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What’s It Like To Be A Yacht Personal Trainer? An Exclusive Interview With An Onboard PT

Once thought the territory of celebrities and supermodels, personal trainers are now used by anyone and everyone who wants to keep fit. However, there are still a select few who serve the ultra-rich. With superyacht gyms on the up, working out while you cruise between glamorous destinations is the hottest new way for the elite to keep fit. From vessels like MIZU yacht, which has its own on-deck basketball court, to more traditional fitness studios like that of JEMS yacht, there’s a whole range of workout spaces on offer. And where there’s a gym, there’s call for a personal trainer. But what’s life like for those trainers who actually work on these luxury yachts? We speak to Jamie, yacht personal trainer on M/Y GLADIATOR, to find out.

How did you become a yacht personal trainer?

personal trainer in yacht

My background is in personal training, and I had my own personal training company back in the UK. But when my friend told me about superyacht gyms, I thought about how amazing it would be to train people in so many incredible locations, so I tried to put the two things together. Luckily it worked out that the first boat I joined had just renovated their tender garage into a gym and so were looking for a yacht personal trainer/deckhand! Everything just slotted together.

What’s your favourite part about working on a yacht?

The crew is one thing that makes it – the crew is awesome. Everyone always says that crew dynamics are important to get right, and I think the balance of all the crew members onboard GLADIATOR yacht at the moment is perfect – everyone compliments each other very well.

What I love specifically about being a yacht personal trainer though is how much the guests appreciate what you are doing for them, outside of your general deckhand work. I always appreciate how thankful our guests are if you just go out of your way a little bit for them, for example putting them together an awesome program for them to follow while they’re on their charter.

How is training on a yacht different to training on land?

As you can imagine, there’s so many limitations to training people on a yacht. The space is just completely different to that of a normal gym, and you are typically limited to what space you have available to you. Some exercises also need to be adapted because of the movement of the boat, so for example balancing exercises can be trickier. But adapting them is a fun challenge in itself.

Do you find that the climate of the charter destination affects the type of exercises you can do?

The sun is a massive factor in planning onboard workouts! The gym that we have onboard GLADIATOR is next to our swim platform and so sometimes I take the equipment out of the gym onto the swim platform, so that guests can train completely out in the open. It’s really nice sometimes, but at certain times of the day the sun will just be beating down on you – and I’ll just be standing there, so if it’s hot for me it’s even hotter for my clients working out!

I definitely have to be careful of how much I expose them to the sun, and in hotter conditions I try to give them a little more rest between sets and make sure they stay hydrated. If I see they’re struggling or fatiguing a little bit quicker, I’ll cut the session shorter.

What would be a typical day for you when you have a charter party onboard?

It really depends what time the guests want to train. On my last charter trip I was training three out of the five guests, so my workouts were staggered throughout the day. One wanted to train at 8am, one wanted to train at midday and one wanted the late afternoon slot, so I’d usually be on deck by 7am and then at about 7:45am, I’d go down and prep for the first session, training the client for an hour. Then I’d get some breakfast for myself! After that I’d go back on the deck and do some more deck duties before preparing for the next two sessions, so it’s quite a nice balance between training and deckhand responsibilities. I find that as a yacht personal trainer it’s easy to mix your routine, which helps to keep things fresh.

Do you tend to do workouts off the yacht, incorporating the charter destination environments, or is it all pretty much all yacht-based?

yacht trainer

So far it’s all been on the yacht, but I’d love to plan some sessions based around the spots that we visit on our charters. In Antigua where GLADIATOR has just been cruising, there are loads of cool hike trails around and so much beautiful scenery. I’d love to be able to take a client out and about, planning a bespoke workout based on the natural environment and their fitness needs. You get the best of both worlds then; you get to see some awesome things as well as getting your workout done at the same time.

Are there any really popular exercises that people will come onboard requesting?

I would say it’s not that specific. I think the general consensus of females wanting to work glutes and stomach and guys wanting to work chest and arms still rings true – it’s no different on the yacht.

My background is in strength conditioning, so I would love to have a client that came aboard training for a serious sporting event, who I could write a really bespoke program for – that would be awesome. That’s another good thing about being a yacht personal trainer – you never know who might come aboard next!

What’s the most intensive workout regime that you have embarked upon with a client?

The most intensive regime I’ve done was a metabolic circuit. That’s a really high intensity circuit, using a mixture of weights and cardiovascular activity. The purpose is to increase your intensity so high that it hits your metabolic rate, allowing you to burn more calories for longer after your session.

I recently did this metabolic circuit training with a client and although he found it pretty tough, overall he said he enjoyed it and was starving hungry the rest of the day and the day after. His metabolism increased and he was burning a lot more calories than his body was used to, so that was a great result.

Charters can be an indulgent time. Do you have any kind of quick, effective exercises you’d recommend to people who don’t want to spend too much time working out on the charter but want to keep fit?

I’d probably put together a little body weight circuit or something like that, literally just 10 minutes every morning just to start their day off right. I would recommend an AMRAP workout, which stands for “as many rounds as possible”. You give them X amount of exercises, put 10 minutes on the clock and then they just keep going with the exercise as many times as they can. When the 10 minutes are up, they’re all done and can go back to relaxing onboard.

Other than that, it’s just getting the balance right, looking at what you’re eating and looking at what you’re burning. You want to try and create an equal calorific total intake, so that you maintain a neutral weight.

As a yacht personal trainer, do you advise people about diet as well as exercise?

I just do the exercise. I’d like to be able to look at the diet as well, but at the end of the day most charters last about a week. Because of that time limit, I like to make the exercises as fun as I can. It’s hard to see any massive benefit in a week, so my workouts are just about feeling good more than anything. I try to give them exercises they enjoy – they’re onboard to enjoy themselves at the end of the day, so there’s no point being too strict on them.

Do you also do sports massage on the yacht?

Yes, I’m a qualified sports masseuse, so after I’ve hammered them in the gym then I can recover them! We have a mobile massage bed onboard GLADIATOR, so I set that up and just go from there.

What kind of massage I do is reflected by the workout we have just done – the point of the massage is to promote recovery. If they are feeling tight in any particular muscle or if they have a back problem or anything like that, I try to pinpoint which muscles are tight and then work with the knots.

Do you think that you will stay a yacht personal trainer for the foreseeable future?

Yacht Personal Trainer

Yeah, definitely. It’s a really nice lifestyle. You get to see cool places and it’s nice to see how thankful the customers are after you spent the week with them, getting to know them a little better and putting together some programs for them. I love it!

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