My Personal Journey as a trainer…so far
Having been active in the fitness industry for almost twenty years I have been asked by a few trainers I have taught to share my story.
If you are new to the fitness industry or thinking of becoming a trainer you may think personal training on the surface is a glamorous profession, getting paid what seems like an extraordinary hourly rate, training celebs, traveling the world etc. I am not saying these opportunities do not exist! I am lucky enough to travel quite extensively around the world and I have also trained a few ‘minor’ celebrities however, I have been in this industry for almost two decades. These opportunities do exist, but rarely come up.
I could sell the ‘glamour’ of personal training but I’d prefer to sell the reality. The reality is if you are good at what you do your session rate will be divided up into prep time (designing programs, traveling to sessions, supporting your clients). Those trainers that do not make the time or effort ‘behind’ the scene soon filter down their demographic due to poor service. What seems to some as a good hourly rate is quickly reduced?
Personal training is a tough industry with a very easy entry point. Most people that start in the industry will leave the industry (unfortunately that’s fact not speculation). It’s long hours, it’s hard. It is however hugely gratifying and rewarding. It’s an industry that takes a long time to establish yourself in but it’s achievable and far easier now with the use of social media than ever before.
My story so far…
I have always enjoyed training. Physical fitness and sport were the only things I seemed to excel at. Having performed badly and having no interest in academia during school, PE and sports days were my chance to shine.
I entered the fitness industry as a level 2 gym instructor at 19 years old. As a level 2 instructor, my job was to deliver inductions (teach new clients how to use the equipment safely and effectively). It was also my job to help clean and maintain the facility, and yes, this included cleaning the showers and toilets etc. As a level 2 instructor your job is to essentially to learn from the more experienced trainers and earn your stripes. Sadly most trainers these days completely miss out this huge learning curve and gain entry straight as a level 3 personal trainer with little to none gym experience other than their own sometimes dubious training methods.
After working for a few years in a couple of gyms I took my Level 3 Personal Trainer course.
It was during this course that I really became passionate about the industry and developed a huge thirst for knowledge. The lecturer for this particular course had a huge effect on me. At the time I was completely blown away by his knowledge, he was years ahead of his time and it made me completely re-think my approach on how to condition the human body. To this day I am grateful to have met him and have kept in touch ever since (we’ve since worked together on projects).
I now look back and smile however; during my PT course I was really worried about the final theory exams. They were slightly different back then and many people failed. There were some on the course with sports science and physiotherapy degrees, and even a few of them found parts of the theory challenging, I found school difficult? How was I going to pass?
It turned out that not only did I pass, but also, I received the highest marks! Three out of the four papers I received 100%. This gave me a huge confidence boost, if I can surpass sports science and physiotherapy graduates I am not as stupid as I once thought.
From that moment on I have continued to learn, and have been home and abroad learning from the very best in the industry and still continue to learn today.
After completing my PT course I became a freelance trainer and spent the next few years delivering 1-1 sessions. I also delivered various fitness classes and worked in rehabilitation. Other trainers in the area were asking for advice and I took many of them on as clients. I found I enjoyed sharing knowledge and teaching so I returned to college part time and completed my Certificate of Education and Assessor award. This qualification gave me the skills to teach / lecture and led me to deliver various courses and seminars to trainers from which I continue today.
After 12 years as a trainer I became more interested in athletic performance. I wanted to work with athletes. I have since found out Its very much ‘who’ you know in professional sport. After so many emails and phone calls I finally got in touch with a conditioning coach from a professional rugby side. He later admitted that he only agreed to meet me so I’d stop emailing him. When I want something I am relentless, and he liked the fact I didn’t give up. I managed to work / intern with various professional teams and athletes however, others would not even look at my CV without a degree! So while working I enrolled at University.
While studying I continued to deliver personal training sessions, exercise classes, and set up a very busy Bootcamp business (featured on the BBC). I also delivered courses and seminars to personal trainers; the money I made from the courses funded my continuous education.
After completing my degree and having spent 15 years as a trainer in a small town in Wales it was time for a change. I started again and moved to Dubai!
The first year in Dubai was difficult. After establishing myself as a very busy trainer in the UK with a big waiting list of clients I now had none and didn’t really know anyone. There were times when I was lonely and seriously considered going home, but I would not quit. I had confidence in my ability as a trainer and knew it would just take time to build up clientele. Thankfully, over time I became busy.
I have now been in Dubai for 4 years. I have had some amazing experiences here already. I have met and trained so many great people from all over the world, delivered corporate health seminars with a retired Brigadier General who not only is a great Iron Man athlete, but also holds an OBE! (A huge honour), continued lecturing and up-skilling trainers and have had articles published. I also complete my Masters degree next year.
But most importantly I met my wife here. She has supported me through thick and thin and I love her with all my heart. Last year she gave me the greatest gift possible, a beautiful baby boy.
I write this blog post from London, where I am currently traveling Europe and the US with my client in his private jet. I realise how lucky I am to experience the billionaire lifestyle. I keep my feet firmly on the ground and don’t take anything for granted. Like I said at the start, these jobs do exist, if you want them enough you will get them.
I don’t believe success relies on you having a six-pack. It relies on you having drive, compassion, a willingness and openness to learn. The guts to admit when you’re wrong and a work ethic no different to any other industry or profession in which you want to make it.
All the tools and resources are there for you. You just have to learn to use them correctly. You also have to be willing to learn, put in hours outside of when you’re in one-on-one training to work ‘on’ your business.
There is still much for me to experience, all be it slightly away from personal training. I could see myself in 5-10 years working in professional sport, as a researcher, a lecturer or maybe a facility owner? I really don’t know yet, however, I will be forever grateful for the opportunities and experiences I have had thus far as a trainer.