The REAL reason PTs have short careers

September 10, 2022

A career needs to solve the problems of the person who has that career.

A young, newly graduated Personal Trainer doesn’t have a lot of financial responsibilities.

Generally, they don’t have kids, they don’t have mortgages, they don’t have bills. They don’t have a lot of financial responsibility. Or if they do, they’re minimal.

So what financial problems does their career need to solve? 

Maybe it needs to cover gym rent, food, repayments on a car, socialising, and maybe a Netflix and Spotify subscription. For a lot of people, it doesn’t even need to cover all this.

For a Personal Trainer earning $80,000 a year (about three hours work a day at $100/hour), there’s a nice little profit. A profit that solves all their problems… for now.

The issue is, our problems change.

We’re really bad at picturing ourselves in the future – and even worse at trying to imagine the problems ‘future us’ will have.

The ‘bracketed’ lifestyle of the ‘before work’ clients and the ‘after work clients’, is the ultimate solution to the (currently) limited problems of a young PT. Earn good money, spend the middle of the day at home or the beach. Use that money to spend time with friends, go out on a Saturday night, and generally love life.

But then our priorities change. We buy a property. We get engaged, then married. We have kids.

Our life evolves… but our career doesn’t evolve with it.

We have the life of a 30 year old, with the career designed to solve the problems of a 20 years old.

Work becomes stressful as we realise we need to work more hours. Progressively earlier hours. Progressively later hours.

It doesn’t work. Our career (that was designed to solve a young person’s problems) no longer gives us the life we want. Instead, it detracts from it.

Ironically, at the other end of our career, being a PT can also be a great option. For a 50 something year old, whose kids are no longer financially dependant on them, and who maybe have a smaller mortgage with long term capital growth in their home, the PT lifestyle solves their problems.

But what about those years between 25 and 45?

So what options do we have?

We could quit and find a career that solves our problems. This is the most common path. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

We could increase our prices, earning more per hour. This is an option if you’re really good. The cream rises to the top (like any industry). This is the ‘survival of the fittest’ option.

We could grow – delegating and employing. But don’t think a bigger business will remove your problems (it’ll just introduce a raft of new, ‘higher order’ problems that will still keep you up at night).

There really is no right answer though.

Is the Personal Training industry broken?

Quite possibly.

We don’t have the answer, but we know the problem.

And that’s a good first step to working out how to solve it.

Dan Williams

Dan Williams


Dan Williams is the Director of Range of Motion and leads a team of Exercise Physiologists, Sports Scientists, Physiotherapists and Coaches. He has a Bachelor of Science (Exercise and Health Science) and a Postgraduate Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science from The University of Western Australia, with minors in Biomechanics and Sport Psychology.

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