Personal training

The Biggest Drawbacks to Being a Personal Trainer

By Joe Talarico on Feb 19, 2021 10:10:24 AM
3 Minutes Reading Time


Needless to say, there are definitely a ton of upsides to being a personal trainer. I’ve written a bunch of articles on how to become a trainer, and the benefits of becoming one. Today, I’d like to focus on the downsides of being a trainer. I find it helps to let people hear about the surprises no one talks about as they are in their training careers to help better prepare them. 

Not As Flexible As You Think

You don’t get that 9-5 work week that your friends get with the weekends to party. You are available 24/7, 365 days a week. At least starting out. You need to be as available as you can in order to grow our business out of the gate. Maybe as time goes on you can afford the liberty to be pickier with your schedule. Trainers who limit their schedules up front usually end up struggling to make enough to keep this as their profession. In general, most trainers do an early morning block, have the afternoon to rest or get their workout in if they’re lucky, and then back at it again for the after work crowd. Clients will also cancel and reschedule on you a lot. 

Client Turnover

This isn’t necessarily a guarantee, but in the beginning, you are probably going to go through a lot of clients. This can be a variety of reasons. They don’t stay accountable to the schedule, they give up, they didn’t like working with you, they took advantage of an intro pack deal, and more. While you can’t always control the outcome, what you can do is just make sure you are providing the BEST possible experience for your client so that they are more likely to stick with you in the long run. This can mess with some trainers' heads. Are you okay with clients not listening to you frequently or not following the program you set out for them? Can you adapt to their outside obligations along the way? A lot of trainers end up quitting when they felt they spent more time trying to reel clients back in vs get them to their goals.

The Income Fluctuation

You have to always make sure you are generating new leads and bringing in new clients. You might have some months where you are crushing it in sessions, and others where all your clients are on vacation, and you do not have much coming in. You’ll have nights you can’t go out because you have an early morning client, or long hours at a big box gym for very little pay as you start out. You also get zero benefits, no holiday pay, or paid time off. If you aren’t working, you ain’t getting paid.


We’ve all seen the huge saturation the personal training industry has had over the years. It’s gotten even worse with the rise in online influencers making it easier for potential clients to sign up with them over you. You need to have a presence EVERYWHERE these days. Simply put, what are you offering that any other trainer with a bigger following can’t offer? Show them. Make videos on YouTube, write tips and tricks on your Instagram. Always be providing value. Make sure you have posts of previous client’s success to show that you actually have the capability of achieving their goals.  

Don’t get me wrong. There is a ton of upside to personal training. But far too often, I’ve seen people enter the field thinking it was a lot easier to pick up 5-6 clients and ride off having them stick around their entire career. That’s not how the industry works. You also almost have to love the marketing and grinding aspect of training more than the training itself. These days, there is so much information out there, that you need to be in the entrepreneurial spirit to constantly showcase and market who you are as a trainer. Just make sure you are prepared for the long hours and constant legwork.

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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