Career Resources

Fitness Career Spotlight: Jennifer Pattee, Trainer in San Francisco

 By Sarah Koszyk, RD

Tired of that corporate job? Meet Jennifer Pattee, personal trainer and owner of Basic Training, an outdoor bootcamp. She left the old career to start her new one and ExerciseJobs got the inside scoop on her success.

What attracted you to the field of fitness and exercise?
I like helping others

Your Job Title?
Trainer / Small business owner

Company you are with now?
Basic Training


A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
5:15 AM
wake up

6 AM
teach a class. I do outdoor group workouts with 5-20 people at parks and beaches around San Francisco.

7 AM
train client one-on-one outdoors

 8 AM

8:30 AM
client or more coffee 

9:30 AM
I train myself – gym for 30 minutes, run 30-120 minutes 

11:30-12 PM

12-4 PM
meetings with staff and/or corporate clients, emails, write blog post, read, etc.

5:30-6:30 PM
teach a class

8:00 PM

10:00 PM

How did you get your current job in fitness and exercise?
Accidentally. I was a senior designer at Apple and had a really stubborn repetitive stress injury involving my wrist. It took me awhile, but I finally realized that work involving mice, computers, and commuting wasn’t great for my overall well being. I had the good luck of being offered a job doing what I loved — leading bootcamp classes.

What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I was born with the drive to work hard, be awesome, and have fun. At basic training, our mantra is “the only workout worth doing is the one you look forward to.”

I am also a “big picture” thinker, and we look at the whole picture of health with every client we see. Fitness is just one piece.

I played soccer in college. I was in terrible physical shape. Pre-season training taught me how quickly the body can make massive improvements.

I’m also an ultrarunner, which means I compete in races over 26.2 miles. My favorite distance in 50 miles. This sport has given me first-hand knowledge about training, nutrition, and recovery.

When I became a trainer, I found great mentors to work with. Outstanding trainers, yoga teachers, former US military personnel, martial artists, coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists, psychologists, neuroscientists, and pro athletes from a wide array of sports. They taught me how to bring out the best in myself and my clients. A good trainer knows exactly how hard to push. They are also expert at balancing muscular imbalances, rehabilitating injuries, strengthening weaknesses, and fostering the mental discipline necessary for personal growth. 

What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Follow your heart.

When I made the decision to become a trainer, there were a lot of people around me who told me it was a bad decision to leave my job. I knew I was unhappy, but it was difficult to sacrifice everything for “happiness.” Doing what you love is critical to being successful and fulfilled in what you do. There is wisdom in all of us that can direct you. You just have to listen to the voice inside of you. And sometimes, get out of your own way.

Last bit of advice, which I got from Beth Spotswood, who got it from Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants… “do your thing and don’t care what they think. 

If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
I also get a big rush of endorphins, satisfaction, and deep connection to my community at the end of every class I teach.

You can’t beat that. It’s wonderful.

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