Globo-Gyms Vs Independent Gyms - Performance Training Academy

Many individuals who qualify as a Fitness Professional are not always certain about where to go next or where to even base themselves as a Personal Trainer.

At Performance Training, we offer lots of post course advice on how to build your business. We help to give an understanding of what facilities are available to you and how they work with Personal Trainers.

Speaking in regards to our location in Exeter, there are many options available to you.

We have the large Gym chains of Fitness First, David Lloyds & Virgin Active (Taunton and Plymouth), local council run gyms and leisure centres (LED Leisure), along with well equipped facilities at clubs such as Exeter Golf and Country and Woodbury Park. There is even an excellent gym facility at Exeter University.

There are also the independently owned gyms. Gyms such as our Exeter venue – Gym Space Exeter, along with Body2000, Fitness Central, Sweat and Stretch, Winners and more… It is even worth popping into your local CrossFit gym such as CrossFit Ex, CrossFit Plymouth & CrossFit Taunton (International brand ‘CrossFit’, but independently owned).

Lets not forget a lot of clients will enjoy training in the outdoors environments or may even have gym equipment, facilities or space to be trained at home.

The idea of this article is to open your eyes to these options, you may even want to blend your business as someone who utilises both a gym and the outdoors environment, don’t feel you have to constrain yourself to one environment.

I think it is important as a newly qualified Fitness Professional to have an understanding of your options, and to check out all the facilities that are available to you. My colleagues at Performance Training and I have experience in both large gym chains and independent gyms, along with training in the outdoors environment. I ensure that we blend these experiences into our courses, giving you as much information to succeed in this industry as possible.

Starting with the large chain gyms. These can quite often be seen as the ONLY option to work at once qualified, and if they have no placements available then you just have to wait until one opens up. This is not the case. Obviously one great advantage that these gyms have is ‘exposure’. On a weekly basis, hundreds of different members will be coming through the door, thats a high number of people that you have the opportunity to interact with.

I myself have had a good career as a Personal Trainer within a large gym chain. I often draw upon this experience when teaching candidates or helping them to build up a Personal Training business. I will always stress to candidates though that  you can not expect the clients to fall into your lap. Realistically you are in an environment where there maybe a few other fitness professionals vying for the same business from the same members. That is why you can not just sit in the background and not put in the hard work.

Building up a business as a Personal Trainer is exactly like building any business, it takes hard work, dedication, marketing, motivation and essentially long hours to begin with. This is how I started my business over ten years ago. You need to ensure that you stand out in the big gym environment, be seen to practice what you preach, engage with the gym members and market yourself.

Yes there maybe a level of competition with other fitness professionals if working in a large gym, but do not let this put you off. The business is there. You just have to ensure that you put as much time, effort and motivation as anyone else. If you do not actively look to build your own business then you may very well end up struggling. All successful businesses are built up on hard work and dedication.

Different gym chains have different contracts for Personal Trainers. Some allow Personal Trainers to work as a Self-Employed business, paying a weekly rent each week – normally with a limited amount of rent free weeks for holiday each year. Whilst others actually employ Personal Trainers, helping to build up their business whilst paying a small wage for doing gym hours, but will take a percentage of your Personal Training session fee.

Large chain gyms are great for building a business, though it is not guaranteed success. This will come down to your knowledge, ability and dedication. But where a lot of individuals can turn to a global gym, most forget about the other option of the independent gym. Lets look at our venue for example, Gym Space Exeter.

Opened in 2010 by James Buckingham, a well renowned Personal Trainer who is highly regarded due to his experience in training top level athletes and  for his high level of nutritional expertise. He is a great example of what you can achieve as a Personal Trainer. Like me, James started his career at a large chain gym before moving on in his own direction. You can obviously settle on earning a good living from delivering 20/30/40 personal training sessions each week, but you can look into other options to take another step or direction in your career, group fitness, bootcamps, nutritional lectures, opening a gym, coaching sports teams, holding weight loss classes and so much more…

Gym Space Exeter was designed with Personal Trainers in mind. It is a facility where you do not have to sign into any contract, it is run to be flexible. This can be invaluable when building a business as a Personal Trainer. Effectively you pay for the time you are there, if you do not use it for three weeks, you pay no rent.

Even though it is a gym open to members, it does not have the hundreds of members like the large chain gyms. Some see this as a negative, though this offers exclusivity to clients. Often you will have a gym with great facilities to your self and your client. A great selling point to some Personal Training clients. Another selling point is that clients do not have to join the gym to be trained by you. This will enable you to keep your clients costs down.

The great thing that I have found with independent gyms is it allows you to be an individual in the world of Health and Fitness. Chain gyms will require you to wear their brand and uniform and not always allow you to run your own outside advertising. While at independent gyms you can become your own brand, wearing your own kit, advertising in your own unique way. You will obviously have to work more on the marketing side, but is this really a negative? To get your profile and brand recognised over a larger scale is always important in this industry. You will have to ensure that you get yourself a great website, one that you can constantly update with information and resources (which also enable you to continue to learn), and you will have to ensure that you are utilising the all important Social Media, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram… seemingly the biggest way and most effective way to market yourself these days. Get your car/van sign written, plaster your web address over it, and do not forget to use good ol’ word of mouth and monthly offers…

As you can see, there are many options available to fitness professionals. All have different positive reasons for using their facilities. I have obviously only spoken briefly about this. Research more, get yourself known in the local area and choose the path that suits you and your business.

But the bottom line is that 110% needs to be given by everyone who wants to become a successful fitness professional. This is what we embed into all of our candidates, as we want all of our candidates to succeed in the Health and Fitness industry. There are no limits, you can be as big as you want to be. Just continue to learn, and promote yourself so that people know how good you are.

Here is a link to a blog that James Buckingham actually wrote a few years back. Same blog title funnily enough… ‘Great minds think alike’ and all that!! A little less down the middle than this one, but a good read.

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