5 People Who Became Trainers After 50

5 People Who Became Personal Trainers After 50

It’s pretty impressive when, after years in a specific industry, someone decides to do an about-face and follow a crazy dream or a long-buried passion. It’s even more impressive when that career switcheroo requires totally overhauling one’s nutrition and exercise habits.

The inspirational role models below came to careers in fitness via many different pathways but share one thing in common: They all became personal trainers after 50. Here are their stories.

Wes Williams
Certified personal trainer

Certified at: 52wes williams
Current age: 53
“I was an athlete in high school and college, but I didn’t really understand the importance of healthy eating. As I got older, I ate the same and became a little more sedentary. I still worked out, but I gained weight over the years, getting up to about 250 pounds. Then, in June 2015 at age 51, I signed up for an employee fitness challenge at work, where I’m the CFO. I lost 31 pounds in nine months and felt better than I did in my 20s.

The challenge at work inspired me to learn even more about exercise and healthy eating, so I decided to get certified as a personal trainer after 50 through the National Academy of Sports Medicine in November 2016. Suddenly coworkers and family members were asking me to help craft workout routines for them. I’m currently training about half a dozen people, including our CEO and one other employee at our office. (I’m substantially older than both of them!)

I love helping other people and really try to be accessible.

People think, ‘If Wes can do it, I can do it.’ Our CEO has lost 30 pounds since he started working with me in January and our supply chain manager has gained five inches of muscle on his biceps. (Use these moves to tone your arms without doing a single bicep curl.)

Meanwhile, I’ve remained focused on my own health. I typically do four days of resistance training and two days of cardio. I’ll use a stationary bike or elliptical, or go hiking around my home in Southern Utah. I also cut out pretty much all processed, fast, and fried food and eat more fruit, vegetables, and lean, organic protein.

Many people make excuses based on their age, and if they do exercise they tend to skip strength-training—but it’s really important for keeping muscles and bones strong as you get older. Don’t let age limit you. People do amazing things in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond.”

heather gorning

Heather Gorning

Certified Spin, PiYo, and Barre instructor

Certified at: 51

Current age: 53

“I had been very active growing up, riding horses and bikes, but as the years went on and I went through a stressful divorce the pounds piled on. By my mid-40s I was 200 pounds and became depressed. I knew something had to change, so I decided to join a gym. I watched people lifting weights and thought, ‘I have no idea how to do that!’—but I wanted to learn. I hired a personal trainer and fell in love with lifting. The pounds melted away, I slept better at night, and I started making friends at the gym. It brought back my self-confidence. (If you’re over 40 and want to lose weight, you need to do these 6 things.)

Soon after, I tried a Spin class and started riding my bike outside again.

I remember thinking, ‘I absolutely love this! I should share my passion with everyone!’ So I signed up for Spin certification and shortly after PiYo certification at my local YMCA. Just this month, I obtained my Barre certification.

(You can sculpt your arms and tighten your tummy with the energizing—and fun—routines from Prevention‘s Flat Belly Barre!)

I love teaching fitness and seeing the excitement on participants’ faces, especially if it’s their first time in my class. Sometimes newcomers are worried that they won’t be able to keep up, but I tell them we’ll do it together. It’s motivating for beginners to see someone their age—or older—leading the group.

I still work full-time as a hospital referral coordinator, but being a fitness instructor just does something for my soul. I don’t think I’m old, but I’m older than a lot of people you’ll see at the gym. People think I’m kidding when they find out my age. I say, ‘That’s what fitness does!'”

Arnie Katz

Certified at: 67

Current age: 70

“I used to sit down and eat a box of donuts and drink a milkshake without a second thought. But after my first wife passed away in 2001, I started exercising to get through the grieving process—and then began changing my diet as well. (This is how your brain reacts to losing a loved one.) I got quite fit and started getting tons of compliments, and it became a cycle: The more in shape I got, the more compliments I got, the more I wanted to get fitter! I’m now 153 pounds at 5 feet 9 inches and have a 30-inch waist.

In 2010, I relocated for work from New York City to Nashville, and my wife stayed in Manhattan. When I was alone in Nashville I had lots of time to work out. I had developed a real passion for fitness and decided I wanted to pass it on, so I pursued personal training certification in 2014 through the American Council on Exercise. It added a whole new dimension to my life.

I’m back in New York City now, working with a handful of clients ages 35 to 65. Rather than aim for weight loss, we focus on functional capabilities to travel, to play with kids and grandkids, to be able to lift a suitcase up into the overhead compartment on a plane.

Weight training, especially in the first six months, can produce some very real change.

Pants fit better—I love to see that. But it’s less important how we—older trainers or trainees—are perceived than how we feel within ourselves. Are we healthy? Energetic? Less stressed? I bring empathy to the issues folks have at this age. I can’t be a ‘no pain, no gain’ type of trainer.

I’m still employed with a hospital management company, but when I retire from that field I’ll go into personal training full time. I’m not in it for the money; simply the enjoyment.”