Personal Training- What I Wish I Knew Before Starting
In a world where everyone and their dog is a personal trainer or coach in some aspect, it is important to fully understand the role and what it entails before venturing into something out of your depth, I was lucky to realise this early on. After diving into the world of fitness and personal training from a young age, I quickly found I was somewhat ill prepared, having received my certifications around age 17, I felt there was a lot left to be desired from the training I received, with vague anatomical, nutritional and programming resources accessible for what you pay for. I felt it was a largely rushed process, that did not fully prepare one for being responsible for another’s health and lifestyle choices, with intensive courses lasting as little as 8 weeks, when in reality it is a process better off not rushed.
This is not to shun the importance of accreditation within the industry, as I am sure many readers will understand the necessity of such things considering it is such a large part of the mission statement here at Fitbook. In reality, this is an industry in which one will never stop learning, regardless of certifications, degrees and experience, as every client brings with them a new challenge with individual conditions and requirements. There are various complications/ issues with the industry that I was not fully aware of and wish I understood prior to entering the industry.
There is a general lack of knowledge
In my opinion, the most frustrating issue with the industry at the moment is the lack of knowledge and competence displayed by personal trainers and people with influence/ presence, especially on social media platforms. With complete disregard to basic training principles and instead, insisting on re-inventing the wheel in order to stand out or fit into a niche.
The reality is, in order to truly receive output from this industry, you first must be willing to input a lot more than you receive, in the form of first spending time and money in order to acquire a level of knowledge sufficient enough to even consider taking responsibility for another’s health. This could come in the form of external accredited courses e.g. biomechanics, nutrition, programming etc.
You, as a fitness professional have a responsibility to provide a service and information that is scientifically accurate, along with programming that is safe, suited to the client and fit for purpose.
Marketing is everything
More often than not, the most successful personal trainers are not the ones with the most knowledge, experience or those in the best shape. The most successful ones are those who are able to market themselves efficiently to their demographic, through the likes of social media, websites etc. This is an important tool necessary for anyone wanting to make personal training their primary focus/ source of income, as mentioned above this is something you will have to initially invest in to reap reward from. This initial investment can be the likes of hiring a videographer to film promo/ exercise tutorial videos for your social media page etc. The personal training market in this current climate is exceptionally saturated and with this, there comes great difficulty in being able to truly tell the difference between someone who is of good standard and someone who is simply good at marketing to a demographic. In light of this it is also paramount that you are able to market yourself in a way that is clear and concise.
It will be exceptionally hard to make a steady income from personal training
This is something many people may protest against, however the truth is, client turnover rates are always going to be high, to some extent this is out of your control as a trainer as it is a variable you have no influence over. Along with this, finding a multitude of clients that are going to consistently pay over a prolonged period of time is rare. If you are doing a good job of both helping you client reach their fitness goals, along with educating them on their journey, a client will eventually find your services obsolete. Of course, there will be clients who need the consistent push and will require your services for a long period of time, however these type of clients will not make up a majority of your demographic. When considering the overhead costs you will have to be paying such as business tax, insurance and site rent fees for the gym you will be based out of (all of which are necessary), a large chunk of your monthly income has already been spent (considering most gyms charge no less than 300 per month for rent at the lowest), this is excluding your personal bills such as rent etc.
To conclude, below are my top tips for being a successful personal trainer (anecdotally speaking of course):
- Take your time to learn
- Educate your clients
- Prioritize marketing to your demographic
- Accept you will never know it all
- Be objective with learning
- Be subjective to the client
- Do not focus solely on monetary gain
- Be willing to give more than you get
- Enjoy every minute
By Tireoghain O’Neill