NYC trainers who traded their office jobs for the fitness world

Sitting at a desk isn’t for everyone. Many health enthusiasts daydream about quitting their jobs and becoming fitness instructors, while others, actually, just do it.

“I used to show up to the office at 10:30, 11 a.m. every day and duck out for two hours at lunch, hiding gym clothes in a Redweld folder, to get a workout in,” said Chris Lewarne, a former corporate lawyer who is now a Barry’s Bootcamp instructor. “Now, I wake up at 4 a.m. most mornings, work harder than I ever did as a lawyer, make way less money and smile through the whole damn thing.”

Lewarne isn’t the only one forgoing a traditional 9-to-5 gig for the sake of fitness. Several of New York City’s studio teachers and personal trainers have done the same. Here are eight fitness fanatics who traded sitting in an office for sweat and spandex.


Elisabetta Arato

Age: 31

Previous profession: Graphic artist for on-air news and motion graphics

Current gig: Personal trainer at New York Health & Racquet Club Cooper Square

Before she started CrossFit in 2008, Arato wasn’t exactly a paragon of health. “I was extremely unfit, had gained weight and had horrible posture,” Arato said. “I went through a transformation of losing over 30 pounds, learned about nutrition and changed my entire lifestyle.” Today, the trainer is healthier in more ways than one. “I used to dread walking into work, sitting at the desk and computer all day long, but now, I am so happy,” said Arato, who left her day job in 2016. “I feel fulfilled in more ways than I can express.”


Austin Cagley

Age: 23

Previous profession: Tech analyst/revenue operations specialist

Current gig: I A.M. Workouts personal trainer, Barry’s Bootcamp instructor

Just two months ago, Cagley quit his full-time gig and created I A.M. Workouts to encourage clients to wake up on a positive note, and tell themselves, “I am ready,” “I am strong,” “I am motivated.” “Luckily, early on, I realized sitting behind a desk was not for me and to go after what I love doing: teaching people fitness,” Cagley said.


Caitlin Delaney

Age: 27

Previous profession: Elementary school teacher

Current gig: Box + Flow boxing and yoga instructor, Exhale barre instructor

Delaney transitioned from the classroom to the fitness studio in 2015. “I made the change after a bad breakup,” she said. “The end of the relationship gave me the opportunity to reflect and think about the life I wanted for myself.” She cut her hair, got a new apartment and changed careers. “I needed my new life to look and feel completely different than my old life,” Delaney said.


Brian Gallagher and Ryan Wilke

Age: 36 and 31, respectively

Previous profession: Investment banking

Current gig: Throwback Fitness co-founders and head coaches

Gallagher left corporate America in 2014, and Wilke followed in 2015. The two friends had a shared vision: gamifying fitness to make classes more fun and engaging. “The idea happened to come at a time when we were growing tired of our desk jobs, so we decided to buy some equipment and get started,” said Gallagher (pictured above, left), whose workout incorporates competitive, interactiveexercises like freeze tag and dodge ball. “It feels great to be your own boss. It’s a better fit for us than our former finance careers.”


Chris Lewarne

Age: 32

Previous profession: Securities litigation

Current gig: Barry’s Bootcamp instructor

Lewarne is no fitness newbie — he has 22 years of mixed martial arts and fitness experience, and holds the undefeated amateur fight record in New York. Since making the career switch in 2015, he hasn’t looked back. “I didn’t see a multi-million dollar settlement at the firm in the same light as a client feeling a little better about her or himself after one of my workouts at Barry’s,” Lewarne said.


Lisa Niren

Age: 31

Previous profession: Finance and accounting

Current gig: CityRow trainer, CycleBar instructor, personal trainer

Niren grew up playing competitive tennis, field hockey, basketball and swimming, and after entering the workforce as a CPA consultant, she sought refuge in athletics. “Indoor cycling quickly became my ‘safe haven’ after a grueling workday, said Niren, who changed careers in 2012, first teaching part time, and then transitioning full time soon after.


Andy Stern

Age: 27

Previous profession: Marketing and event production assistant

Current gig: Rumble founder trainer

A passion to help others caused Stern to make the leap into training full-time last year. “If I deliver an amazing workout that sparks motivation inside of my clients, I’m helping to shape their lives as much as their bodies,” the boxing studio trainer said. “We all have the motivation to be better, to do better and to live better. I am fortunate enough to be in a role that can help drive that motivation.”

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