Q: Can you start by telling me a little bit about yourself?
A: My name is Clare. I am 43. Im a mum of 2 kids, they are 12 and 10. I live in the middle to north of Scotland. I work as a PT for myself, so freelance. I work from home, I’m actually in my home gym at the moment. I teach community fitness classes. I used to teach quite a lot but now i’m doing around 2/3 classes on zoom. I also run online fitness groups through partnership I have, with another fitness provider.
I used to be a financial analyst in a previous life. I was an accountant from 19 years old till around 5 years ago. I was an accountant for oil, gas related companies up in Aberdeen. So that’s really it. I like sports, I like outdoors. I’m a real kind of outdoors person so I like everything to do with the outdoors.
A lot of my clients are bit like me, they are usually mums, we like to cycle, run, (have) dogs, kids. That type of stuff, you know.
Q: Have always had a interest in the fitness industry? Or was it more sports based?
A: Probably more sports, to be honest. Like I used to be competitive in horse riding, so I was show jumping and things like that. I also used to play hockey for a team competitively, I did that until I was about 35 or something. So it was mostly sports. I used to be in athletics teams and netball teams, just anything really. From school, up until 10 years ago probably I was still doing some of it. I still have a horse… well a pony, my daughter has a pony.
So I’d say more sport than “actual fitness”. I did go to the gym. My husband and I would go the gym or we used to run a bit. We’ve always cycled and things so like overall fitness has alway been part of being for us.
Q: So what made you make the change from accounting to the fitness industry?
A: So that kind of came about because, after I had my second child, she's going to be 10… I was a stay at home mum for… I don’t know, 7 years probably. She must have been about 4 I think and I thought maybe I should starting thinking about going back to work and stuff because I haven't done anything for ages.
So I started working as an accountant on a consultancy basis. But it was just difficult with little kids. Driving half an hour each way to go work and all that kind of stuff. Even though they were really flexible and very accommodating, like I could work from home sometimes, as long as I was doing the work they needed me to do. It just felt like I was going backwards a little bit. Although I still quite like figures and accounting it just didn't feel, I don’t know… purposeful, if that makes sense.
My mums a PE teacher, well she's retired now, but she was a PE teacher. So I was thinking maybe I could do something like that instead. I had already started researching lots of different things about women’s health, like post natal getting fit again and hormonal stuff and that kind of thing. It just lead me towards being a PT. I signed up to PT academy online at home, and it all just went from there really.
Q: Would you say then that your main clientele is women?
A: Yeah, I only do women.
Q: What would you say has been your biggest professional success?
A: Oh gosh, that’s probably quite hard to say. I don’t think of myself as being amazingly successful. I guess I just do it because I see women who are how I used to feel, a little bit stuck. Although I never had a problem with going to the gym and things and never thought it was a scary environment, I think that I can offer an alternative to people who don’t want to do that. Basically they are not gym goers, they are not “gym bunnies”.
It’s more just trying to encourage women to be more confident and getting into looking after themselves at a time when they are really only looking after other people. Be that the husband, the kids or the house. When their own priorities have dropped down. My clients don’t want to be bikini models. They are looking for transformations but it’s more about being life fit and life ready. Being capable of being there for 40 years more rather than marathon running, I suppose just general fitness.
Q: On the other side of the coin, what would you say has been your biggest obstacle so far?
A: The obstacle I find the biggest is location for me, a little bit. In terms of previously, when I was really only doing my one-to ones with people and trying to get group classes going in the community. I live in the countryside and the nearest 4 or 5 villages have somewhere in the region of 500 people in. So without driving 35 miles i’m not actually in a town. It’s not remote but it’s not that densely populated an area. There are quite a few gyms, council kind of gyms that are attached to high schools and things, that are quite popular and they run quite a few classes.
So I guess I found trying to separate myself from that, trying to niche into what was different about not doing that mainstream stuff was probably the hardest obstacle. Getting people to trust you, just because you don’t work out of a big place doesn't mean what your telling them is ineffective or doesn’t work, you know.
