The Washington Post

Just Asking: Personal trainer Matt O’Connor says he’s purple when it comes to politics

(Andre Chung/For The Washington Post)
Writer and editor

Matt O’Connor, 35, is the head personal trainer at Verve Health & Fitness in Arlington and works with Washington politicos and visiting celebrities.

Is being a trainer in Washington different than other places?

Joe Heim joined The Post in 1999. He is currently a staff writer for the Metro section's Local Enterprise team. He also writes Just Asking, a weekly Q&A column in the Sunday magazine and is the paper's resident Downton Abbey expert. View Archive

In D.C., you have to be purple when it comes to politics because you’re training on both sides all the time. Also, a lot of the people I train, they go to a lot of the same parties. So I have them working as almost my spies to tell me if they see someone that I train eating something bad. I might get a text message saying, “So-and-so is eating a cream-based soup.” Then I make that person work extra hard the next time.

You work with some big names locally and with visiting celebrities.

Yeah, I can’t really talk about that. We train at the Four Seasons and the Mandarin, and we work with them because we are discreet.

Personal trainer is kind of a great job because people pay you to yell at them.

Ha-ha, yeah. You need to kind of have a firmer hand. If you like your trainer all the time, he’s probably not doing the right job.

What’s the worst excuse you’ve
heard from one of your clients for not working out?

God, there’s so many.

What is your showoff move if you’re totally trying to impress someone with how fit you are?

I can walk on my hands. I can do ring muscle-ups. I can do a lot of heavy weights. My dead-lift is close to 500 pounds.

Jeez, that’s crazy. Okay, I’d like to lose about 15 to 20 pounds in the next two to three weeks. Is that realistic?

Not really. [Laughs.] That’s a lot of weight to cut. It can be done, but you’d have to come live with me. And we would become best friends. And we’d be working out three times a day, and you’d be eating everything I want you to eat.

Never mind, that sounds like too much work. How about the best exercise the average office worker can do?

Squats. With legs being the biggest muscle group, squats are going to burn the most calories and affect your body the most efficiently. You just have to make sure you know how to squat.

What should you look for in a trainer?

Make sure there’s a goal set. Make sure the trainer is organized, has timetables for goals and tells you how much money it’s going to take to get to those goals.

Do trainers get hit on a lot by clients?

Ha-ha. If you are doing personal training, you obviously have to present well and look the part. So yes, you’ll get lots of, uh, different things happening. Obviously, you can’t be a successful trainer if you’re succumbing to those things.

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