It’s 4:15am. The rush of adrenaline kicks in as I hurl the blanket to the side and throw myself up out of bed.
Slap together a bowl of protein and oats
Make my cup of brain juice **coffee**
Grab the laptop
And head for the door to brave the cold Melbourne morning
4:30am, and I’ve arrived at the studio.
Fumble for my key
Turn the alarm off
Switch the lights on
Clean the equipment
Reply to emails
Write & update programs
Schedule social media content
Guzzle my brain juice
And if I get a chance, quickly scoff down breakfast and prepare for my 5am client. This is my morning routine, and has been for the past 6 years. You see, when I first started as a personal trainer, I imagined a very different lifestyle to the one that I now lead. ‘If you love training, helping people, and want to make money, become a personal trainer today’. This is the dream that many of the fitness institutes promise aspiring personal trainers when they enroll into their certificate III and IV. It was certainly the way that I perceived the life of a PT, and I believed that my career as a trainer would be as glamorous as Michelle Bridges.
What do your parents think you do? Lift weights with friends.
What do your friends think you do? Train fit, attractive people.
What do you really do? Often none of the above, and a whole lot more.
When you become a self-employed PT, you inherently start a small business, without knowing it, and the stark reality of being a personal trainer is that you don’t just ‘train’ people.Instead, when you’re qualified with only a certificate 3 and 4 in fitness and begin the journey of a personal trainer, you accept a great deal of responsibility, and a myriad of challenges and obstacle that were unbeknownst to me at the beginning of my career. Early mornings, split shifts, long days, customer service, problem solving, high energy, high financial risk: these are the realities of a career as a PT, and the difficulties we face on a day-to-day basis.
We don’t get to enjoy set hours.
We don’t get to eat breakfast or dinner at home.
We don’t have the financial security of a regular salary.
We don’t have the luxury of ‘clocking off’.
We are on call 24/7, and must work around the clock to obtain new clients, and satisfy the needs of our existing clients.
Not to mention waking up before the sun rises and getting home after the sun has set definitely has its drawbacks and can become physically and mentally exhausting job year after year.
Another challenge a trainer faces is the multifaceted nature of the job. This creates a whole new level of difficulty, and outsourcing to professionals is an expense, most novices simply cannot afford: accounting, marketing, advertising, graphic design, program writing, nutrition advising. Oh, and then there is that thing we signed up for – personal training!
Not only do self employed PTs have to quickly get their head around the above disciplines, but to be successful, and get our clients results, trainers must have in depth knowledge in a variety of areas related to training: physiology, anatomy, biomechanics, physics, nutrition, kinesiology, psychology and the list goes on.
All of the above makes being an expert and a great trainer an arduous and daunting task. Which is why the average tenure of personal trainers is 6 months. It’s hard work!
Despite the financial risk of becoming a trainer, the lack of job security and the myriad of obstacles that must be overcome to make it in this industry, there are a few traits that the successful trainers have: passion, a drive to improve and learn, persistence.
Let me tell you, the juice is worth the squeeze. After 6 years as a PT, and now running a successful personal training studio that employs 13 trainers and conducts on average 600 sessions per week, all of the hurdles, challenges and hardships are forgotten about when you love what you do:
Getting people strong and fit
Helping people change their physique
Improving your client’s mindset
Transforming individuals lives
This is the immense power that a personal trainer has, and when used correctly, a trainer can play an instrumental role in improving the health and well being of their clients.
It is crucial for all PT’s is to find what area of ‘training’ they love, and align this with their natural ability.
Whether it is training athletes, group training, one on one PT, owning a gym, nutrition consulting, or working with the general population, the key to being successful as a PT is matching your skills with your passion.
The life of a PT isn’t all sunshine and rainbows when you start out, but as the adage goes, if you really love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life…
Jacob Schepis is the Owner & Director of JPS Health & Fitness, Educator, Strength & Conditioning Coach and competitive bodybuilder and powerlifter.