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Stories from FIT, Inspire

A Day in the Life of Personal Trainer Irving Henson

by Voices Wellness 24 Feb 2021

The founder of The PIT Singapore shares what makes his job fulfilling and debunks the myths of personal training. By LYDIA KWON. 

A personal trainer’s job seems pretty easy at a glance—think fitness buffs who stroll into the gym to show their clients how to exercise the way they do. But according to Irving Henson, owner and trainer at The PIT, his 9 to 5 is much more than meets the eye. Not only does it require passion for fitness, it also demands the right knowledge, discipline, commitment, and a love for friendly banter.

Tell us a little more about yourself and your job. 

I run a gym at 123 Devonshire road called The PIT. Our goal is to train anyone––from all walks of life and fitness backgrounds––to maximise their athletic capabilities. Whether their goal is to lose weight, improve in a sport, or build muscle mass, we have a system to help. We believe in structured training programs that are sustainable and consistent.

What’s in a day’s work for you? 

I wake up at around 4.30 – 5.00 a.m. in the morning and start work at 6 a.m. I teach for an average of 250-290 hours a month.

Picture by THE PIT Singapore.

What’s something constant about your day, no matter how hectic it gets? 

Definitely coffee. Something else I constantly do is self-training—even if it’s for 20 minutes—as it keeps me sane.

What’s your daily diet like?

Because of my busy schedule, I order food delivery a lot (laughs). When I was competing in powerlifting and needed to make the weight category, I’d prepare my meals for the whole week which usually consists of eggs, fish, prawn, and a lot of vegetables and rice. I’m very Chinese and I can’t live without rice. My meals are planned so that I can have a deficit in my macronutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, and fat, based on my calorie goals for the day. I also do this when I’m feeling vain and when I’ve put on a lot of weight from the holidays. When I’m not counting my macronutrients, I consume a bit more than 3000 calories a day.

What’s your go-to cheat meal? 

Peking duck! And anything my cousins Simone and Nikki cooks.

What do you love most about your job? 

I love the banter and the community, and the fact that I’m surrounded by good people who share the common goal of bettering themselves. The support that my team and I get from our clients is amazing. It’s almost like meeting my friends on a daily basis, every hour.

Seeing our clients improve makes our job fulfilling whether it’s weight loss, recovering from an accident, or getting jacked. There’s a client who had a back surgery before he met us, who managed to complete a half Iron Man triathlon a year after, as well as a couple of guys who lost close to 30 kilograms post-circuit breaker. 

It’s stories like these that make our job fulfilling. We’ve also got a guy who can crush a watermelon in his armpit, but that’s just us showing off.

How did you become a personal trainer and why did you stick with it?

I applied for a sales job in one of the mega gyms in 1999 but was turned down because of my tattoos (or at least I thought that was the reason). The personal training manager offered me a job to walk around and help members instead and soon after, the fitness director asked me if I was interested in taking a personal trainer course to become a personal trainer. Since then, I could not imagine doing anything else.

What’s something most people don’t know about being a fitness trainer? 

That you should understand programming. It’s not just about “teaching exercises” or training safely––that might be important, but a good trainer needs to know how to make all the pieces fit to get the job done in a safe manner. The other thing people don’t realise is that we don’t live in the gym; we have lives outside as well.

How about the biggest challenge you face in what you do?

The biggest challenge I have as a gym owner is finding good talent to work with, while the biggest challenge I have as a trainer is getting enough sleep.

How do you relax when things get too stressful? 

When I get stressed, I go for long walks as it helps to calm me down. I like going to a particular car park along the east coast to watch the planes fly by—although there aren’t many planes to watch these days. I also enjoy watching the sun rise and set, though I haven’t had much time for that post-circuit breaker.

Picture by THE PIT Singapore.

What does wellness mean to you, and why? 

Wellness is all about leading a sustainable healthy lifestyle. It’s not about making a lot of sacrifices to attain your fitness goals, instead it’s the small changes daily that make you a better person. The process should be something you look forward to, as well. Especially now, mental health is as important as physical health.

What keeps you going? Give our readers a little motivational tip! 

Discipline. We have a huge sign on our wall that explains it. “Discipline is a decision, while motivation is about feelings. When you are disciplined, you can keep going whether you are motivated or not.” 


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