The Fitness Zone
Ask me how to be successful in fitness 30 years ago and the answer would only involve aerobic classes and gym shifts. Today, there are so many wonderful opportunities, says Australian Institute of Fitness SA Director and Coach Annette Chatterton.
It is more important than ever to prepare for the fitness industry and plan your future.
Research the different chains of gyms: privately owned ones, PT studios, franchises, aquatic centres and clubs. Ask questions, and discuss the pros and cons to feel where you will best fit in the industry. Definitely follow your passions, but base your future plans on logical and professional advice rather than emotion.
Areas to Focus On
I recommend you start with a personal SWOT analysis to identify potential strengths as well as the weaknesses, or work-ons. Critically analyse these areas.
- Do you have self-confidence? When and where are you out of your comfort zone? Can you make and keep comfortable eye contact in conversation? Analyse your posture (rounded shoulders can be interpreted as shy).
- Can you easily build rapport with people? Can you effectively communicate orally and in the written form? Can you both start conversations and keep that person engaged? Practise active listening and developing rapport by creating commonalities. Try to follow the ted before ting principle. This means being interested before being interesting.
- Are you a fit, healthy role model? It should be a priority to improve your fitness and health. These are your most valuable assets. It's also a great advertisement to be seen training by your existing and potential clients. It's easy to keep pushing yourself as long hours, training and relief classes can run you down. The mind and body need fresh natural fuel, rest and recovery. If it's real, eat it! Enjoy a thorough stretch or a massage and take time out for family and friends.
- Do you train and protect your voice, as much as your muscles? Vocal damage and strain is common amongst fitness instructors, especially with group exercise and boot camp. Prevention is better than cure. Professional training is the best, but just a few vocal exercises and warm-up may assist.
- Do you train the same?Or do you vary your workouts? My advice is to take your blinkers off. Try different modalities or training and expand you knowledge, skills and experiences. You will be able to help many more clients achieve their goals. A true professional has experienced all aspects of our fast industry and a will then be more capable of recommending the right classes and training modes for each client. Prepare yourself for the whole industry rather than the niche you already know.
Once you have gained your qualifications (Certificate III and Certificate IV in Fitness), register as a fitness professional with Fitness Australia. Also purchase insurance Professional Indemnity and Public Liability. Insurance is peace of mind!
Plan your upskilling, retraining and professional development. To re-register you will need to show evidence of 20 Continuing Education Credits in 2 years. This equates to 20 hours of training. Save a portion of your income in preparation. It is money well invested for your future, as new skills and expertise equate to more income.
Keeping your clients is more effective than finding new ones, and on selling is easier than finding more clients.
Rather than purchasing all of your clothing and uniform all at once, space it out. Be tax aware, and have your clothing labelled with your outstanding business name. Equipment, signage and advertising can also be spaced out. My recommendations initially are a mobile phone with a message bank (more than 10sec), reliable transport in all weather conditions, supportive comfortable footwear (you are going to wear these shoes all day, every day), black tights or shorts (they match everything), uniform polo or T-shirt, a professional email address, a professional Facebook page or webpage, a letterhead, business cards, receipt book, invoice book and a diary (or calendar on outlook). If your plans include outdoor training, then you will need a hat, stopwatch and whistle. My suggestions for equipment are fitness ball, med balls, tubing, mats, boxing gear, a few kettlebells and suspension training straps. Remember the possibilities with body weight and towels, rather than DB's and BB's.
Last, but not least, seek assistance. It's daunting to try to do all of this on your own, and look after your health. It can be stressful to start. An accountant, business advisor and of course other successful Personal Trainers can be an enormous help.
Set your goals, an action plan and make it work!
About Annette Chatterton
Annette is the Founding Director of the Australian Institute of Fitness SA/NT. She has been an active Coach and Fitness Presenter for over 30 years. Her interests lie in aqua, personal training, triathlons snow skiing, and sports coaching.