Personal training is awesome, but, it’s not all peaches and cream. It’s not for everyone, and today I am going to explain the top reasons why you should not become a personal trainer.
A massive 90% of personal trainers quit within the first year of certifying, but why is this?
If you’ve read any of my other articles, you will see I’m a massively positive guy, and I’m especially positive when it comes to personal training, I just love it!
However, there are some parts to personal training that put a lot of people off once they get into the industry, so I want to go through what these are today so that you can know what you’re getting yourself into so that you don’t make the same mistakes and become part of that statistic.
The average cost of a personal training course in the UK is between £1,500 and £2,000, that’s a lot of money!
That’s why it’s so upsetting to hear that 90% of people will leave the industry within the first year.
Training companies skip out any negative aspects of the industry in their courses and only tell you about the good parts so that you buy their courses, that’s just standard marketing, but someone needs to expose the negative realities of the personal training industry to stop people wasting thousands of pounds of their hard-earned money.
Today, I’m going to do that.
Top ten reasons you should not become a personal trainer
- You’ll be broke for the first 6 months to a year
- Introverts will struggle
- You’ll hear a ton of negativity
- It’s very hard to be successful
- You’ll get rejected over and over again
- Your clients won’t all make amazing progress
- People will take advantage of you
- You’ll end up wasting a lot of your time
- Some people aren’t cut out to run their own business
- You need to be seriously sociable to succeed
- It’s exhausting!
1. You’ll be broke for the first six months to a year
No doubt you have heard that trainers in the cities can charge anything from £50 ($68) to £80 ($110) an hour, so if you can train just twenty people a week, you’ll be making £4000 a month!
Yeah, that’s all well and good, but just how easy is it to get those twenty clients to train consistently with you for months on end so that you’re building a consistent client base instead of constantly having to replace dropouts?
It’s actually super hard and takes a ton of work to build up a dedicated client base that trains with you month in month out, which makes it really difficult to increase your monthly salary with any efficiency. Don’t forget that you will also have a nice chunky monthly gym rent to pay too, which will take a huge chunk of your profits straight away.
All these issues are compounded when you take into consideration factors like clients “forgetting” to pay for sessions or cancellations that can really screw up your monthly projections.
It’s not actually that easy to pick up clients
You’ll notice that earlier I casually said “Just twenty people per week”. Saying it like that makes it sound so easy, doesn’t it? The truth is, it’s anything but easy to consistently train twenty people a month.
In most large gyms you’ll be competing with fifteen to twenty other trainers, all looking out for the same types of people you are so they can convert them into clients.
To a lot of people (including me) paying £50 an hour is a hell of a lot of money! The vast majority of people you speak to will never want to pay you this much, so the few people that come into the gym that have this kind of cash to spare get snapped up pretty quick, so you need to be seriously quick to stand even half a chance.
It’ll take you at least six months and more likely a full year before you have built up a reliable client base that you can count on to turn up to each session and remember to pay on time.
2. Introverts will struggle
Think of a personal trainer in your mind, what image do you see?
Do you see a loud, brash person with a muscular build screaming at their clients to give them one more rep?
That’s the image that a lot of people would have of a personal trainer, a person that’s full of confidence, assurance, and self-esteem so massive it has its own gravitational field!
I am not one of those people! Don’t get me wrong, I knew the exercises I was prescribing were correct and the way I was training my clients would be the fastest route for them to reach their goals. What I lacked was the confidence to go up to anyone in the gym, talk to them and get them to sign up with me.
That’s because I am an introvert, and we introverts will always struggle when it comes to careers in the fitness industry.
Extroverts on the other hand don’t have any issues with talking to every single person they see in the gym that day and have the complete belief that no matter what they say or do, people will sign up to train with them.
And they are right!
You see, a lot of the time a client will sign up with a trainer because they either see something similar in their personality or because they see something they aspire to. The superconfident trainers have the advantage because when they sell personal training, they aren’t just selling a change in a persons’ body, the client believes that by training with a super confident coach, they will also gain this same kind of confidence.
