Careers in sport and fitness

When thinking about a career in sport or fitness many people’s first thought is being a world-famous sports star. Who here admires Lionel Messi, Serena Williams or Simone Biles?

However, there are many careers related to sport and fitness that don’t require you to be a sports person. We’ve interviewed the owner of a local fitness business to find out more about their job and their route into it.

 

What do you do?

I own a fitness business and am a personal trainer, app developer, coach consultant and director.

 

What does coaching involve?

The main role of a coach is to help people to achieve their fitness and well-being goals.

When working with elite athletes, clients will be highly motivated, training 2-3 times a day. This coaching role involves finding clever ways to ensure the athletes have time to recover and adapt to sessions to perform at the highest level.

For clients who have busy office jobs, the role is often more hands-on. Coaches need to simplify the training experience, finding useful hacks that allow clients to exercise within the limits of their lifestyle.

Coaches are often self-employed and are therefore responsible for the day to day running of a business, managing the finances, marketing, operations, business development and continued professional development.

 

What made you choose this career?

I have always wanted to help people and had a passion for human physiology, sport and exercise. I found that I could combine these by working as a coach. Personal training and performance coaching is about helping people pursue positive challenges and improve their lives.

 

What pathway did you follow to get into this role? 

I started in the industry doing work experience and shadowing from 14-16, before working as a gym instructor part-time whilst at college and university where I studied sport and exercise science. I then went on to complete my personal training diploma and started my business. Following this, I began to specialise, focusing on performance development with international level athletes. At the same time I started developing a fitness app to help coaches effectively manage their businesses, deliver sessions, and track progress. The great thing about managing your own business is that you get to define your direction. Opportunities arise and you can decide whether you want to move into that space.

 

Are there any other pathways?

This was just my journey. The fitness industry is broad, with a wide range of roles.

If you want to work with sports people, an essential step in this process is getting qualified. To be competitive, you will need a degree and an accredited strength and conditioning qualification. Some universities will allow you to gain experience as a coach alongside your degree studies, which is helpful. Most sports teams will look for at least a year’s worth of experience in the industry before taking you on. Alternatively, you may choose to work as an intern to gain experience working as part of a coaching team.

If you want to work as a freelance trainer, the key is to get your personal training diploma. Once this is complete, you can begin to work in the industry straight away. From day one, you may choose to start as a self-employed sole trader, building your own business. However, if you have any doubts, you could gain experience working under another coach or for a gym. Taking this route will allow you to gain insights into the industry as you develop your coaching method. Then you may look at specialising, taking courses to continue your professional development.

There is no one correct path. It’s important to find a way into the industry that feels best for you, that allows you to continue developing and that helps you to achieve your end goal.

 

What is your favourite thing about your job?

The great thing about the industry is that it is full of positive people trying to reach goals and improve themselves, making it a motivational space. I love working with people; helping them hit personal records and overcome obstacles is an incredible feeling and gives a real sense of job satisfaction.

 

What skills are important for running your own business and why?

Skill   Why?
Communication It is important to find ways to clearly and concisely communicate session objectives and information about the workout to a range of clients with different levels of ability and training experience. Effective communication is also important for expanding your business.
Time management As a coach, the majority of your day involves delivering sessions at fixed times. You need to manage your time around these sessions as well as effectively using your ‘free’ time to make sure you complete all the other tasks you need to do for your business to be successful.
Willingness to be challenged Running a business, particularly a small or sole trader business, often involves taking on challenges, trying new things and putting yourself in positions where you can fail. To be successful, you need to approach opportunities willingly, learning from your mistakes to keep moving forward.
Adaptability To stay on track, you need to know where you are going with your business. Setting goals and developing a business plan will give you direction, helping you decide which steps to take with your business. That said, it is important to acknowledge when things simply aren’t working. You can then refocus your attention on what works.


If you could go back and give your younger self any advice about your future career, what would it be?

Make sure you have a plan but remember nothing will ever be perfect, so get your product out into the world.

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