Glenn Payne is a Fitness Manager at 24 Hour Fitness Alta Dena Sport and he’s also a GX24 instructor. His professional fitness journey began when the Pasadena, California native found himself playing semi-professional basketball in Dallas, Texas after junior college. (Payne’s pretty humble about that: “I don’t even know how I got out there, but I was just lucky enough to get onto a team.”) He had his sights set on the NBA, but as he tells it, what might have been his Plan B has turned into his “Plan Best.”

Landing in Dallas, Payne needed a job. “So, I went to 24 Hour Fitness,” he says. “They hired me on at the front desk.” But the young Payne was also giving members training advice without realizing he was doing a personal trainer’s job. The fitness manager put him up to becoming a trainer, and Payne passed the test—and decided to make it a full-time career when he returned to California.

There, Payne took the additional step of become a certified group fitness instructor. That extra step was a game-changer, and we asked Payne what he’s discovered and how he helps members succeed in reaching their goals.

24Life: What prompted you to become a GX24 instructor?

Glenn Payne: I wanted to add to my repertoire of training, because my knowledge was derived from basketball. With group fitness, I started affecting more people and building rapport.

24Life: Why do you say personal training was your “Plan Best”?

GP: What I love the most about training is that you can change someone into their goal. I can take somebody who’s 20 pounds overweight and I can help them lose 20 pounds—and physically make them change into their goal. You’re changing their body, changing their mind, changing how they act, changing their spirit, changing everything about them. So, you can see a person [become] somebody who’s confident. It’s good to be able to change people on a one-on-one basis and really affect them as far as bettering their life.

24Life: Why don’t people set fitness goals?

GP: I think a lot of people don’t want to set fitness goals because they see it as a challenge that can’t be overcome. They set a fitness goal like, “Man, I’m going to have a lift 1,000 pounds of weight. I’m going to have run for 400 miles a day just to get in shape.” They don’t understand that that goal is a lot closer than they can believe. If you say it, you can reach it. As trainers, we take people through incremental steps and then they notice that their goal is no longer out of reach but right in front of them.

When people don’t have a specific goal or they say being healthier is their goal, I ask, “How much healthier do you want to be? What do you think is healthier? Is it looking better? Is it performing better?” There’s a goal somewhere in there with somebody. You just have to find it.

24Life: What do you wish your clients could know?

GP: I wish they could know is the power of looking into the future. It sounds a little crazy, but most people can’t see what they’ll look like before they look like it. That’s the biggest benefit I’ve had as a trainer and that’s where most of my success comes from, is being able to see a person at their best before they can see it. I feel like a lot of my clients don’t know how to look in a mirror and see not somebody who’s overweight, but a person who’s in shape. If you can [visualize] yourself the way you want to be, that [makes] my [job] a lot easier.

24Life: If you could be a voice in every client’s head, what would you say?

GP: “Challenge yourself to be better than your best,” and, “There’s no such thing as failure, only delayed success.”

24Life: What has surprised you, over the course of your career?

GP: The thing that surprises me the most is there’s no restrictions as far as how people can grow. I’ve seen people who are in their 60s do things that you would expect an athlete to do. I’ve seen athletes with torn ligaments and broken-down muscles come out better athletes. I’ve also seen people who were in great shape not perform well.

24Life: How do you get psyched for a workout?

GP: I put on a certain type of music, depending on what type of workout I’m going to do. If I’m going to hit the weights, it’s going to be a lot faster, a little bit of rap. It depends on what day it is. It may be rock one day. It may be rap. It may be blues and R&B one day.

I also have a little bit of a boxing experience. Shadowboxing just kind of gets the adrenaline going—you’re already ready to attack the weights, attack the treadmill, attack the cardio. Even if I’m doing yoga, I’m going to attack these poses and hold them and then I’m going to Zen out later.

24Life: What are the four moves you think people should do daily?

GP: Push-ups, squats, burpees and plank. You do those four things every day, you’ll never be out of shape.

24Life: Any nourishment tips?

GP: Learn how to eat one thing a couple of days in a row. Because when you meal prep, you’ve got to get used to eating something that you’ve never really had the taste for. If you don’t like brown rice and plain chicken, you’ve got to get used to eating it. Let your taste buds adjust to it. Don’t switch it up too much. Always try to keep it consistent.

24Life: What can people do to get more out of their workouts?

GP: Take a class. Don’t go to the gym without taking some form of class. It can be yoga. It could be cycle. It could be Athletic Training Club. It doesn’t matter. But get around people that are like-minded. Then find out what you’re good at, because you may not know what you’re good at when you first walk in the door.

Photo credit: Tom Casey,