What 3 Years of Personal Training Has Taught Me - Erin's Inside Job

What 3 Years of Personal Training Has Taught Me

It’s been three years since I became certified as a personal trainer. It’s still something I enjoy, but it’s also something that’s changed over those three years. I wanted to take today to share with you some of the takeaways that I didn’t have when starting out, and I’m sure that this list will change in another three.

It's been three years since I became certified as a personal trainer. Here are some things I learned over time to help you in your own fitness journey!

I don’t want it to be my full-time job

As I’m sure you can gather, training is not my full time job. I split time between running this blog and training clients, which means that I have a fair amount of flexibility in my schedule. I enjoy training and have made several friends from it, but it’s not something that I want to devote all of my time to.

Figure out if training is something you want to try and pursue as a full time career or whether you might want to do it part time along with something else. This post may be able to help you.

It pays better to be independent, but it’s likely more work

I’ve done independent training, contracted training for corporate fitness, and taught group exercise. Out of all these, independent training pays by far the most.

I really enjoyed teaching classes, but when it came time for me to cut out things to make time for ventures that brought in more income, that was one of the first to go. It’s also very hard to make a living as solely an instructor.

Although independent training pays the most, it also requires the most work because there’s no one handing you clients. Luckily I have a good resource in the city who matches clients with trainers (Right Fit Personal Training), but I also have several individual clients that I took on through referrals or social media.

Work longer and harder in the beginning to be able to work less in the future

Since I had no clients when starting out, I saw whoever I could in order to bring in a paycheck. I would ride the train 60 min round trip for a 30 min session. I would see people at 5 am and at 6:30 pm. It was not ideal and continuing on that path would have left me burnt out.

What taking on so much did for me, however, was 1) give me experience and 2) give me visibility to many people who in turn knew many people. From those clients I was referred new clients, and as my schedule became busier I was able to decrease my traveling radius.

These days I train out of my building or travel to clients who are no more than a 10-15 min drive away.

Go to a conference to renew your certification

If you can swing it and there’s a conference near you, I’d definitely recommend going for a number of reasons. One, simply attending the conference takes care of all your continuing education credits. You don’t have to worry about piecing them together here and there through small online courses or similar method of acquiring CE’s.

Two, you are likely to retain more information by attending a session in person, possibly doing a live demo of something you’re learning, and taking notes than you are sitting in front of a computer screen. Third, you meet lots of like-minded people and it’s even better if you can go with a friend. Lastly, there are often vendors at conferences, so you can head home with some new equipment to try out with your clients (or yourself!).

Each client is different

When I started training, I wanted to train one way and anyone who didn’t desire that type of training “might not be a good fit.” Over time and with education, I’m able to listen to each person and hear what they want in a workout. Different ages as well as different fitness levels require different approaches, and it’s over time that I’ve learned what works best for each person.

7 comments on “What 3 Years of Personal Training Has Taught Me

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. Its really tuff to manage blogging as well as personal training. I also have to travel many times for different locations.

    I am running a fitness studio in Mission San Francisco.

    You are also correct, each client has different requirements, so with experience I am also able to understand them
    AscendBody recently posted…Ascend Body Is Hiring!My Profile

  2. Erin,

    I am becoming such a fan of you! Minus all the creepy fandom stuff that usually goes into that at times, ha, ha. I will just keep it at a high level of respect for your honesty, inspirational readings, and the clarity that you bring to me as well as many others I am sure.

    This was a great article for me, I was honestly heartbroken, after just days ago, with hours upon hours of research realizing just how hard it would be for me to replace my salary that ranges from only $40,000 to $45,000. I thought, oh this could be great; all the great things of personal training and I could make $50,000+ doing it. You can BUT it is REALLY difficult, much more so than I thought. I learned how many PT’s go only part time in your example and how many actually burn out and quit after just 3-5 years. I think marriage had a slightly higher percentage of success rate, not the 60’s kind of marriage, but the 2018 kind, OUCH!

    Certainly I say all of this not to bring doom and gloom, some are making great amounts, most importantly helping a great deal of people. It was a tad dream crushing for me despite all of this however, because without a lot of savings I could lose my condo just trying to make it as a personal trainer. I don’t have a significant other to fall back on for health benefits or time needed to build a solid client base. Leaving me with a job I might not like while trying to slowly make it as a PT for a few years in the meantime on the side of it all. If, that is the road I even choose any longer. Becoming a certified Health Coach really appeals to me as well, but it’s the same song and dance; oh wait…LOVE animals and people, become a certified dog trainer; well break out those worn out dancing shoes again!

    O.K. I am the only person that wrote almost as much in a comment than the actual post, thank you for letting me clear my thoughts in your comment section, ha, ha!

    Have a great weekend everyone, much love from Greenfield, WI

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