I officially became a personal trainer in February of 2013. Well, that’s when I was certified anyways. I mentally felt like a trainer long before that. Breaking into the fitness industry can be extremely tough. Like, really tough. That difficulty increases insurmountably when you’re trying to start a business in the most fitness oriented city in the entire country!
My career began in the greater Los Angeles area. A city where you can find just as many gyms, yoga studios, and bootcamps as there are 7-11’s. It can be a little daunting, but I was determined to make my mark. I spent my first 4 and half years as a trainer in LA. Trying to build a reputable training business in LA has without question been the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted. Not that it’s that much easier now, but man it was brutal!
My research on the life of a personal trainer began Spring 2012.
Just before I graduated college. I wanted to learn the good, the bad, and the ugly. Contrary to the promises certification companies give you of immediate financial success, I knew this would be no walk in the park. Luckily, I’m a pretty patient guy. Most of the time anyways. My plan was to begin training at a corporate gym. Get my feet wet. Learn the ins and outs of the business side of training. Somehow, I knew I wasn’t going to be working at a corporate gym for very long. Which turned out to be true.
After no more than five months of being employed, I wanted out. I was done. Over it. Not “over” training. Rather “over” working for a corporate gym. I’m not saying I would never work for a corporate gym again, but I will say this. It quickly became apparent if I was to ever become the type of trainer I envisioned myself to be it wasn’t going to happen at a corporate gym. I said to myself, “If I am going to fail, it will be from my own doing. Not due to some company who doesn’t place much value on their employee.”
The truth is personal trainers are very disposable in corporate gyms. Why? Because there’s always someone else they can hire. Some new, freshly certified, likely oblivious hopeful newbie just looking for an opportunity. Only to realize a career as a trainer wasn’t what they thought it would be. The pay is low. Getting clients isn’t as easy as management makes it sound. (Personality is HUGE for attracting clients.) There may be a quota. Health insurance is nearly impossible to attain. (Which is based on how many sessions you clock in each month. You can actually lose your insurance if you missed your quota by one session in the previous month.) You might be based out of a gym with low sign up rates for personal training. (Mine was the worst in the district. I didn’t know this until later.) Management might be lousy, and/or there might not even be a manager at your gym yet. (For the record. My fitness manager was AWESOME. I felt so bad for her because I knew she was being given shit from corporate on a regular. She deserved better than that. Thankfully, she has since moved on too.)
It’s not uncommon for trainer at a corporate gym to quit within a few months to a year. Ever wonder why trainers don’t last at your gym? Yeah. All the things I listed above are exactly why.
So with only one client to build off from, I decided to take on the independent route. My last paycheck from my previous employer was no more than $100, or something along those lines. I thought, “Going independent has to be better than this bullshit.” It was, but what would something better be without its trials and tribulations??
I spent a solid year, maybe a little longer, working as a traveling trainer. I’d drive all across Los Angeles. Training whoever was willing to hire me. When you set your radius of up to 20 miles from where you live, you’ll end up being stuck in your car more than actually training. There were days where I’d wonder, “What…..the hell…..was I…..thinking?!” Fortunately, I eventually settled at a local gym just a few miles from where I lived. I built up a very small clientele, but it was enough for me to no longer work as a traveling trainer.
Over those next few years I bounced around three different gyms as an independent trainer. I did my absolute best to continue building upon my clientele. I created referral promos. Posted on social media. (Admittingly I didn’t post as much as I do now.) Added new options to my 1-on-1 programs. Tried to open group classes. Joined a networking group. Reached out to other business owners in a related field (outside of the networking group) to network. I even tried collaborating with the city to offer personal training with local residents. Training is very much about 1) Who you know i.e. the type of clients you meet, and 2) Sheer luck. I remember reading blogs of other trainers saying to do x, y, and z to get clients. You know what I want to say to them? YOUR ADVICE IS NOT ABSOLUTE. EVERY TRAINER’S SITUATION AND HOW TO ATTAIN CLIENTS IS DIFFERENT.
I’ll write a blog on how to get clients another day. Because it seriously depends on the situation, but I digress.
My final year as a trainer in Los Angeles had me feeling very, how should I say this. Disappointed? Frustrated? A little helpless? Let’s just go with all three. The small clientele I built up came to a standstill. (By the way, I can’t emphasize enough how the type of clients you work with greatly impacts how successful you are.) Nothing was changing. I felt like I was stuck in the mud going nowhere. Although I appreciated my time with the clients I trained in LA, I wanted more. By “more,” I mean yes, more clients and more money. However, by “more” I also meant more happiness. More fulfillment. More excitement. More inspiration. More rejuvenation.
