The fitness industry in Australia is no longer reserved for toned 20-somethings; people of all ages are increasing or diversifying their physical activity in order to keep fit.
This has seen the rise of personal trainers, who enjoy huge demand from an increasingly broad market. It’s therefore imperative for aspiring PTs to train up in order to stay ahead of the pack, particularly as the industry starts to pick up pace.
What is it and who is it suited to?
A personal trainer is a fitness professional involved in exercise prescription and instruction. Personal trainers tend to work with clients one-on-one, but can also work with more than one client concurrently.
The profession is generally not restricted by venue, so personal trainers may work in fitness facilities, in their homes, in clients’ homes or outdoors.
However, most PTs and group exercise instructors work in fitness centers, health clubs and community venues because equipment is more accessible and customers are easier to come by.
In general, most personal trainers develop exercise prescription plans for aerobic exercise, resistance exercise, and/or flexibility training.
According to the Australian Institute of Fitness, all kinds of people become personal trainers and the industry needs more of them.
In addition to an interest in fitness, you must be able to relate to a lot of different people, be a good listener and remain positive at all times.
The need to work all hours is also more pronounced as a self-employed fitness trainer than in other start-ups. While you can work as much or as little as you like, the success of your business really depends on your availability.
Rules and regulations
In Australia, personal trainers are required to be a member of a registering body in order to gain insurance and work as a personal trainer. The minimum qualification is Certificate III in Personal Training.
However, because the industry is self-regulated, there are still unqualified trainers operating.
Research and competition
If you want to work for yourself, the fitness industry has a myriad of opportunities. For example, you could become a franchised personal trainer at a health club, start up your own PT studio, build a women’s weight loss business or venture into an outdoor training company.
You could also consider school-based kids’ fitness programs or specialise in aged care activities.
Once you have decided which area you want to specialise in, you need to find a suitable course that will give you the relevant training and qualifications.
The Australian Institute of Fitness has pioneered a range of career training programs in order for participants to work as a gym instructor, group fitness instructor, aqua fitness instructor or message therapist.
However, the institute says its Master Trainer Program is the most sought-after certification in the industry, giving graduates “the edge” in their career.
The program covers the essentials of exercise science, the foundations of fitness conditioning, five-star PT skills, and health and sports nutrition.
The program is made up of three courses covering a fitness essentials course, a gym instructor course and a personal trainer course.
“Completing all three courses will result in you being awarded the nationally recognised qualifications of Certificate III in Fitness and Certificate IV in Fitness,” the AIF spokesperson says.
You can also strive to become an Institute of Certified Master Trainer, which is recognised as the gold standard of personal training.
Graduates of the institute’s Master Trainer program may also receive an internationally recognised qualification through the Federation of International Sports, Aerobics and Fitness.
In recognising the growing demand by people to be their own boss and start their own fitness business, the institute has also created the Fitness Business Program as a standalone course.
“You will learn the A to Z of starting your own small fitness business… The program includes two nationally recognised qualifications, institute certification and five key courses to help you excel in the fitness industry,” the spokesperson says.
Costs and earnings
Other than the cost of training and insurance, overheads are limited. A TAFE-issued Certificate IV costs around $1,600.
Most personal fitness trainers work out of a health club or their clients’ homes, so investment in the equipment is usually an early outgoing.
In terms of marketing yourself, most trainers agree word-of-mouth is the most effective – and cheapest – way of raising awareness. However, many personal fitness trainers also set up a website to extend their reach.
A full-time personal trainer can expect to earn around $50,000 in their first year of operation.
It is wise to include a clause in your terms and conditions to protect you from people dropping out at the last minute or simply not paying.
An average day
It is common for personal trainers to work early mornings, evenings and weekends in order to accommodate clients’ schedules.
On an average day, a fitness instructor may lead group exercise classes, have personal one-on-one training sessions with clients at a gym, or even work with a private client at his or her home.
Time must also be set aside to organise and confirm appointments, plan classes, and keep track of earnings and expenses.
Australian Institute of Fitness
1300 669 669
Australian Institute of Personal Trainers
1300 13 84 34
Australian College of Sports Development
1300 666 112
Australian Government Small Business Support Line
1800 777 275