Top Trainer’s Daily Routines Revealed

When you interact with truly great, healthy trainers, they seem to always look and feel amazing. We assume they somehow live in a different world that doesn’t have the same time constraints, or they have some superhuman willpower, but that is simply our self-justification. Some of them have full time jobs on top of the training they do, and others are working long hours as trainers, but all have similar constraints to us all.

The truth is that this special breed of trainer has continually experimented with all aspects of their diet, exercise and lifestyle to figure out what works best. They are the scientists of healthy lifestyles.

I surveyed the healthiest and best personal trainers I know, the ones that glow, to reveal what they have discovered in their studies. Here are the common threads between them, and further down are all of their individual daily details with all kinds of helpful tactics that can inspire us all to upgrade our lifestyles. I know it has inspired me.


1. Mindful of Sleep Quality with Preparation

This might not be the first thing you think of when you think of a trainer’s body and diet but it is of major importance to all the top trainers because they are shooting for peak health and performance. Performance not just in workouts, but in their careers and life, and that takes sleep. How much varies but all surveyed shoot for 7-8 hrs/ night and take special steps to ensure that it is top quality sleep.

Common tactics included:

  • Blocking out light
  • No electronics before bed
  • Reading
  • Warm showers/baths
  • Prepping for the next day


2. Ease Into the Day w/ High Protein, Fat & Fiber Breakfasts

One of the most interesting findings was that everyone was conscious about having both a morning routine to wake and ease themselves into the day and an opposite evening routine to slow down and clear their day away to improve sleep quality.

  • Mornings included: coffee/tea, cold showers, meditation, time before work

Be sure to scan the trainer breakfast choices and concoctions, as they have created entire new versions of the old standby breakfasts that the big food companies convinced us we were supposed to eat.  No orange juice, no mainstream cereal but you will find yogurts and eggs. They all work to get protein, fat and fiber into their breakfast to stay full and energized longer and avoid those sugary carbs many still eat for breakfast.


3. No Processed Foods

Universally these personal trainers prepare 90% of their food themselves and only go out to restaurants twice on weekends with friends and family. Americans now average over 4 times per week, which is directly correlated with increases in weight. They embrace the art of efficient food prep and/or cooking as a healthy hobby with Tupperware in the daily mix. You are way more likely to catch them at the grocery store than take out saving money, calories and the environment.


4. Take Supplements Customized to Goals

Every top personal trainer I surveyed takes supplements but they aren’t the kind you might expect. You won’t find any of their supplements in a Muscle & Fitness magazine next to pictures of over muscled, unhealthy bodies and none of them contain chemicals like taurine, “nox”, etc. Those over-hyped supplements promise to improve workouts and muscle growth. But at what cost? These supplements are for long-term health like vitamins and short-term performance like inflammation, recovery, sleep, joint health.


5. Tough, Balanced Workouts with Planned Recovery

As you might expect Top Personal Trainers like to push it and get pushed in their workouts and nobody was less than 4 workouts/week. You will see some variety in what people are choosing to do these days including: Spin, Crossfit, Unite, MMA, Yoga, but universally they all structure it as a mix of cardio, strength and stretch/mobility work. If you are focusing all your energy on one aspect of fitness to train your body, you aren’t in line with the best practices, which is clearly cross-training.


6. Salad-A-Day

The age of the sandwich has reached dusk if you go by the leaders in healthy dieting.  Sandwiches are OUT and salads and leftovers with greens as a base is IN. By choosing to eat a salad a day these trainers ensure they get their fill and variety of vegetables and avoid processed carbs like breads that are known to mess with blood sugar, make you sleepy and induce fat retention. These salads are balanced and chock full of proteins, fats, etc. to make them filling as well as super nutritious.


7. Eat Natural, Healthy Snacks & Fluids in Between Meals

All top trainers packed their snack and were very specific about what they snack on. Check out their logs to find out exact products but scoring high are:

  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Protein bars


Christina Carran

Nutritionist & Group Training, Unite Fitness – Mt. Laurel, NJ

  • Upon Waking
    • I have 8-12oz decaf herbal tea
    • A multi vitamin with DHA and a Calcium pill with D3
    • 1st hour
      • I’ll have 8-12oz decaf coffee with half & half and a high protein and fiber breakfast:
        • Cottage cheese with flax, berries, granola
        • Egg with sauteed greens/onions, avocado, toast
        • Snacks
          • I’ll eat at least 4-5 x/day, sometimes more depending on schedules/workouts; some snacks include:
            • nuts/nut butters
            • yogurt/kefir
            • eggs with raw veggies
            • fresh fruit
            • legume-based chips
            • Lunch
              • At least one meal a day is a salad usually lunch with: Mixed greens, leftover chicken/steak/fish/shrimp, pepper, tomato, low glucose index fruit, avocado, roasted chickpeas, olive oil/vinegar
              • I try to drink at least another 5-6 cups of fluid throughout the day: decaf tea, decaf coffee, water or coconut water
              • Dinners
                • Vary on our family schedule/season, but we typically aim for 2 vegetarian meals, 2 animal protein meals and leave 3 open
                  • Eggplant cannelloni
                  • Veggie chili
                  • Tofu/tempeh stir-fry
                  • Roasted salmon and broccoli
                  • Roasted chicken and Brussels, etc
                  • Dessert
                    • When I’m in a good routine and sleeping well, I generally don’t eat after dinner, but may have tea.
                    • Fitness
                      • I have discovered my body responds best with at least 1-2 days rest/week
                      • 45-60min workouts, 4days/week
                      • 3 days strength training for 30min (e.g.; back/bis, chest/tris, legs/shoulders) and 15min cardio
                      • 1-2 day all cardio intervals, abs
                      • Outdoors/Pets – walk dog and I try to spend at least 1-2 days doing some type of outdoor activity like hiking
                      • I am definitely a morning person, so when I can go to bed early, get my workouts in early & start my day moving, I’m much happier
                      • Sleep/Well Being
                        • I usually sleep deeply, but I get a better/full sleep (8hr best for me), if I take time to wind down away from the tv like stretch, shower, etc.
                        • Devoting quality time to my husband, dog, family or friends (even a phone call) each day also helps me feel at peace and balanced.
Mackie Root

Sales Assoc & Personal Trainer, Unite Fitness – Philly East

  • Sleep/Waking
    • Ideally min 6.5 hours, max 7.5 hours
    • I wear a sleep mask to maximize darkness, since our apartment has lots of street lights outside. I get much deeper sleep with it on.
    • I also take an HRV reading (Heart Rate Variability) first thing upon waking up, to help make sure I’m recovered enough to go really hard for that day’s workout, or if I should take an active recovery day.
    • In the summer I like to take a cold shower, but going outside in winter is enough of a cold blast for me.
    • Breakfast:
      • Coffee with 1 tbsn grass fed butter and 1 tbsn coconut oil
      • Vegan protein bowl with Ezekial cereal, and berries. Sometimes I add in some Pequea Valley Plain Yogurt (local, grass-fed)
      • Lunch:
        • Varies, leftover from previous dinner.
        • Dinner:
          • Organic salad with a protein plus a starchy vegetable
          • Snacks:
            • Brazil Nuts
            • Ezekial Bread w/ almond butter
            • Tanka Bar (buffalo & cranberries mostly)
            • Epic Bar (Beef/habanero/cherry)
            • Workouts:
              • I use the Wahoo Tickr X to track Heart Rate and workout length/intensity.
              • Unite 4x per week (combo run/spin/row, strength, yoga)
              • 1 additional non-lifting class usually Yoga or spin class @ Body Cycle
              • Recovery/Mobility:
                • I created a mobility center at home. My goal is 10 minutes, 3-4 days per week  I use the foam roller, lax ball, or voodoo floss bands on my muscles
                • Close to bed time: 20 minutes per day in an epsom salt soak, with some Palo Santo burning to help get into a calm mental state
                • Sleep Prep
                  • Burn some Nag champa and some light reading on a non-illuminated screen (kindle) or actual book.
                  • No phone screens or tv in the hour before bed. I have a free app called F.lux on the computer to eliminate the blue light emitted from the screen at night.  I notice a big difference in being able to get to sleep quickly by eliminating screens at night.


Shoshana Katz 

Manager & Personal Trainer, Body Cycle Spin Studio – Phila

  • 5/5:30 Wake up
    • I have already laid out my clothes the night before and if I have a non stop day, have my meals pre packed so all I have to do is put them in my bag.
    • big glass of water
    • 5:30/6 Breakfast
      • Protein pudding (1 scoop Plantfusion protein powder, 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 tbsp organic peanut butter and fresh berries)
      • Cinnamon Raisin Ezikiel Toast with a banana and 1 tbsp peanut butter.
      • I eat while watching the news and check the weather
      • 6 or 6:30 – Work
        • I always make sure to schedule myself two 1 hour breaks in the day or one longer break, as well as time for my own work out. It is really important to schedule that time, especially when you are busy teaching classes and training clients.
        • Snacks
          • I try to eat every 3-4 hours.
          • Apple
          • Nuts
          • Greek yogurt
          • Quest bar.
          • Workout
            • Spin 4x/wk (mostly as instructor)
            • Unite Workout 3x/wk (combo run, strength, yoga)
            • Lunch
              • Packed lunch.
              • I always keep Green and Black 85% Dark Chocolate on me. I only need 1-3 little blocks and I am set.
              • I also carry around a 1.5 liter water bottle that I fill 2-3 times during the day.
              • 8/8:30 Dinner
                • I am super lucky to have a boyfriend who has started cooking. We usually keep it really simple for dinner: a protein and a veggie.
                  • Boneless pork chops and steamed broccoli.
                  • We always make enough to have left overs because that is what I will take for lunch the next day.
                  • 9:15/9:30 Sleep Prep
                    • Shower and starting to wind down. I give myself a mini facial every night for 5 minutes. I use my Clarsonic, use my P50 lotion, and nice creams. This helps to calm me, relax me, and put my mind in bedtime mode.
                    • I look at my schedule for the next day and start planning my snacks, clothing, and packing my lunch.
                    • I try to be in bed around 10:30, and some nights I get in even earlier. I get 7 hours of sleep, but I know my body prefers 8. This is something I am working on for my personal health and well being.
                    • I always have a glass of water before getting into bed. It helps me digest and prevent acid reflux!