At the start of 2017 I concluded one of two things were going to happen that year. Either I was 1) going to have to move on from being a personal trainer, or 2) move away from Los Angeles. I did not want to quit being a personal trainer. I love what I do. If I moved, it wasn’t going to be to another city in California. It would be out of state.
And that’s exactly what I did.
Leaving Los Angeles was not as difficult for me as you might think. Why? My desire to achieve and grow my business meant way more to me than the area I lived in. I gave LA a solid shot. I really did. The fitness market is absolutely saturated over there. So it made more sense for me to move on from the sunshine state.
The three cities I considered to move to were: 1) Las Vegas, 2) Dallas, and 3) Atlanta. Without getting too deep into it, Las Vegas became the clear choice. I visited Las Vegas a handful of times over the years. (I never visited the other two cities). Las Vegas is one of the last remaining growing metropolitan cities. Cost of living isn’t even close to that of Los Angeles. More importantly, the fitness market wasn’t tapped out. I saw this as my opportunity to take one last crack at building my personal training business. The way I envisioned it from the get-go. (Which I’ll also get into another time.)
So how did I start building up a clientele? The short version of it is I did everything I previously attempted to do in Los Angeles. (Minus connecting with the city about offering classes or joining a network group.)
So far it has been profoundly better for me here in Las Vegas than it ever was in Los Angeles. Not even close. The only thing I can tell you is the people I have connected with were far more receptive and interested in what I had to say and offer. That has really made the difference.
As I mentioned earlier, every trainer’s situation is different. You have to find what works best for you. In my case it meant moving on from the city I started in, and beginning anew somewhere else. (Oh yeah. I might become a cop for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department too.)
Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t going to be an easy feat starting from scratch in a completely different city in a completely different state. I literally had no clients when I made the move. So you can bet there was a liiiiiiittle bit of anxiety involved. (Lol.) I wasn’t about to let my fears stop me, though. It’s a part of the process. I made up my mind I did not go thru all the trouble of relocating to Las Vegas only to give up. Not a chance.
People let their fear of failure prevent them from taking risks to attain success.
Never knowing what could have been. I can’t do that. I just can’t. I am of the opinion you have to at least TRY. Don’t quit after some half ass attempt and say, “Well, that didn’t work.” No. You gotta give it your all. You will probably never get it right the first time. Ever. Failure is typically looked as a means to an end. It’s not. I’m telling you it’s not. It’s a chance for us to reassess our gameplan. A chance to learn from the mistakes and choices we’ve made. A chance for us to come back even stronger a second time. Third time. Fourth. Fifth. You get it. I have thought about giving up more times than I can count. That’s one of the few areas where I’m a bit stubborn. When I want to make something happen, I have to exhaust all options before I call it a wrap.
And look, I’m not making thousands upon thousands of dollars a month…yet. Am I making more money? You bet! I don’t have my own gym. I’m not a rags-to-riches story. I don’t have a hundred clients with a massive waiting list. If anything, I’m still very much a guy in the middle of his journey with quite a ways to go. However, I am a guy who hasn’t felt this upbeat and rejuvenated in a long time. I am much happier in Las Vegas than I was in Los Angeles. Yup. You read that correctly. Despite the challenges ahead, I feel hope for the future. I feel excited again. I feel like this is the fresh start I needed to achieve my dreams.
I guess I wrote this because I wish I could’ve found someone write a piece on their “in between” journey. Someone I could have identified with. Perhaps someone else reading this can relate to what I went thru, and am still going thru. If you are, just know you’re going to be alright. Trust me. I know what it’s like not knowing when there would be another paycheck. I know what it’s like questioning the universe of it’s “cruelty” towards you and your efforts. I have been told, “no” dozens of times more than I was told, “yes.” But you know what? You gotta keep going. No journey comes without its bumps in the road. Be relentless in your pursuit. Especially, if it’s something you love to do!
Failure might slow me down, but it will never deny my desire for success.
Ready to finally take control of your health and fitness and enlist the help of a professional? I’m located in the Peccole Ranch/Summerlin area. Not too far from Spring Valley. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text (310) 363-0217. You won’t regret choosing me as your Las Vegas personal trainer.