A few weeks ago, I announced that I was leaving personal training as a full-time career. It was a tough decision, and frankly, I’ll never really know whether it was the best choice.
Having worked in the industry for quite a while and spending my time in two very different gyms and scenarios, I can confidently say that personal training has helped me evolve into the person that I am today.
It’s hard to believe that I started as a shy sophomore, almost too timid to train my first client. I’m literally shocked I made it through an entire hour-long session without her getting injured. My next few clients weren’t the best either, but we somehow managed not to kill each other and a few of them even got results.
Throughout the years, I’ve learned to sell myself and my skill sets. I’ve gained insight into networking and relationship-building. I’ve learned how to carry a conversation with even the dullest of individuals. Personal training has helped me become the person I am today. It literally helped me grow the hell up.
I guarantee I’ll find crossover in almost any other position I work in throughout the rest of my life. The personable demeanor that is necessary to succeed in the personal training industry is a prerequisite to succeed in many management and sales roles. Hell, the ability to simply talk with a variety of individuals helps you start small talk with many different personalities – even those that are polar opposites of yourself.
I don’t think everyone should go into personal training. If you don’t have the personality and confidence to win over clients and gym members, it’s not going to be the most fun career path for your future. But I do think it can crossover into almost any career field.
1. Personal training teaches you how to take care of people.
Plain and simple – if you don’t take care of your clients, they aren’t going to resign with you. The minute someone spent money to hire me as a trainer or to work in one of my small groups, they immediately started to receive text message updates throughout the week checking in and seeing how they were doing. I started to remember more about their family and what they were up to during previous weekends.
It’s a bias to those gym members. They are taking care of me so I’m going to reciprocate. Plus, it helps to give them the added benefit of follow-up outside of our sessions, not just the paid value of hanging out with me for a few hours a day.
2. You learn how to carry on a conversation.
I’ve trained some absolutely amazing clients over the past few years. I’ve had some great conversations and ended sessions bent over with laughter. But, for every awesome individual I’ve trained, I’ve worked with a few others that have been less than interesting.
Working with a diverse clientele taught me how to meet, bond, and entertain almost any particular personality, albeit some are harder than others. It gives you the confidence to walk into almost any business setting with the people skills to entertain a group.
That’s a powerful thing to have.
3. You develop the ability to sell a non-tangible item.
Personal training isn’t tangible. You can’t walk out of the store with a personal training session. When clients go to Best Buy and spend $800-$1,000 on a computer or television, they have the satisfaction of walking out of the store with it on that particular day.
I’ve had clients spend the same amount of money on training and go home with nothing on that particular day other than my business card and a scheduled appointment for later on in the week.
That’s a rough sale when the typical consumer today is looking for immediate satisfaction.
To sell personal training, you have to learn how to build value in an intangible item that most individuals aren’t going to have experience with using before. In my opinion, this type of sales training will benefit you down the road regardless of whether you go into a sales role. It’ll help you sell yourself and your own personal skills.
4. You learn how to work for your money.
If you don’t know, personal training is largely based on commission. In the most literal sense, time is money. Trainers with empty schedules are usually those that go home with the smallest paychecks.
In order to make a decent living, you have to fill up your schedule with a decent amount of client hours. It’s not exactly a job where you can take a long lunch and leave at 2pm unless you don’t want to get paid that day. As a result, trainers don’t exactly take many holidays.
I won’t lie and say it’s all work and no play.
Due to the flexibility of their schedule, personal trainers are often working less hours than your typical 8AM-5PM employee although they may be making the same amount of income.
But, trainers also aren’t getting paid for their downtime. If they aren’t facing a client, they aren’t making money. There were many times that I had eight clients in a row and left the gym exhausted. There were also days where I worked three hours and left for the day. It’s an up and down career path that rewards individuals that want to work.
5. Time management becomes your biggest priority.
Going hand in hand with the reason above, your time is literally your biggest asset as a trainer. Being that most trainers are paid per hour, it’s beneficial to learn how to make the most of that particular timeframe. For many trainers that involves building small groups. The clients generally pay less yet the trainer makes more. It’s a win-win for everyone.
This really comes into play when trainers have down time. In order to recruit more clients it’s beneficial to spend your time where you are the most effective. If you can’t walk the floor and pick up a client, it’s not the best use of your time.
Over time, you learn the things you do best and how to improve your strengths rather than wasting time with your weaknesses.
Personal training isn’t the easiest career to succeed in. It takes quite a bit of work, but it can be extremely rewarding both personally and financially. Overall, I think it’s beneficial for someone to spend a few years in a client-facing job like personal training. You’ll learn skills that’ll help you later on in your career.
So tell me, what skills do you think carry over to your next career path? Also, your thoughts on Google + is much appreciated. Is it worth investing the time to build your Google profile?