"Schools try and push you towards Uni - but I knew that wasn't for me"
Love sport? Fancy earning a living helping other people keep fit? Ben Goss is 20 and works as a fitness instructor at Phoenix Fitness Solutions in Evesham, Worcestershire. He studied IT, leisure studies and PE A-level at Evesham High School.
Did you always want to be a personal trainer?
No! To be honest, I didn’t think of being a personal trainer until I finished my A levels. It wasn't presented in the job listings as you’re going through school. Schools try and push as many people to go to uni as they can and they don’t really give you any other options in great detail. Personal Training found me, not the other way round. I was at a gym which wanted to recruit a personal trainer but they needed specific qualifications. They said if I could achieve these qualifications, I could apply for the job.
What subjects did you love at school?
I liked the sports subjects best of all as they held my interest and I enjoyed the physical aspect alongside the written work. I was especially keen on football so doing A-level PE helped me understand how I could improve myself at that sport in particular. I didn’t do work experience and to be honest spent most of my spare time at the gym working out. I loved that environment – both doing my workout and spending time with like-minded people.
What do you do in a typical day as a personal trainer?
I do one-to-one and group personal training sessions with clients, demonstrating exercises and making sure they are getting the most from their workout. I create personal programmes for people and do gym inductions, showing clients how to use the equipment. On top of that, I also have general gym duties, like keeping the gym clean and tidy, working behind reception and answering questions from clients. My hours vary depending how many clients I have in the day. As the gym is busiest in the mornings and evenings, I usually start around 8am and finish at lunchtime. Then I start again at 4 or 5pm and finish at 9pm. I am really well supervised by Jason Harvey, who owns Phoenix Fitness Solutions.
What is the best thing about your job?
The main positive about my job is that it is something I love doing. It is very social so you have the chance to interact with a lot of interesting people. Every client is different so there is never a boring moment being a personal trainer. We have recently welcomed a new client who is in a wheelchair and is using our Alter-G treadmill to learn to walk again. It just shows that as humans we should never give up on anything and working with him brings me huge pleasure and job satisfaction.
What training did you have to do to get your job?
I did my level 2 and 3 REPs qualifications through The Training Room and did their E-learning course so that I was able to work at Phoenix Fitness Solutions and learn at the same time. From doing my course online and being able to work simultaneously I was able to pick up ways of training people through the information I was given but also to observe Jason when he was training his clients.
How easy was it to get a job afterwards?
Most people don't know this but lots of PTs are freelance [self-employed], and pay a gym a monthly sum to use their space to train their own private clients. But as I’m just starting out, I wanted a full-time job. I found a job that wanted me to become a personal trainer so then I could train people in that gym rather than being an external, freelance PT. That meant I worked for the gym instead of paying the gym to use its facilities. I was lucky to know I had a job to go to once I had gained my qualifications. Depending on where you live it’s not always so easy, so I’d recommend people keep an eye out for possible jobs while they’re training, and make sure they get some experience at the same time. Don’t leave it until after you’ve got your qualifications to start looking around for jobs. It pays to start making contacts long before that, so hopefully you can have something set up in good time for when you finish.
Did you overcome any difficulties to get where you are?
I was quite shy before training as a PT and the experience of my course and work has helped me come out of my shell in social situations a lot more. I now find it easier to talk to people I hardly know and can have a meaningful conversation with them without feeling too shy or nervous to speak up. It’s important to be confident as a PT because your clients need to feel 100% sure that you know exactly what you’re doing.
What advice would you give someone who wants to become a personal trainer?
My advice to someone considering becoming a PT is to have it mapped out before they do the qualification, make sure they know where they can train people and fully consider the work they have to put in to make it a success. Also don’t be naïve and think you will start raking in the money. You have to start at the very bottom with one or two clients a week and then gradually keep on building and building. If you work hard, you can progress really quickly. I’ve been doing this for almost two years now and hope to be still training people in the next 10 years. However one day I’d love to run my own gym or become a gym manager and step back from the personal training but that is a long-term goal. I’m very happy where I am for now.