How All Began…

I started my career as a personal trainer, back in 2001. Quickly moving into training celebrities and building a busy client base – then launching my own personal training company with a team of personal trainers.

Personal Training was a natural fit for me, and I became obsessed with building my skills (and business). Soon I had too many clients! I was in the gym within an hour of waking, and still there within an hour of bedtime. My wait list was several months long, and this all happened when I was 25 years old. I was hungry, ambitious – and didn’t want to turn anyone away.

So I launched The Original Boot Camp.

The Original Boot Camp (2001 – 2013)

This program was Navy SEAL inspired conditioning with a ‘no excuses’ coach pushing the personal limits of attendees. It was an 8 week progressive series of athletic conditioning classes – for sports minded people. These people knew that the classes would be very different from my personal training services.

This company was wildly successful, and at one point, I was training 90 people per day. Groups were up to 30 people per class, and I worked in 3 towns. I gave my cell phone to each of my customers, and they’d text me when they went for a run… when they were frustrated about not losing weight… really they’d text me about anything.

I only had one Assistant Coach during this nutty time in my life. And obviously I lost my marbles – looking back now, I’m quite sure I had a mental breakdown but was too busy to either notice, or take care of it.

The Light Bulb Moment That Saved Me

I have an amazing man. He’s really private, and I’m really public (go figure). So lets call him A.M. for now. It’s honestly it’s like having my personal Dali Lama, Louise Hay and Tony Robbins all together at the dinner table. Since 1999 he’s been feeding me nuggets of stuff that really help.

In this moment, he reminded me of how many coaches I had when I was an athlete. He encouraged me to reset the support structure available to my clients (surely I shouldn’t be the go-to for 90 people)?

I realized that to excel as a coach, it was important for me to keep each work position separate. Like an actress who worked as a waitress!

It took a couple of weeks to rewrite my The Original Boot Camp client material, so that everyone had guidelines in place as to what I was available for. I signed up with a call center to help – good customer service doesn’t take something away without replacing it!

The result? When I coached The Original Boot Camp, I coached with my whole heart because I wasn’t so burnt out. Game changer!

Cat Smiley

Cat Smiley has been named Canada’s top trainer 3 times by the International Sports Science Association. She is a certified Master Trainer of Fitness Sciences (ISSA), Life Coach, Nutritionist, Executive Business Coach and the owner of Whistler Fitness Vacations. Prior to that, she spent 10 years building her personal training and boot camp company - while also working as a professional athlete and nationally syndicated health columnist. She inevitably hit burnout and learnt a ton of lessons along the way. is a mash-up of all the things she did to keep her passion for fitness training alive, almost 20 years later. - Find my site helpful? Please mention Whistler Fitness Vacations to your personal training clients if they ask you about fitness retreats! It really helps (and I really appreciate it!)