Rich Zaremba

Computer Programmer & Group Training Coach, Unite Fitness – Philly East

  • 715am – Wake
  • 745am – Breakfast
    • 6 hard boiled eggs and 5oz of whole foods guacamole
    • Vitamins – pure pharma ‘3’ package (2000mg omega 3, 300mg magnesium,15mg zinc, 11mg B6, 2500 IU D3 )
    • 2 capsules Onnit ‘alpha brain’ (natural balanced nootropic)
    • 20oz coffee black
    • 1030/11am Snack
      • Quest protein bar
      • 1pm Lunch
        • 3 cups kale, 100grams broccoli, 12 grilled shrimp or 8oz chicken, 1-2 tablespoon olive oil
        • Only beverages throughout day are water and coffee. Target water is 8-16oz an hour while awake.
        • Rhodiola rosea supplement – if stress levels become increased during the day. Never take after 3pm.
        • 4pm Snack
          • 1.5 oz raw cashews
          • 2 scoops protein powder (progenex)
          • and 12oz coffee black
          • 7:30-9pm Workout
            • Stretch/mobility work pre-workout
            • Crossfit gym Mon-Thur & Sat
            • Recovery Friday & Sunday
            • Sore muscles are treated with Arnicare gel
            • 930pm Dinner
              • 16oz of meat (turkey, chicken, steak)
              • 5oz guacamole
              • 200-400 grams of raw peppers or raw cauliflower
              • 10:45pm Sleep Prep
                • Warm shower
                • Last use of electronic devices
                • Target 7-8 hours of sleep
                • If I had a poor sleep the night before I take Onnit ‘new mood’ (5 HTP / tryptophan blend) 30min prior to bed
                • General Diet
                  • Target food breakdown – carbs 120-140g / fat 130-150g / protein 200g – (2700-3000 calories)
                  • I eat mostly the same foods Monday through Sunday with exceptions of Friday/Saturday night. Meals are always my personal version of low carb, Paleo, or primal type diet with some Tim Ferriss influence.
                  • Alcohol of choice is wine and only Friday through Saturday. I am in week 2 of a 5 week cycle where alcohol is consumed only one day a week.
                  • Bitter melon extract – I take prior to cheat meals to keep blood sugar regulated


Juliet Burgh

Manager, Nutritionist, & Personal Trainer, Unite Fitness – Phila

  • Wake 6:30 /7am 
    • Drink 32 oz water to cleanse my system.
    • 7:30am: Breakfast
      • Green smoothie (1 scoop vegan protein powder, almond milk, broccoli and kale) eaten in a bowl with 1/4 cup Ezekiel cereal , 1 tbsp almond butter and berries on top.
      • 7:30-8:30am: Pre-work
        • Relax on my couch and wrap my head around my day.
        • Cuddle with my cat and maybe watch a fun 30 min episode of tv.
        • 9am-12pm: Work 
        • 11am– Morning Snack
          • Hummus and carrots
          • Quest protein bar
          • 12-1:30: Workout
            • I take a unite workout (combo run/spin/row, strength, yoga) at the Phila fitness studio usually and then lift a little extra for 30 min or mobility work after.
            • Spin 1-2 x/wk @ Body Cycle
            • 1:30: Lunch
              • Usually a salad with chicken and a small sweet potato.
              • Or in Winter turkey chili.
              • 1:30-4:00pm: Work
              • 4pm: Snack time
                • I have to eat this even if I’m not hungry in the moment, otherwise I will be too hungry at dinner and will over eat. My snacks
                  • Small piece of chicken
                  • Strawberries with nuts
                  • Greek yogurt with chocolate stevia chips and almond butter
                  • 4-7pm: Work
                  • 7-8pm: Dinner time
                    • Salmon with cauliflower mash and salad
                    • Ground gassed beef over greens with black beans, salsa and avocado.
                    • Spaghetti squash with turkey meat sauce and veggies
                    • 8-9pm: Dessert:
                      • I love satisfying my sweet tooth the healthy way and ending my night with desert makes me never snack on anything extra. My go tos are:
                        • Organic Greek yogurt with dark choc stevia chips , almond butter and berries,
                        • 2 squared of 85% dark chocolate
                        • Chocolate protein pudding
                        • 7-10pm: Relaxing
                          • I also watch 1 or 2 shows on tv.
                          • I take a Epsom salt bath almost every night and light candles and incense which helps to turn down my brain, especially after working with people or being on the computer all day.
                          • 9-10pm: Vitamin time
                            • I take fish oil, probiotics , glucosamine chondroitin
                            • Sometimes I drink a medicinal juice (lemon, turmeric root, cayenne, ginger, kale, cucumber)
                            • 10-11pm: Sleep Prep
                              • I will read for 20-30 min. Reading makes me fall asleep really fast.
                              • I also use a white noise app on my phone and make sure to sleep in a colder temp so I go to sleep faster and deeper.


