What is it like being a Personal Trainer?

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mcuzzy

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Strongly considering doing my Cert III and IV in Fitness at Tafe this year. I currently have two sport related diplomas so I'm hoping that increases my chances a bit. I tried sport science and I just couldn't keep doing it, work load was massive and I couldn't bare another 2 or so years, so decided to drop out.

I'm just wondering if anybody can tell me what it's like being a PT? What you do, hours, what kind of pay to expect when starting out etc.

I've heard mostly horror stories from people who did it for a year or two and quit because they either couldn't get clients or they couldn't market themselves properly and never earnt enough and so on, so they left and did a trade.

Advice majorly appreciated.
 

cptkirk

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Oct 6, 2009
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coming from an actual pt studio biz owner and operator - ME

pros
- you get to do something that is very similar to what you love to do out of work (very big for me - i don't understand people who work 60hrs a week doing something they don't really like)
- meeting people (if you're into that)

cons
- initial income is terrible (fact of the industry- don't sook about it)
- shitty hrs (morning and evening 5/week + some weekend stuff)
- you don't work you don't get paid meaning you go holidays and you earn no cash but you spend a lot
- inconsistent income
- inconsistent client compliance, if any!

what you need to do to 'make it"
- learn anatomy and actually remember it forever
- realise that cert 3/4 is the basics of the basics as far as pt goes and with basic knowledge comes low pay - until you gain more knowledge (and actually learn how to implement it) then don't expect more pay
- learn EVERY SINGLE DAY...FOREVER
- make it PERSONAL - using programs you use is not personal training

INTEGRITY

i'm lugging this in its own section and it's not the term i'm looking for but it covers honesty, integrity and all that type of "don't be an a-hole dickhead" type of person...with the state of the industry, pt's don't have a great rep and fair enough - there's probably more good one's then bad one's out there and like all news, you never hear about the good one's, only the bad one's

provide an experience before marketing
- i don;t think its the lack of marketing skills that undoes pt's but the fact they don't have anything to market...their training skills are poor, their service skills are poor and their sessions are poor...you can't market sh*t...so it's there poor overall pt'ing skills that gets them undone...if you have 1 client that loves you because you provide 'the experience" for them, then they'll bring a friend along and so on - no marketing needed...see?

i could go on all day so pots any other q's you have might be easier
 

Shoei

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coming from an actual pt studio biz owner and operator - ME

pros
- you get to do something that is very similar to what you love to do out of work (very big for me - i don't understand people who work 60hrs a week doing something they don't really like)
- meeting people (if you're into that)

cons
- initial income is terrible (fact of the industry- don't sook about it)
- shitty hrs (morning and evening 5/week + some weekend stuff)
- you don't work you don't get paid meaning you go holidays and you earn no cash but you spend a lot
- inconsistent income
- inconsistent client compliance, if any!


what you need to do to 'make it"
- learn anatomy and actually remember it forever
- realise that cert 3/4 is the basics of the basics as far as pt goes and with basic knowledge comes low pay - until you gain more knowledge (and actually learn how to implement it) then don't expect more pay
- learn EVERY SINGLE DAY...FOREVER
- make it PERSONAL - using programs you use is not personal training

INTEGRITY

i'm lugging this in its own section and it's not the term i'm looking for but it covers honesty, integrity and all that type of "don't be an a-hole dickhead" type of person...with the state of the industry, pt's don't have a great rep and fair enough - there's probably more good one's then bad one's out there and like all news, you never hear about the good one's, only the bad one's

provide an experience before marketing
- i don;t think its the lack of marketing skills that undoes pt's but the fact they don't have anything to market...their training skills are poor, their service skills are poor and their sessions are poor...you can't market sh*t...so it's there poor overall pt'ing skills that gets them undone...if you have 1 client that loves you because you provide 'the experience" for them, then they'll bring a friend along and so on - no marketing needed...see?

i could go on all day so pots any other q's you have might be easier

Strongly considering doing my Cert III and IV in Fitness at Tafe this year. I currently have two sport related diplomas so I'm hoping that increases my chances a bit. I tried sport science and I just couldn't keep doing it, work load was massive and I couldn't bare another 2 or so years, so decided to drop out.

