Is it time to leave your personal training “job” and go out on your own or find a new fitness home that suits you and your clients better? This question, inevitably, only comes up when a trainer is not satisfied with their situation. There are a myriad of reasons for moving on and if you’re thinking about making a change, one or more of the reasons below will most likely resonate with you.
Limited Opportunity to Increase Your Client Base
Your gym may not actively promote the personal training opportunities available to their members or they may limit your ability to solicit new clients. Management may unfairly recommend some trainers over others.
You Do Not See Eye-to-Eye With Management
You may feel that your training philosophy differs from that of the management, this happened to me while I was working at a corporate big box gym. I had developed a very busy schedule of clients who enjoyed the type of training I was providing to them with resistance bands as their primary exercises. One day the training manager pulled me into his office mid session and told me I wasn’t allowed to use the bands per gym policy.
My main responsibility and obligation are to my clients and their results, which for my particular clientele at the time was going to be achieved with resistance bands. I explained to the manger that “Joan is getting great results and really enjoys her workouts. If you want to go over and explain why I can’t train her the most effective way possible than be my guest, but I’ll be over there doing my job.” Although many of these reasons led up to me quitting my first big box gym this was the straw that broke the camels back.
No One Plans to Fail but Many Fail to Plan
Your exit strategy is the key to your success. There isn’t a fire, so no need to run out of the building without a firm plan in place. First, know if you signed a non-compete. If you did, make sure you understand what restrictions there are; this will determine when and where you can work without violating the terms.
When exploring new gyms, if possible, speak with (in confidence) their trainers about their likes/dislikes– ending up in a similar situation doesn’t make sense. Make a checklist of things that are important to you and make sure the places you are considering meet your needs and the needs of your clients.
While you are researching new opportunities, keep your clients in mind. You’ve spent time building relationships with them and are committed to them. Most likely, they will follow you if they can, cost and location are two factors to consider. As much as your clients are devoted to you, they may not be able to afford to pay extra or have the time to travel further.
Making the Break
This conversation is usually not easy. But remember, this is about you and your success going forward, Giving two weeks notice is pretty standard and will be appreciated and will help in maintaining a good relationship with your boss (you never know when your paths may cross). You may be asked to leave immediately, don’t take it personally; your manager probably doesn’t want to give you time to talk to your clients about following you.
During your last two weeks when you meet with your clients let them know you are leaving, if they are remaining at the gym, introduce them to a co-worker that you think will be a good fit. If asked why you are leaving avoid giving too much information (especially if you have negative things to say about your manager) simply say that you are looking to grow professionally.
Don’t forget about saying good-bye to your co-workers, keeping relationships in the fitness industry is important. You’ll likely meet at events and perhaps work together in the future.
How My Move Happened
In August when I decided it was time to leave Life Time Athletic, I already had a position waiting for me as the Wellness Director at The Fourmula. One of my long time clients Robin is a mental health professional and we would talk about the benefits of exercise on mental health and well being. I develop close relationships with a lot of my clients and I shared with her the story of my sister and how introducing her to fitness saved her life from substance abuse.
After a year or two Robin came to me with the idea of opening an all in one center that would use exercise and nutrition in addition to traditional therapy to treat patients. Since I have seen first hand the power of this approach with my sister I was excited to join Robin’s team.
I took a few months off to travel and relax while simultaneously setting up the facility and in house training studio and kitchen. After doing a floor plan and determining what equipment we needed I brought Robin to the gym store and we did a full hour training session utilizing all the equipment that I wanted and after the workout Robin wrote the check and we set up a delivery date.
We now have a state of the art private training studio where we work with individual patients and our outpatient groups for personal training and nutrition coaching. As an added bonus, while we are not working with Fourmula patients I am able to use the training studio to work with my own private clients.
I don’t think I could have found a better situation to be in. I work for my client whom I’ve grown to admire and respect very much over the years as our friendship grew while still having the ability and flexibility to work with my own clients too. Plus I get to bring my dog to work everyday, which makes this the best job ever.