So you want to be a successful personal trainer in WA?
It seems to be the industry that everyone wants to get into — the industry where people believe the job is easy, money is good and the hours convenient!
A flexible life and all day chilling at the beach between clients! I’m here to tell you that it probably won’t be the reality. To be a good personal trainer, it takes a few key features not only to be successful but keep a good quality of life! Not only that, but constant education and training to further your credibility, knowledge and position in the field. Your hour long online courses just won’t cut it 😛
There are 5 things that I believe makes you a good personal trainer after being in this industry for 10 years:
1. Actual Genuine Passion in Helping People Change Their Lives
Gone are the days where people wanted to be in this industry to help people and are more in it thinking it’s going to gain them financial freedom and flexible hours. People can see through passion. If you’re not dedicated to giving your clients that 100% every session, you won’t last.
You’re a daily motivator. When you step in the gym, you need to be on the game. You can’t be tired, hung over, had a fight with your significant other, you can’t let your emotions get you down, and you can’t hide behind your desk.
The energy you bring to the sessions with your clients will decide if you succeed or fail. You’re there for them first and foremost. I cannot stand it when I’m training and I overhear a trainer tell a client about life problems, relationship issues, weekend, or start playing on the phone midsession. You’re there to be paid per minute — to be dedicated to YOUR CLIENT’S GOALS, not your own personal life. So assure you’re someone who is a good listener, positive and passionate about success in goals.
2. Patience, Creating Customisation, and Understanding
One big thing you will have to deal with daily is people’s problems, no matter how big or small, if they are in a session with you, you need to be able to deal with it fast. If a client comes in with a new injury you need to be able to change the game plan. If a client comes in after a breakup with her boyfriend, you need to know how to handle it. If a client emails you because they had a bad day and ate a whole chocolate cake, you need to deal with it, hahaha!
There is ALOT that you need to face mentally and I highly recommend doing some basic psychology studies. I’m very glad these were included in our university degree! A good trainer will listen to the client’s problems. A great trainer will listen, find a solution and put an action plan together. Not only it keeps the coach happy in terms of results but also it keeps the client happy. It’s all about being able to balance what you believe healthwise is appropriate for the clients and their own goals, which often don’t align.
Customising plans for them and understanding these plans may change along the way is key. The other key thing to being a successful personal trainer is being able to separate and switch off, removing your clients’ problems once you’re at home and from your head space, as often you’re a punching bag for their issues, and it takes a strong trainer to either know how to change their attitude or separate it from your own thoughts.
3. Preventing Burnout & Creating Financial Stability
Now there is a difference between being a successful coach financially and a successful coach both mentally and financially. It’s easy if you’re a half decent trainer to get clients, BUT the hard thing is getting busy. You only have so many hours in a week, so many PT spots available. These hours tend to me early AM and PM as well as generally Saturdays. Most busy personal trainers work Monday – Friday AM, Monday – Thursday PM, and Saturday. Your downtime on a Sunday you tend to be so physically exhausting to do anything with your 40-50 sessions a week to even get your own ass to the gym.
If you’re dedicated to your training, you still get your session in between clients, which means once you have finished your morning clients from 5 AM – 12 PM, eat a meal, chill for 5 minutes, get a training session, shower, eat again, it’s not 3 PM and you have clients again from 4 PM till 8 PM… These were the hours I did for years. Also, throw in a masters degree at university and contest prep for bikini and safe to say… I’m just exhausted reading that… that I was burnt OUT! This happens to most GOOD trainers and determines if they will become great or not.
The other things that tend to happen at this point: You hate the gym, you literally feel as if you’re living there with client sessions and begin to lose enjoyment on your own training, you struggle to find time to fit meals in with back to back clients, and you lack sleep with the hours. Three of the big things you preach to your clients: Eat regular meals, sleep, and get your own training. “Prioritise you girrllllll!”
So you’re on 40 sessions a week, have no social life, no downtime, no training time and your grinding away at $60 an hour for sessions = $2400 – $400 gym rent = $2000, minus tax at around 25% = $1500, minus GST as you will be over $75k GST threshold in Australia, there’s another $250 off, left with $1250, minus putting away your own superannuation, your own sick leave in case you require time off work -$500 a week, you’re left with $750, minus your home rent/mortgage and your car repayments and you’re left maybe a few hundred for food… It goes fast running your own business. And who when there 50 + is going to want to work those hours, constantly on the GRIND.
So learn to work smarter not harder. I believe to be a successful personal trainer, you need to know your worth and value your own time. Limit your sessions to certain days/times and assure you have nights off and at least 2 mornings off work, OR only work mornings or ONLY work nights. Otherwise give it a year and you will HATE being in the gym! Value your time, focus on more successful uses of your time e.g. semi-private training, group training, bootcamps, having another trainer work in your business, or run sessions, or even venture into programming and online avenues down the line ( I do NOT recommend doing this to begin, just be a damn good trainer first, get busy, THEN think about the long term plan)
4. Constant Education & Training
You can often become complacent as a personal trainer, people will be re-inventing the wheel on the regular, so it’s important to stay up to speed and also ahead of the game. People value knowledge, experience and education. The biggest way I learnt a lot in this industry fast is by working with more experienced people than me, asking questions, doing training courses, camps, seminars, workshops… anything I could get my hands and brain on!
