The title of this blog comes from a comment made to me by Jeffery D (he actually wanted me to use his full name just so you know) about what criteria he used to choose where he set up his PT Business. This guy is a successful PT, but when it came to the crunch he admitted he didn’t ask any of the important questions about his gym chain and future place of business when he was looking around, but just felt he’d feel good in their uniform. He was right by the way, he does look very good in it – which is lucky because this is probably not the best way to choose your place of work!

As a newly minted PT what exactly should you look for, what questions should you ask before signing your employment contract on the dotted line? Although this article is not meant to be an exhaustive breakdown of the pros and cons of say F45 vs Anytime vs Fitness First as workplaces, it is meant to help you do your “due diligence” so you can find out what is on offer and ask the right questions.

The personal training industry provides so many different opportunities that your first step is to open your mind to what is available:

  • Do you want part-time or full-time work?
  • Do you want to be paid a wage regardless of how hard you work, or do you want to have the capacity to earn more (and therefore possibly less) if you work harder?
  • Do you want to run your own independent PT business, or work under the umbrella of a recognised chain/brand?
  • Do you want to be involved with kids or seniors, pregnant women or bodybuilders, or all comers?
  • Do you want to be a part of a sporting club, rehabilitation facility or train the general population for fat loss and fitness?
  • Do you want to own your own facility be it independent, 24 hour or something else?

To properly consider these questions and others like them, you will need to do some research. Some of PTA’s own lecturers were the starting place for my research. I talked to a “franchised” trainer and another that was on staff at a different gym. Although both worked for large well-known brands, their “work-lives” were really different. Hours worked, compensation (money), risk, we’re all different. However one of the really big things to consider, and it’s not easily measurable is what I call the “us and them” syndrome. Would you be happier in an environment where everyone works for the same company, from the cleaners to the managers, the customer support to the personal trainers? This sort of environment really provides a “team” feel, where there is no us and them. Or are you happy to be in a franchise system, which can work quite differently?

I have chosen to run my PT business in a  franchised structure so all the staff apart from the PT’s are employed by the gym chain, and all the PT’s are independent businesses. And when I say independent, I mean it – each of us runs our own business within the gym so we’re all independent of each other (although sometimes two or three PT’s do join up and go under at least the same branding). In practise it can feel the same and I am lucky in my club that the manager goes out of his way to have no “us and them”, but at the end of the day, in this model you are on your own, and whilst you can earn really good money, I have also seen it go wrong for people who didn’t realise the difference between collecting regular money each week no matter how modest, and collecting none or very little if you haven’t had a good week running your PT Business.

The best advice I could possibly give is to find stuff out! Research! Unlike Jeffery who was content with whatever the job was, providing he got to wear the nice looking uniform, you need to find out – how is the pay structured? Can I work flexible hours? Will I be on staff, is there commission available? Ask, ask, ask. You can get some information from the clubs, some from PT’s there, some from Fitness Australia, some from PTA. But remember too… this is the beginning of your fitness career, there is a lot of wisdom in trying out things, even if ultimately you discover it is not the way you want to go forever.

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