I'm just wondering if anybody can tell me what it's like being a PT? What you do, hours, what kind of pay to expect when starting out etc.

I've heard mostly horror stories from people who did it for a year or two and quit because they either couldn't get clients or they couldn't market themselves properly and never earnt enough and so on, so they left and did a trade.

Advice majorly appreciated.
Did PT for 3 years. Agree with cptkirk.

Be prepared to be a salesman first and a PT second. You'll live and die off your ability to make clients, which you will need to constantly increasing/renewing monthly. You'll be competing against all the other PT's in the gym to convert whatever leads get thrown your way by reception.

Your working hours are going to be all over the place. Most people work 9-5 so you'll often need to have your first client booked in by 5 am. I used to try and see 6 people a day generally from 5-8am and 5-8pm. Those were my "bread and butter" clients and anything extra i picked up during the was a bonus.

You may think "oh training 6 people a day seems easy enough" and it is to an extent, but remember, that's 30 different people on a monday to friday basis or 15 people twice a week (most people cant/wont afford to do more than 1 $80 session a week). You also are CONSTANTLY losing clients for whatever reason - cost, holiday, moving, illness etc etc, it's very unusual to keep clients for large blocks of time as most have short term goals. To be honest once most people get over their initial "gym newness" they figure they can do everything for themselves and don't need a PT anymore. It's an odd circumstance to be in, you spend more time encouraging, counselling and giving knowledge to people to the point that they don't need you anymore. Could you imagine having a plumber come over and teaching you how to fix the drains? or an electrician teaching you how to do wiring?

On that note most of my Clients were women - guys generally don't want to be told what to do even when they clearly have no clue.
Weekends i always found to be hit and miss with clients. Most didn't want to come in on their weekends to train, just a fact of life.

If you work at one of the big gyms (like Fitness First) you'll have to cover the floor rent (for training at their gym) when i was doing it 10 years ago the rent was around $14,000 a year, so straight away you are - $200-300 out of pocket each week just for the chance to make money.

You might think its better If you work in a gym that hires you on a wage/no rent rather than hunting for the work yourself - then be prepared to get screwed over badly. I was once being paid something like $12-$13 an hour +$10 for every $80 PT session i would do. You do everything - make the sale, do the training, bring in new clients and the gym pockets most of the cash. You're in that catch 22 position - Risk v Reward.

And on getting screwed - DON'T SCREW YOUR CLIENTS. Literally and figuratively. Literally, You can do it and you will have the opportunity to do it. It's a sexy profession and one of the biggest perks of the job, but if you are serious about your career and a long career at that, don't do it. Everyone will find out and your reputation will be shot if you plan on staying around.

Figuratively, don't charge people $100 for a $40 service. You'll hear the stories of people charging big bucks to work with amateur/semi/pro sporting clients or offer a crazy training regime that makes people into fitness models but people have access to all the knowledge in the world now, so if you are bullshitting people with yours they'll call you on it. You might be able to get away with it with completely new people that have never been inside a gym before but generally people aren't dumb. Exploit them and you'll destroy any reputation before you start.

My advice

- Work on being able to sell yourself. It's harder than you think. It's cliche but "You are selling yourself" first and foremost.
- Build up your knowledge - Learn, learn and learn. Your Certs wont teach you anything but the very very basics, certainly not enough to survive long term off.
- Budget! Self employment in an industry that can be feast or famine means planing ahead. Know your overheads/income like the back of your hand. Always plan ahead and keep money aside for when you get sick or injured and can't train (which will happen).
- seriously consider getting experience to be able to run classes (whatever they are called these days) - pump, spin, bodypump, Pilates, Yoga, dance etc etc as these can be used to bring in stable income while you are trying to build up your PT base (and you can run 3-4 over a weekend - $5 per person x 10-15 people in a class is a quick $200-300 for 2 hours work). Don't be above it "i'm not a f**, i'm not doing those classes", wrong attitude, you want to be as pro-active in your ability to work as possible.


Possibly a whole lot of dribble but its late.

Any questions ask away.
 

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SnakeMan86

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Sep 23, 2007
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Agree with all Above posts, Personal Draining has its moments.
Been a Trainer for 7 years now, moved up in the ranks to now manage a small gym and do less hands on hours (still have around 7 clients and do 4-5 classes per week)
My experiences:

Getting your foot in the door is the hardest part. Take it from someone who reads a lot of resumes.
Cert 3/4 is the bare minimum, upskill at every opportunity. (everyone needs a Cycle or les mills instructor) so if you have the cash, this will place you above a lot of others will small amounts of experience.

At times you will get down on yourself, I know personally many times you go above and beyond for clients, (early hours, Overtime etc) for them to just lose interest or fall off the face of the planet, you could argue that's the trainers fault, but some people just don't really want to better themselves.

Early days it is very much a part time job, if your currently working, keep that job while you study, 10-15 hours per week once you get your foot in is probably the max hours you will work.

Like above has said, always learn. Diet and nutrition is a big one. Every month there is a new fad out, which everyone will want your opinion on.

You gotta be personable, like above have said ya gotta be able to sell yourself, have an aura of confidence, because at the end of the day if your not confident, they wont be confident in you.

One of the big points...... In many cases, be prepared to play the part of psychiatrist. Everyone has a story, +60% of your clients will be women wanting to lose weight, and they will have excuses for it. They will cry, they will get angry, so you have to be a listener and a rationaliser, yet in the end have a edgy toughness about you.
 

mfcrox

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Oct 12, 2006
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I agree with a lot of the above posts. Just don't think the industry is as glamorous as everyone thinks it is, or simply an easy way to make an quick dollar.

I've been a personal trainer for 10yrs now (started when I was 20), but I'm just very disillusioned by the whole industry now and I'm starting to get out of it. The market is now flooded with trainers who have completed their 8-week qualification, so finding work is harder and harder.

For most industries a little competition is good, because generally the cream rises to the top regardless. However, with personal training I'd say that it is one of the few industries where 'what you know' counts for very little in my opinion... so long as you can sell yourself (even if your product is completely flawed).

I know a lot of trainers who have done an 8-week course (and essentiallly know nothing) absolutely raking in the cash; and I know a lot of trainers who have an exercise science degree plus practical experience with elite athletes, and they struggle to get a client.

You simply need to be able to sell yourself... and that is it really. Regardless of what you know
 

mcuzzy

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I agree with a lot of the above posts. Just don't think the industry is as glamorous as everyone thinks it is, or simply an easy way to make an quick dollar.

I've been a personal trainer for 10yrs now (started when I was 20), but I'm just very disillusioned by the whole industry now and I'm starting to get out of it. The market is now flooded with trainers who have completed their 8-week qualification, so finding work is harder and harder.

For most industries a little competition is good, because generally the cream rises to the top regardless. However, with personal training I'd say that it is one of the few industries where 'what you know' counts for very little in my opinion... so long as you can sell yourself (even if your product is completely flawed).

I know a lot of trainers who have done an 8-week course (and essentiallly know nothing) absolutely raking in the cash; and I know a lot of trainers who have an exercise science degree plus practical experience with elite athletes, and they struggle to get a client.

You simply need to be able to sell yourself... and that is it really. Regardless of what you know
It's sad to hear. I was hoping employment would be based on what you know, how much study and experience you have and then the gym would get you the clients. I think i've dodged a bullet.

I'd like to work in the sports/fitness industry but I'm struggling to come across things that seem appealing.
 

cptkirk

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Oct 6, 2009
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'm not worried about how much or little you you know but how trainable are you and how fast can I get you to where i need you...those with uni quals think they know it all but can be way off, especially with the stuff i run in my own place...on the other hand those straight out of their 6 week course also think they know it and feel intitles to unlimited clients and great pay...it depends on how i/employer want the trainer to be placed...if i want to develop them then maybe i won't go the big uni qual dude...if i want immediate impact then maybe i would...mostly you've got to add up training skills with personality and what can be developed the most, the fastest as you'll rarely get someone with the personality needed to sell that can train the house down and vice versa

the course on its own is way off minimum base to work at my studio - it's basically an insurance coverage more then anything to be honest which you don't actually need working me as i cover that through the biz

as far as getting clients generally the more clients you want someone else to get you, the more you've got to pay them/less you get paid because the hard part is getting the clients, not training them

look there's money to be made if you're willing to get yourself in the top 10% of knowledge and selling but if you're not willing to go that hard at it then it will part time at best and you'll be out of the industry in the 18mths
 

Affidavit

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The health industry and in particular PT is an interesting space.

There is definitely very good money to be made. However, it is not by PT operators working solo and only for themselves.

A few years ago my girlfriend hired a PT who would come to her apartment once a week. I joined in the session one day and started speaking to the PT who was actually the owner of a PT business. He had developed a good model that was making him a fortune but he wasn't overly business savy but had done very well for himself. We became very good friends and coming from a business background asked him what he could do with different investment amounts and how he could grow the business. I saw the potential and massive upside and foolishly gave too many of my ideas to him one night. In the end he pulled out and dogged me and we have never spoken again. Anyway that was my first lesson in business so glad it happened.

Anyway don't think this is the right spot for this!
 

demondavey

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coming from an actual pt studio biz owner and operator - ME

pros
- you get to do something that is very similar to what you love to do out of work (very big for me - i don't understand people who work 60hrs a week doing something they don't really like)
- meeting people (if you're into that)

cons
- initial income is terrible (fact of the industry- don't sook about it)
- shitty hrs (morning and evening 5/week + some weekend stuff)
- you don't work you don't get paid meaning you go holidays and you earn no cash but you spend a lot
- inconsistent income
- inconsistent client compliance, if any!

what you need to do to 'make it"
- learn anatomy and actually remember it forever
- realise that cert 3/4 is the basics of the basics as far as pt goes and with basic knowledge comes low pay - until you gain more knowledge (and actually learn how to implement it) then don't expect more pay
- learn EVERY SINGLE DAY...FOREVER
- make it PERSONAL - using programs you use is not personal training

INTEGRITY

i'm lugging this in its own section and it's not the term i'm looking for but it covers honesty, integrity and all that type of "don't be an a-hole dickhead" type of person...with the state of the industry, pt's don't have a great rep and fair enough - there's probably more good one's then bad one's out there and like all news, you never hear about the good one's, only the bad one's

provide an experience before marketing
- i don;t think its the lack of marketing skills that undoes pt's but the fact they don't have anything to market...their training skills are poor, their service skills are poor and their sessions are poor...you can't market sh*t...so it's there poor overall pt'ing skills that gets them undone...if you have 1 client that loves you because you provide 'the experience" for them, then they'll bring a friend along and so on - no marketing needed...see?

i could go on all day so pots any other q's you have might be easier
I was a personal trainer and in the industry for 11 years. This is my first year out of the industry. I would agree completely agree with this post. Get used to early starts and late finishes, and weekend work. Remember that weekends are the time people have off, so they have time for PT. Learn your trade, love it, believe in it, and make it personal to each person you train. I did 1 on 1 for 6 years and did no marketing. I got referrals and kept my clients because i looked after them, understood them, and was/am a nice guy. I then moved into small group and classes, bootcamp style training, and succeeded there for similar reasons. I was organised, friendly, knew my stuff, and fun.

As far as money goes, well at my busiest doing one on one, i'd do 40 sessions a week at $35 an hour working for someone. So $1400 before tax, super, and savings. $800-900 a week on a GOOD week. Working on my own i'd charge $70 an hour and be doing 15 sessions a week along with small group training and classes. But i worked Sat, and did late finishes weekdays. Need to take rent out of that as well. I also managed a gym and had set hours to manage the gym. That comes with experience though.

What will get you through is your personality, knowledge, passion, and ability to debunk 'trends' and 'fads'. This will get thrown in your face a lot, but it is important to educate people.

Be prepared for cancellations
Be prepared to pay your own tax/super
Be prepared to have LESS money than you would like at times
Be prepared to have early nights on the weekends
Be organised
Be able to find a partner that understands what you're about and why you love doing what you do
 

Superstar swan

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Is it just me or does it seem to be less and less people using pt's. Cannot recall anyone using a pt at my gym that has over 2000 members
 

Tsongkie

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Is it just me or does it seem to be less and less people using pt's. Cannot recall anyone using a pt at my gym that has over 2000 members
The PT short-courses have saturated the market with incompetent, under-qualified and ignorant individuals masquerading as PT's. Sadly, this has created a climate of mistrust from the public re: PT's - and I can hardly blame them. The low barriers to entry attract the kind of people that shouldn't be dealing with the health of individuals. Throw in to the mix that commercial gyms operate-for-profit where you have 8+ trainers competing for clients/business - these models drive quantity vs. quality incentivising PT's to say and/or do anything to secure business.

I have heard PT's give flagrantly inaccurate and dangerous advice to prospective client's in an effort to secure their business, whether that was due to the pressures of PT competition or down to flat incompetence, I don't know, regardless, neither is acceptable. Case en point - just last week at my local I overheard a conversation between a client and one of the PT's, the client indicated that they had psoas tendonitis and an FAI, the PT continued to pretend that he knew what an FAI was (he clearly didn't) and then shot off a list of exercises that would benefit her - 100% of them were contraindicated.

Being a Physiotherapist, I don't mind the abundance of shoddy PT's because it ensures a steady stream of clients to rehab, but as a member of the public, I can completely understand why less and less people are using PT's. The scope of practice for PT's narrowly defines their mandate to train as only with those whom are members of asymptomatic and healthy cohorts of the population, but very few follow their industry scope of practice, ever fewer know there even is one.

I have worked in the health industry for 12 years and can count the number of truly great PT's I have come across on one hand. As an alternative, I cannot recommend Accredited Exercise Physiologists highly enough when it comes to delivering exercise-based interventions. If you are considering getting a PT and are committed to lifestyle change, may I suggest that instead of training with Tiffany the 22 yo with a tight-ass from one of the major chains, that instead you invest your hard-earned money into an Exercise Physiologist that is in the very least post-graduate trained, medicare registered and a member of allied health that is bound to industry best-practice and evidence-based medicine.

</rant>
 
Last edited:

cptkirk

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where are these exercise physiologists in the mainstream/personal field? i run my own studio and come across maybe 3 of them in my time of hiring of trainers...

a lot of people don't even know they have issues and really if it doesn't hurt or restrict movement it's barely an issue unless you have literally no idea (does occur) and you somehow overload an already overloaded area and something breaks
 

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SnakeMan86

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where are these exercise physiologists in the mainstream/personal field? i run my own studio and come across maybe 3 of them in my time of hiring of trainers...
Ive been pretty lucky, i manage a small gym in rural vic and have on EP on deck and another gymmie who is doing honors.
 

Tsongkie

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They're certainly around. Only a handful of universities have earned the accreditation from ESSA (Exercise and Sport Science Australia) to pump them out with the ESSA requirements for universities being quite high. The minimum qualification used to be a graduate diploma but I believe that has recently been raised to a Masters degree with a minimum of 500 clinic placement hours across various patient populations. EP's can also deliver TAC, WorkSafe, Dept. of Veterans Affairs and Medicare appointments which are rebated by the government - so naturally many clinics are now concertedly seeking out EP's to diversify their revenue streams. In public hospitals I know that grade 1 Physios and EP's get paid the same which is a strong affirmation of their skills by those that set the awards. With the aging population and increasing prevalence of obesity-related disorders in Australia, there will no doubt be a growing utilization of their services in future years.

Off-topic a little bit but not really. If you (or perhaps a family member) has had a health issue which has persisted for 6 months or more, you more than likely will qualify for an enhanced primary clan plan which allows you to visit any member of Allied Health for up to 5 fully rebated visits within the calendar year. That's 5 in total allied health sessions, could be 2 rebated physio treatments, plus 2 EP sessions, plus 1 podiatry visit. If you have an issue, I suggest you chat to your GP about it. It's a Medicare service available for ALL Australian's so why not take advantage of it.
 

Shoei

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They're certainly around. Only a handful of universities have earned the accreditation from ESSA (Exercise and Sport Science Australia) to pump them out with the ESSA requirements for universities being quite high. The minimum qualification used to be a graduate diploma but I believe that has recently been raised to a Masters degree with a minimum of 500 clinic placement hours across various patient populations. EP's can also deliver TAC, WorkSafe, Dept. of Veterans Affairs and Medicare appointments which are rebated by the government - so naturally many clinics are now concertedly seeking out EP's to diversify their revenue streams. In public hospitals I know that grade 1 Physios and EP's get paid the same which is a strong affirmation of their skills by those that set the awards. With the aging population and increasing prevalence of obesity-related disorders in Australia, there will no doubt be a growing utilization of their services in future years.