Expanding my knowledge not only helped me be a more successful personal trainer in WA, but also, it helped me niche down my market, what I enjoy coaching and what clientele I want to work with the most. If you think your 6-month online personal training course will cut the mustard to make you a successful coach and educated, you can probably just quit right now. Drop the ego and understand it takes grind to get educated.
I believe mentoring is great also. Get mentored by successful trainers, coaches and people who aspire to be like. Pay trainers to train YOU at mentoring you within your business. Invest in education programs & training, even if it’s every 6-12 months to do some form of a refresher.
A big one is to sit and brainstorm your business — Where your successes and failures lie and then invest there. I found that for me, I got busy very fast in my first 2 years as a personal trainer, but my business back end was a mess, not understanding the accounts side, structuring systems better and begin more time efficient until I invested in business coaching and mentoring. Always work on your weaknesses. And if that is knowledge in nutrition, training, rehabilitation, or mobility or business, work on it! You don’t need to be an expert at it at all but find ways of always evolving to give your clients a better service.
5. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Just be a personal trainer first.
What I mean by this is a lot of people today are focusing so hard on their websites (**cough** took me at least 3 years to get my first one up and running, as I was too busy being a damn good trainer), business cards, email database, marketing tools and tricks, online businesses, nutrition, rather than JUST BEING A PERSONAL TRAINER.
If you want to evolve, you need to start at the bottom and work your way up. You don’t walk into the kitchen as an apprentice and run the whole kitchen… You start washing dishes. It’s important to work with different types of clients, personalities, ages, sexes so that you understand WHO you gell with and who you want to work with in the future. This helps create your niche and passion.
I don’t believe you can be a good online coach until you have physically coached people (just IMO). How can you explain to someone how to do something if you have never experienced the application firsthand besides with yourself? AND you need to remember that you’re experienced, probably athletic and co-ordinated. Trying to explain to a client online how to get their glutes firing may be a little difficult if you have never worked with difficult clients face to face before.
Being a good online coach also means knowing when someone may actually need face to face contact and not be experienced enough for online support only. SO KEEP IT SIMPLE… be a good personal trainer, grow and evolve then begin to look at the longer term plan. My best leads from clients come from genuine content, actual client transformations and testimonials, video contents, NOT from marketing and advertising, that’s forced. Create content that speaks to people and generate a brand full of authenticity.
In summary, the reason I wrote this blog is that, today, I looked at my current client list and waiting lists…
Fifty percent of my clients are either personal trainers themselves, in the health and fitness industry or training to be personal trainers…
NOW why am I giving away all this info? Wouldn’t some people be scared that your clients might turn around and steal your programs, nutrition plans, your theories and methodologies and potential business??
Because there is no single way of doing things, I love mentoring other trainers and helping them with their business and also empowering my clients to gain knowledge.
Ten years in and bring on the next 30+. Ain’t nobody gonna break my stride!
It excites me more to see my clients wanting to be involved further in the fitness industry and/or be more successful, and more educated, and passionate trainers.
Educational PT courses, in my opinion, are not the best these days. I’m still struggling to see one that ticks all the boxes of not only correct training but also nutrition, programming, client psychology, business strategies, mind muscle connection with clients, mobility, activation, and MORE, MORE, MORE.
Being a personal trainer in WA these days seems like the job that everyone does. Get qualified in 5-6 weeks and be able to be in control of someone’s whole health. To me, this doesn’t seem ethical. Now I’m not saying everyone that finishes these short courses is going to be a crap trainer BUT it’s vital if you want to succeed in this industry to keep learning, keep growing, keep pushing yourself in your business and knowledge and continue to grow.
Did you know that over 80% of personal trainers who finish PT courses fail in the first 12 months?
It’s not a job for everyone, and if you want to be a successful coach, it’s not a job that is actually as “easy” as everyone says. You need to hustle and grind as much as any other job and if your more if it’s your whole business.
So weigh up the pros and cons of wanting to be a coach.
Are you doing it because you like training yourself and think, hey it will be fun training others like me and think it will be a fun easy job where you just work some mornings and nights and can lay on the beach all day in summer? When in actual fact the hours are pretty crappy early mornings, late evenings, weekends, struggle to have a normal social life, and you need to MOTIVATE people on the daily.
Not every person you train will have the same passion as you and you need to be able to relate to these people too and motivate them, from novice to experienced, and beyond, not only to do it weekly but continue the clients’ passion on a long term basis… Deal with emotions on the daily, cancellations, no-show, problems with compliancy, and much more. Often, burnout and fatigue happen from the inconsistent hours, late nights, and early mornings. It can often even ruin your own passion for training if you’re always in the gym.
BUT the pros…
…are GIGANTIC if you love what you do. If you enjoy seeing people light up when you teach them something, have them say how much you have changed their lives, or day, or week, whatever it is! See people getting results in mind, body and strength. See people change their lifestyle habits.
Organise your business over time to be able to have better hours that work with your social life and other commitments (this is still a tough one!) and finding other areas to do with not just PT. You may want to be involved in e.g. studying nutrition or venturing into online coaching. There are always places to go in this industry.
BUT before you take the plunge, think about WHY and how it will affect your life now, during and after.
Your head coach,