This article is about why I quit being a personal trainer. It might sound like an odd topic for a PT website but we hope it’ll help others who are having similar doubts. There are also some lessons I’ve learned since that I wish I’d known back then and might have changed my mind.
In this article – I explain why I quit being a personal trainer (and so many others do too), along with how I continued a career in fitness, and alternative options I wish I’d known about.
Thousands of people become personal trainers each year. For many, it seems like a dream job. But the reality is that up to 90% of these newly qualified professionals quit in their first year. So, if you’re thinking of quitting, you’re not alone.
Why I Quit Being a Personal Trainer
Quitting my personal training job wasn’t an easy decision. I’d spent almost £2000 ($3000) getting certified just a year earlier – how could I let it go to waste by giving up so soon?
But the truth is, being a personal trainer wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be. The early mornings, constant cleaning, and boredom on quiet days were wearing me down. I’d had to get a second job to make ends meet and was tired all the time as a result.
After 10 months of trying to make it work, I realised that this wasn’t sustainable long-term. I wasn’t enjoying my day-to-day life and couldn’t see how things were going to get better. So, when a better offer came along, I snapped it up.
Looking back, there were three things that drove this decision…
I quit being a personal trainer for three simple reasons; money, disillusionment, and career progression.
These are the same reasons that thousands of other personal trainers have quit the industry too. They can’t earn enough money, lose faith in what they’re doing, and no longer see it as a long-term career.
With the benefit of hindsight and more experience, I can now see that there were solutions to all these challenges. So, if you’re thinking of quitting your PT career, then it might be worth considering these options first. Let’s look at each of them in turn…
Not Earning Enough Money
I didn’t expect to earn loads as a PT. But I hadn’t realised just how much selling was involved when I decided to get certified. I had no idea how to go about this part which meant I didn’t earn a great amount.
After a couple of months, I ended up getting a second job to supplement my income. I was working long hours trying to make a living and getting exhausted in the process. This went on for almost a year until I eventually started looking at other options.
Many training providers will sell you the dream of earning a six-figure income. They highlight how personal trainers get to work for themselves and choose their own hours. But this tends to be once you have lots of experience under your belt.
Can you really make a good living as a personal trainer? Absolutely. But the reality (at least in the beginning) is very different.
Not earning enough money is one of the key reasons why personal trainers fail. If you’re facing similar income struggles, here are some resources that can help…
- 35 Income Ideas & Side Jobs For Personal Trainers
- Sales Script for Personal Trainers
- PT Marketing Ideas – Promote Your Business For Free
It’s easy to get disillusioned when the reality doesn’t match your expectations. Early shifts, mundane cleaning routines, and clients who don’t follow fitness programs can soon get you down. You might start to wonder if you’re really helping people in the way you’d hoped.
Your employer will have a big impact on this. Some fitness companies are good to their staff – these are the ones who keep PTs long term. Others are less so – avoid them if you can.
For me, it was a combination of my employer and expectations. The company didn’t treat staff (or gym members) particularly well. But I also wish I’d known just how much of the job was about selling my services, rather than being knowledgeable about fitness.
If you’re feeling a bit disillusioned with your career, then the first step is to figure out why. Is it your employer or the work itself? In many cases, switching companies (or becoming a freelance PT) might solve the problem.
Potential for Career Progression
Many personal trainers quit because they don’t see much potential for career progression. It can be tough to figure out how you’ll move forward. You might even have that voice in the back of your mind saying ‘personal training is not a real job’.
There are two ways to address this issue. One is to find a good employer that offers defined career progression opportunities. This will provide opportunities to move on to management roles and eventually multi-site or regional operations.
The other is to seek out development opportunities for yourself by upskilling and taking CPD courses. Think about what your dream career path would be and then create a plan to make it a reality. Read up on how other PTs have become successful and seek out mentors.
Should You Quit Being a Personal Trainer?
The fitness industry needs good personal trainers. Clients need professionals who can help them reach their health goals. But only you can decide whether it’s the right career for you.
There’s no shame in changing your mind if you’ve decided it’s not what you want. It would be much worse to stay in a job that you don’t enjoy. Life’s too short. But it might be worth thinking about possible solutions that could make it more enjoyable.
The truth is, I probably wouldn’t have quit if I hadn’t been offered another job that I was really excited about. This was a marketing assistant role for a global fitness equipment manufacturer that ticked lots of boxes – fitness, travel, and a decent wage.
I got to continue a career in fitness, develop my PT skills, and learn how to train with all sorts of new and innovative kit. I also learned crucial sales and marketing skills that I’ve now brought back to the personal training industry. So, perhaps there’s a zig-zag path to success that you can walk too.