If you are considering moving to a career in fitness, you may have some reservations about whether or not it is the right path for you.
An interest in fitness is certainly not all that is required to be successful as a fitness instructor. You will need to be focused, business-minded, organized, positive, and full of energy at all times.
In this article, I will be answering the question “is it worth being a personal trainer”, what is required in order to have a successful career as a personal trainer, and what kind of reward you can expect to gain.
After you have read this article, you should be in no doubt as to whether or not it is worth becoming a personal trainer. I’ll also be adding in the main personal training pros and cons so that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
Personal training can be a difficult but incredibly rewarding career. You can help people reach their fitness goals and create life-changing body transformations. However, It can also be a very stressful and tiring career that is not for everyone.
To be clear from the start, being a pt is a tough career, and there are pros and cons to being a personal trainer.
You may have seen trainers walking around in your local gym and thought that it looks like a pretty relaxed and easy lifestyle.
After all, it’s just writing up programs for people and walking them through the exercises whilst you chat to them, right?
Please don’t get me wrong, I worked as a personal trainer in London for nearly ten years, and I loved it!
I just want to make the realities of being a fitness instructor very clear in this article by adding a list of the pros and cons of being a personal trainer so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not you think it is worthwhile starting a career in fitness.
The easiest way for you to decide “is it worth it to become a personal trainer” or not is for me to list the pros and cons. You can then weigh them up for yourself. There will be no sugar coating in this article, you will hear the truth about being a personal trainer, and nothing else!
It’s always nice to start on a positive note, so let’s begin with why becoming a personal trainer is worthwhile.
Ok, let’s get to it with being a personal trainer’s pros and cons.
Pros and cons of being a personal trainer
1. The money is fantastic!
I’m starting on this point because if you are going to embark on a career, you might want to do something you love, but if you don’t want to fall behind on mortgage repayments, you’ll want to be getting paid to do it.
The average cost of a 1-hour personal training session in London is £50-60.
In all likelihood, this means you would be able to easily earn in a few hours, what you currently earn in a whole eight-hour day.
In order for you to earn £30,000 a year, you would only need to complete 600 sessions or 12.5 hours of work per week. To put that fully into perspective, it equates to about two and a half hours of actual work per day.
I can assure you that landing yourself enough sessions per week to cover two and a half hours each day is incredibly easy.
It’s actually far more likely that you will be completing four or five sessions each day, so at a conservative £50 an hour, you would be looking at roughly £48,000.
This is one of the answers that should make the answer to “is being a personal trainer worth it?” pretty obvious.
Earning this amount of money for four hours of work each day is most people’s dream, and with personal training, if you get your sales pattern down, you could very well be earning this kind of income within six months to a year.
2. Your job is something you really enjoy
Lots of people say they enjoy their job, but if you are a real fitness enthusiast, can you think of a more perfect job than being in a gym all day where you get to teach other people about your favorite hobby whilst seeing them become fitter and fitter because of your instruction?
You can use all of your enthusiasm for exercise to help motivate and guide your clients towards reaching their goals, which is an opportunity that very few careers can offer.
I remember when I used to get the Sunday night blues every single week because I hated my previous jobs so much. When I became a personal trainer, this instantly disappeared and I can honestly say that I couldn’t wait to get back to work on Monday morning so I could see my clients.
3. You get to train your friends all-day
As I have stated in other articles on this site, people only buy from people they like. So you will know that your clients must like you to at least some degree, and they certainly trusted you enough to part with their hard-earned cash!
Not every client will stay with you forever, and it tends to be the ones that you have the least connection with that leave you.
What you are left with is a bunch of clients that you can talk to very easily and genuinely care about how they are and what they are getting up to in their lives. This group of people stop feeling like clients and start feeling a lot more like friends after a few months of getting to know you.
You will find that after spending a few hours a week with a person, you can end up seeing them more than they see their own group of friends.
Because of the level of trust between yourself and your clients, you will create a strong bond with them and they will feel comfortable telling you all about their lives.
This is an aspect of training I really enjoyed, as it allowed me to really get to know them as people, not just as clients.
4. You can choose what hours you work
You can (within reason) decide what hours you decide to train clients each day. You can even decide if you don’t fancy working on Fridays that you can have long weekends each week.
This does take some time to establish, but once I had my client base organized, I managed to move all my Friday sessions to other days of the week and I had long weekends for the full last year of my training career.