These guys are selling confidence, and who wouldn’t like a little more of that?
This is the reason why it will be much harder for you to succeed as an introvert. What comes to extroverts naturally will feel very alien and uncomfortable to us introverts. That’s not to say it can’t be done, I did it for years, it’s just much much harder.
3. You’ll hear a ton of negativity
You’ve just been hired as a PT by a big gym chain, you’re super excited and you can’t wait to get onto the gym floor so you can start picking up clients and giving great sessions. You’ve worked out your budgets, how many sessions you need each month and on Monday morning you’re greeted by a fellow PT who insists on telling you how terrible the gym is, how awful the managers are and how there are no clients.
You will see plenty of trainers like this in almost any gym you go to because no matter what area you are in, there will always be trainers who have been chewed up and spat out by the industry. This is mostly down to the lack of any marketing and sales training on any of the courses that “teach you how to be a personal trainer”. They literally leave out the most important parts of keeping your career going.
It’s not just the trainers though, there will be sales staff who are fed up with their jobs and of course, there will be your clients who want to tell you about all the terrible things happening in their lives.
Most of your clients will train with you because they want to get in shape, but a good few of them just want to hire a pair of ears they can vent all of their worldly problems to you for an hour. You might be thinking “so, as long as they are paying me who cares?” and to some degree, I agree with you, but after a few weeks or months of having several clients telling you how terrible things are, it can really get tiring.
Staying positive in the sea of negativity that some gyms can become can really be difficult. It takes a strong-willed person to keep going, not listening to the neigh Sayers and become a success.
4. You’ll get rejected over and over again
If you want to be a PT, you are going to need to develop pretty thick skin.
People aren’t stupid, they’ve caught on to the fact that when a trainer comes up to them in a gym they probably aren’t helping them out of the kindness of their own heart, they probably want to sell them something.
“People love buying, but they hate being sold to”, you’ll really get to know this when you get brutally rejected by people day in day out.
It can really get you down when you know that in order for you to keep your business afloat, you need to talk to fifty people per day, but at least forty of those people will reject you and some of them will be incredibly impolite in the way that they do it.
For some, this isn’t a problem and it can be easily shrugged off, but to others, it can really get you down. It’s a tough skill to ignore people being rude to you, but it’s something you will definitely need to do if you want to last as a personal trainer.
5. Your clients won’t all make amazing progress
You’ve seen the shows like “biggest loser” and “my 500lb life” and thought, “man, wouldn’t it be cool to have my clients get in great, life-changing shape like that?”.
Well, I have bad news for you, most of your clients won’t be having these life-changing body transformations. In fact, a good deal of them will barely make any progress and there’s nothing you can do about it!
You can’t be with them all day every day, you will only see them for a few hours a week and what they do outside of your sessions is up to them.
Sure, you can teach them exactly what to do in order for them to get the body they are after, give nutritional talks, meal plans, extra workouts, but you can’t do any of these things for them. They have to be willing to do it themselves
Some people will listen to your advice and will make great progress. But just don’t into personal training thinking that all your clients are going to lose tons of weight or get ripped just because that was their goal when you first met them.
6. People will take advantage of you
There will always be people out there that want to take advantage of you, no matter what industry you’re in, It just seems to happen a whole lot more in the fitness world.
You see, people know that personal training is expensive, they don’t want to pay £50 an hour to get advice, so why not just try and get it all for free huh?
You’ll see this all the time with gym members coming up to you and asking questions about training styles, sets and reps, nutrition information, all kinds of things, and then saying thanks and walking away. Or even worse, people will book a complimentary session with you with zero intention of even considering hiring you as their trainer, they just want an hour’s worth of free exercise tutorial and advice.
This is why I recommend using an assessment for your complimentary session rather than a full hardcore workout, it gives you a chance to show your professionalism and highlight the benefits of personal training without giving away all your secrets.
7. You’ll end up wasting a lot of your time
What’s the main thing that PTs do when they are not training people? Working out? Doing admin? Finding new clients?
