Real World PT: Mhairi ‘Vee’ Mcshane, PT & franchisee, VIC
A snapshot of how today’s personal trainers are working, living and shaping their careers
What’s your business called?
The HIIT Factory Bairnsdale. thehiitfactory.com.au/bairnsdale
How long have you been a PT?
I have been training groups of clients for almost 3 years.
Are you full time or part time?
I am full time (and more, lol!) as I own the business and run sessions. I am involved in all elements from marketing and business development, to admin and coaching.
What made you decide to become a trainer?
The HIIT Factory came about some three years ago when my hobby of holding outdoor group fitness sessions in local parks started to rapidly grow. The opportunity to purchase a franchise from the already successful HIIT Factory business in Melbourne arose, and the result was the establishment of the brand’s first-ever Australian franchise – in Bairnsdale in regional Victoria.
I’m from an extremely sporty family (father Frank is a competitive triathlete and coach, sister Charlotte is a Commonwealth Games triathlete and world champion, and another sister Colette is the founder of The HIIT Factory Franchise, PT in my Pocket app and is known as The HIIT MUM.)
I made some very poor choices in my past, including smoking and drinking heavily, to the point where in 2014 I checked myself into a detox program. I’m so glad I did, because it was a turning point for me, and I’ve never looked back.
Do you specialise?
In 2015, I began my own shred. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) turned my life around, and I knew quickly that I wanted to share with others exactly how good exercise made me feel. I wanted everyone else to start doing HIIT, so they too could discover how amazing it is for improving self-esteem, increasing motivation, and for helping to make more positive decisions. The HIIT Factory is specifically designed to help busy people exercise regularly, by providing short, sharp and effective workouts. Its unique family-focus welcomes kids to all sessions, which eliminates the barrier for many people who feel they can’t exercise because they’re looking after their kids (I was one of these people when my kids were growing up). The result is that you’ll get fit and they’ll have fun - it's a win-win for everybody!
How many hours do you train clients for each week?
On average our 100+ clients each train 4 times per week. Myself and our three other instructors deliver over 25 group sessions weekly, mainly HIIT but also yoga and our own signature conditioning classes ‘Booty Burn’ and ‘Ab Lab’.
How many hours do you spend working on your business?
An hour or so a day on admin and marketing and nine hours on training and managing.
What hours do you work?
My day begins at 4:30am when I spend 30 minutes on admin, writing in my journal and prepping for the day. First class is at 6am, so I always send a motivational post out to my closed members Early Bird group, which is a real community. After class I head home for breakfast, check my inbox and spend some time on marketing activities and liaising with graphic/web designers. We have more classes at 9:15am, 5:30pm and 6:15pm, and I’m also involved in many community events such as parkrun, so the concept of ‘early doors’ is unknown in my world!
What do you do in terms of your ongoing education?
In the evenings I aim to have at least 20 minutes ‘education time’. This can be from mindset, marketing, fitness you name it. I am always learning, I have travelled overseas to the UK and US a few times in the past couple of years and brought back new formats for the Australian market,a nd I also strive to educate myself at some of the world’s biggest fitness conventions.
How do you get new clients?
My main source of clients is word of mouth. Over the last two years I have focused my marketing on developing community events and have established other fitness activities and events for residents to enjoy, including Parkrun Bairnsdale and the Colour Run. I am also involved in other local events and have participated in regional living campaigns, newspaper features and radio talks. I am also very active on social media.
How many clients do you have?
We have over 110 members, and a number of casuals also attend sessions.
How long do your clients stay with you?
Many of my clients have been with me since inception. Apart from the results we achieve, we have a real community feel and get involved in other activities together, such as Spartan. We are continually evolving as a business, always adding new concepts.
Do you ever turn clients away or refer them to other PTs?
Not every person who enquiries will be the right fit. I have a trial pass and my exact words are: ‘It’s an opportunity for you to gauge if we are the right fit for you, your lifestyle, and your needs’. I like to operate with 100% transparency.
What differentiates you from other trainers?
I am not the fittest, fastest, or most knowledgeable trainer out there, but what I offer to my client base is unique. My passion, inner strength and my ‘why’ are what make me stand out. I also have a huge energy. I want others to be able to live the life of their dreams by harnessing the transformative power of exercise.
What is the best thing about being a PT?
The results achieved, and lives changed, in our community. Because of this, The HIIT Factory Bairnsdale was named by Fitness Australia as the 2017 Victorian Winner of the #Active Communities Award. This accolade recognises the outstanding work of gyms, personal training businesses and clubs, in creating active, healthier, and happier communities. The HIIT Factory was already a multi-award-winning business, but to receive national recognition from the fitness industry’s leading association is an extraordinary achievement for a regionally-based business such as this. For me personally, it’s a real sense of achievement and more evidence of how life changing physical activity can be. Three years ago I would never have imagined this.
And the hardest?
It is hard when you know clients are on the right path and they just can’t see it themselves yet, feel defeated or are too focused on the scales. My team and I spend a lot of time educating clients around the other positive benefits of working out and not just a physical ‘look’ or number on the scales. Some are ready to hear this and some aren’t yet... but they do come back!
Where would you like your career to take you?
I don’t even think of it as a job or career – I just love what I do and it grows with me. I am a master trainer for Fatburn Extreme, a 20-minute max interval workout, and will be focusing on growing the brand in Australia.
Personally, my aim is to workout with my fitness inspiration, Shaun T from Insanity, in one of his videos. I have met him and worked out with him, so Shaun if you read this get in touch, ha ha! I am also very passionate about mental health and youth as my own son has been affected and I know what an incredible tool exercise is. I would love to get involved as an ambassador or assist with developing programs for young people affected by substance abuse and mental health concerns. I also want to instil into other young single mums that they have what it takes to aim high and achieve.
What is your fitness philosophy?
My philosophy is to never stop learning and to always be open.
What key piece of advice would you give to someone starting out as a PT?
If someone offers you advice or knowledge take it. Be prepared to work hard if you want to go next level with your business. Educate continually and evolve. Ensure you also have time for you and don’t burn out. Be in it for the why.
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