Life after serving in the military takes former service members in a variety of directions. But not many can say their work has them getting celebrities red-carpet ready or prepared for the physical demands of a multi-city music tour.
Celebrity trainer Erin Oprea has never shied from hard work, which she credits to her success in the fitness industry.
Oprea enlisted in the Marines when she was 20. “I thought it looked like it would be fun and would be a challenge,” she said.
She served for nine years, including two tours in Iraq, making history when she led the first female platoon attached to the infantry in a war zone. Though, she prefers to just think of it as “doing her job.”
“When I was in the Marine Corps, I wanted to be treated the same as men. I always wanted to go to boot camp with my male counterparts, to do it the same and be held to the same expectations,” she said.
Years after leaving platoon life, Oprea looks back at that time fondly.
“My favorite thing about the military was the camaraderie. The relationships you build while serving are unlike any other because you experience something together that nobody else (outside of the military) can relate to.”
A certified personal trainer before enlisting, Oprea dove back into fitness when she left active-duty service.
“Fitness is my passion. There was no question I would get right back into it.”
But she says she noticed other former service members took the opposite approach to health and fitness when their time in uniform came to an end.
“When you’re in the military, you’re required to to in shape; it’s part of your job. And I think people hold on to that feeling once they’re out. They’ve always considered exercise as work, something they have to do, something they dread, ” Oprea noted.
One of her goals as a trainer is to get clients to think about exercise differently.
“You have to change your mindset. If you change your mindset, your whole world changes. If you’re lucky, moving your body is something you get to do. I like people to smile when they work out. I don’t want people to feel like it’s a job,” Oprea said.
A true believer in hard work over shortcuts, Oprea stopped at nothing to get her personal training business off the ground.
“I cleaned houses while I built my training business. You do what you need to do to make ends meet.”
That business was built with grit, discipline and word of mouth as Oprea’s client list grew to include business executives and then celebrities, including some of country music’s biggest names –– Aubrey Sellers, Leanne Womack, and eventually –– Grammy award winner Carrie Underwood.
“I had three interviews before getting the gig as her trainer,” Oprea said. “I don’t like to take credit for my clients reaching their fitness goal. Carrie –– she works hard.”
But training superstars wasn’t a part of her original plan.
“It was never my goal to train celebrities. It’s never been about fame for me.”
Oprea says she finds just as much fulfillment in working with the people who don’t spend their days in music studios and nights walking red carpets.
“I want everyone to feel strong and happy, but there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to train everyone.”
That’s why Oprea developed “Pretty Muscles,” her very own fitness and nutrition app.
“This way I can be everyone’s trainer. I wanted to name the app Pretty Muscles because muscles are pretty; strong is beautiful.”
Oprea says she knows there are hundreds of fitness and nutrition apps out there, so what makes Pretty Muscles different?
“My philosophy is to approach fitness in a fun, non-fancy way. When you work out with this app, every single day is different for the entire year. It doesn’t get boring. That, and the music is great. You can’t have a good workout without a good playlist,” Oprea added.
The app includes meal plans, a macro calculator and daily guided workouts –– everything you need to feel your absolute best, no rucking required.
“Fitness can be fun and enjoyable. Fitness can be sledding with your kids on a snowy Sunday or dancing around your house. The most important thing is to move, with whatever movement brings you joy.”