Working in Fitness: If I Knew Then What I Know Now…

A few months ago, I shared with you {My Running Journey}; all the struggles and the honest truth about how I came to call myself a runner.

Professionally though, there are a lot of gaps to be filled. I’ve been in “the industry” now for 10 years (since my first job out of University). Talking of University, and with everyone just starting back, I thought I’d share with you my thoughts.

Move Your Frame Staff - Expenses for Fitness Professionals

1/ Will You Be Happy At Your Second Choice University 

On twitter today I saw a newspaper article with a 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. I applied for Sports Science courses at (1) Loughborough, (2) Brighton and (3) Manchester. I got rejected from Loughborough but accepted for Brighton and Manchester. I though 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 here. As an aside, Loughborough wrote to me offering me a place on their Sports Science with Chemistry course to which I stuck my middle finger up at! I was aware that I could start on that course then drop chemistry but I really wasn’t gonna be that easy! haha!

I had 3 of the best years at the University of Brighton and really wouldn’t change anything for the world.

move your frame - fitting in your own training as a fitness pro

2/ Is University For Me

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 mine in Sport Development), do. At the time I studied, Sport Science was still a relatively new course and it didn’t fully equip those of us who took the course 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 fitness qualifications too.

If University is not for you though, you can just complete your Level 2 and / or 3 qualifications in what seems like no time at all these days. I 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. If you’re young (like maybe under 20), there are a few funding opportunities out there for you so make sure to look out for those!

3/ The Fitness Industry Doesn’t Pay Well 

Working as an actual Instructor or on the gym floor doesn’t pay all that well. When I started as a Level 2 Instructor, wages we about £6-7 per hour; I’m sure they’ve improved since then but by how much?! I remember I had a part time office job (in Sport Development) which paid me £12 per hour!

Working as an Instructor delivering classes, I’ve earned anything between £25 – £100 per 45 mins / hour. This may sound like an excellent wage …if you could teach 8 hours of classes in a row! These kind of gigs 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, music, insurance…

I currently teach two classes per week which luckily fit in with my work schedule meaning I don’t pay explicit travel costs for them. In another job, I taught a class on my lunch break which was great as a dual use of time.

training at move your frame - power row

4/ You Don’t Earn When You Don’t Work

Since being self employed, holidays have been few and far between. When I don’t work, I don’t make money. Add going on holiday to that and I’m paying twice; once for the holiday and expenses and through loss of earnings.

It also means that you have to be extra careful not to get injured which would result in you not being able to work.

Being self employed also means you are responsible for paying your own taxes. Each month when I receive my pay, I automatically transfer 20% of that to a separate bank account to ensure I’m not left searching for cash at the end of the year!

5/ 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 live in the gym. Well, not me anyway. I love teaching and training people; for me it’s like being on stage (I used to go to theatre school!) …I get to almost be a different person. 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 make the first move. I too, need someone to push me, support me and guide me to reach my goals.

I do feel like the industry is saturated right now 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. Have a read of my post {10 Reasons To Love Your Instructor / PT}.

But Again, I Wouldn’t Change It For The World…

If I knew then, what I know now, I would certainly have made the same choices I made back then! I don’t have the energy to teach endless classes each week. Teaching what I do, means that the passion is always there every time I put on the microphone! 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. I hate selling to people; I’d rather just help people because I want to, not because I need to pay my bills. I’d rather (as my own personal choice) use my knowledge to create other ways of helping people to transform their lives.

Some of my career goals are to complete my Masters in Business Administration, polish up my spinning and consider teaching a class or two as well as securing ambassadorship with a brand who supports my goals and vice versa. I’m just gonna work real hard to bring all my ideas to life!

What are your thoughts on working in the industry?! 

Or do you have plans to gain some fitness qualifications? What do you hope to do with them?

Elle 🙂 



  1. Mirka @Kahanka @fitness4mamas
    October 1, 2015 / 12:00

    Such an interesting post lovely. When I started being more and more into fitness after my first born was born, I was thinking about starting a career in fitness, but then luckily I did not. I am shocked at how much you could earn (only) as being self-employed should mean the opposite so you cover you hols, etc. Good luck with finding a brand. I have made my dream come true and from being an ESL (English to foreigners teacher) teacher to a pro blogger is definitely what I am proud of and fits perfect around my kids too. Plus all the opportunities now when I started my second blog Fitness 4 mamas mean I do my fitness part too.

    • Elle Linton
      October 1, 2015 / 13:45

      You're so right! I'm currently in another self employed role and my rate of pay reflects the fact I don't get paid annual leave or have any other benefits!Someone once told me that life is like a buffet; you can't sit down and wait for things to come to you! You have to get up, go to the table and take the opportunities you want! So good on you for going out there and doing what makes you happy!! 🙂 xoxo

  2. Morgan Prince
    September 30, 2015 / 13:41

    Great post, I think as long as you're enjoying yourself and can make money from doing something you love that's great! 🙂

    • Elle Linton
      October 1, 2015 / 09:45

      I agree 🙂 being able to call your passion "work" is one of the keys to happiness in my eyes!! Thanks for stopping by Morgan!

  3. Lesli Ellen
    September 30, 2015 / 07:46

    Great post, Elle! Really interesting to learn about the real life of a fitness industry professional. And so true about second choices… sometimes not getting what you think you want turns out to be the best. I think everything really does happen for a reason! Lxx

    • Elle Linton
      September 30, 2015 / 11:14

      Thanks Lesli 🙂 I defo agree with you that everything happens for a reason! 🙂 x

  4. Pamela
    September 28, 2015 / 12:30

    Working as fitness professional is more work than most people think. They think it's just the hours in the gym. They have no idea how much time everything else takes.

    • Elle Linton
      September 28, 2015 / 15:22

      If only! And that's before you add all the time planning your sessions, sourcing music, putting together playlists! haha!

  5. Coco
    September 28, 2015 / 10:20

    This is great insight. I see so many people wanting to become personal trainers but it's really hard to make a living that way.

    • Elle Linton
      September 28, 2015 / 15:21

      It's definitely important to look into earning potential before you take on a career / job as it will affect your standard of living. Living with a variable income takes a lot more self discipline and planning than knowing your paycheque drops on the same day every week / month!

  6. CARLA
    September 28, 2015 / 09:15

    OH YES to the you dont earn if you dont work.When people cancelled on me for person training sessions they NEVER "got" that.

    • Elle Linton
      September 28, 2015 / 15:20

      I know right. I think times are changing though where so many more people are self employed and understand these woes! lol

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