REAL WORLD PT:
Susie Cole, Self-employed PT, ACT
A snapshot of how today’s personal trainers are working, living and shaping their careers
How long have you been a PT?
Are you full time or part time?
I run my PT business part time in addition to a full time government job not related to the fitness industry.
What made you decide to become a trainer?
I was training a lot for myself and people started asking me lots of questions to help them out in the gym, so I decided I wanted to provide qualified advice.
Do you specialise?
I specialise in rehabilitation PT, getting people back from injury to full fitness and mobility.
Do you have a signature style of training?
I love functional movement. I love to use kettlebells, suspension, body weight activity and cables. If it’s functional, I’ll use it!
How many hours do you train clients for each week?
It varies but usually 10-15 hours a week.
How many hours do you spend working on your business?
It varies depending on what I’ve got coming up, but I’ll usually put 3-4 hours a week into admin and social media.
What hours do you work?
Because I also work full time, I’m limited to evenings and Saturdays for my PT business. I’ll train clients either in a PT or group session after 6pm during the week and I’m in the gym from about 7:30am on a Saturday until around 12.
What do you do in any downtime?
What’s down time?!
How much do you charge?
My PT sessions are $75 for an hour and my group sessions are $20 per person. If people want to do small group sessions with friends, I work something out for them.
What do you do in terms of your ongoing education?
I spend all my money on it! In the last 12 months I’ve been to FILEX, completed my Rehab Masterclass, and followed up on some online courses in rehab, behaviour change and wellness coaching.
How many clients do you have?
I have about 35 people on the books. While I don’t see all of them in a week, they all keep coming back.
How long do your clients stay with you?
I have clients that have been with me since I started as a PT. Usually they only stop coming when they move away (Canberra can be a very transient city), but they come back to me if they move back to Canberra.
How do you get new clients?
Most of my new clients are referred by their friends who train with me. I’ve had a few people approach me as I’m setting up or packing up a group session in the park, wanting to be part of the action. Then they’ve brought friends along too.
Do you vet clients before you agree to train them?
I find that if people are being introduced to me as a client, then the person introducing us is doing it because they think I’m a good fit for their friend.
Do you ever turn clients away or refer them to other PTs?
When I worked for a gym, I would actually do that a lot. People have to be willing to listen, learn and do the homework I set them. When you only get to see someone for an hour a week, they have to do a fair bit of work outside of that to get results, especially in the rehab space.
What differentiates you from other trainers?
I like to think I meet people where they are at, find out where they want to be and guide them on that journey. I also don’t take anything too seriously. A yogi friend of mine used to say ‘It’s all about the intent’ and I’ve really taken that approach in my PT. There’s no one way to do something, and you have to be able to work with someone to help them achieve their goals.
What is the best thing about being a PT?
It is so rewarding. I can have the worst day at my day job and then come home to training clients, and it’s like that bad day never happened. That effort was recognised when I was awarded Fitness Australia’s ACT #ActiveAchievers award in 2016. It recognises trainers that are making a difference to people’s lives.
And the hardest?
Because I work a full time job, the hardest thing is not having as much time as I would like to build my PT business.
What’s the biggest misconception about working in fitness?
That once you have a Cert IV you know it all, that all trainers have a perfect diet, workout regime and lifestyle.
Where would you like your career to take you?
My vision for Fitness For Wellness is to have a custom built facility that has a space for wellness coaching, rehab training, group fitness and PT, with a couple of likeminded trainers working with me.
What is your fitness philosophy?
My fitness philosophy is that every body should be able to move easily, free of pain, doing the things they want to for as long as they can. That’s why I’m such a huge advocate for functional movement.
What key piece of advice would you give to someone starting out as a PT?
Don’t ever stop learning. The Cert IV gives you a foundation and I encourage people to know who their target client is so that they can continue their PT education to best help those people.
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