Yeah, sometimes you’ll be doing these things, but most of the time, you’ll be waiting!
Waiting for clients to turn up to sessions who are late, waiting for clients that never end up turning up at all, waiting for complimentary sessions who cancel on you last minute.
Waiting, a lot of waiting.
And why you may think that isn’t so bad, remember that if you are employed by a gym as a PT, if you aren’t training people, you aren’t making money.
Even worse, if you are paying rent in a gym, if you aren’t training people you are not only not making money, but you are paying for every second you are in the building, so you are now losing money.
You can train, read, learn, do admin, and a million other things, but getting used to waiting around and having your time wasted is something you will really need to get used to.
Working as a PT can actually be really slow sometimes.
8. Some people aren’t cut out to run their own business
Working as a PT doesn’t just mean you are getting paid by a gym to train people, you are running a business, and this is something a lot of people forget when they first get into training people for a living.
It’s very easy to forget because you are in an environment that you feel comfortable with, and much as this may not “feel” like work, it is, this is your business, and if you don’t run it like one, you will find yourself out of business pretty quickly.
Employed by a gym on a zero-hours contract or self-employed and paying rent, you still need to take complete control of your finances, targets, payments, marketing, and retention. This is a business and just because you enjoy exercise doesn’t mean it’ll be easy.
The fact is that some people are just better off working for a company than for themselves. Having regular hours with a stable income can be far more appropriate for people that are susceptible to stress because trust me when you have no idea how much you will be getting paid next month whilst having hundreds of pounds of gym rent on top of your own finances to cover can be really stressful.
9. You need to be seriously sociable to succeed
If you are naturally a quiet person that finds small talk difficult or awkward, you are either going to fail or need to learn how to do this pretty well.
Personal training isn’t just about showing people exercises and telling them what foods to eat, you will also need to talk to people, a lot!
You wouldn’t believe how long 30 seconds of rest period feels when neither yourself nor your client can think of anything to say to each other. You both just stand there looking at the floor, the ceiling, or the walls trying not to make eye contact or say something stupid just for the sake of it.
luckily, with time, you will get better with small talk, I used to suck at it. I’d never worked in a job where you really had to talk to people before, but after a few months of getting to know people, the conversation starts to flow quite naturally.
The reason I add it to this list is that if you feel really awkward about making small talk with people, personal training really might not be for you, because it is a surprisingly large part of the role.
10. It’s exhausting!
If you want to be a successful trainer, you’d better get used to taking naps every possible opportunity, because if you don’t you will be exhausted beyond belief.
There may come a point in your career where you can be a little pickier about your clients and what time and days you train them, but in the beginning, this is something you’ll have little to no control over.
You can expect to be completing days of 12 hours (if you’re an optimist) and 14-16 hours (if you’re a realist). So if you like sleeping in each morning, you can say goodbye to that because you’ll need to be waking up at around 5 to 5:30am each day for your first client and you’ll probably be getting home around 9 to 9:30pm each evening too.
Say goodbye to your midweek social life if you have one. You’ll either be trying to get some much-needed sleep in or getting admin done whilst you aren’t in the gym.
It’s not just because you will not be getting much sleep that will exhaust you, but you’ll be on your feet for hours and hours each day and demonstrating exercises on top of completing your own workouts too.
The job itself is just exhausting in every way when you consider you will also be working as a psychologist for a lot of your clients, so your mind will be drained by the end of each day too.
The whole purpose of this article is to show the realities of the personal training world.
The idea was not to put you off in any way shape or form, it is to stop people from going into the industry without having the full knowledge of what it’s really like to be a trainer.
I say all the points above, but if you’ve read any of my other posts, you will see that I was a personal trainer for just under ten years, so it can’t be that bad, can it?
Being a PT was one of the happiest points in my life, I loved my job and all my clients, so take the points above and see if they apply to you, if you feel you can overcome them and you don’t mind putting up with some of the less desirable parts of the role, then you should 100% go for a career as a personal trainer.
Go get ’em!
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