So you want to be become a personal trainer, that’s great. If that is what you really want then GO FOR IT. The amount of messages I get from people asking for advice on becoming a PT and what courses they should do or books they should read so I decided to write a blog on it.
First of all just because you got yourself into good shape does not mean you will get others into shape. Remember that. This job is a service job, you will be serving the people and their needs and every person is so individual when it comes to there personal lives their health, their fitness their history so what you need to understand is how to work with MULITPLE types of people to achieve their goals NOT your goals for them.
Before I talk about courses or books or point you in the right direction I am going to give you a little insight into the life of a personal trainer. This is NOT an easy job. Please repeat. If you are getting into it for the glitz and the glam you will get a serious shock to the system after you become qualified and start actually working in the industry. Be prepared to give up your life in sacrifice to be able to work in the industry. Sounds dramatic but believe me I am not joking.
I was first qualified in 2002 and I have worked in Gyms for over 10 years, I added to my bow with my personal training and nutrition diploma in 2009 and I gained my advanced diploma in nutrition just this year. I have multiple fitness class qualifications and without banging on I have pretty much been immersed in this industry all of my life attempting to work and learn and develop myself as best I can. Apart from a 4 year stint where I worked in sales and recruitment I have been a #fitspo all my life and in 2016 I set up my own health and fitness business in Mayo where I now live. check out: www.thatssoshellyfitness.ie
So here is the truth about personal training and working in the industry. You have to be willing to give up your time your energy and your life to the industry. You have to be willing to work really early mornings until really late in the night. You have to be willing to work weekends, you have to prepared to give up any personal passions you might have. For example, I played football, I love football, love it but I was a personal trainer so I always struggled to get time off to get to training and even when I played county football with Westmeath it was a constant juggling act to try and get to training. This was frustrating AF. If you are an employee in a gym you don’t have the luxury of taking evenings off to do your own thing. If you are self employed in the industry you don’t have the luxury of taking evenings off to do your own thing. Not if you want to be seen as a reliable coach. You need to be there to serve the people you train. Their needs come before your wants.
Okay so you are just qualified, now what? You go to work is what, for peanuts. Yes, don’t expect to walk into a gym and say ‘Hi Gym Owner, I have arrived’ point me in the direction of all the paying clients please so I can build my amazing empire. Thanks, Emmmm….. No just no. Be prepared to WORK. Sometimes for FREE. Yes, if you want to build your profile you need clients, if you are 19 and newly qualified you are going to have to put the ground work in. there is nothing worse than a 19 year old know-it-all with a 6 pack thinking they can get a mother with 3 kids and a full time job into shape in just 6 weeks, Oh wait, you only want to train the body builder or bikini competitor Eh, K……. best of luck getting them to fork over the cash you want to fuel your new lifestyle. Yes guys and girls, this is the harsh reality of coaching. You are going to have to build your profile and be able to work with a variety of clients. If you only want to work with a SPECIFIC type of person then DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Find a great trainer who is doing what you want to do and LEARN from them. I am going to say something that you need to hear YOU DO NOT KNOW EVERYTHING and just in case you are wondering, nobody does. In this industry you are ALWAYS learning and if you are not willing to be flexible and open to education then you are NOT going to succeed.
Where you live is also a factor to be considered. Are you living in Dublin where there are PT jobs advertised every 5 mins? Baring in mind these are almost always self employed roles where you have to work for X amount of hours in their club for free and THEN after you hit your hours you can take on clients but hey at least there are loads of opportunities to gain some experience in the industry in the City. There is more flexibility with training in different gyms in Dublin and some clubs offer an option to pay a monthly flat rate and then you head off and build your own clientele to pay for it. However, if you live down the country then getting your foot in the door of a gym is not so easy. Most clubs already have their own personal trainers and they do not offer a pay and go option so unless you are a paid up member you cannot even use their gym let alone train clients in it.
Are you connecting with great trainers in your area? Have you reached out to them? Do you know when you complete your qualification where you plan on going with it?
So we have established that you need to give up your life to the cause. Yes, mornings, evenings, weekends and let me delve a litter further into it. You need to work out your finances and how much money you need to live and then figure out how many clients you need in order to cover your bills. Your passion will be short lived if you are up at 6am every morning and not home until 11 every night and you still can’t afford to put petrol in your car. Maybe at the start while you build your profile that’s okay but it is not how you want your financial situation to remain obviously. So knowing your numbers is going to be a motivating factor in your decision making process when you are taking on clients.
For example, lets say you have 15 clients a week paying you €25 per session, that equals €375 per week which is approx. €1,500 per month. Let’s say you have to pay €400 per month to rent the gym you are using. This will work out below like:
€400 – €1,500 = €1,100 p/m or €275 p/w
You are now left with €275 per week BEFORE you pay for anything else. What other bills do you have? Do you have rent to pay? Car to pay for? I think we know the answer to having 15 clients per week. This is not going to cover your bills or lifestyle in the long term. So, what is the answer? Increase your prices or take on more clients?
