We see them virtually every day – they adorn posters, magazines, movies and television shows. Celebrities are in a constant light of adulation and criticism, which motivates them all the more to be conscious of their overall health and physique. We see these celebrities and often mock them through our own jealousy because they seem perfect. However what we do not see is all the hard work, dedication and man power that goes into perfecting these spotlighted gods and goddesses of our time. We also seem to ignore the hard work and dedication of the people responsible for getting celebrities ready for this harsh spotlight. It seems only fitting to turn the tables and introduce one of the most influential people in the lives of not only celebrities, but the production crew, executives and lawyers all of which are equally involved in the fairytale we read about and watch almost every single day.
I have recently had the privilege to speak to one of the behind the scene “creators” of this high profile health and fitness business. Carol Perno is the Assistant Manager and seasoned personal trainer at the fitness site at Paramount Studios in Burbank California. For those of you who are not aware, Paramount is responsible for productions such as The Godfather, the Star Trek series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Flashdance, Footloose, and both Shrek movies to name a few. In this interview Carol takes us through one of her busy days while also giving some interesting background on a day in the life of a personal trainer. She also sheds some much needed light on what goes on in the fitness center located in the heart of one of America’s most notorious production studios.
Examiner: How did you get connected with Paramount?
Carol Perno: The fitness center at Paramount is run by a health management company called Plus One. I worked for a corporate health company in Illinois as well right before I moved out to California so I knew it was an atmosphere I loved to work in! Once I was settled out here (in Southern California) I researched for some similar companies and found Plus One. They run quite a few sites here in California; they run the Fox Studios and Disney Studios in Los Angeles, as well as sites all over the country. Once I saw the opening for a position called an Exercise Specialist here at Paramount I jumped on it! I have been in the fitness industry for over six years, and having past corporate fitness experience as well helped me land the role.
E: How long have you worked for Paramount Studios?
CP: I have been with Paramount for about two years now. I recently got promoted to Assistant Manager of our site, which has been a great experience so far. I have administrative and management responsibilities, but also get to train clients and teach classes as well. Best of both worlds!
E: Do you train executives or actors or both?
CP: Our facility is open to anyone who works on the lot, so this includes everyone from actors, grip, writers, anyone part of the production process, security for the lot, people who work services on the lot (coffee shops, cafeteria, etc…) all the way up to executives of the company. It is an amazing experience every day to be able to work with this huge diverse member base. The trainers here including myself are able to train anyone who wants the help! Sometimes it’s actors on a show currently in production on the lot, there are quite a few executives that are trained on a regular basis, and everyone in between. I personally have about five regular clients right now. I train a writer for one of the shows on the lot, I train a lawyer from CBS which has offices here, a couple people who work as audience coordinators…quite a diverse mix. I also run a bootcamp twice a week that is open to any member of the gym. It’s always a fun time!
E: Are you able to keep your clients on a good schedule or do their hectic days get in the way?
CP: Our clients are generally consistent with their training. Some of them do have extremely hectic schedules that can get in the way sometimes, but mostly they are very committed and we have a large training base that has been with us for some time.
E: How many clients do you typically train per day?
CP: I personally average 2-3 clients per day, but since transitioning into my management role it has gone down from when I was an Exercise Specialist. We have a couple trainers with 4-5 clients per day. We are all typically pretty busy!
E: Do you ever go on the lot or sets of the TV shows or movies being worked on at Paramount?
CP: We remain very separated from any productions going on at the lot. It is our responsibility to run the facility for the employees and tenants of Paramount, and that’s it. There are studio tours anyone is welcome to go on if we feel the need to be part of the action going on!
E: Many trainers think that working at a studio such as Paramount in Hollywood is the ultimate job. Do you agree? Is it all it’s cracked up to be?
CP: I have worked in a variety of fitness settings, and I would have to say this has by far been the best experience I have had. Not just because it’s a famous studio, but because the people I work with and the members that come in have all created a great environment to be a part of. The members are extremely friendly and willing to learn all the information we have to give them. We have a lot of knowledge to share, and our main goal is to make sure we pass that knowledge on to our members. Working a job that you are truly passionate about creates a great work day. It’s definitely all it’s cracked up to be!
E: How long is a normal day for you?
CP: I typically work an 8 hour shift, unless I have clients before or after my shift. Usually there are two to three days a week I get here a few hours early to train clients or teach my bootcamp. Well worth the time spent!
E: Are these type of high profile clients loyal and motivated, or are you constantly seeing a big turnover with them?
CP: I would say our typical client is generally motivated. We don’t see a lot of turnover with our client base. We have recently hired a couple new part-time trainers to help out because our full-time employees have been all booked up.
E: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? Still working at Paramount?
CP: Five or ten years down the road looks pretty open! I would be happy to still be working for Plus One, possibly running my own site. It would be very hard to ever leave Paramount though! I have also been a part of a fitness DVD production; I was cast as a workout partner in a DVD for Herbalife. It was an amazing experience that I had a blast working on, so hopefully there is more of that in my future as well!!
Thank you so much Carol for taking the time to let us in one of your busy days! We can all agree that the work you do is inspiring and continuously beneficial to the people you train and lives you touch each and every day!