There are not many careers where you have this kind of freedom, so it’s a pretty good perk of the job.
5. You can get out in the open
Working inside all day isn’t for everyone, so for people that prefer to get out in the open, personal training is a great career choice. With the correct equipment (and insurance of course), you have the freedom to train your clients wherever and whenever you like.
You may find that a lot of your clients will prefer to be training indoors once the winter comes round and it starts to get colder and wetter outside, but the fact that you have the choice in the first place is again very rare in a profession.
6. The job itself is pretty easy
Once you have your client base established and a regular training schedule organized, you can write up everyone’s programs for the next few weeks or months, then all that is left to do is train them.
You only need to demonstrate new exercises to them once every few weeks and ensure their safety and enjoyment through the rest of that particular program.
As long as you can keep count of reps, and keep your client entertained and motivated, you are all set. There really isn’t much more to the role than that.
7. There’s never a dull day
There was never a day in my career when I came home from a day’s work as a trainer and thought “that was boring” as I did in some of my admin roles.
This is because every day is different.
You will be training multiple clients each day with different goals, using different training techniques, and having conversations with lots of interesting people about their lives.
There is not really any way that you could ever get bored as a personal trainer as long as you have sessions booked on that day.
A client may hit a personal best, you may have a really funny conversation with them, or they may hit one of their training goals.
There is always something different happening each day.
8. You get to work out as much as you want
In between clients, your time is your own. If you have a spare few hours, you can either train yourself in the gym or go outside to get some fresh air.
I used to work in London, so if I had a gap between sessions, as long as I didn’t need any new clients, I would take walks around London to see the sights in the summer.
It was fantastic!
I was also managing to get in my own workouts every single day and was in the best shape of my life whilst I was training people.
Don’t forget that you will be around dozens of other exercise professionals, so you can learn new training techniques and styles from them that can really help improve your own training programs or diets.
If you love to exercise and want to get paid to be in a place you love all day, a fitness instructor is one of the best options you will have.
Cons of being a personal trainer
1. The money isn’t always great
You might be confused by this because I said the money was great, right? Well, it is, as long as you are successful and manage a large and consistent client base.
There are plenty of personal trainers out there making very little money, and some of them are actually getting into debt with the gyms they are working in because they can’t afford to pay the rent.
The figures I stated at the start of the article do not take into account the gym rent you will need to cover, which can be upwards of £15,000 per year depending on the chain you decide to use.
There is also a constant battle to keep your clients so that you can maintain your income. It’s not unheard of for companies in the city to make large layoffs in a single month, which could end up in you losing a large portion of your client base and with it, your income.
The figures I stated were also more likely to be attained by trainers who have been consistently training for several years and have gained the type of client base that consistently pays them large amounts of money each month.
For new trainers, you will likely be starting off with just a few sessions a week, and once you are paying full rent, things can start to get a little scary.
2. It’s seriously competitive
I was very lucky to work in a gym once where there was fantastic comradery between all the trainers. We all trained in our own ways and there were plenty of clients to go around. This meant there was no backstabbing or competition between the clients.
Let me tell you, this is not the norm at all.
If you are working for a large commercial gym, you will be working with sometimes twenty to thirty other trainers (depending on the size of the gym) that want and need clients just as badly as you.
I’ve also worked in gyms where there weren’t enough members interested in paying for training to keep everyone’s diaries full and I can tell you that things get pretty ugly, pretty fast.
As long as there is a good enough ratio of members to trainers, you should be ok, it’s just that I have seen plenty of occasions when trainers have stabbed each other in the back to gain a few more sessions a week.
3. It can be exhausting
You can choose your hours as I stated above, but this is again once you have an established client base that will be ok with you moving around their sessions.
In the early days of your training career, you should expect long days in the gym.
It was not uncommon for me to find myself working 14 to 16-hour days in the search for clients whilst I was building up my base. I can assure you that after a few months of waking up at 5 am and getting home at 10 pm each night, it starts to get seriously tiring.
Don’t forget that one of the benefits of exercise that you are showing people is increased energy. You should therefore be showing your clients that because you exercise and are so healthy, you have tons of energy. It’s pretty hard to show that when you’ve been on your feet for 12 hours and you’ve only had 6 hours of sleep.
