A Career In Personal Training?

A Career In Personal Training: Fancy a career as a Personal Trainer? Make sure it’s for you first….

    From the outside, Personal Training seems like the perfect job- you are not tied behind a desk, you get to use a gym for free, flexible hours, no ceiling on your earnings. It is easy to see why it so appealing! Like many things in life however, the fantasy does not always match up to the reality.
    There is so much more to being a Personal Trainer than most people realise. If it were as simple as spending 12 weeks on a course, followed by a limitless supply of clients then the failure rate would not be so high. As it stands, far more potential Personal Trainers fail than succeed. It takes work, it takes dedication and it takes more than a 12 week course to learn how the human body works.
    There are many companies advertised in fitness magazines who claim you can ‘become a Personal Trainer’ in 12 weeks. These courses promise the world, but if you take a second to think about it, how much can you actually learn in such a short space of time? You will cover many topics, but to what depth? To borrow an old phrase, you will be a Jack of all trades but a master of none. Not only that, it is going to cost you a few grand for the privilege! Call me cynical, but I would not be willing to pay anything up to £60 per hour to someone who spent a few weeks in a leisure centre learning how to turn on a treadmill. Where’s the science behind their approach? If I asked a question, could they answer it? After 12 weeks, I doubt it.
    If you are serious about a career in Personal Training, I strongly urge you to complete a relevant degree. You will find that a Sports Science degree is not even close to the PE you did in school. Forget running around a field being shouted at by a fat lady in leggings, Sports Science is Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, Exercise Physiology and Maths all applied to the human body. When you study a subject for three years or more, you don’t just learn the basics, you study to a much greater depth. More importantly, you apply that knowledge to real-life subjects. You see how different types of exercise affect physiology. You learn how to assess the improvements in capabilities of your clients. These are benefits that you simply can’t get from a course that lasts a few weeks.
    So when you have earned your qualification, what then?
    It is not simply a case of walking into a gym and generating a large client base within a week. These things take time. Consider how well-known you are. Have you ever worked in a gym before? Do you know potential clients? I would always suggest you spend some time working at a gym. Here you will learn the basics, apply your skills; see how different approaches reap different results. Here you will also learn that to function properly, a successful gym needs staff members who do slightly more than ogle the fit bodies in front of them. You learn how to maintain gym equipment, how to document client progress, how health club administration works, and most importantly you learn to deal with the public. If you have never dealt with the public before, this is perhaps the biggest challenge you will face. You will sink or swim by your confidence in dealing with people. Your clients have enjoy their sessions, otherwise they will never come back. Be cheeky, be interesting, be funny and ask them questions. My favourite clients eventually turn into friends, who in turn pass on recommendations. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.
    Strictly speaking there are two main avenues a Personal Trainer can take- you can be employed by a gym, or you can go self-employed. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, so it is up to you which path you take. Here are a few of the major advantages and disadvantages of each path.
    Employed
    Advantages
    You are supplied with clients.
    You have a steady base to work from.
    You have guaranteed income, even if clients are not around.
    You have no promotional work to do.
    You get a greater level of understanding of the industry.
    You don’t have to keep your own accounts.
    Disadvantages
    You are limited in what you can earn from PT alone.
    You have to take clients from your immediate surroundings.
    You don’t set your own prices.
    The employer can ask for a larger slice of the PT income.
    Self-Employed
    Advantages
    No limit on earnings.
    You are your own boss.
    Holidays when you like.
    You can recruit clients from anywhere.
    You can work wherever you like.
    Disadvantages
    You have to build your own client base.
    You risk losing out should clients be unable to train due to illness, injury, holidays etc.
    Dips in income during long holiday periods.
    Working hours dictated by clients.
    You have to maintain your own financial records and insurances.
    No stable working base.
    Final words of warning to all of those considering a career in Personal Training- if you are not a ‘people person’ don’t do it. You can’t possibly succeed in a job which requires such levels of social interaction if you can’t confidently speak to people. You could know every lump and bump of every bone in the body, you can know every exercise, every routine and every diet ever discussed, but if you don’t interact with people well, then there is only one career for you….
    Traffic Warden.
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