I first wrote this post about working in the fitness industry 6 years ago! And wow, a lot has changed since then, both for me and for the industry itself.
After over a year of fitness businesses being closed, it’s really unclear how or if the fitness industry will bounce back. Will studios re-open? Will gyms still have members? What will be the state of the boutique fitness, in London especially?
I recently did an Instagram Love mentoring session where I spoke about my experience working in the fitness industry. You can catch up on that here:
If you are trying to decide if working in fitness is for you, I hope this post helps. The first couple of points are more relevant to those about to leave school but may also be for older adults who are considering going back to University.
Have a read…
Will You Be Happy At Your Second Choice University
Back when I originally wrote this post, I’d seen an article on Twitter with a very similar title. I never bothered to read the article but it did make me realise, for the first time, that I did actually go to my second choice University.
Back in 2003, I applied for Sports Science courses at Loughborough, Brighton and Manchester. I got rejected from Loughborough but accepted for Brighton and Manchester.
I thought Manchester was too far from home so I went to visit Brighton (Eastbourne campus) and was more than happy to spend the next 3 years of my life there.
As an aside, Loughborough wrote to me offering me a place on their Sports Science with Chemistry course. I was aware that I could start on that course then drop chemistry but I decided I was happy heading to Brighton.
I had 3 of the best years at the University of Brighton and really wouldn’t change anything for the world.
Is University For You?
It certainly was for me; but it may not be for everyone. Working in fitness doesn’t have a prerequisite of a degree but other associated careers – such as working in Sport Development like i did after University, do.
At the time I started my Undergraduate Degree, Sport Science was still a relatively new course and it didn’t fully equip those of us who took the course with the practical knowledge needed to work in fitness.
Nowadays now though, the courses come with all the practical skills you need and you come out of your degree with your Level 2 or Level 3 fitness qualifications.
If University is not for you though, you can just complete your Level 2 and / or 3 qualifications relatively quickly.
I actually used a Career Development Loan to fund my first Level 2 qualification and then used Prior Learning from my degree in addition to a few short courses to achieve my Level 3 Personal Training Qualification.
The Government no longer provide Professional and Career Development Loans but if you’re young (like maybe under 20), there are a number of funding opportunities out there so make sure you do some research.
Working in Fitness Won’t Make You Rich
Working as an actual Fitness Instructor in a gym never has, and still doesn’t pay all that well. When I started as a Level 2 Instructor, wages were about £6-7 per hour; I’m sure they’ve improved since then but by how much?! I had a part time office job in Sport Development which paid me double that hourly rate.
Working as a Studio Instructor delivering classes, I’ve earned anything between £25 – £100 per 45 mins / hour. In theory, this sounds like a great rate, and it would be if you could teach 8 hours of classes in a row.
Typically though, you’d find yourself with big gaps between classes early in the morning, at lunchtime and then into the evening, with time spent travelling and idling about.
The well paid classes and opportunities used to come up as a one hour per week situation. Then you need to find other classes, in all sorts of locations to supplement your income. Factor in travel and expenses; how much are you left with?
e.g £25 for a 45 minute class (-£5 travel each way, -£5 to pay tax = £15 expenses) = £10 in my pocket
Teaching also comes with a few more expenses such as the purchase of a mic belt, different batteries for different pics at different studios, battery charger, license free music, and professional insurance.
If you’re thinking about becoming a Level 3 Personal Trainer then potentially, you could earn much more.
You Don’t Earn When You Don’t Work
When you work in the fitness industry, chances are you will be self employed. This means you’ll invoice the studios where you work or your clients will pay you directly, you report your income and expenses to HMRC and pay your taxes annually.
In my experience, being self employed has meant holidays have been few and far between. When you don’t work, you don’t make money. Add actually going somewhere on holiday and it’s like paying twice; once for the holiday and expenses and then again through loss of earnings.
It also means that you need to really look after yourself to prevent becoming injured which would result in you not being able to work.
Just Because You Love To Keep Fit Doesn’t Mean You Should Become A Personal Trainer
…and just because you are a Personal Trainer doesn’t mean you need to spend all of your time in the gym.
My heart is full to the brim of motivation for others, for supporting other people to workout and achieve their goals yet when it comes to me working out, I find it hard to get going. I too, need someone to push me, support me and guide me to reach my goals.
I do feel like the industry has become saturated and it’s hard to know who to listen to. Everyone, and anyone is a Personal Trainer. But just because they know how to reach their goals doesn’t mean they know how to help you reach yours.
But Still, I Wouldn’t Change It For The World…
If I knew then, what I know now, I think I would have made all the same choices.
I don’t have the energy to teach endless classes each week – I currently have the perfect online schedule where I get fit in my own training too.
Teaching what I do, means that the passion is always there every time I turn on the camera (or turn up in the studio). It means I get to work on other ways of applying my knowledge such as writing this blog and learning from my own training and experiences.
People often ask me, “how many people do you train?” and I always respond saying I don’t have the time to take on clients. This is true. I also don’t work, nor want to work as a full time Personal Trainer.
What I want to do is share the joy of movement with as many people as I can, in many different forms! And I think it’s working out just right…
What are your thoughts on working in the fitness industry?!
Do you have plans to gain some fitness qualifications? What do you hope to do with them?
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