If you are looking to become a personal trainer, you may well be wondering if personal training is a full-time job, or if some PTs only train clients part-time?.
If so, how many hours do they usually work?
If these are the sorts of questions you have about starting a career as a fitness instructor, don’t worry, in this article, I will be addressing whether or not personal training is a full-time role, how many hours on average you may need to work and how to organize your week as efficiently as possible.
Personal trainers work a minimum of 40 hour work weeks, which is enough to be considered a full-time role. However, there are many more trainers that work far more hours than this each week, but with proper organization, you can decide how many hours per week you choose to work.
What are the average hours personal trainers work each week?
Being a personal trainer full time entails 50 to 60 hours per week, with an average day lasting 10-12 hours. The minimum they would work is 40 hours per week, but this is less common.
Because of this, most personal trainers would say that their role is certainly full-time.
In fact, the reality is that most personal trainers not only work at least fifty hours each week but probably many more hours than this.
These hours only take into account the time spent physically in the gym itself. It does not take into account any work conducted at home or whilst traveling.
Work such as:
- Programme design
- Continuing education
- Completing courses
Just these activities alone could easily add an additional six or more hours to each week. And this is whilst the trainers have a large client base to work with.
At the beginning of a trainer’s career, they will need to spend a great deal of time in the gym in order to establish rapport with members, booking in and conducting enough complimentary sessions in order to build their client base up.
This may mean that initially, you could be looking at twelve to fourteen-hour workdays, but remember this is only whilst you are building a base, your hours should be reduced once you have established yourself in a gym. Being a full-time personal trainer does not mean you need to run yourself into the ground.
Do trainers really need to work so many hours?
It is a common misconception that in order to be successful as a PT you will need to be in a gym from opening to close, Monday to Friday of each week.
With the right organization, you can decide how many hours you work.
The average turnover rate for new personal trainers is 90% per year! Which I think you’ll agree is a shocking statistic.
I feel a large contributing factor to this statistic would be trainer burnout, which is when trainers work so many hours per week that they become completely drained of energy during their sessions and they become physically ill due to lack of sleep.
It’s seen by some trainers as some kind of badge of honor to say they are awake at 4 am each day and getting no more than 5 hours sleep each night because they are so busy.
This is an entirely unsustainable lifestyle and at some point will catch up with them.
So how can I reduce the hours I work as a PT?
You will hear when taking your qualifications that the great thing about being a trainer is that you get to decide your working hours.
This is a point that seems to be completely forgotten, or maybe not even believed when trainers first get into a gym.
It is entirely true that you are in charge of your hours, as you will never be told by a manager that you need to be training anyone at a particular time of the day, it just doesn’t happen that way.
The way to ensure that you work reasonable hours as a personal trainer is to decide on what hours of the day you are willing to work and stick to them!
An eight-hour workday is standard for most jobs when you are employed, so why not use this as a base for your own business?
If you are a morning person, make sure you are in the gym and converting members that are in the gym at that time of the day. After all, if they are already there, this is probably their preferred time of the day to train.
Make sure you are in the gym and talking to members from the moment it opens up until 2 pm each day.
This lets you take advantage of both the morning and lunchtime rushes along with the quieter mid-morning hours.
The reverse is true for someone that can’t stand mornings, start your day at 2 pm and finish when the gym closes at 9 or 10 pm. This will allow you to take advantage of the lunchtime and evening busy periods and the quiet mid-afternoon hours.
The main point is, be in the gym at the times you want to train people.
There will almost certainly be people training at all times of the day, so with commitment and confidence, you should have no problem filling your diary up throughout these times of the day.
One word of warning!
You may find that you struggle in the beginning to fill up the empty slots in your dairy in these quiet times.
If you decide to add just a few more hours to your workday so you can catch some of the other busy periods of the day, you are setting yourself up for very long days.
By just adding an extra three hours to each day so you can catch a busy period, you have now gone from a forty-hour workweek to a fifty-five-hour workweek.
This is a slippery slope, as it can be tempting to add more and more hours to each day in order to pick up more clients. All of a sudden you will find yourself working all hours of the day and totally exhausted.
I’ve seen it happen, it nearly happened to me and I nearly quit because of it.
So can I be a part-time personal trainer then?
If you take the above points into account there should be no reason why you can’t become a part-time personal trainer.
This would then give you the option to decide if you wanted to be a part-time trainer and perform another role (not my personal preference but everyone’s lives are different) or to structure your pricing and schedule correctly to allow you to earn enough money to make a good living whilst only working a few hours per day.
The main reason I would not suggest having another job whilst working as a part-time personal trainer in a gym is that most gyms will charge you the same rent as the other personal trainers. This means you will have to charge a lot more per session than your peers.
This could result in you finding it very difficult to pick up the number of clients required to cover your rent and make a living.
Instead, I would recommend that you decide on the hours you want to work as outlined above (in this case you would be aiming for around 20 hours per week) and concentrate on working as a self-employed trainer that trains people in parks or in their own homes.
Working entirely for yourself and not needing to pay any rent (apart from possible counsel fees if you use parks for your sessions) allows you a lot more freedom to train as many or as many clients per week as you chose.
With this way of working, you could even have your own full-time day job and work as a part-time personal trainer in the evenings and weekends.
Another word of warning
If you decide to keep your day job and take up part-time personal training, you will need to remember to allocate time to yourself to eat and relax. Otherwise, you will find yourself in exactly the same situation as PTs that are sitting in a gym all day with their sixty-hour workweeks.
Maybe limit yourself to an hour or two each evening and a few hours on the weekends for training sessions. This should still give you time to unwind in the evenings and have enough downtime to be able to maintain your health whilst you work two jobs.
Personal training is generally considered a full-time job because of the large amounts of hours that trainers typically spend in gyms. However, a lot of this time is usually spent sitting around waiting for the next session which could be several hours after the last.
Efficient use of time and scheduling can allow a trainer to work as many or as few hours as they choose, with part-time work also available to personal trainers if it fits in with the hours they have available outside of their full-time job.
Hopefully, this article has explained why personal training can be either a full-time or part-time job depending on your own preferences and organization.
Go get ’em!
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