Sandy Sweeney

Mother of 3 and Group Training Coach, Unite Fitness – Mt. Laurel, NJ

  • 5:30am Wake
    • Cup coffee during my daily bible reading and devotions.
    • Help kids get breakfast, lunches prepared and ready for school.
    • Read emails, pay bills, organize my day
    • 7:30-8:45 Workout 
      • 3x/wk MMA studio (Mixed Martial Arts) where I get a lot of upper body
      • 2-3x/wk I mix up my workouts at the gym. I will do cardio, sometimes heavy lifting, and really a little bit of everything.
      • 1-2x/wk Yoga Class
      • 8:45am Snack
        • Protein Shake (Forza Pro) with 8oz. Unsweetened vanilla almond milk.
        • I do not like to eat before I workout, and the protein shakes hold me over until lunch
        • 9:00 Work @ Unite or Errands
        • 12:30  Lunch
          • This is down time for me, I love taking my time and cooking myself a nice meal and experiment with recipes. I typically take 45 minutes to eat, I take my time and enjoy myself, lunch is my favorite meal because no one (such as kids) is complaining about what I make.
          • I typically make a salad with some type of protein (usually seafood). I also like to make homemade veggie burgers, and soups.
          • Multivitamin
          • Every day I try to drink 4-5, 24oz bottles of water throughout the course of the day.
          • 2:00-3:30 Work
            • Housework
            • Help kids with homework
            • Prep dinner for our family 5-6 nights/week
            • 3:30pm Snack
              • Fruit
              • Nuts
              • 5:00 – Dinner
                • It has always been very important to my husband and I to sit down and eat together as a family.
                • I enjoy 1 glass of red wine with dinner most nights.
                • 5:30-8:30 Taxi Time!
                  • This is my crazy time of day with 4 kids playing sports, and my husband coaching multiple sports and kids. We divide and conquer.
                  • 9:00 – Snacks
                  • 9:30 – 10:30 Sleep Prep
                    • Kids to bed
                    • Shower
                    • Relax by reading or watching TV, create workouts for upcoming training.
                    • I am usually asleep by 10:30 to get 7hrs of sleep/night
                    • Weekends
                      • Lunch usually on the go because kids games
                      • Saturday out to dinner and hang out with friends.
                      • Sunday church and brunch with family


Mark Donohue

Entrepreneur, Spor & Personal Trainer, Unite Fitness – Phila

  • Wake
    • Short meditation ~10-20 mins. For anyone new to meditation, I think Headspace is a great app to ease them into the process.
    • Set an intention for the day (e.g. be patient, be as productive as I can with my time, slow down and be present…), which has been really helpful.
    • Warm then cold shower. Warm until the last 30 secs when I turn to cold water and focus on 10 long deep breaths before shutting everything off. Wakes me right up, and kick-starts that metabolism.
    • Breakfast
      • Avocado, fresh/tomato dense salsa, 2 eggs. quick & easy.
      • A swig of apple cider vinegar after breakfast (always do it in a full stomach!) for its antioxidant and anti bad bacterial effect on the gut. I haven’t caught a cold since I started it.
      • I take a few drops of mullein leaf because I have weak lungs from asthma as a kid and I am susceptible to chest infections and it works like a charm.
      • Lunch
        • Garden salad with all the veggies, extra hummus, egg and avocado. If I didn’t pack lunch I hit Eat-a-Pita for the best salads in Philadelphia.
        • In Winter I get soups as well. Here’s a fave by Dr. Oz. Usually plenty to last 3 days and share:
        • Bags of nuts and seeds if you need something a lil’ extra.
        • Workout
          • Calisthenics 3x/wk (body weight skills/strength like rings, handstands, etc)
          • Unite workouts 2x/wk (combo run/spin/row, strength training, yoga)
          • Soccer 1x/wk
          • Yoga 1x/wk on Sundays