what is it like to be a personal trainer

The Reality Of Being A Personal Trainer…

Thinking of becoming a personal trainer?

I’m not surprised.

The fitness industry is currently worth £5 billion, and continues to grow year-on-year. We are living in the golden age of fitness.

This is the best job I’ve ever had, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

But here’s a startling statistic for you…

Over 80% of personal trainers quit the fitness industry within a year of gaining their qualifications.


No doubt, you don’t want to become one of that 80%, right? So why is the failure rate so high in such a popular industry?

Well, I believe it’s partly because fitness companies dish out PT qualifications too easily, resulting in a f**k-tonne of PT’s who don’t know what they’re doing, or haven’t been shown how to run a business.

And partly because the industry itself paints a very false idea of what it’s like to be a personal trainer, resulting in (again) a f**k-tonne of PT’s who bought into a false dream and threw the towel in when reality hit them like a giant c**k to the face.


the reality of being a personal trainer

While scrolling my Facebook, I ran across the advert shown above, and it filled me with sufficient rage for today’s article.

Is it any wonder we have so many struggling personal trainers with ads like this?

I have other posts which can show you how to become a successful personal trainer, but today I’d like to focus on showing you what it’s really like to do this day in, day out, to make it easy for you to separate the fact from the fiction.

I’ve broken it down into 5 easy segments.

the reality of being a personal trainer

1. Keep Your Alarm Set To 5 A.M.

Being a personal trainer is often mistakenly presented as an easy life.

Wake up at lunchtime… stroll to the gym with two fitness models on your arm… train a couple of high paying clients who think you’re God… spend the rest of the day relaxing on Muscle Beach…

That’s not the real world, my friend.

If you want to be successful, it’ll be anything but easy.

See how the advert above links a 9-5 job with waking up at 5 in the morning, finishing work late at night, and barely seeing your family – then claims being a personal trainer avoids all of that?

Yeah, I call bulls**t.

If you want a stress-free life, the absolute worst thing you can do is start your own business!

The first 1-2 years of owning your own business (any business at all) will likely be highly stressful. There are times you won’t be living your #dreamlife at all.

The main requirement of a personal trainer is flexibility. If you are successful you’ll have certain clients who train very early in the morning, typically an afternoon lull, and clients who train late at night.

Being a PT is comparable to working a constant split shift. So that 5 a.m. alarm isn’t going away anytime soon.

Done well, it takes over your life in the way any new business should.

It will test your love of training… Your finances won’t be as secure as you want them to be… You’ll have days where clients fail to show up… You’ll question whether you made the right decisions… Your friends and family will think you’re crazy… And there will be moments where you don’t even want to look at a damn dumbbell…

Oh, and that nutritious breakfast you calmly ate?

Sometimes it’s whatever you can grab.

Just because you’re a PT doesn’t mean you live in Instagram World, where everything is super colourful and took three hours to prepare.

what is it really like to be a personal trainer

2. Being In The Gym All Day Doesn’t Mean Working Out All Day

Gyms are littered with personal trainers who train for hours and hours every day, and they all have one thing in common:

… not enough clients.

This is one of the biggest myths surrounding the life of a successful personal trainer.

When you are not training clients, you should be building your business. If you have time to train for hours per day, something could be better.

See also:

  1. Just start training celebrities. If you get into this situation, you’ll likely have to do it for free because they’ll say “the exposure is enough”, even though you’ll probably never be named because magazines care about the celeb, not the PT.
  2. Just get sponsored by a supplement company. Yeah bro, so you can “get paid to train”. That’s not how it works.
the reality of being a personal trainer

3. Your Training And Diet May Suffer

Rather than spending too much time in the gym, you might find the opposite is true.

If you have clients booked around the clock (here’s hoping), you could arrive at the stage where you’re struggling to squeeze your own training into the day, and you are just grabbing whatever food you can in the short breaks you have between clients.

People are never prepared for this side of the job, and it’s very easy to get sucked into the bad habits of energy drinks and snacks, then going home late at night and headbutting the fridge door open.

Even though I always say knowledge and qualifications are the best indicators of a good personal trainer, there is no denying the important role appearance plays.

(Hence why we have so many poor trainers out there coasting by on the fact they have abs.)