Off-topic a little bit but not really. If you (or perhaps a family member) has had a health issue which has persisted for 6 months or more, you more than likely will qualify for an enhanced primary clan plan which allows you to visit any member of Allied Health for up to 5 fully rebated visits within the calendar year. That's 5 in total allied health sessions, could be 2 rebated physio treatments, plus 2 EP sessions, plus 1 podiatry visit. If you have an issue, I suggest you chat to your GP about it. It's a Medicare service available for ALL Australian's so why not take advantage of it.
Just had a look on the ESSA website and interestingly enough my University (Murdoch, Perth) runs both the Bachelor of Sports Science (BSportsSC) – ESSA Accredited Stream and Bachelor of Exercise Physiology (BSc)
 

Tsongkie

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cptkirk

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i was happy with it when he posted it up the other day and commented as so...like me he's just a well read pt who can help people in pain whether it's decrease it or work around it depending on if it's restricting pain or general
 

estibador

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I have worked in the health industry for 12 years and can count the number of truly great PT's I have come across on one hand. As an alternative, I cannot recommend Accredited Exercise Physiologists highly enough when it comes to delivering exercise-based interventions. If you are considering getting a PT and are committed to lifestyle change, may I suggest that instead of training with Tiffany the 22 yo with a tight-ass from one of the major chains, that instead you invest your hard-earned money into an Exercise Physiologist that is in the very least post-graduate trained, medicare registered and a member of allied health that is bound to industry best-practice and evidence-based medicine.
I just wanted to thank you for making me aware that exercise physiologists even exist.

I've decided to go back to uni mid-year to study this and I'm loving it. It's taken me until my 30's but I've finally decided what I want to be when I grow up!
 

Shoei

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I just wanted to thank you for making me aware that exercise physiologists even exist.

I've decided to go back to uni mid-year to study this and I'm loving it. It's taken me until my 30's but I've finally decided what I want to be when I grow up!
I've just finished my Law degree and I'm 31 this year.

Never too late to chase after something you want.
 

estibador

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I've just finished my Law degree and I'm 31 this year.

Never too late to chase after something you want.
I forgot to thank you too for awaring me that Murdoch runs the accredited course now.

I forgot what a nice campus that place is compared to the concrete jungle of Curtin.
 

personaltrainernl

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Being a personal trainer: Pros

When people research being personal trainer's pros and cons, they tend to look for the negative.
And, if you think about it, that logic makes sense…
If you’re already researching personal training, then you’re interested in taking up a career as a personal trainer. And if you’re interested in a career in personal training, then we can only assume that you know some of the benefits of a career in that industry.
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Did you know, for example, that while personal training measures up well against other professions, the percentage of personal trainers who report being stressed at work is near 50%?

Knowing as we do that personal training can be a stressful profession, remembering why you got into the industry in the first place could be crucial to ensure your long-term success.

While your reading the next chapter then, be sure to keep in mind which of the advantages when it comes to being a personal trainer pros and cons means most to you!

Multiple Career Strands


One of the best, and perhaps least obvious, pros of being a personal trainer is the flexibility when it comes to career paths.

The reason that this is not as obvious as say, flexible working hours (and we’ll come to those soon…), is because you only really start to benefit from having flexibility and choice once you're in the business.

Think about it this way….

You’ve decided you want to become a personal trainer, you’ve done all the research, and you’ve taken and passed your Level 2 and Level 3 Personal Trainer Examinations.

Great. Now, the only thing to do is go and get some experience on the gym floor, and start building up your client list…

Or is it?

See, when it comes to personal training, as strange as this may sound, you have far more choices than just working on a gym floor as a to-hire personal trainer. In fact, while your will still be called a PT in practice, the differences in practical terms between the different career strands of personal training are huge.

Check out our video here on all the personal training career option pros and cons for each route you could take:
 

Shell

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Jul 2, 2005
142,421
83,119
Melbourne
AFL Club
Geelong
FWIW- ive only ever taken those "freebie" PT sessions the gyms give you upon sign up. IIRC i paid for maybe a handful of sessions outside of those.

They really do work tho- you will build up a sweat like you never have before. And its always good to have someone to have a chat/ bounce ideas, get info from. I did enjoy the PT sessions I did.
 

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