How To Be A Successful Personal Trainer

By on May 16, 2017

Becoming a personal trainer seems like the easiest job in the world, right? Being in charge of your own hours and rate, basically being your own boss. Many people (especially young adults who are new to the gym and fitness industry) assume that they will fly straight into the job. They assume that it’ll be easy to gain a large client base and that they’ll make an adequate earning whilst working part time hours a week. No, this doesn’t happen (at least not straight away).

The role of a PT has been exaggerated over the years into this fantasy world that just doesn’t exist (unless you work extremely hard). I’m going to lay down the truths, the pro’s and the con’s, and give you my top advice on how to exceed in the industry. Let’s start with…

Rent

When being a PT you will have 3 options which are

1.       To pay rent at the gym and work hours on the gym floor

2.       To be paid an hourly wage and make perhaps 10-15% of your hourly rate that you charge

3.       Free rent but the gym takes a cut of your hourly rate

From attending many interviews and working at many gyms I can give you the inside scoop of how rent works.

(1)    This option involves paying rent whilst having to do a set number of hours on the gym floor and a couple of classes a week. So for this, I paid £25 a week, worked 25 hours on the gym floor and taught 3 classes. This was straight away before I even had chance to build up a client base. You could choose to pay more money and do less hours on the gym floor at £50 a week, but who can afford this when you’re first starting off? This option is very risky, you have no guaranteed income but you do have a guaranteed standing order coming out of your bank account every month! Your hours on the gym floor consist of your presence being there, whether it’s from cleaning, putting weights away, testing equipment or talking to members.

Most gyms prefer this option as whether you have clients or not, they still get their rent. But, let’s not be too hasty. There are perks to this option. Would you voluntarily choose to spend 25 unpaid hours on the gym floor? Most likely not. But this gives you the opportunity for people to see your face and to start networking  with potential clients. And if you do get clients and earn money, it’s all yours! This option is best for someone who has built up their client base and knows that they will have a guaranteed income each month.

(2)  For me, this option is the safest to start off with. Regardless of whether you have clients or not, you still get paid an hourly wage. So you don’t need to worry about not having clients straight away. The downside is that if you do get clients, you may only make an additional £5-10 on top of your hourly rate. And if you charge £20 per hour, then that’s quite a chunk that the gym takes off you.

(3)    Free rent, yay! But the gym takes half of your rate. So if you charge £30 an hour, then you only make £15. Whether you see this as a pro or con is entirely up to you. To me, this option isn’t so bad. £15 is still double minimum wage so are you to complain if you’re not earning the full £30 an hour?

Training

Now that we have rent sorted, let’s talk about your training. Most gyms won’t accept you unless you are Level 3 REPS Qualified (Registered Exercise Professionals). In my opinion, that’s totally right of them. If I had a personal trainer I’d want them to be fully qualified. There are a few gyms that will take you on if you’re Level 2 Qualified (Fitness Instructor). This is good for you as it means that you can get into the industry quicker, but at the same time you are not Level 3 Qualified.

You must make sure that your knowledge of the anatomy and physiology is up to scratch, clients think that they’re getting a personal trainer, not a fitness instructor and you want to make sure that you deliver that to them. Do you research, even if it’s just 30 minutes a night, it will hugely benefit you. Every day you will learn something new in the fitness industry!

You can also take additional courses such as Strength and Conditioning Qualifications, First Aid, Sports Massage etc… These will really boost up your portfolio and knowledge of body.

Mindset

You need to remember why you’re doing this job. I assume it’s because you have a passion for health and fitness and you want to help others achieve their goals? Please don’t look at this job as an easy way to make money and stick your clients with any old programme. Listen to your clients, do they have an injury? Are they scared of using weights? Don’t think that because you’re the personal trainer that you know it all and that they should listen to you.  Compromise with each other, if someone’s worried about using weights, don’t rush them into weightlifting straight away. Start them off with bodyweight and cable/resistance exercises. If someone has an injury, do your research about it. They trust you and it’s important that you don’t let them down. Anything health related can be a very personal and sensitive subject, so welcome their concerns and put them at ease.

Social

This is key for growing your client base and spreading the word! Create social accounts on Instagram/Facebook and share your clients progress. Perhaps do blogs/vlogs on fitness related topics? Create an online community that shows people who you are, what you do and what you know. This will subconsciously make people feel like they know you a little better, and they’re more inclined to approach you. If you’re too busy for social media, set up a HootSuite account. This is where you can create posts and have them scheduled for a certain time. So you don’t need to worry about being active throughout the day, your social accounts will stay active even if you’re not!

Pro’s!

1.       As I said in the beginning, you do get to choose your own hours and rate. Make sure you have a sensible approach to this, if you want to expand your client base a few times a week, get yourself in the gym at 6am!

2.       You have the opportunity to help people with their goals and see them progress. This is personally very rewarding and you do feel proud at how far they’ve come.

3.       Many personal trainers who build up their social to a very high following can receive sponsorship deals. If you’re sponsored by a brand then you’re able to offer the products to your clients at a discounted rate whilst earning commission.

4.       Meeting new people! Whether you’re teaching a class or on the gym floor, people will build a relationship with you and look forward to seeing you. You spend half an hour chatting to them before they’ve even started their workout!

Top Tips

1.       When starting off, please don’t charge £40 per hour! People are paying for you along with your experience and knowledge. The more experienced you are, then the more you can charge. People also want something that’s affordable, they’re more likely to have regular sessions at £15 rather than £40.

2.       If you’re a bit of a wild one, create separate social networking sites for your personal training.

3.       Do you research about gyms in the area and what rent they charge/what cut they’ll take off you. You want what’s best for you and you don’t want to be starting off in debt.

4.       You will have to graft at the beginning. You’ll need to voluntarily spend hours on the gym floor and network, once your client base starts building up you’ll find that more people approach you.

5.       Business cards! Great to hand out to people through brief conversations.

6.       Location. Now it’s only common sense that a gym in a wealthy area has clients that are likely to pay more. But they’re going to be wanting the best, so you need to make sure that you are the best.

7.       Niche. Are you different to other PT’s in the area? If not, why not? Create something unique about you whether it’s a running club every Monday morning or a specialized package deal, stand out!

Emily Singer

About Emily Singer

Strength and Conditioning Undergraduate. Go Nutrition Social Media Assistant.