Wellness Column: Personal Training, Is It All Its Cracked Up To Be?

In Partnership with TRAIN Fitness

The wellness industry is booming, anyone will tell you that. But why? It could be that we as a society are ever more conscious of our bodies and general health. It could be that we’re all living longer. It could also that the world is in fact getting fatter and obesity rates are sky rocketing thanks to quick and easy access to ‘junk food’ – I mean you get even get McDonalds delivered now – or is it just another bubble that we’re all buying into because we’re so obsessed with how the world see’s us physically and that we all need to be ‘gram’ ready? With some people taking the “no carbs before marbs” trend and turning it into a lifestyle that’s more “no carbs, ever”. 

I myself have been obsessed with performance – in every sense of the word – my entire life and from a very early age I played just about every sport going at school and in later life. I even had the chance to play professional football – for a year, before I was dropped! – I’ve even played American football for a time with a local team where I went on to take over the fitness and condition coaching and I also follow numerous fitness coaches such as Hollywood heavy weight Gunnar Peterson – clients include the LA Lakers, The Rock, Charlize Theron, Sly Stallone, The Kardashians, Kate Beckinsale and Chris Hemsworth – and Joe Holder – clients include a number of Victoria Secrets Models and ‘Off-White’ designer Virgil Abloh – who provide insights into and inspiration into whats possible in the industry as well as their luxurious client lists, always giving their viewers training tips and regimes. But thats now, in school I wasn’t built or muscular, in fact I was stick like, in fact a stick probably had more bulk on it than I did. So when it came to leaving school I quickly joined the local gym with the only thought being “I must fill out a t-shirt!” and from that day forth I was hooked. Many years on and I’m still training. I’ve educated myself along the way about biomechanics, body composition, diet, nutrition etc and I like to think I’m rather knowledgeable. But, amongst all of this, it never occurred to me to turn my love of wellness and performance into a career, I simply enjoyed it as a hobby. But it would appear times have changed and now more and more of us are looking to swap our desks for the squat rack. 

So here’s my question, why does everyone who eventually gets involved in fitness have a sudden epiphany and decide to drop their day job whether it be as an accountant, lawyer or shop assistant and become a personal trainer? What’s the magnetic draw of the career that’s making so many of us give up our ‘proper jobs’ as mum and dad would say? Let’s be honest, most of us probably know one of these people. That’s right you know the one. They go to the gym for 3 months and before you know it they’ve told everyone at work their changing careers and “following their true love and passion” – that they’ve had for 3 months mind you – and will be born again as a fitness professional, next they’ll be going on a yoga teaching retreat in Thailand and braiding their hair… 

Now for those of you that don’t know personal trainers were once reserved for the rich and famous coming to general knowledge at the height of the 80’s. Back then it was a societal necessity for those who were at the top of the food chain to show their wealth by employing a personal trainer from their local country club to build their bodies as big as their bank accounts, showing that they were superior among their peers. These personal trainers a lot of the time were ex-professional athletes, coaches or simply people that had failed medical school and had decided to get a degree specific to fitness and physical development. No shame in it, someone had to do it. But they weren’t the Instagrammable fitness influencers that bombard our screens today, they were simply people who enjoyed getting people into shape, always seeing it as a way in with the Hollywood crowd, leading to bigger and better things. But as time progressed, so did they. These individuals soon became celebrities in their own right as the fitness boom gained speed and they soon got their own workout videos like Mr Richard Simmons or Body By Jake creator Mr Jake Steinfeld or 80s fitness legend Denise Austin, dressed in spandex and headbands these personal trainers opened the flood gates to the ‘celebrity trainer’ world we know today. And of course were money flows people will follow and well known actresses such as Jane Fonda – who apparently made roughly $120M from her fitness empire – jumped on the bandwagon, selling clothing lines and workout videos, selling the dream of getting fit from your living room. 

But back to my question, what is the draw? There is a young PT in my gym, she’s great, enthusiastic, but she is the example of the typical mis-conception of what people thing personal training is. Over the music and the banging of weights all you can hear is her voice, shouting and willing her clients to do “one more rep” forever talking about her own training and how busy she is. Surely this can’t be right. So in anticipation for this new column I spoke to many personal trainers I know personally, all of them spoke about the “flexibility” and “rewarding feeling” you get from working one on one with clients, especially those that make impressive gains and want to change their lives for the better. They, thankfully also spoke about the coaching aspect of the job, that it’s not all shouting and screaming. Each one of them repeated these benefits as is reading from a pre-written press release, but what about the nuts and bolts of it? Whats it like day to day? What are the benefits and hurdles? And more importantly, what’s the money like? Can you really earn a substantial income from being a normal personal trainer? Well, after a bit of digging income appears to vary depending on your situation and according to research online the average full-time personal trainer in the UK earns roughly £22,000 per year but can earn up to £40,000+ if you work in major cities such as London. 

All this research got me thinking, if all these people are getting qualified as personal trainers surely the training and qualifications can’t be that hard. Which posed another question, is it too easy to get qualified? With the popularity of the industry ever increasing we hear all the time of people getting their qualifications in a single weekend or over a couple a weeks and to me this seems too fast to have a understanding of the human body, its movements and what it takes to develop a safe and impactive program for clients. Now as I said I’ve trained for many years now and I’ve managed to sufficiently train myself and get results without injury so could I get qualified and how quickly could I get qualified, having sufficient training? It isn’t easy let me tell you. Type in ‘Personal Training Qualifications’ on Google and you get hit with a multitude of options from companies of all different shapes and sizes, offering weekend courses, distance courses and even a single day course ranging from £500 to £6,500+… After all this research I decided I would try and get qualified, but I want to do it properly and I wanted to specialise in working with athletes, I mean if I’m going to do it I’m going to do it properly. So after a couple of referrals from coaches and trainers I decided to go with TRAIN Fitness, who started 20 years ago out of Australia, they serve to deliver “fitness enthusiasts world-wide with the opportunity to obtain the highest quality industry qualifications, utilising the most accessible medium available – the Internet”. They offer a multitude of courses that range from basic industry standard qualifications to further development courses such as Wellness coaching, Obesity and Dietary, Life Coaching and more. So it is with thanks to the team over at TRAIN Fitness that I am taking on their Specialist Diploma distance course to see if I can get qualified. This monthly column will follow my journey to wellness Mecca as I combine my love of performance with TRAIN Fitness’ distance learning course to see if it really is as easy as it looks. I’ll be getting no special treatment, having to pass a number of practical exams and worksheets in order to get the job done. Here I’ll reveal it all, the highs, lows and thoughts along the way. 

So if you’re thinking of ditching the job and joining the wellness revolution keep your eyes peeled and we can help guide you through the process, letting you decide if the industry really is all its cracked up to be. 


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