We asked the plex trainers some questions so you don’t have to

Ever wondered how scary they really are?

“They scare me, I didn’t even know they were there until someone pointed them out. I would never ask them for help,” remarked a fellow student about a plex trainer.

She continued: “I’ve never worked with one of the trainers…I feel like I’m intimidated to work with them. If they told me to do something, I feel like I wouldn’t be able to do it. What if I see someone I know?”

Most of us know this feeling; your crush could be bench-pressing next to you, secretly judging the way you squat or, like me, your perspectives teacher could be curling some gnarly weight across the room.

Do trainers scare us because they have been falsely coupled with intimidating fitness devotees or are we just totally oblivious to how much they can actually help our health goals?


The glorious Flynn Recreational Complex a.k.a. liftopia

Here’s how these plex trainers answered the questions you probably had as well:

Dan S. (XFit Instructor T/TH 4:30 pm), Ali W. (Spin 45 FRI 12pm), Natalie (BC-X & Barbells TH 5:45 pm/TBC FRI 12pm), Taylor Z. (Plex Trainer), Taylor V. (instructor-in-training)

What’s your favorite exercise?

Dan: That’s always a hard question – it depends on the day and what my current fitness goals are. That being said, the squat is probably the best exercise there is.

Taylor: Zottman Curl

(Side note: I don’t know how to do this. Find out here!)

Ali: [When I go to the plex], I take a lot of BCX and Barbells.

Natalie: Planks. I’ll do 4 or 5 minutes moving from high to low.  – Natalie

Taylor: Spinning!

I have an overwhelming number of questions of how you are certified. What kind of credentials are necessary for a plex trainer?

Dan: First you have to interview with the AD of Health and Wellness (Hilary). Once you get selected from the interview process, you take a semester-long course at the Plex that teaches you everything you need to know. After taking the course you have to pass two exams – one is a practical and a written final given by the Plex and the other is the ACE test, which is our national certification body.

Taylor: In order to be a Plex Trainer, one must take the BC Plex Personal Trainer Prep Course and successfully obtain the ACE Personal Training Certification.

Ali: I am spin certified, and then ACE certified, and CPR certified, and then I had to go though the group fitness instructional class at the Plex last year

Natalie: The certification is a semester and then I studied all summer and took the exam in August but you don’t have to really study.

Taylor: Once a week, I take a class from 3-5 to learn the ACE certification. And then, I shadow a spin instructor once a week. My shadow is Consuelo, and she’s easing me into it. For example, this Sunday, I’m teaching the last three songs and cool-down. I have to come up with a playlist on my own. At the end of the year, I’ll have to take a spin-certification with Mad Dog or Schwinn. To get certified is pretty expensive. It ends up being over $1200!


Upstairs. Netflix and Treadmill anyone?


How did you decide to become a Plex trainer?

Dan: I played sports in high school and during my freshmen year at BC. I always loved being involved with athletics and fitness so I wanted a way to continue that throughout my 4 years.

Taylor: I transformed my life through fitness and wanted to help others do the same.

Ali: I was spin-certified in High School. Literally the first week of Freshman Year I started teaching.

Natalie: I just went to all the classes first semester Freshman year and really liked them.


How long did it take to become certified?

Dan: The interview, prep course, and BC exam are all done during the fall semester. The ACE test is taken on your own, so you schedule that whenever you want. I’d say it took about 5 months in total.- Dan S.

Taylor: A little over 6 months, which included taking the BC Plex Personal Trainer Prep Course and logistically finding time to take the exam.

What kind of questions do they ask you? Is it more of a fitness test or based more on fitness knowledge?

Dan: They don’t actually test us to see how fit we are if that’s what you’re asking. We do have to do a couple “practicals,” meaning that we write up workouts and mock train a Plex employee. Were tested on things from how to program workouts, specific muscles, how to recognize muscular imbalances, and how to keep out clients motivated (that’s always a fun part!)

Ali: To become a spin instructor, you have to shadow once a week; you shadow the format that you want to teach and then, every Friday, you go to a class for 2 hours and learn and go over the entire ACE textbook and prepare for the exam. The ACE textbook has a lot of Anatomy and Physiology

What’s one myth that needs to be debunked about plex trainers across campus?

Dan: That we’re all fitness nuts, all the time. I thoroughly enjoy a slice of Roggies pizza at 2 am just as much as the next person.

Taylor: People think we are just muscle-heads – we are not. Training is not just lifting things up and putting them down; but rather, training is a physical, mental, and spiritual process that allows you to become a better version of yourself by increasing your muscular abilities and aerobic capacity, while improving your discipline, confidence and character. As personal trainers at the Plex, we strive to be better versions of ourselves and empower those around us to do the same.

Ali: That we work out multiple times a day!

Craziest thing you’ve overheard at the gym?

Dan: People quizzing each other on something for a test. You’re in the gym to work out! If you aren’t focusing on that you might as well go to the library – trying to multitask in the gym leads to inefficient work outs and wasted time. (I feel strongly about this if you couldn’t tell!)

What is the weirdest experience you’ve had as a trainer at the plex?

Dan: A kid walked in and loaded up the bench press with a bunch of weight..but only on one side of the bar. He left the other side totally empty. Then he started repping it like it was totally normal. I definitely scratched my head at that one.

Ali: When I was teaching spin, I had a girl get off her bike and was sick and had to sit down but I’ve never had to actually do CPR. Sometimes the mic doesn’t work and I end up spinning at the front screaming at people.

Natalie: Oh yeah. I was doing planks and my Orgo professor was like “Hey, Natalie!” and I was like, “Hello…”


In the wise words of Fergie, “I be up in the gym, just working on my fitness”

Do you ever work out anywhere else besides the plex?

Dan: I haven’t trained anywhere else yet, but in addition to Personal Training, I also teach a Group Fitness class on Court 10. (Come check out Xfit – we teach T/Th at 4:30!)-

Taylor: I’ve gone to a couple Hot Yoga classes outside of the Plex.- Taylor Z.

Ali: I love SoulCycle. A lot of the things that SoulCycle instructors do are illegal at the Plex like Tap-Backs, sprints in 3 are illegal, the quick jumps that they do are illegal, arms. I’ll also do CorePower.

Natalie: I go to CorePower here.

Let’s talk about a hypothetical situation: you only have fifteen minutes to work out. What is your go-to move?

Dan: Grab a jump rope or hop on the Erg (rowing machine). 3 sets of 5 minutes at 90% of max effort.

Taylor: A full body circuit on the TRX comprised of TRX Squats, Push-Ups, Rows, Shoulder Presses, Butterfly Lunges, Tricep Extensions and Bicep Curls.

Ali: Planks.

Do you feel any pressure to live a certain lifestyle and stay super healthy?

Taylor: For me, pressure isn’t the right word. It is more of a visceral feeling. If I am not training and being healthy, I just don’t feel right.

Natalie: I mean, I try but I’m not really public about it. I mean obviously I would like to be someone [my students] would look up to for health when they come to my class but, like, I’m not really a great example all the time.

Dan: Absolutely. I think that’s part of a bigger problem with body image at BC. There is a lot of pressure to succeed at everything, from academics to extracurriculars to fitness and to drinking, because there are so many talented and successful people at this school. Sometimes that pressure can drive people to form unhealthy exercise and eating habits. I will say, that becoming a trainer taught me a lot… about the idea of fitness, not [being the] fittest.  

Boston College