So, you are into working out and think becoming a personal trainer would be the greatest job in the world.
You get to make your own schedule, receive a free gym membership and lift weights all day.
What could be better?
Well, the truth is, the life of a personal trainer in a corporate gym is far from perfect.
In all honesty, you can expect to work irregular hours and put up with bullshit just like any other job.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s better than working in an office all day, but there are definitely some things you should be aware of before you decide to spend time and money on getting a PT certification.
10 Things I wish I knew Before Becoming a Personal Trainer
#1 – You won’t be making any money for at least 6 months
When I first got hired as a trainer, I was more than a little disappointed in the pay structure. For each thirty minute session, I made a whopping $6.
That means I made a grand total of $12 an hour which wouldn’t be bad if I had 40 hours worth of clients every week.
But that just doesn’t happen right out of the gate.
#2 – It takes time to build up a client list
When you first start life as a personal trainer, you will be lucky if you get 10 hours worth of clients a week.
Most gyms only sell programs that include 30-minute sessions, so if your clients are all once a week appointments (which most of them will be) you will need 20 clients just to work 10 hours a week.
20 clients is a lot of different people and personalities to deal with which leads me to my next tidbit of information.
#3 – Expect to work with at least 10 different clients a day
Unless you are an independently contracted trainer, the only way you will make enough money to survive is by working with a high number of clients every day.
If all of your sessions are just 30-minutes, you will have to meet with 16 clients a day to work an average 8-hour shift.
Factor in that all of your clients will be at different fitness levels and have different (sometimes unbearable) personalities and you could be in for some really long days.
This can lead to burnout if you aren’t careful and most trainers that take on that type of client load don’t last very long.
#4 – Most “fitness professionals” are nothing more than a salesman with no actual fitness knowledge
Like any other industry, the fitness industry is all about making sales and keeping the gym open for business.
Nobody in a corporate gym actually gives a shit about anyone achieving their fitness goals.
It’s all about making that green baby.
Money money money.
If you are expecting to work at a corporate gym because you want to help people then come up with another plan.
#5 – Most personal trainers are unqualified
Getting certified as a personal trainer is so easy it’s scary.
Pretty much anyone with a pulse and a textbook can study for a certification test and pass within a couple of months, even if they have no prior fitness knowledge.
This is bad because most of the information contained in the certification textbooks isn’t practical.
All the certification companies will teach you is a bunch of bullshit exercises and flawed fitness assessments.
As a result, corporate gyms are now flooded with trainers that are out of shape weaklings that have no practical exercise experience.
Speaking of that, I can still remember the highest paid trainer at the last corporate gym I worked at.
He was a tall man with a beard and giant beer belly who looked like he had never touched a weight in his life.
Pretty amazing right?
#6 – Expect to be working when everyone else isn’t
Most trainers start the day at 5AM and train clients until 12PM.
Then, they go home for a couple hours until it is time to go back to the gym and train night clients from 3PM to 9PM.
Understand that during those times you will not have clients back to back. You might have 3 clients in a row and then nobody for a 2-hour gap.
Most people will say,
“Yeah well, you can workout during that time”.
Sure you could, but if you are training with the correct intensity, you will only be able to train productively for maybe an hour a day.
What do you do with the rest of your time?
I’ll tell you what I did, I worked on this website.
You should use your free time wisely and have other projects to work on or you will become extremely bored and aggravated waiting around for clients to show up every day.
#7 – You will most likely be dealing with gym managers that have no actual fitness knowledge
Every gym has a manager that is in charge of all the personal trainers.
In my experience, most of these guys have no idea how to train themselves let alone design a program for a client.
As long as they stay out of your business, none of that matters.
But, like any other job, you can get unlucky and get stuck with a micromanager who will try and tell you how to train your clients.
You can deal with this a couple of different ways.
You can just ignore them and train your clients as you know they should be trained or you can go find a job at another gym since all of them are hiring all the time.
#8 – Corporate gyms can be high-stress high turnover environments
Most Corporate gyms have adopted a structure where personal trainers are only responsible for client retention and a separate sales department is responsible for selling training memberships.
This can be a good or bad thing.
If you work in a gym with a great sales team then you will almost never have any issues.
You will have plenty of clients and nobody will be on your ass about anything unless all of your clients cancel their training sessions.
However, if you have an average sales team, they won’t be very good at selling high priced training programs.
This will lead to them being treated poorly by their bosses which leads to them quitting the job altogether.
When you have constant turnover in the sales department at your gym, very few new clients sign up for training each month which means your client list will be pretty small.
A small client list means a small paycheck.
Having a small paycheck means you will eventually have to find another job so you can make ends meet.
#9 – Half of your clients will not be dependable
Most people don’t like to go to the gym to begin with, let alone bust their ass with someone that forces them to work hard.
Unless you are one of the best trainers in the world (which you won’t be) then you can expect plenty of last minute cancelations from your clients every week.
In order to fix that problem, you have to be strict with people.
Tell them that they must give you a 24-hour notice of an appointment cancelation or you will charge them a session.
Remember to keep your word or your clients will treat you like shit and walk all over you.
#10 – Some of your clients will be so out of shape that you can’t do much with them
When I first pictured myself as a personal trainer I saw visions of myself working with clients that were normal able-bodied people.
I thought I would be able to teach everyone the basic barbell lifts and they would all make great progress in a short amount of time.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Most clients you get will be so out of shape that they are literally one ball hair away from death.
You have to realize that the average person in modern day society does everything in their power to do the least amount of daily physical activity possible.
Couple that with the fact that they have been inactive for many years and you have a recipe for one disgusting, fat, out of shape motherfucker.
Understand that you will need to develop a good amount of patience when dealing with your clients.
For the first few months of training, you might have to make the workouts ridiculously easy so your clients get into the habit of working out and keep coming back for sessions.
This is fine, just be polite and encouraging and progress them to harder exercises SLOWLY.
The last thing you want to do is actually use your CPR certification.
What I Would Have Done Differently
If I could hop in the Delorean and go back in time with that weird scientist guy, I would definitely do a few things differently in order to make my transition into the fitness industry smoother.
- I would keep my regular day job and start working as a personal trainer part-time in a corporate gym
- Once I felt confident enough and had some experience working with people, I would have built my own local training business with my own clients while still working my other job.
Instead of making $12 an hour as a corporate wage slave you can charge whatever you want (usually at least $60 an hour).
This will allow you to make a decent living from being a trainer much sooner and give you much more independence and freedom in your life.
Becoming a personal trainer isn’t as glamorous as everyone makes it out to be.
It did provide me with a flexible job that gave me some income to live off of while I worked on other businesses but, I would not advise jumping into the fitness industry head first if you have actual bills to pay.
Make the transition slowly and go independent as soon as you feel like you are ready.
From The Man Himself –