What we don’t want is for your schedule to negatively impact your physique in a way that it hurts your business, so in this situation meal prep is your friend.

4. You’ll Need Thick Skin

Why am I telling you all of this?

Well, I’m a nice motherf**ker.

Sometimes to my detriment, because one of the things I learned very early on is that you’ll need a very thick skin to work in the fitness industry.

Remember, over 80% of personal trainers are struggling. At times, that can make the gym a very b**chy place to work.

From hearing other trainers slate your methods, to questioning why you have clients and they have none, to outright trying to poach customers from you behind your back… you will encounter some shady behaviour, that’s for sure.

It is up to you to be strong enough to handle this side of the business.

I’ve known many PT’s get caught up in social media d**k-measuring contests with each other, but my advice is that there’s little to be gained from a tit-for-tat argument with other folks at your gym.

Especially one who isn’t seeing your level of success.

Focus entirely on moving your business forward, and don’t take it personally.

Early in my career I’d get so frustrated at those situations, and waste lots of energy on defending my methods, my training style, my business model, etc.

As I gained experience, I gained a different perspective. The other PT’s were simply expressing frustration at not doing so well themselves, and using me as an outlet.

It ain’t all sunshine and rainbows, be prepared for that from the start.

how to become a successful personal trainer

5. You Need To Work Your A** Off

Hopefully by now you’ve gained some valuable insights into the reality of being a personal trainer.

The way the ads paint it; strolling to the gym with two fitness models on your arm, training a couple of clients who think you’re God, taking selfies and spending the rest of the day chilling on Muscle Beach…

That ain’t the life of a personal trainer.

At least, not a successful one.

In order to ensure you’re not part of the 80% of PT’s who quit in that tough first year, I recommend going into your new career with your eyes wide open.

Treat it with the seriousness it deserves, and the results will be rewarding.

I’ve met countless personal trainers who coasted their way to failure, believing that it was enough to simply be in the gym so they could pick up clients.

They often wound up congregating in the corner with other personal trainers, chatting the day away and training themselves.

Screw that.

In order to become established you’ll need to do a lot of work off your on back.

This can mean long days, late nights, maybe even training your pals for free in order to build up a portfolio of results to show that your methods are effective.

It all adds up.

Certain people will get it, and others will think, “Nah, that sounds too hard.”

And this work ethic is often what separates the leading trainers at your gym from the chasing pack.

tips for personal trainers


My first gym job saw me working at the reception desk of a local facility. I’d always stay back after closing to film YouTube videos, write content for my website, etc.

A few of my old colleagues regularly laughed that I wasn’t being paid anything for all of extra this work I as doing, scoffing that they’d never give away tips for less than £30 per hour.

The whole “I’ll only work if I’m being paid for it” mindset was precisely what was holding them back.

I mean, you wouldn’t open a clothing store and then simply wait for people to discover it, right? You’d work your a** off to advertise your new business, and that’s exactly what I was doing.

They are still there to this day, and they are still talking absolute s**t.

how to become a personal trainer

And Yes, It’s Worth It

Some people will look at the reality of the points above and think maybe being a personal trainer isn’t what they thought it would be.

It’s a business like any other, and it’s going to test your f**king sanity at times.

There will be days where you don’t want to train yourself. Days where people drive you crazy. Days where you want to give up and take a normal job to save yourself the stress of working for yourself.

… but it’s 100% worth it.

If you put the work in, you will never regret your choice to become a personal trainer.

You have the potential to positively impact many lives in this job, and there is nothing more satisfying than seeing somebody transform their physique, grow their confidence, and become the best version of themselves.

is being a personal trainer hard

So there you have it!

A comprehensive round-up of what it’s really like to be a personal trainer. Sure, the job can be tough and physically demanding, but if you still like the sound of doing this for a living I encourage you wholeheartedly to jump in with both feet.

It is a truly satisfying career.

Just make sure to schedule in some family time along the way…

… after all, those guys put up with all your s**t when you worked that job you hated.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my wrap-up of what it’s really like to be a personal trainer, and maybe picked up some tips which will help you on your journey to greatness.

If you’ve had fun reading it, give it a social media share and jump on my free email list below for future posts from me.

Now get to work!

Yours in training,

russ howe pti app

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