With reality shows focused on nearly every facet of life, it’s surprising that it took so long to expose the tension between elite personal trainers in New York City. Work Out New York, Bravo’s latest high-energy bitchfest, focuses on the personalities who cater to the men and women looking to conquer their fears and shape their glutes on a daily basis.
“Every gym has a rite of passage,” says Courtney Paul, a Barry’s Bootcamp instructor at the center of many of the show’s conflicts. “I like to have fun. I know which buttons to press. This is New York: It’s not cliquish, it’s competitive.”
So far, Paul has been taking on the superficiality of other instructors as the show tracks his own painful injuries that could derail his career at the age of 35. “The fitness industry is a young man’s game, and I can’t bend the same way I used to bend,” he admits. “It’s an hour of physical and mental work. I’m the therapist for my clients as well and I can’t train 10 clients in a row, standing on my feet for 10 hours straight, they way I used to do.”
Already being called the “Nene Leakes” of the series, it’s a comparison Paul’s not bashful about owning, explaining that the combustible Real Housewives star, along with Tiffany Pollard from VH1’s Flavor of Love and I Love New York, are both shining examples he respects. “Nene Leakes lives in the moment,” he says. “Those two girls keep it real: They likes to laugh and they don’t take shit. When I smell bullshit, especially in my group of friends, I call it out.”
Growing up in Lafayette, Louisiana, a town obsessed with high school football, Paul explains that he was able to “camouflage” himself by participating in every sport. “Then people would call me Courtney RuPaul, because of my name, and I thought, Oh my god, they found me out, they know I’m gay! She was an icon, but I didn’t want to be a drag queen. Maybe I act like one sometimes, but I don’t want to be one all the time.” Paulused his physical prowess as his calling card and made his way to New Orleans, then Atlanta, and finally New York City. “I understand people who don’t feel accepted,” he explains. “I found a way with fitness to help myself and others. I tell people, ‘You don’t have to be perfect, just be the best version of yourself.’ Through training, you can feel something you’ve never felt before.”
He says he’s not worried that some people may be turned off by witnessing the behind-the-scenes drama between instructors since he’s being authentic to himself. “My clients, they know who Courtney is. He’s the same person that he is on the show: I’m fun; I’m thorough; I care about them.” If he has one bit of advice for those who may find inspiration from watching the show and decide to seek out a trainer, it’s simple: “Don’t be fooled by a pretty, young face. It’s that older instructor with experience, who knows about the body, who will keep you injury free.”
The next episode of Work Out New York airs Sunday, Jan. 10 at 9 p.m. on Bravo.
Watch a clip below: