Becoming A Coach - How, Why and What With Phil Learney!

One of the most common questions posed to myself by trainers is where do they go to? Where do they apply to when they get their qualification and step foot into the ‘Industry’.

I managed to drag a figure off one of the main training providers in the country and they claim to have trained since 1992 in excess of 30,000 people. Bear in mind that this is one of dozens of training providers in the UK. So we can estimate that there are probably in excess of 100,000 qualified trainers in the UK alone. So when the question of what’s the next step arises it’s a tricky one.

I started as a Fitness Instructor on if I recall about £3 something an hour. I would clean gym equipment, do inductions and ‘showarounds’ to demonstrate how each individual piece of kit worked. I would often do 7 or 8 of these a day, I would clean changing rooms, do open and close shifts back to back and at times…….YES I hated it. I came into an industry that at times shows NO prospects. My sister was very academic and went into accountancy so no wonder (and I know why now) my father questioned my career path and would often enquire ‘where it was going?’ and I tell you what, he was right to ask.

Now almost 18 years on I’m doing ok and am making a good living out of something I love. I know on a daily basis I am helping someone and still don’t ever see what I do as work. Do I work? Damn right I do. I’m going to run over a few things for all of you people that have joined or are in the rat race that may potentially help and give you an early insight.

1. Realise you are NOT going to be training athletes or celebrities now or possibly even ever (and don’t worry as everyone pays the same). You will make money from the 62,218,761 people in the UK that ALL need some sort of training, compositional help and simply motivation. Latest figures show that nearly 1 in 4 adults, and over 1 in 10 children aged 2-10, are obese and the gym going population is over 1.5million so anyone out there moaning because they cant find clients is just plain lazy!

2. Acknowledge that you will earn a low income as the set point and average income of a trainer is NOT great and at times you will have to watch the incomings and outgoings. The great thing is your best school is right there in front of you. Tim Ferris in his book, The Four Hour Work Week (which is VERY worthy of a read) stated that in order to become great at something you must do it for at least 10,000 hours. That’s 7.6 years, training 5 people a day 5 days a week every week of every year. If you learn something in every one of those sessions you will become great.

3. Understand that unlike other peoples jobs you CANNOT leave yours at home. You will live, breathe and eat it if you want to become something. EVERY function or event you go too people will ask your advise once they find out what they do. If this annoys you already, get out as you’re in the wrong field.

4. People will infuriate, frustrate and challenge you every damn day of your career. Over time you will learn who is worth persevering with and who isn’t, until you learn that you will just have to deal with them.

5. Early in your career train as many people as you can. You will have messed up hours to begin with and long days but over time you will have the luxury of dictating training times.

6. Brings me onto point 6. Don’t be desperate. People need you more than you need them so if it messes up your times or schedule try to move them to suit. I do a 6,7,8 9.15,10.15, 11.15 and 12.30pm client. If they cant fit in those slots for the most part I wont train them as it will; cost me another client.

7. Get used to getting up EARLY! People want to be trained in these hours and this will be your bread and butter. Most of my days are done with clients by 2pm, I will train myself then work on other things till early evening (sometimes all evening).

8. Don’t settle. Take your ideas to management as most facilities are ran badly. My first gym I worked out of didn’t even offer Personal Training so I put a proposal together and took it to head office, explained how it would be ran, how it would make money. They launched PT across all of their facilities within 3 years and still make a pretty penny from it. My last employers I had topped out on income and the only way to earn more was to work more hours (Which trust me I couldn’t). I took a proposal to management with incentives for trainers across the board. The club now makes more money as do the trainers and they also do more sessions on average. DO NOT rest on your laurels. Be pro-active.

9. Train……you will learn more from training and using systems yourself than any other way

10. Be confident in your abilities and don’t undersell yourself……….also don’t be a smart**** there are people out there who have forgotten more than you know…..and there always will be. Learn and KEEP learning and do not be afraid to learn from ANYONE!

11. Be your own trainer. There are hundreds, thousands of trainers out there who copy systems who become known as a ‘________ trainer’. Not great as A) it means you cant think for yourself B) It limits your audience. However DO NOT be afraid to learn from these people. Some of them are great, others are absolute clowns. You read enough you’ll figure out who’s who.

12. Get some good links. Find people who are useful who can do for your clients what you can’t. Get ties with people who can provide high quality food produce, supplements. People who can help with regeneration, sports massage, physio, chiro etc etc. Eventually you will get referrals and perhaps even make some money from this network.

13. On that note DO NOT claim to do something you actually have very little experience in.

14. Learn to speak infront of more than just one person and be confident with what you know. If you don’t know it say you don’t. People respect that so much more but THEN go and find the answer.

15. ENJOY what you do. If you don’t get out. Working for a living sucks!

For all you budding trainers out there that should give you a little insight into whats ahead of you and hopefully some useful things to think about.

In 2013 look out for the course that will be going on as part of Ultimate Performance Education including several on Business and how to make money in this industry.

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