“Carrie Underwood Did the Work, Not Me”

Why Erin Oprea's Success Has Legs

I should’ve known that this would never work.

But when I agreed to work out with physical trainer Erin Oprea, the optimist in me kind of thought I’d walk out of there with a body like Carrie Underwood’s, Kelsea Ballerini’s, Maren Morris’ and Kacey Musgraves’.

But the realist in me? She could barely get through the one-hour class on Thursday (June 21). And don’t even get me started on the intense Tabata regimen Oprea casually threw into the middle of the workout.

Once it was over, and I peeled myself off my mat, Oprea and I got to talking about what it really takes to get that look. She explained that those celebrity legs, abs, arms, shoulders and backs do not come easy. It’s not an overnight success thing. It’s a years-of-hard-work thing.

“So many clients come to us and they want Carrie’s legs. What I tell them is, ‘The answer is, you get those legs from hard work, determination and discipline. And you can’t be afraid of weights,’” Oprea said. “Weights make pretty muscles.”

Is Oprea proud when she sees pictures of her clients looking so strong and fit? “Well I can’t take any of the credit. Carrie did the work, not me. It’s her; she does it all. I’m just there to supervise and be her biggest cheerleader,” she told me.

Underwood wasn’t the first country star to sign up for personal training with Oprea. It was Lee Ann Womack and her husband Frank Liddell about 12 years ago. And then came the call from Underwood’s team.

“It was when she was looking for a trainer more than ten years ago, and somehow through Frank, her manager called me and they said they wanted me to come for an interview,” she recalled. “But I didn’t even know who the client was.” After Oprea made that first cut, she had one more interview. Then she met with Underwood.

“It wasn’t even like an interview with Carrie. More like a conversation. I feel so blessed with my career. I love doing what I do every day. And I love good people who want to be successful,” she said.

Because so many of her clients are doing their workouts when they’re on the road, Oprea has learned that FaceTime is the best way to be with the artists even when they’re not in Nashville.

“That just helps us both keep it fresh. I make sure no one ever repeats the same workout twice,” she said of her ongoing role as the chief executive motivator. “My job is to bring the energy on the days they don’t want to work out. Some days, my clients might just need emotional support. Or maybe we’ll just talk. Or maybe I’ll say, ‘Let’s just go for a walk and we’ll do some walking lunges.’ We can keep it simple if we need to.

“I try to read my clients, and every day is different.”

And while most of those days are good ones, Oprea admits that some days, haters are just gonna hate. Recently, when a few of Morris’s followers suggested that one of her outfits was too suggestive, she defended herself and her body. And Oprea had her back.

“That was just uncool. Maren’s worked hard for her body. She looks beautiful, and I think she should flaunt it. She should rock what she worked for. She should show it off,” she said. (Oprea is no stranger to exercise-shaming, because a couple of years ago, she was a victim of some social media bullying and she shared her thoughts about it on her blog.)

Oprea’s Fitness Parties continue over the weekend in Chicago, with a Saturday morning workout and a Sunday afternoon workout.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.