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40% of us would consider new career in personal training, survey reveals

By Margaret Canning

Published 31/12/2015

Michelle Daly is a personal trainer
Michelle Daly is a personal trainer
Callum Leckey is a personal trainer

Personal training is a job many of us are likely to consider in the New Year, a survey has found.

But some of Northern Ireland's top practitioners in the profession known as 'PT' have said that gym bunnies and time wasters need not apply. And they've warned that long hours and low pay are norms - although the reward is being able to help people gain body confidence.

Course provider Be A Better You surveyed 2,000 adults and found that two out of five of those thinking of a career change have thought about becoming a personal trainer.

Swapping the office for a fitness job could be a good move, as research has shown a shortage of personal trainers.

Co Antrim mother-of-three Michelle Daly swapped her sedentary job as a secretary in Causeway Hospital in Coleraine to become a personal trainer and instructor at Atlas Gym in Coleraine.

She said: "I do find it really rewarding to help people get fit.

"You take on more things about a person than just their fitness, as clients often end up confiding in you."

But Jim Gordon, a personal trainer at Pure Gym in Bangor, said people under-estimate how tough the job is.

He has been in the business for 20 years since he was 18, after first training at the Mary Peters Gym.

And Callum Leckey (24), who's been in the job since leaving school, where he was also a keen rugby player, said: "You really need a professional attitude, and that's something people don't realise.

"You might think that you can do the job just because you like the gym yourself, but that's just not the case."

"You see people on their phones during sessions, and that's just not on."

And the pay isn't always great either - Jim said that "anyone who's earning between £14,000 and £20,000 is doing well".

And he advised any hopefuls to have a passion for what they do.

"Many people think that if they're good at bodybuilding they'll be good at being a personal trainer, but it doesn't work like that.

"You need to be very focused on the psychology of the person you're dealing with and the exercise comes after that."

Callum, a Pure Gym personal trainer in Belfast, said he had been earning around £15,000, combining work as a personal trainer with his sports-related degree at Ulster University. But with his degree now complete, he said he hoped to earn up to £40,000.

Chris Davidson (39), a personal trainer with his own studio FitSlimStrong in east Belfast, got into fitness while working in sales for an international firm in London.

He moved home to Belfast, and decided to go full-time as a personal trainer. "It can be very rewarding. People imagine clients are celebrities who want to shave one millimetre off their waistline, but in reality, I'm helping overweight people who are low on self-confidence.

"Being able to help people on an individual level like that is one of the best things about the job. But I will be getting up at 5.45am to see my first client, and often working well into the night-time, so that is a drawback," Chris said."

Belfast Telegraph

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