REAL WORLD PT: Thea Baker, Self employed PT, VIC
A snapshot of how today’s personal trainers are working, living and shaping their careers
Thea Baker Wellness, theabaker.com.au
How long have you been a PT?
Are you full time or part time?
Why did you become a trainer?
Complete life revaluation after having my children. I used to work within Corporate HR and through my own journey to wellness felt called to work with other women with similar stories.
Do you specialise?
Yes, in women of all ages and stages. I recognise that women aren’t a special population or a smaller version of men, but they do benefit from being trained differently – especially those that have had children at any stage in their lives.
Do you have a signature style of training?
I have a Power Plate Pro7 that I use extensively, but I also use ViPR, Gymstick and a host of different tools with my clients. I ask that my clients trust me with the content of their sessions, and depending on what their needs are I work with whatever training tools are appropriate on any given day.
How many hours do you train clients for each week?
Anywhere between 25 and 35 depending on the time of year
How many hours do you spend working on your business?
Probably at least 10 hours a week, but sometimes significantly more
What hours do you work?
Largely school hours to fit in with my family’s needs, but I also work one evening a week and Saturday mornings.
What do you do in any downtime during the day?
I have a rule that if a client cancels on me with short notice I have to do their session instead! I tend to spend at least 20 minutes a day doing Power Plate mobilisers for my own body’s recovery. I also catch up on admin, social media marketing and then of course looking after my two children, 3 step-children and partner!
How much do you charge?
I charge $95 for an Initial Consult, after which I only offer sessions in packs of 2 ($115) or 8 ($460). I don’t discount my bulk sessions. I decided about a year ago that I needed to value what I do more. We don’t expect discounts from our other allied health professionals and I started to question how it worked for me. I offer two options for payment to make it more manageable for clients who find it easier for cash-flow purposes to pay fortnightly. When I stopped discounting, I explained my reasoning to my clients in a newsletter and no one mentioned it to me. I didn’t lose any clients over it, and now I have a wait list of clients waiting to get a regular slot with me, so I guess it’s worked, even though it’s not conventional in our industry.
How many clients do you have?
I have upwards of 50 clients.
How long do your clients stay with you?
I have a significant number of clients that I have been working with for more than two or three years now. Sometimes they work with me until they are feeling strong enough in their recovery (postnatal, pelvic floor dysfunction, birth injuries) to try other things, which is great because I know that they are then fully aware of their body and what it needs in order to be able to do something different. Other clients (especially prolapse clients) stay working with me because they know that I help them train intelligently for their condition.
How do you get new clients?
Largely word of mouth, but also via my website or social media pages.
Do you vet clients before you agree to train them?
I always have a lengthy phone call with clients before their initial consult. They need to understand how I work and I need to understand a little of their journey to this point. I ask a lot of questions!
Do you ever turn clients away or refer them to other PTs?
Rarely – they are usually coming to me because they can’t work with other trainers. Some of my clients joke that I train the women that other trainers are scared to work with!
What differentiates you from other trainers?
I am very clear about what I am and what I’m not. I don’t try to be all things to all people. I do what I do and I do it really well, and I stick to my speciality. I think my clients respect that. I also don’t promise quick-fixes or magical, unsustainable weight loss. I do promise that they will understand things about their body they never knew before they met me, that they will learn to listen to what their body wants and needs, and that they will always feel better after their session than they did before.
What do you do in terms of your ongoing education?
In addition to attending FILEX and FitEx (in NZ), I regularly attend any training that is appropriate to my specialism, such as Pelvic Floor First workshops, as well as online training, and business development events like Business Chicks.
What’s the best thing about being a PT?
Being in a position to help women change their lives and feel better in the skin they’re in.
And the hardest?
Creating space for me. It’s too easy to accommodate others (clients, family etc) and burnout is a real risk in this industry.
What's the biggest misconception about working in fitness?
The stereotype that you have to be young, buff and bronzed.
Where would you like your career to take you?
I have three elements to Thea Baker Wellness – being a specialist trainer for women, a Transformative Wellness Coach, and a presenter. My focus for the future is on the coaching and presenting sides of my business. I presented at FitEx last year, and I’d love to present at FILEX one day!
What is your fitness philosophy?
Balance. Moving mindfully and being strong, but also not being obsessive about any one thing –whether that’s exercise or nutrition. I’m big into meditation and rest these days.
What key piece of advice would you give to someone starting out as a PT?
Walk the talk for sure, but be authentically real. Figure out who you can offer most to and craft that. Become an expert at what you do and forget about the competition – just focus on being excellent and being true to your own moral compass and clients will be drawn to you.
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