Fitness presenting – which I’m defining here as presenting material in front of an audience of 10+ fitness professionals – can seem pretty glamorous when you’re at FILEX! It looks great, doesn’t it? They get to stand up there on stage, entertain people, present interesting ideas and then swan off to the next gig….right? When you first become a personal trainer, it seems like a great option – to be like the people teaching you in your fitness course.
Well – sort of! There are fantastic things about fitness presenting and not-so-fantastic things, as with everything in life. Here are a few of the pros and cons we have discovered along our journey.
It takes years to become any good! I began presenting in 2007 but I wouldn’t say I felt like I was very skilful until about 2012. Since 2011, I have attended at least eight presenting workshops for different companies and organisations and I’ve had to learn some tough things about myself at each and every one of them! If you’re not willing to have some bad experiences (some really awful!) and keep going, to learn how you really seem to an audience and put the work in to become better at your craft, then it’s not the gig for you.
Receiving negative feedback. Receiving negative feedback isn’t anyone’s favourite thing to do, is it? Sometimes you’ll receive negative feedback from participants, which hits like a punch in the guts – and then, later, once you’ve finished being defensive, might give you some insight into how to improve your presenting. But gosh it can be hard to hear – I still remember every single incident of negative feedback I’ve ever received.
Travel. This is both a pro and a con – the con side of it? You’ll be getting up at 5am to get to the airport for that first flight out and returning home after 10pm…but for your usual day’s wages. There’s a general difficulty involved in eating well on the road. You’ll deal with the occasional loneliness that can strike when you’re in a hotel room on your own in a not-very-nice part of some faraway town.
Tough crowds. Luckily, this doesn’t happen too often; most participants want to be in the room and are keen to learn. But occasionally, you’ll have someone in the group who simply doesn’t want to be there. They might be there because their manager is forcing them to be there, or purely for the CECs, with zero interest in learning anything you’re going to teach. These people are energy vampires and their grumpy attitude can infect others around them. A day spent exuding energy trying to inspire a group with a few people like this in it can feel like a very, very long day!
You’ll grow as a person. Like the saying goes, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. I remember absolutely shaking with nerves the first few times I had to speak in front of an audience of my peers. Mastering that fear feels fantastic.
You’ll stretch your brain! Without a doubt, without presenting, I would never have managed to learn all of the new information I’ve been exposed to in the past few years. I feel privileged to be able to learn content created by world experts. It’s a gift and not something I would have done to that depth if I were left to my own devices.
Travel. Both a pro and a con, for sure! The good bits include flying enough to gain coveted frequent flyer status at airports – and access to the lovely lounge, with free food and drink. You won’t have much extra time when you travel, but sometimes you get a few hours to sneak a peek at a new place.
The participants. Participants are often the best part of your day. Sometimes you’ll turn up at a course, tired or uninspired, and you’ll walk out hours later feeling on top of the world, purely because of the amazing attitudes your participants brought to their learning. Nothing is more refreshing than meeting new PTs who are eager to have their horizons expanded and change the world. Talk about a cure for feeling jaded!
The networking. From club owners to PT managers to studio owners to trainers themselves, I feel like I have a network of like-minded people in every city in Australia to go and train with, bounce ideas off or just hang out with! Having a network of fitness professionals to link in with is a great resource and makes me feel very connected.
If you’re interested in maybe starting along the path to teaching and presenting, the first thing to do is ask your own organisation if you can help out in any way – teaching new clients or new staff members something. You’ll definitely need to actually participate and experience some courses – there’s no chance of presenting something if you’re not already a raving fan! There are many personal training courses out there, covering all types of tools and topics. Which ones interest you the most? You might want to approach more experienced presenters to see if you can sit in on courses you’ve participated in. Be prepared, as you’ll generally sit in on a few training courses (without getting paid) to observe before you even start being allowed to learn to lead a group. Be patient, keep putting your hand up and letting people know that when opportunities arise, you’d like to be considered.