Let’s say you have 30 clients per week @ €25 pp
This equals €750 p/w OR €3000 p/m minus rent = 2600 p/m
So it looks a lot better money wise (before all bills are paid) but this will mean more than just 30 hours of work per week. Each client requires time, planning and programming so you need to factor that in when taking on more clients.
If you want to continue educating yourself, reading, training yourself and then attending seminars ect… your 30 hour work week will realistically be more like a 40/50 hours a week packed full of early mornings, late nights and clients who will not always do what you tell them, yes, some clients lie, it’s a defensive mechanism. That’s okay, we all kid ourselves from time to time but CAN YOU work with them without tearing your hair out? Can you understand that client and reach out to them to figure out what it is they really need to change in their lives?
Ps. I don’t care how many likes you have on Instagram, likes don’t pay the bills.
You need to ask yourself why you want to become a personal trainer, is it because you see the glamorous fitness models on Insta and you want a bit of whatever they are having or is it that you want to become a sponsored athlete and earn a living from affiliate links? Or do you actually want to help people? You need to get rid of your own ego sit down and ask yourself the hard questions, why do you want to become a personal trainer? What is your WHY and be honest about it. Personal training is a service based business and is/was designed to qualify coaches in order to help OTHERS. If you are not motivated by helping others you will not succeed. Personal training is NOT about YOU, it’s about THEM. The people you take on as clients. If you are only motivated by self-gain, self-image and how being a personal trainer makes YOU feel #ego you again will not last the long game.
Some of the best personal trainers I know are not in the best shape of their lives because they are so busy helping other people be in the best shape of theirs.
So after reading all of the above and how bloody hard it is and believe me EVERY personal trainer knows exactly how hard it is to do what we do day in and day out and try to remain motivated you might be sitting their wondering: why the bloody hell do we do it?
Simple: We love it (most of the time)
Maybe we thrive on hardship haha but when all the hard work is said and done and you see a client blossom based on the help that you have given them it can be the most rewarding feeling in the world. To see a client learn to love and respect their bodies, to grow in self confidence and to develop a new positive attitude towards themselves is just so amazing. You will get to connect with and meet so many amazing people, build new relationships, learn about different lifestyles and work in a healthy environment every day. I love nothing more than helping my clients so that they do not need me anymore. That is great coaching. Teaching people how to look after THEMSELVES.
I love teaching classes and creating choreography and then watching as a room full of people follow along with my routine. I love the feedback I get for being a down to earth coach with a realistic approach towards good health and fitness in women’s lives. I will never coach that extreme body builder or bikini body competitor and not because they wont pay but because that is not MY VISION of what good health and fitness looks like. Respect to those that do and those that compete but it is not something that I would promote or advocate for in my opinion it can do more harm to self esteem than good.
I am very proud to see my vision of helping women, the mums, the shift workers, the busy no time for 5 days a week in the gym ladies achieve their goals with my help because the reality is, most of us do not have the time we might like to dedicate to the gym because of other commitments in our lives so when I see women thrive from either completing my online home workout/nutrition plans or when they find 2 days a week to exercise when before that they had NO days to exercise and realise how great that makes them feel then that is AMAZING to me.
I understand the women that I can help, I know what they are going through, I know how they feel, I know where they want to go and I know how to facilitate that. Am I a perfect coach? No, of course not, will I help absolutely everyone? No of course not, not everyone will like my approach or will like how I run my business and hey, guess what, that’s perfectly okay. You will never please everyone so stop trying. My ego takes a hit regularly because that is the nature of the business but I stopped caring about that a long time ago. If something does not suit someone they will hop to the next coach or the next class and that is not a reflection on you, if you deliver a great service and can go to sleep at night knowing you gave your best then that is what matters. (People can steal your passion, hold onto it tightly and always remember, you will not help everyone and that is okay)
I do know that I have an amazing service, I do know that the quality of the plans I deliver are top notch because I have worked my ass off for years listening to feedback from clients and then learning to implement that into an action plan that works. I know it works, I have a hundred testimonials to prove it. I get thank you emails, texts, messages regularly about how I have helped the mindset of a women who hated how she felt about herself and how from either following my feed on social media or completing any of my plans or attending my classes has helped her regain a little confidence back in herself. How bloody amazing is that? Helping someone love themselves more… What’s not to love about that? Why do I know how amazing a feeling that is? Because I hated myself for such a long time that I know exactly how it feels to try and dig yourself out of a horrible hole.
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So do you still want to become a personal trainer? If the answer is yes and you have a rock solid why then you will do amazing things in the industry. Remember to be authentic to you and your beliefs but be flexible, its not your way or no way, be open to learning, I learn from clients all the time.
There are so many courses out there now but below I have a link to some of them:
Some books to read:
- Ego is the enemy
- Gary Vee – Any, all of his books
- Tony Robbins – Any, all of his books
- Strong and sculpted – Brad Schoenfeld
- Eat that frog – Brain Tracy
- How not to die – Michael Greger
I hope this has given you some insight into the world of working in the fitness industry. It is not perfect, there are so many different approaches to getting the same results out there so find the people who’s approach seems like the approach that sits right with your beliefs and learn from them.
If you have any questions just get in touch, I would be happy to help.