Q: How would you say you have gone about overcoming that? Would that be the outdoors workouts etc?
A: I guess, what I started doing was I really started thinking: what do they not offer?
Although they have a crèche, I started thinking about the pregnant mum and the new mum more. How you feel as a new mum with a small baby. They don’t offer post natal fitness generally, well not the ones here anyway.
So I started really going into that area and offering small groups to brand new mums, bringing babies, in my house. It’s a more relaxed environment than a formal fitness class. You don’t have to leave your baby behind, if you have to stop and feed it it’s fine, everybody else’s babies are there too. I tried to make it more of a friendly experience rather than going to a commercial place, so that’s how I got round that.
Q: What advice would you give anyone looking to join the fitness industry?
A: I would say to not be put off by the kind of overwhelming social media fitness thing, especially at the moment, because it’s literally everywhere. Also, not to be put off by celebrity endorsements of stuff because there are people out there you can help. What you are offering is not what they are offering, basically. Because you are offering you as part of the service. You need to find what you can do best. If you come into the fitness industry and you have been a nurse prior, you probably have a caring type personality. You are use to looking after people and nurturing and stuff. So that would be completely different if you were a man and used to be a builder say. You are coming at it from a totally different angle, also looking for totally different people. So I guess it’s working out who your target demographic is and not focusing on everyone.
Q: How has FitPro CookBooks services benefitted you or your clients?
A: I think I have been using them for 3 years or something. I think I joined up from Lift the Bar, I can’t quite remember. Anyway, it benefits me because I love the packs, I love to download them, stick my emblem on them, straight through canva, copy, paste and stick my logo at the bottom. Then I either use them for social media to gain traction, by sticking them in a free group or I put together my own packs. I have a vegan client and I know you guys are into vegan food which is great. I’m easily able to go through and pick out different meals for different people. I can show people that vegan food isn't just lettuce leaves and parts of a tree it’s actual food that even non-vegans would eat, which is cool. I often send out your quick under 300/500 calorie recipe pack because my clients really like it.
Q: Whats the one year plan?
A: Increase online PT clients, get back the clients I have lost through COVID times.
Increase online group fitness through my partner provider. Keep my fitness class running as Zoom for the rest of the summer and autumn. Then reassess. Repass my Precision Nutrition Exam. Reintegrate the Pre and Post Natal Group part to my business once safe to do so. I guess thats about it, maybe not a very good or wide thinking plan, but something non the less!
HIS BIGGEST OBSTACLE WAS OTHER PT’S HOW DID HE FIND THE KEY TO SUCESS?
Can you start by telling me a little about yourself?
“In terms of the whole fitness career type thing, I qualified as a personal trainer 7 years ago now whilst studying sports and exercise science at Loughborough, I was in my second year for that. I started doing some massage stuff as well like sports therapy and then did my degree. Finished that, moved back to London, did a Masters in sports nutrition. Got a full time job as a personal trainer in a private gym, which was alright. I was there for a couple of years and then left there to start my own business closer to home in Surrey. I have been there 3 and a bit years now I suppose.”
It seems like you have always had an interest in the fitness industry would you say that is true?
“Yes and no. I have always been sporty, I was a footballer as I grew up so I played from about 13/14 with professional teams up until the age of 19, my professional career came to an end there. As I went to Loughborough I continued playing to a decent level but I knew I wasn’t going to make it as a professional footballer. So the next step for me was to work with professional footballers, like a strength and conditioning coach or a sports scientist. That was the initial thinking whilst at Uni. Then I did work with some and realised that wasn't going to work at all because most high level professional footballers are assholes (laughs).”
“Whilst at uni to earn money I got a job as a personal trainer with normal people, in a woman’s only studio that was on my campus. I realised I preferred working with normal people. My interest grew from there onwards, working with normal people and the fitness industry. I didn't go to the gym myself until I was 21. I have only actually been in the gym myself for 5 years.”
