Day in the life of
ACE Certified Personal Trainer – Marvin Nixon, MS, NBC-HWC
I’m a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach and ACE Certified Personal Trainer.
Personal Training and Coaching offer a ton of flexibility with your time. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that all you need to do is train clients and enjoy your free time.
A typical day includes much more than working face to face or online with clients. In order to keep the “personal” in personal training the behind the scenes work of programming workouts, scheduling sessions and client service can take more than an hour for each client that you spend an hour training. Then there is all of the time you must put into finding new clients by talking to members in your gym, polishing your social media, or asking for referrals. That is work that never ends. Time in the industry will make you more efficient at all of this but for a new trainer, it can be a grind. My suggestion to all new trainers is to treat the job like a 8 to 12 hour a day job and always be present and smiling so that potential clients can see how amazing you are.
As an older coach in an industry where most trainers are younger my day is more designed to fit my life than is often possible for someone in their first few years in the fitness industry. For example, my day starts at 8 am and I work until 6 or 7 at night. A trainer who is getting established should take clients whenever they can get them, which can be 5 am or 9 pm (my suggestion is a trainer needs to decide their boundaries from the start and either work early mornings or late nights, but not both). I mentioned that I am an older trainer in a young industry, I am 48 and I can pin longevity in this career on one thing: client service. Personal training needs to be personal and if every client feels that their coach is training them in a way that is custom to their vision, goals, and life they will stay around for a long time and give great references.
Typical day. Prior to the first client of the day, no matter how early that might be, there is admin work that needs to be taken care of. Dealing with clients who may have emailed overnight to cancel or reschedule that day. Ensure client workout programs are up to date for the day. Then head to the gym and make sure that all equipment that I need is operational and available so that when I need it there is a smooth transition so that my clients can easily move from exercise to exercise.
In the morning I train a few sessions in a row. In between clients, it is important to manage emails in case a client has reached out. Daily, mid-morning for me, getting in my own personal exercise is important for my fitness but also to be seen in the gym. We are our own billboard and if a potential client sees you working out and likes your own workout style they are likely to engage and explore training with you. After my own workout, the rest of the day is with clients. A typical day can be five to ten sessions depending on the time of year. Flexibility is required to deal with clients’ ever-changing schedules. My last session of the day is what most people consider after work, this to accommodate when many clients can make time for training. Saturdays and Sundays I try to have one and a half days off with clients usually on Saturday to early afternoon.
In this business if you are not in front of a client you are not getting paid; the more hours you are in front of a client the bigger your paycheck. During times of the day where there are breaks between clients, I work on managing my business, programming, education to further my knowledge, and helping teach and mentor other trainers.
Having worked on my own and for a premium luxury lifestyle gym brand, I have encountered the pros and cons of working for a gym or working on your own. When you work for a gym they will determine your rate and the gym will keep a portion of what they charge for your time, depending on where you work and your seniority the gym could keep up to 60% of what they charge for you as an ongoing finders fee for the clients you work with, rent for the space you occupy in their gym, and cover the costs of administration, liability insurance, benefits, and education for you. Working for yourself, you will get to keep more of the money charged for your time but the costs of doing business are all on you. The type of gym and location will also impact what is charged to members for your time and therefore what you are paid. Luxury brands with lots of locations (such as Equinox) will generally pay better than brands that charge less for training or brands that include training in low membership costs. A huge con of working on your own is that you have to find your own clients wherein a gym employee clients are introduced to training as new members.
A big plus to working for a corporate gym brand is they have the resources to provide continuing education. What a trainer learns in a certification course and even in a school degree is only the very tip of the iceberg in what a trainer needs to know. School and certification teaches a new trainer how to keep their clients safe during exercise and limits your liability if a client is injured, however, the understanding of how to train clients and what works for individuals comes with additional education and experience.
The biggest pro of being a Coach and Personal Trainer is that you get to work with a variety of people who have a variety of life goals and you are by their side as they reach their goals, maximize their health, and potentially change their lives.
The secret con of the job is that working with high-level athletes is actually rare. The majority of clients need tons of help with motivation and staying on track for their goals. That work will take a lot more of your focus than programming exercise. Every client won’t be a success story yet you are having an impact on their health and their life. Another area that is not really a con but is reality is that you can’t show your bad days, every client is paying for your time and your best. Just because your life is a mess right now, your time with each client has to be like you are on stage.
instruct or coach groups or individuals in exercise activities for the primary purpose of personal fitness. Demonstrate techniques and form, observe participants, and explain to them corrective measures necessary to improve their skills. Develop and implement individualized approaches to exercise.