How I Became a Fitness Professional

I never expected to be a personal trainer and fitness instructor. In fact, twelve years in, I still find it ironic that this is my career. I believe the phrase “plot twist!” would have been appropriate to use when I made the unexpected and uncharacteristic career choice over a decade ago. Although it is true that many personal trainers spring from the womb loving exercise, I am not that particular brand of human. Growing up, I never played sports, and I certainly didn’t enjoy gym class. The one physical thing I did enjoy was my once a week dance class and doing musical theater. Unfortunately, in my twenties I didn’t do any of those things so I spent my first 30 years slightly overweight and under-exercised. Sure, I had a gym membership and even went several days a week, but I definitely wasn’t what I would call fit. I didn’t discover the joy of gym going (yes, there is such a thing) until coworkers encouraged me to try a climbing wall instead of my same old routine on the elliptical machine. At the time, as a cocky twenty-something, I thought the 40 year olds going with me were amazing for trying it. Now that I’m on the other side of 40 myself I laugh at my naivete. Of course they were amazing! But not because they were 40 years old and climbing a wall. It was because they were trying something new, and scary, and loving it.

From that admittedly terrifying experience I discovered that I had it in me to challenge myself physically and more importantly that I actually enjoyed exercise. Who knew? Since that moment, I’ve kept pushing myself to try new activities, everything from boot camp classes to belly dance to multiple sprint length triathlons and the Covered Bridges half marathon. Over the past couple of years I’ve even been learning to tap dance.

Along the way there was frustration, fear and many negative voices in my head, usually saying something along the lines of “what were you thinking”? I was never the best at any of the activities, and sometimes I came in dead last, but I did them. And I kept trying new things, and getting better at the old ones.

I started teaching the classes I had been taking and at some point I decided I wanted to be a personal trainer. I made the career transition in 2007 and I haven’t looked back since. Now I work one-on-one and in group settings with amazing people of all ages, fitness levels, and life situations. My personal goal is to give people the tools they need to be “fit for life” as one client describes it. And I practice what I preach. Nowadays I get to do the things I loved as a kid – I teach my own dance classes and continue to do musical theater, keeping up with the teenagers in their tap shoes. Here are five tips to help you get moving too:

Amy’s 5 Simple Tips for Getting Fit

  • Use the gym (or your home workouts) to train for what you want to do outside the gym – hike, play with your grandkids, bike across Europe, go up the stairs without being winded. Whatever your goals are, use them to give you the reasons why you want to exercise.


  • Find something you enjoy and do that consistently – A class, an activity, a sport. It could even be following a favorite instructor regardless of what they teach.


  • Try new things and vary your routine. You won’t know what you like to do if you’ve never tried it. And your body will be more fit if you use it in different ways. Everything you do will help you be better at the other things you do. Strength training will help you be better at yoga which will help you with your cardio activities, and so on.


  • Just because something scares you now, doesn’t mean you won’t eventually find it fun, or at least tolerable. The same goes for being good at something. If you were amazing at everything you tried the first time, life would be pretty boring. I like to tell my clients who are frustrated with an exercise that it’s called Training, not Doing. We do things so we can get better at them, not so we can show off the skills we already have.


  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This means both physically and psychologically. Despite being a trainer with over a decade of experience I still get nervous going to a new class or gym. It’s normal and it’s surmountable. As the Nike slogan says, “Just do it!”


Amy Fortier
NASM-Certified CPT
River Valley Club

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What our members say

 Jennifer Packard
Jennifer Packard

Whether you’re just starting out, trying to get back into a routine, or are feeling frustrated with your current regimen: Your fitness journey is your own. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.

 Terry Hall
Terry Hall

‘Can’t’ is no longer in my vocabulary, and I have a sense of pride in my ability to work toward a goal and not only achieve it, but often exceed it.