Training to the Power of X: Your Personal Best With Tier X at Equinox

For many of us, working out is part of daily life, a to-do that we check off our list we’ve “completed” it for the day. Some of us love it more than others, but we all have at least a preferred (or maybe least hated) way to sweat.

Equinox, however, sees fitness differently and is making that clear with the launch of Tier X training, which helps clients to adopt healthy habits and achieve personal goals with coaching inside and outside of the gym.


Equinox Fitness clubs have long since been a go-to for personal training expertise. Across the country you can access Tiers 1, 2, 3 and 3+ personal training based on what you need and what your goals are. Tier 4, the most advanced level of trainers offered, was recently rebranded as Tier X and it’s only available in a few locations in the U.S. – Chicago’s Gold Coast and Loop locations are among those few.

Becoming a Tier X coach is incredibly difficult. He or she is vetted for two days and must go through a six-month curriculum prior to being selected. Once a part of Tier X, the coach is expected to go through daily continuing education with the full Tier X team. Every trainer within the Tier X category is currently going through a secondary level of nutrition certification through Equinox, focusing on behavior change and understanding how to help people find their own motivations.

The ways a client will see a true difference from participating in a Tier X coaching program might not necessarily be on the floor during a session, but in all of the time outside of the gym.

When a client opts into the program, he or she is given a lead coach and will also have a secondary coach with a specific skill set tailored to the client’s goals. The two coaches meet weekly with the rest of the team to discuss how to help reach the client’s goals in new and different ways. In this way, clients are constantly getting individualized attention and feedback from different brains to make the training experience as effective as possible.

Coaches check in with clients throughout the week – and not just as follow-ups after sessions. They are in charge of helping establish habits that clients will adopt for, in the best case scenario, a lifetime.

To do that, these elite Tier X trainers must be attuned to the psychology of coaching and behavior change.

“We help lead people to their own behavior changes,” Kai Karlstrom, Tier X Manager of Equinox’s Loop location, said. “Constant communication ensures you’re getting what you need.”

Tier X training comes out at most to be $170 for a session, and based on the package, it may be a lower price per session. This includes the 2-hour initial assessment which includes every type of diagnostic you can imagine. The lead coach runs a posture screening, creates a 360-degree avatar of your body, tests your resting metabolic rate (which requires a 12-hour fast in order to test), exercise metabolic rate, does a functional movement screening and runs your blood pressure and bioelectrical impedance analysis to measure your body composition.

When I learned about the comprehensive testing that’s run on all Tier X clients, I wanted to experience it for myself.

I sat down with Amanda Pezzullo, Tier X Manager of Equinox Gold Coast, to walk through what my goals would be if I were to commit to Tier X coaching.

Equinox uses the Movement, Nutrition, Regeneration (MNR) strategy to create cohesive coaching programs across the coaching tiers, which factors in the complete picture of wellness. Pezzullo referenced this frequently when we went through the results of my testing and laddered them back to my goals.

“Everyone knows the movement and nutrition pieces of the pie are important,”Pezzullo told me. “But it’s the regeneration piece that always gets left behind.”

According to my test results, it looks like it’s the most important piece of my puzzle.

Pezzullo and I talked through my daily schedule, my general fitness interests and a few other lifestyle habits and decided that one of the biggest changes I can make to improve how efficiently my body works is to sleep more.

Fit 3D scanner that creates a 360-degree avatar of your body
Resting Metabolic Assessment which measures the rate of energy expenditure at rest.

Considering how little I’ve been sleeping, this should have been a no-brainer, but with that much data staring me in the face, I couldn’t ignore my body’s needs any more.

The same system measures your max VO2 output during the Active Metabolic Assessment. 

With Tier X coaching, the coaches drill a level deeper and teach trainees what movements should feel like and how to pursue health for the long haul.

And this sort of accountability inside and outside of training sessions is part of the fitness club’s culture, as Karlstrom explains, “Our trainers teach what should feel right and get the body to work correctly in various movement patterns.”

Once gym-goers have been trained in the correct movement patterns, when they visit group fitness classes or hit the machines alone, they’re more efficient, safe and effective during the workout.

Experience it for yourself or just watch as Tier X trainers show extreme feats of strength on Equinox’s Instagram account.

Move Studio Fitness

About Maggie Umberger

Maggie moved to Chicago from North Carolina in 2014 with a degree in Journalism and Spanish, a 200-hour yoga certification, a group fitness cert and a passion to teach and to sweat. It wasn't until she found aSweatLife that she really started to feel at home. Here, she's incorporated her passion for health and wellness into her career as she helps to build the network of Ambassadors, trainers and fitness enthusiasts that exist within the aSweatLife ecosystem. You can also find her coaching at CrossTown Fitness and teaching yoga classes at Bare Feet Power Yoga, Yoga Six and exhale.