By Team SBS
The advice that follows probably isn’t what you want to hear.
This step-by-step guide is not a “quick fix” to take you from your drab day job into the glamorous life of a Personal Trainer.
This plan will involve you working like a dog for the best part of a year. You know how you wanted to become a self-employed PT to have more time to spend with your family and friends? I’m sorry, but that’s not how it works.
This is not another “How To Make 6 Figures In Fitness” guide, nor are we selling anything.
This is just brutally honest advice that we have given to people like you time and time again in SBS Elite, who have then gone on to successfully and smoothly transition from a day job with some PT on the side into a full-time fitness career.
The steps contained in this guide are simple sounding, but ultimately it is up to YOU to execute the plan. A plan without action is just some words – they’re meaningless unless you do the work.
If you think you can take the advice we give here, then read on. If you can’t, that’s cool – we have plenty more articles on this website that you may find a little less offensive.
Why “Follow Your Passion” Is Terrible Advice
Let’s talk about “passion” for a bit. The word passion actually derives from the Latin verb pati, meaning “to suffer”.
Some fun facts about passion:
- Most people don’t know what they’re actually passionate about – you’re probably confusing a passion for something that you enjoy more than your day job.
- Even if you do know what you’re passionate about, you probably suck at it – especially if you only just discovered your passion.
- Most people don’t actually want to suffer for their career.
From what we’ve seen, this combination of factors tends to lead to the following scenario when you blindly quit your day job to follow your passion into a career as a Personal Trainer.
Stage 1 – You’re so excited about being a Personal Trainer that you think nothing bad will ever happen to you and it will be a big glorious bed of roses for ever and ever
This is what you think might happen:
Stage 2 – You realise it is WAY harder than you thought it would be, you aren’t as good as you think you are and you can’t deal with what you have to do to succeed, so you quit
This is what actually happens:
We don’t like this. We don’t like people failing and suffering needlessly. The aim of this action plan is to transform the scenario we’ve given above into this scenario:
You see that big spike when it comes to “Need To Make Sacrifices”? That’s what I meant with my warning at the beginning of this article. It’s going to be hard.
Now, this is where you’d probably expect us to say “but it’s worth it in the end” or something – but that brings us to our next point.
Let’s Talk Money
Your expectations have to match up to reality as a Personal Trainer, especially when it comes to your earnings. You have mouths to feed and bills to pay – you need to be earning enough to support the lifestyle you and your family want to lead.
So… just how much do Personal Trainers earn?
The website payscale.com gives a good breakdown of UK Personal Trainers’ salaries:
What this means is that 90% of Personal Trainers in the UK are likely to be earning less than £30,000 a year. Only a handful will be earning significantly more than that, and the bottom 10% are earning less than £13,000 a year.
To put that in perspective – the minimum yearly rent in London according to Rent Barometer is roughly £12,000, with an average of a little over £22,000.
So… you’re not likely to be earning megabucks that will enable you to drive from session to session with your kettlebells in the boot of a Lamborghini.
If you want to know more about Personal Trainer salaries, there are a couple of great articles that I’ve linked at the end from Personal Trainer London and Origym Personal Trainer Courses.
However, let’s say that you’re okay with that sort of salary.
Let’s say you’re okay with putting in a huge amount of effort to make this career change happen.
Let’s say that, for you, it is worth it…
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Step 1: Put In The Ground Work
Spend 1-2 years studying alongside your day job. Get qualified, spend time learning from more experienced Personal Trainers, maybe do some shadowing of other Fitness Professionals if you can. You’re earning money via your day job, so you can afford to spend some time making sure you have at least a basic level of theoretical knowledge and competence.
This is where you start to learn:
- How much you DON’T know about fitness and Personal Training.
- How much work you’re willing to ACTUALLY put in.
It’s perfectly okay to quit at this point, by the way. If you realise that you really don’t know anywhere near enough, and that other things are way more important to you than dedicating the time to studying and learning… that’s absolutely fine. I would rather you quit now than attempt step 2 and really, really suffer for it.
Step 2: Straddle The Career Change (The Tough Bit)
The great thing about the state of the current fitness industry is that it’s very easy to create a part time Personal Training business around a 9-5 day job. Your potential clients will want to train early morning or later in the evening after work – luckily, you have that time free too!
However, this is where you need to demonstrate your work ethic. In order to execute this step properly, many of your weekdays will likely look like this:
5 a.m. Wake up
6 – 8 a.m. Train clients
9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Day Job
6-9 p.m. Train more clients
9.30 p.m. Sleep, because you have to be up at 5 a.m. the next day…
And weekends? Ha – this is where you train some more clients, do some admin work for your fitness business (you are, after all, running a business) and attempt to spend time with your family and friends that are annoyed because their time with you during the week is far less than it was.
We recommend spending 6-12 months on this step where you’re working 2 jobs. Why that long? You’ll need a decent amount of time to build up a client base and also to figure out if you’ve got the work ethic to stick with it when the times get tough.
Step 3 – Take Stock, Assess And Move Forward
At this point, you have to make a decision. I can’t tell you which decision to make – it’s your life, after all – but these are the options I would consider after you’ve spent a year or so working 2 jobs:
1. Quit your job and go “all in” on your fitness business
Making enough money to live comfortably from your fitness business alone? Can you afford to take a salary hit when you quit your day job? Got a bit of spare cash for Carb Killa bars? Have you got a clear, realistic plan to potentially make that money back from an increased Personal Training client base? Great – this is as good a time as any to take the plunge, and transition.
2. Go part-time in your day job, and dedicate a few more hours per week to your fitness business
This is probably the route to take if you aren’t yet earning enough to live on from your fitness business alone, but are confident that it’s for you and that with a few extra hours you’ll be able to earn enough to then go “all in”.
3. Realise that full-time, self-employed fitness probably isn’t for you, yet
There is no shame in realising this. Some people will take longer than others to learn all the requisite skills and how to apply them properly to succeed as a full-time self-employed Personal Trainer. If you realise this, you can either stick it out at step 2 a little longer to see if things pick up a bit more, or there are plenty of employed positions within the fitness industry that you could apply for.
This is the exact process that a number of our SBS Elite members have gone through to successfully transition into fitness, so we know it works.
It might not be the best way for you – despite what we said at the beginning some people need to go all in, right from the start. They need the pressure of HAVING to succeed in order to succeed. However, we don’t like things to be harder than they need to be, and we think that the action plan we’ve outlined above is a much easier way of making the transition from employed, to part-time PT, to full-time fitness professional.