The life of a personal trainer can look glamorous. You are wearing athletic clothing all day, making ultra-fit people sweaty, posting cool looking videos on social media, and generally having a positive impact on society by making the world a healthier place. But what goes on in the day of the life of a personal trainer?
Is being a personal fitness trainer all glam and high fives? What does the daily schedule of a career-oriented personal trainer look like? Most importantly, what can you expect if you're thinking about making a switch by leaving the drudgery of a desk job for a career as a personal trainer so that you, too, can make a living from your passion?
Personal Trainer Employment Options
First, there are a variety of ways a personal trainer can earn a living. Various options for employment include:
- Gyms abroad (NASM is recognized internationally)
- Health clubs
- Working independently in clients’ homes - e.g. as a Lifestyle Coach
- Leading workouts in public spaces like parks
- Offering training programs online - like an Online Health Coach
There is variety in every employment model. However, most fitness professionals start their careers by working for an employer like a commercial health club. This blog will provide a general overview of a day in the life of a personal trainer working in that environment.
It’s important to note that some personal trainers will thrive in the early morning hours before the sun comes up, while others will prefer to work late into the evening to see clients after they finish their working day.
No one schedule can accurately describe how every personal trainer schedules his or her time. With that said, the schedule below can provide insight into how most personal trainers, many of whom may also teach a couple of group fitness classes, spend their day working for a health club. The schedule itself is based on my experience as an in-club personal trainer.
A Sample Schedule of a Health Club Trainer
4:30 - 5:00 am: Wake-up time
As mentioned, this is entirely personal. Some people LOVE early mornings; others - not so much. Most personal trainers are up and going in the early morning hours because these clients tend to be the most committed, making it a lucrative time to be available to work. Dedicated clients are often the ones who listen to advice and get the best results.
The early morning, pre-work routine will often include some quiet time for thought and reflection, checking messages for last-minute schedule changes, and of course, coffee.
Every personal trainer is different, but my policy is to confirm an appointment 24 hours ahead of time. Anyone who cancels after that will be charged for the appointment. However, in the name of customer service, there can be exceptions for emergencies like a sick kid or a last-minute work assignment. Communicating is the policy with clients ahead of time, so they know what you expect of them regarding cancellations.
Cancellations are an opportunity to back-fill that time with another client or cover a group fitness class for a colleague who might have a last-minute change to his or her schedule.
6:00 - 9:30am
This is the time for morning clients and group workouts. Besides working with individual clients, many personal trainers also coach group workouts. Teaching group classes provide an additional revenue stream. They are a very effective way to market personal training services because you are teaching a room full of people interested in getting results from their time in the gym.
Depending on the market, either in the city or a suburban location, most group workouts are usually done by 9:00 am. Suburban facilities with a large population of people who have the mornings free may have group workouts scheduled longer. Generally, most people start their workdays by 9:30 am, which means that once the morning rush is over, it’s…
9:30am - 10:30am: Workout time!
Personal trainers still need to make time for their workouts, and it can be easiest to do it in the morning when the gym slows down a bit because who knows what might change in the afternoon. A personal trainer’s workout time may include a few minutes to film part of the workout for a social media post, so that needs to factor that in as well. How personal trainers spend their time working out is a whole different blog post altogether.
10:30am - 11:30am
Get cleaned up from the workout. Have a post-workout meal or snack. Post to social media. Check messages, make calls to schedule appointments, and perform general administrative tasks to support the business
11:30am - 1:30pm
The mid-day is one of the blocks of time when most people have the opportunity to make it to the gym, which makes it a great time to see clients, do initial fitness consultations, or teach another group workout.
1:30pm - 4:30pm
The mid-afternoon lull happens no matter where the facility is located - in a city or out in the suburbs. This is the slowest time of day. Many personal trainers might make this their workout time, but depending on schedule, it could also be time to run home for a nap or to take care of errands.
Other options for this block of time include performing continuing education by taking an online course, reading industry publications, designing exercise programs for clients, creating group fitness workouts, scrolling social media feeds to check fitness trends, communicating with clients to schedule appointments, or participating in meetings at the facility.
4:30pm - 7:30pm
This is the third time of day when most people are available to meet with personal trainers, and many will schedule clients or teach classes during this block of time. Again, it’s all based on location, but the after-work crowd tends to be a little younger and more energetic, so this can be a fun time to lead group workouts or train clients who like to be pushed to their limits.
7:30pm – 9:30pm
This is the time when most personal trainers will head home to eat an evening meal, see their family, and otherwise have some downtime. Working with clients, leading group workouts, and being in front of people all day can be physically demanding. Even when they're not at work in the gym, most personal trainers will still be checking messages and following up with clients to be sure they have a full schedule for the next day.
Muscles grow during sleep, so most personal trainers will be sure to head to bed early so they can be fully recovered and prepared for the demands of the next day.
Again, this is merely a general overview of how personal trainers might spend an average day. There is no way to identify how every personal trainer spends his or her day on an hour-by-hour basis, but this schedule is based on my years of experience.
No Personal Trainer's Schedule is Created Equal!
It’s also important to note that every day of the week has a different flow. Mondays and Tuesdays tend to be the busiest days, with most people wanting to make time to exercise before the demands of the week affect their schedule.
Thursdays and Fridays tend to be slowest times in the gym, especially towards the evening hours, as this is when most people start scheduling social activities. Finally, Saturday and Sunday mornings are when most of the working world has free time, so depending on the market, these can be the busiest times in a fitness facility.
To be successful and ensure a financially lucrative career, personal trainers need to decide when they want to work to meet the demands of the local market and should plan on being available at those times.