What would you say has been your biggest professional success?
“Launching and maintaining the business I have now I suppose. My first year of growth was large. To go from nothing, to almost 60 hours a week and 70+ clients in a year and a bit. Then just still having the business now anyway, (laughs) I haven't gone bust or died a death with Covid.”
How has that affected you would you say, Covid?
“It’s not been ideal. I have probably lost 40/50% of clientele through redundancies and not really enjoying the online side of things. But it’s been alright, business is still going, so we are still delivering good services. It’s given me a good opportunity to improve the business in other aspects so its probably been positive on the whole.”
Apart from Covid what would you say has been your biggest obstacle?
“Funnily enough, the other trainers in the gym that I work with. I have a had a pretty bad run with other trainers trying to destroy me essentially. It’s just a case of at the gym i’m working people aren't particularly too keen on the working hard type of thing. So, I think where I went in with no one and within a year had more than everyone, people didn't really like that. They just do what they can to make life harder for me. But it doesn't really stop us.”
Would you find that the case with most personal trainers that there is competitive nature?
“Yes. I think there is a bit of competitive nature. However, I see nothing as a competition. There’s enough people in the world for everyone to be busy. In my opinion, it’s silly to view things as a competition because then you actually go against each other. Rather than helping the people you are meant to be helping, which is the point of doing what we do.”
How would you say you have overcome it then?
“Just by being resilient, persistent and focusing purely on myself. I have never retaliated in any way, shape or form to any of the rubbish I have had come my way. I have literally dealt with it where I've had to through meetings etc. But mainly it’s just been focus on doing my own thing, don’t really care about anyone else, if they don’t want to be positive don’t worry about them.”
What advice would you give anybody looking to join the industry?
“Find good respectable people to listen to and follow and learn from. Actually learn from them first before you start trying to make 1 million pounds a year or 100,000 pounds a month or whatever this rubbish is."
"Lift the bar is essentially a personal training development centre. They basically educate PT’s in every respect; business, actually the training, exercises, psychology etc. That’s phenomenal. I couldn’t recommend that enough. If I had to give one piece of advice it would be to join that."
"On that, I suppose its also when budget allows outsource the things that take up too much time. This is obviously why I am a part of FitPro Cookbooks. I’d like to give nutrition advice and recipes, but I am not a chef, nor have the time to develop these things.”
How has FitPro Cookbooks services benefited you or your clients?
“It benefits me in the sense that it’s an outsource they provide everything I want to a quality that I need for the business. Without me having to spend time that I don’t have doing it. It saves me a shit tonne of time. Obviously, it looks good, looks great. They’ve always looked great.”
“I’d say 25/30% of clients actually use them regularly. But then just having the option there is nice, for them to dip in and out of as and when they want. So it benefits them in the sense that they get a better service then what most people around my area deliver. It's a benefit for me as it makes me look better. A key part to running your own business is to look good (laughs).”
Finally, I would say 5 year plan but that's a little extensive , so lets say whats your 1 year plan?
“In 1 year, in a world without Covid, it would be nice to be back to being fully booked with the PT sessions.”
“The 5 year plan is a funny one isn't it really, its also quite time restrained. I don’t really have a timing schedule on what I want, but it would be nice to continue working clients but then open up or produce some sort of fitness consultancy. Where other trainers could come to us for advice and where we could help them develop their businesses in a positive manner. That’s what I would quite like to do.”
“It’s a massive rabbit hole because I have so much I want to do (laughs). The brain is always whirling. I love the whole fitness marketing and emailing writing side as well so if that would ever be a branch, I would happily write copy for people. It all kind of combines into one. Maybe some form of education company, maybe my own gym. The gym I have been looking at for a while but its proving tougher at the moment because of the (current) situation. So it will be a bit longer than a year, but in some point in time I should have my own gym.”
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