I was chatting to a newly minted personal trainer the other day and in my avuncular way (look it up, oh all right it means like an uncle) I wanted to give her the best shot at making a go of the industry, so I gave her real facts and real figures, what I always try to do here whenever PTA invite me to share. I mean there is nothing worse than say the shredded guy or girl who tells you one thing ie they just do heavy squats and take creatine, when in fact the secret to their “shrededness” is an eating disorder or steroids. So, none of that from me – ask me anything and within reason I will tell you the absolute truth!
Why am I saying this – because I really do want you to write in and ask whatever it is you need to know before you take the plunge to do your personal training certification.
Ok, so back to the beginner personal trainer, for our first question in this new series, she wanted to know if I could tell who would or wouldn’t make it in this career. Now she wasn’t asking me this because I have a crystal ball, because I don’t, but because having been around a while now I have seen plenty come, and sadly some go and have got a sense of what makes it work for some, so here goes.
1. You actually like people
This is not as obvious as it sounds. I have seen people who are great salespeople who sign up lots of clients then look incredibly bored, and burn out. They got turned on by the sales process not the training process. Liking people is about knowing you have tools to help them become their best self. To learn they are stronger, braver, more resilient than they ever thought. It means being excited when they win. It means thinking about how you can better their lives, not just enrich your bank account. It also means being pretty bummed if they have to move on, but that is another days issue.
So, now let’s break it down – you are a PERSON-AL (ie there is a person) TRAINER. And the people that thrive no matter how different their personalities are want to help, they’re the sort of person that lend a hand, help friends move, go the extra mile. Is that you?
2. You give yourself a financial runway
Unless you’re fully salaried from the get-go, it is going to take some time to build up a consistent clientele. How long, well, I’ve seen it done in 3 months, I’ve seen people take 2 years, but let’s say you should plan for 6-9 months to hit your straps. That means either cutting expenses for a while, or having a side gig till things pick up fully, or better yet, some savings so you can spend your time when you’re not training people continuing to skill up and market yourself. Of course all paths differ, and you might be fully paid as I said, but likewise, lots of people want to run their own studio one day, and in that case you need to assume the business might take a year before it is fully supporting you. If you’re unsure about all this get some advice – Fitness Australia is not a bad place to start.
3. Find a niche (preferably one with people who can pay!)
I guess one of the advantages of being older like me is executives and professionals who can afford my services also feel comfortable that I will understand their unique challenges. So what do you bring, what is your story? Are you an ex-gymnast, post-pregnancy, recovered from injury, used to work in finance/film/farming? Find out “who” you are in the fitness space and own it, it’s not overnight, but eventually you can be the go-to person in your gym in that area, make a name for yourself in the media, and spin-off in to other lucrative areas to complement your offering.
So, keep the questions coming, and remember – some of the keys to success are being a people person, having a financial plan and building over time an exclusive niche.
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