First-hand Advice for Becoming a Personal Trainer
This week we managed to grab 10 minutes with Neil Caines and Sarah Grant, Co-Owners and Personal Trainers at Train Together. They tell us all about their own fitness journey and how you, too, can follow in their footsteps and become a successful Personal Trainer.
Did you always want to be a personal trainer?
Sarah: I’ve always been involved in sport since a young age. I enjoyed playing team sports when younger, being captain of hockey and netball teams at school and then representing the Army, North of England and Lancashire hockey and athletic teams. I think this experience gave me good grounding and experience for coaching and training different levels of fitness in various sports.
I took the plunge in 2006 and decided to take a career change to train as a Personal Trainer – I have never looked back. You may think that once you have finished and passed the relevant courses that is it!! But it’s not, you learn something new every day. Knowledge is the best tool any Personal Trainer can gain 🙂
Neil: I actually started my fitness career in 1987, as a full-time PE Instructor in the Prison Service. I became a Personal Trainer in 1994 but, unfortunately, work and family commitments took hold. I came back to it full time in 2011 after “retiring” – I wish!!
What subjects did you love at school?
Sarah: Of course sport was my favourite, coming close second was geography. I went on a geography field trip and it was the best time ever.
Neil: Anything sport related – it was the only time I was guaranteed to be at school! I was also pretty good at Maths – useful for calculating weights now.
What do you do in a typical day as a personal trainer?
Sarah: Start at 6am with my first client of the day then straight into a couple of early morning classes… Some marketing and answering emails… Lunch time classes and then second client of the day… My lunch time and then third client of the day… Prep for the evening classes and my training time… Evening classes and then last client of the day finishing at 9pm!
Neil: Get in early to prepare. Make sure the kit I need is ready for my first client and have a coffee! After each session, I write up any notes or facts that I will need to remember for our next workout. I spend some time with my Office Manager preparing marketing, admin duties etc. (it isn’t all training and gym floor!). Try to fit in some personal training for me – it is easy to spend all day on the floor but not “do” anything yourself. As a Personal Trainer it can be good to have a training partner or even your own Personal Trainer to drive you along!! Prepare sessions for the following day, follow up emails etc.
What is the best thing about your job?
Sarah: Seeing clients improving, reaching goals, enjoying themselves, getting the best out of someone, completing something they didn’t think they could and helping people to overcome gym phobias.
Neil: Getting to do something you love every day. Helping people in many different ways, whatever their needs. Sometimes fitness, health concerns or just confidence building!
What training did you have to do to get your job?
Sarah: The 2 mandatory courses to become a Personal Trainer are our Level 2 Gym Instructor and Level 3 Personal Trainer. After these, there are loads of different avenues that you can specialise in, including Lower Back Pain or the Older Population etc.
Neil: Even though I had trained to quite a high level, with loads of courses during my time as a PE Instructor I had to re-train again in 2011. I gained my Level 2 Gym Instructor and Level 3 Personal Trainer qualifications. I then decided what area/client I would like to work with and embarked on further training. I have qualified in Older Populations, Exercise Referral and Specialist Lower Back Pain Treatment. This has enabled me to target the “older” generation as my ideal Personal Training clients. Being 50+ I also have a great deal of empathy and understanding of the aches and pains we older folks suffer from! As an additional area of expertise I chose to qualify as a KettleBell Instructor because I see the massive value of adding this form of training in to any plan.
How easy was it to get a job afterwards?
Neil: I was offered a job straight away with DW Sports and spent a few months working with them in Preston as a Personal Trainer. I then worked for a small gym as a Personal Trainer for 2 months before opening my own studio with my partner Sarah.
Sarah: There are lots of Personal Trainer jobs out there, just be aware that you will have to pay the company ground rent before you take any money home for yourself – be flexible but don’t sell yourself short!!
Did you overcome any difficulties to get where you are?
Neil: I had one of my first clients comment that I was “old for a Personal Trainer”. That was nearly 3 years ago and she is still with me 😉 Empathy and experience – what a great combo!!
Sarah: Personally no, but if you are setting out on your own get some good marketing advice.
What advice would you give someone who wants to become a personal trainer?
Neil: Firstly, choose your training provider carefully. Do not judge it purely on price – there are some very cheap options that do not prepare you for working as a Personal Trainer. Secondly, don’t jump in to “extra” courses too early. You need to spend some time working with people before you can decide which is going to be your “niche” area. Finally, you may feel that training sportsmen and sportswomen is for you but then actually find that people trying to lose weight or just get fitter is far more rewarding.
Sarah: Go for it, if you love sport and helping people it is the most rewarding job going!!!