intellect, is her way of teaching and interacting with clients and colleagues—a skill set she has refined over 25 years in the business. “My clients appreciate that I am ‘real’; not a fitness zealot. They know I would never expect them to be perfect, and they see me as someone who is down-to-earth and a regular person who doesn’t come with attitude.” Lang believes that clients bring their own level of motivation, and that PFTs sometimes don’t take the individual’s perspectives into mind—instead forcing their beliefs and high expectations upon the client. “I respectfully ask all of us as fitness professionals to be better at appreciating another human being’s perspective, and to see how we can help them, even if it is not our ideal situation,” she urges. “Let’s help everyone move at their pace and with our encouragement and expertise.”

Ryan Halvorson is the associate editor for IDEA and a certified personal trainer at Excel Sport and Therapy in La Jolla, California.