A college student busting the myth that a girl can’t balance school, work, and fitness
Any doubts I could have had about the intensity of the workout I was in for should have been smashed the moment I walked into Club Metro. From the bottom of a wide staircase that is at the entrance to the gym, I could see my trainer for the day standing at the top, all 4’11’’ of her, and her client, a young girl with weights in hand, face red, sweating from head to toe, panting out of breath. Both turned and smiled at me.
“She has one more set left,” said the dedicated personal trainer who was about to bring me death by lunges, little did I know.
The client turned to skip back down the stair case as I began to ascend it. As I was reaching the top where my trainer waited, the client was turning to charge back up the stairs, two steps at a time.
As the client was leaving, her session so fortunately at an end, she wished me luck because I would need it, “seriously,” she said.
Heather Forziati is a personal trainer at Club Metro in Old Bridge, New Jersey, as well as a full time college student. She’s been working since she was just 13, starting with babysitting when she first began to notice how hard her parents had to work to pay the bills.
“The reasoning behind my work ethic I would say comes straight from my mother.” Growing up the daughter of a single mom, Heather said she found it difficult to ask for things after seeing how hard her mother needed to work for the things she earned.
Heather worked at an Italian Ice parlor when she was 14, and then held subsequent jobs at daycare centers, one being the daycare center at the gym Club Metro. At times she was balancing up to three jobs at once.
Heather never thought about becoming a personal trainer until she was offered the position. “After being promoted to front desk, someone had witnessed me working out and liked my technique.”
Soon she was asked if she would be interested in getting certified to be a personal trainer.
“I jumped right on it and got certified.”
Now, about a year later, we’re heading over to the weight section, which is flooded with huge Herculean men of ages ranging from 20 to 50. My trainer and I almost look outlandish as the only females. She starts me with some variations of squat moves using weights, and it takes me a few minutes before the red in my face fades away from bending down and repeatedly sticking out my gluteus maximus for all to see. Heather is unfazed, and her confidence is inspiring.
It was leg day, as I would become painfully aware of, specifically in my thighs.
I was instructed to switch off from 25 reps of legs lifts to 15 lunges forward and 15 lunges back, repeating the process three times. At this point, sweat was pouring from my face down to my back and I realized that this workout was going to be no joke. After I completed my three sets, she announced that we were going to do more lunge work. I begged for something with abs until my legs could consolidate.
Having always been into athletics, Heather says that the exercise came easy to her when she got the job, but she never realized how much she enjoyed it until she began to train her clients.
“I always found it difficult to bring myself to the gym after a long day at work on my feet.” Being at the gym with her clients as they sweat through her grueling sessions actually motivated her more to work out in between or after appointments. She says she’s been able to find more time to balance all areas of her life since combining work with exercise.
At the moment she’s leading me to a bench for an abdominal exercise. I was instructed to pull a rope from overhead down across my body, while simultaneously lifting up both legs. By about my eighth rep, I could feel the stomach muscles ripping through my skin. I was only able to pause for a moment before Heather offered me some desperately needed words of encouragement.
“You only have three more left, that’s three seconds of your life, you can do it.” And with those words, with the strange yet wonderful power that simple optimism can have, I pulled through.
Personal training not only enriches areas of her life outside of fitness; she said it also allows her to fulfill one of her greatest joys.
“I’ve always enjoyed watching family and friends open presents because it brings happiness to them, and it’s kind of like that. I’m giving them a gift that they’ve always wanted, and when they open it they feel more confident and happy. It just brings a smile to my face.”
One of the biggest challenges about the job she says she has is clients who don’t show up. Clients who aren’t going to try to make a different for themselves, she says, are aggravating to her, not to mention being extremely inconsiderate of her time. “It’s my least favorite part.”
She says the best part of the job is hearing from her clients that they are reaching their goals. “It feels amazing when a client of mine tells me they are seeing results on their body that they want. Helping people make themselves happy is the greatest fulfillment.”
Exalted at being at the end of truly one of the hardest workouts I’ve experienced, Heather nonchalantly mentioned she was going to do some sprints after I left. She had done every rep of every set with me during our session, which had gone for about an hour and a half. I bid her farewell, and said a little prayer in my head for her sanity.
In a lot of ways, the way I left her reflected the type of work ethic she embodies. Always going above what is anticipated of the average person her age. Putting in the extra effort, giving herself the extra push, the extra job to save up for the car she bought herself at 17, the extra time to give a client a quality session before a journalist arrives for a joint workout/interview.
“I learned to stand on my own two feet a lot sooner than expected, but I don’t regret it for a second,” she said.