4. It can be a very stressful and challenging career
To keep this point simple, let me outline some of the things that can lead to a personal training carer being pretty damn stressful.
- Owing the gym tens of thousands of pounds or dollars in rent
- Losing clients
- Long tiring days
- Dealing with difficult customers
- Dealing with sales (if you are uncomfortable with this)
- Unreliable income
- No sickness or holiday pay
This is not an exhaustive list at all, and each person deals with these issues in their own way. To many people, these would be no problem at all, but for some, they can be deal-breakers.
This is a crazy statistic that states that up to 90% of trainers quit the profession in the first year. The issues I have mentioned above will be some of the main reasons why this is the case.
Are personal trainers in demand?
Something else to consider when deciding if you should become a personal trainer or not is are personal trainers in demand across the country, and especially in your local area.
Well, the good news to start with is that personal trainers are becoming more and more sought after across not only the UK but also the USA. In fact, according to some studies, it is likely that there will be an increase of personal trainers of up to 10% across the next decade.
That shows the need for personal trainers is going up and up each and every year, so you can be fairly sure that personal training isn’t going away any time soon.
People are focussing more and more on their health these days (especially after the global pandemic), and obesity levels are only getting worse across the globe. It is my prediction that the need for trainers will continue to increase for at least another decade.
What about in your area though?
This point is potentially more important to find out than whether personal trainers are in demand in general, as it might be becoming more popular as a career across the board, but, if there is little to no demand in your local area, these stats really won’t help you very much.
It’s vital that you find out if there are gyms in your area that are hiring personal trainers, and if they are, try to see if you can talk to a few of them before deciding to work as a trainer or coach in your location.
If there seems to be an abundance of trainers that all say they are doing ok, then maybe that’s good enough to give you the green light, if there are only a few and they seem to be struggling, you may want to consider scouting out a better area to offer your services.
If whilst conducting your research on your area, you discover that there are only a few trainers working, but, you see that they seem to be very busy, you may have struck gold.
Finding an area where PTs are clearly in demand (due to the working trainers having busy schedules), but there are very few of them around, is about as good as you can get as a trainer.
It would mean you have found a location where people are willing to pay for training, but you have very little competition, which makes it very easy for you to swoop in and take any additional clients that are desperate to train but cannot get booked in with the few other trainers.
This is the perfect scenario, as you may even be able to charge more as supply outstrips demand. That’s a pretty great situation to be in!
So is personal training a dying career?
Yes in some ways and no in another!
Considering what I just said, it may surprise you to hear this, but I do think that personal training is a dying career in terms of 1-2-1 training.
The old school training styles of meeting clients and working with them in person in gyms and parks are becoming less popular for trainers, as the costs involved can be enormous.
With internet connections becoming faster and more reliable over the last few years, online coaching is starting to get really popular amongst trainers as the business costs are virtually nonexistent, and the opportunity to train multiple people from across the globe at once massively increases the earning potential when compared to training a single person for an hour at a time on a 1-2-1 basis.
Gyms have been charging trainers hundreds of pounds or dollars a month to use their facilities for decades, and the expenses involved in running a fitness business are one of the main reasons for the crazy 90% of new trainers leaving the industry within one year of qualifying.
I strongly predict that online coaching and personal training will overtake traditional 1-2-1 in-person training within the next few years.
So, personal training as a career is not dying, but the traditional way that it is delivered is, in my opinion at least.
So, is it worth being a personal trainer?
I wanted to explain the cons of the industry so that you can see the realities of being a PT. This will help you make your own decision as to whether or not you decide to join the fitness industry.
The great news is that all of the negative points can be worked around and improved so that they are of no concern to you.
Yes, you will lose clients, but that’s why you have a plan in place to pick up new ones as required. You will be tired and stressed at some points, but this happens in all careers and with proper organization, you can easily minimize and even prevent this from occurring.
I want to make one thing very clear
I loved being a personal trainer!
It was an incredibly worthwhile and rewarding career that gave me many years of happiness. I met some wonderful people and was in the best shape of my life. I also made a ton of money doing it, so that certainly helped.
Hope the list of personal training pros and cons hasn’t put you off a carer as a personal trainer, it really is great fun and rewarding.
Now that you have this information in front of you, I hope it has made your decision a little easier. And just remember that whatever choice you make in the end, it will be the right one.
Go get ’em!
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