Many people dream of becoming a personal trainer, with a huge number getting certified each year. However the fitness industry has a notoriously high turnover of staff, so most don’t stay PTs very long…
It’s thought that 90% of personal trainers leave the industry within their first year… That’s crazy! Certifications cost a lot of money, yet people are still quitting within 12 months of getting them. So what’s making them leave? Well here are 3 common reasons that we hear from ex-trainers, plus tips on how to avoid them…
#1 – They Become Disillusioned
A common reason people quit is that they become disillusioned with the fitness industry. For some, the reality of working in a gym and training clients doesn’t match their expectations. The early mornings and slow goal progress aren’t quite what they had in mind when becoming a personal trainer.
This was the case for me ten years ago. After getting certified I started my first job in a gym, but quickly realised that their values didn’t align with my own. They cared far more about profitability than helping people live healthier lives (to the point where they refused to give new members an induction program). They thought this approach would encourage more people to sign up for personal training, but it just left them confused and disappointed. Luckily for me, I was able to switch jobs after a year and find a company with better values, but not everyone is so fortunate.
Avoid It By ⇒ Finding a company who’s values align with your own. If your first employer doesn’t work out (no pun intended), then be willing to try again with another despite the disappointment. Ask lots of questions about their working hours, sales expectations, and induction processes, so you know exactly what you’re signing up for. Or become self-employed so you can do things on your own terms!
#2 – They Don’t Earn Enough Money
As we mentioned in our article about personal trainer income, the average PT salary is just $31,250 per year. Some make a lot more, but others make a lot less too. Many can’t get enough clients to build the steady income and dream life they hoped for.
Certification companies sell you this idea of working for yourself, having the freedom to choose your own hours, and earning a 6 figure income. But no-one tells you how important sales will be… Those courses are great for learning about training, programming, and nutrition. Some of them even includes a module where you’re asked to create a business plan.
But that doesn’t translate into the real world. When you meet potential clients, you can’t hand them a copy of your business plan and expect them to sign up…
Avoid It By ⇒ Developing your sales and marketing skills. Read books, consume blog articles, and listen to podcasts. Learn how to build genuine rapport, sell persuasively, and address common objections. If you’re serious about increasing your income, then check out our ebook or online course on How To Sell Personal Training.
#3 – They Don’t See A Career Path
Some personal trainers quit the profession because they don’t see a clear career path. They can’t see how they’ll progress in the future, other than becoming a personal trainer with specialist skills or knowledge.
Some employers try to address this by having a defined career path for their staff. After 3 years they’ll develop you into a management role, and from there you’ll have opportunities to look after multi-site operations. But in many instances you’ll be left to figure this stuff out for yourself, which doesn’t really help.
Avoid It By ⇒ Asking yourself what your dream career looks like, and then developing a plan to make it happen. Instead of relying on your employer to promote you based on THEIR needs, get proactive about creating the career YOU want. Look for other people who’ve done it and see if they’ll mentor you, or try to reverse engineer their success.
Getting your certification and becoming a personal trainer is just the first step. You then need to develop it into a successful long term career. By being aware of the pitfalls and reasons people quit, you’ll know what to avoid. The fitness industry needs good people who care about their clients. It needs qualified PTs who want to make a positive impact on people’s health. So keep working on your own development, and build a fulfilling career on your own terms…