Sure, you want to get rid of the gut and tighten the triceps, but it could be something else that’s drawing you to those exercise classes. It begins with “s,” and it’s not sweat. It’s definitely good for business, and in the case of fitness trainers, it might be good for your health, as well.
Some clients, says Noel Descalzi, “definitely follow certain instructors. They look for an instructor who’s super inspiring or motivating, who gets you going, or has a physical appeal. They’re trying indirectly to be like them or look like them. They get hooked on someone and come back every week.”
Descalzi is the 25-year-old creator of Work it Out Fitness Studio on Willow Avenue. “There’s a fine line between workout attire and sexy attire,” she says. “You can’t be too provocative with low, low cleavage with everything hanging out. There has to be some type of balance.”
Her studio attracts mainly women, “the type of person who doesn’t want to be around people who are looking at them. They’re not putting on a show for anybody,” she says. The clientele that she draws want to have fun and incorporate training into their lifestyles. “They might look like crap after work,” Descalzi says, “and want to let it out and not feel pressure in the gym.”
In fact, Descalzi says, the whole “s” thing is “in complete opposition” to the environment she has created at Work it Out. “Instead of boot camp we have ‘Next Stop Skinny,’” she says. “It’s cutesy and girly. There are no men in the class.”
Though Descalzi grew up in Secaucus, she says, “I’ve had a lifelong relationship with and emotional connection to Hoboken. I’ve watched it change into what it is now, a baby town with strollers, new families, new mothers, and people with yoga mats. From a business standpoint, I like the direction it’s going in.”
And speaking of those yoga mats, Jocelyn Krasner is a Hoboken-based yoga instructor and holistic health counselor. She emphasizes that yoga is not an exercise but a practice. “It’s natural if you are a teacher for your students to be inspired by you,” she says. “They look up to you. You’re a special person in their lives.”
Krasner was in advertising for 20 years, an environment in which “sexy” could apply to anything from a concept to a Cadillac. If yoga is sexy, it’s in that context. “We do some sort of physical activity so we can get in shape and stay in shape,” Krasner says, “and we attach looking good to being fit. A student may want to go to yoga class to be more fit and a sexier person, but that’s not why I teach yoga.”
Yoga is not sexual in the normal sense. “Sexuality in the yoga room doesn’t belong,” she says. “As teachers we have a responsibility to be really careful.”
Language can be a big bugaboo for both yoga instructors and fitness trainers. For some reason, the body part technically known as buttocks gets a lot of attention, and instructors use a lot of “b” words to describe it: bum, butt, and bootie, to name the top three. It’s the last of those that carries the most “s”-word baggage, as Krasner found out the hard way.
“I did a weekend retreat in the Berkshires,” Krasner relates, “and when I was looking through the forms they fill out, they said how much they liked the weekend, all was fabulous, but one person made a comment about the use of the word bootie. Languaging is my strength as I teacher, so I’d come up with new words for talking about the butt, like bum, rear, bootie. I had no clue that the word had a connotation of sex. People are sensitive. I had no idea it was an offensive word.”
For the record, the standard dictionary says that bootie means buttocks, but is “potentially offensive, usually objectionable.” The friskier Urban Dictionary says that bootie means “a woman with a healthy fleshy ass.” Other definitions are not printable in family lifestyle magazines.
Hoboken native Larry Lagman is a private trainer who makes house calls but also teaches classes on Pier A, weather permitting. Ninety percent of his clients are women.
“All my clients talk about their personal life,” he says, “where they’re going, their jobs, private things, their sex life—‘my husband notices that I’m getting skinnier and I’m more attractive to him.’”
Lagman says that his clients are 100 percent comfortable with him and vice versa. “When I say, ‘stick your butt out a little more,’ it’s a professional talking to them, and they’re comfortable with that.”
It’s the nature of the beast that you sometimes have to touch a client in order to correct his or her form. But, stresses Lagman, “Always ask before going out there and touching them. That’s appropriate.” He also wears suitable attire. “I always dress appropriately in shorts and workout gear,” he says.
But a little vamping is okay. “Flirting with clients makes them feel sexier and good about themselves,” Lagman says. “That’s exactly what I want. I want them to feel good about themselves.” That’s what motivates them to stay fit. “They love the workout, and they love talking to the trainer,” Lagman says. “That’s why they come to me and want to see me.”
Trainer Nancy Truppner doesn’t flirt with clients, but, she says, “I do have those who are attracted to the person who’s training them, but I’ve never had any relationship while training a client. I keep it strictly client/trainer.”
She says a lot of people go to the gym for other reasons besides getting fit and healthy. “A lot of them have gotten out of relationships, and they want to start something new and make new friends,” she says. “Sometimes friends turn into relationships.”
But, she says, most people “go to the gym to train hard, and they don’t look at clothes.”
She describes herself as a “Nike kind of girl,” meaning she does not wear pretty sneakers.
Truppner says she does “a lot of butt work because everyone wants a tight tuche.” She herself is a kick-butt 51-year-old Hoboken native.
Though she says some of her clients look at her as a mother figure, most mothers are not like her. They say, “My mom would never get up and do this, and she’s 42!”
Truppner says, “I don’t think I’m hot, I don’t see it, but people say, ‘She’s gorgeous for her age.’”
Having a thing for the trainer can be good for your physical fitness. If clients “like the way I teach class, they do form a bond,” Truppner says. “They do better if they like me, and if they do feel a crush, they work better.”—Kate Rounds