By Kalene Parker, ’18
Are you the type of person that likes to do everything yourself? Not just because you are a perfectionist, but also because you know if you leave it up to others it just won’t get done? If you answered yes then you and I could be best friends! Allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Kalene Parker and I am a 25 year old alumna of the College of Charleston. I graduated in the spring of 2018 with my B.S. in Exercise Science. In my first full time position post undergrad I am the Head Trainer at Burn Boot Camp in Mount Pleasant.
My journey began at this gym in October of 2019 as a part time support trainer and let’s just say when I was hired it was at the beginning of a huge transition. The gym was taken over by a new owner, the training and administrative staff were in transition of either staying under new ownership or leaving for other opportunities, and here I was….my first job as a fitness trainer….navigating everything on my own. The clients were in shambles because they were so attached to the previous Head Trainer and I was left to deal with the aftermath of this drama…but hey, some one has to do it right?
I stepped up to the plate and worked tirelessly for the next 2 months. I woke up at 4am Monday- Friday to train 25-30 bootcamps a week while working a part time job on weekends at Tanger Outlets. I learned all I could about each and every client, engaged with them and motivated them to push past their personal limitations. As a trainer with Burn Boot Camp that is what is expected and required of us. I learned the Burn culture and method of training style while also dealing with nasty women who were drama filled, caddy, and still found a way to show them compassion and care because somebody had to do it. I was the only trainer aside from another part time trainer who had minimal availability. She would often call out of work and ask me to cover for her on top of the workload I already had. The beginning of my time at this gym had me questioning my path to become a trainer. If this is how it was going to be most of the time I didn’t want anything to do with it. I knew I was the only person for the job because I cared and was committed to the clients and my own personal growth in this industry. Did all of this hard work promote me right away to Head Trainer? Absolutely NOT! I was told even after the hard 2 months I endured that I was still “too new to the company and not experienced enough.” Still I continued to work and take on responsibilities of this management position without the title or proper compensation because again someone had to do it and I was the only one willing.
Upper management gave the position to someone else who had zero experience with Burn Boot Camp and this individual lasted 5 weeks, leaving the gym and clients worse than before. I had to help onboard this new Head Trainer and would cover a few of their shifts on top of the bootcamps I already had. After this Head Trainer quit I was still not chosen for the Head Trainer management position. I was told I was being considered. A month and a half later I was finally promoted. Was I excited? Not at all. For 4 months I had done the work of a Head Trainer and had not been properly compensated. Someone had to do it because if not, the gym was not going to succeed. I had to bite the bullet and take less than what I deserved for the sake of just getting it done. I have now been in the official Head Trainer position for 8 months and will be resigning at the end of October to move on to bigger and better things.
I share my story not to receive sympathy but to show you how the real world can be. As a black woman in corporate America I had to work 4x harder than everyone else just to be “considered.” I knew I deserved more but I also knew if I did not get the job done it simply would not have been completed or it would have been executed poorly by another trainer. My time with this company has helped me grow personally and professionally, improved my abilities as a fitness trainer, increased my confidence, and helped keep me in great physical shape. The path to greatness isn’t easy and there will be obstacles to overcome, but all we can do is KEEP GOING! When you’re the best option for the job and they choose to overlook you and take advantage of your willingness to take initiative, they will feel the effects when you’re gone. Remember that. They can replace the position, but they can never replace the person. Yes…some body’s gotta do it..but they will never do it like you.
Kalene is a 2018 graduate of CofC and is currently a personal trainer in the Charleston-area. She served as president of the Black Student Union during her time at CofC.