How PTs and group ex instructors can thrive in a turbulent and unstable job market
Tuesday evening came with a new announcement from the government with more social distancing rules. From September 14th, you are not allowed to meet in a group of more than 6 either inside or outside the home. Places of work and schools, however, are exempt. This had a lot of us wondering where this left gyms? For us fit pros they are places of work but gyms are recreational venues for the members. Thankfully, we have now had clarification that *for now*, it is business as normal. However, I'm sure I wasn't alone when I heard the news in thinking "oh god... are we going to be closed down again?"
The one thing that 2020 has shown us is that nothing is set in stone and that things can change at the drop of a hat. The concern of job loss has been real for millions of people in the UK this year, and if you're reading this, you may well be one of them. To be able to survive and thrive during these turbulent times, you need to be able to adapt quickly, be prepared and be able to change direction if needed to. So, as a fitness professional, what are some ways you can do that?
1. Have multiple streams of income
As a fitness professional it is relatively easy to have multiple streams of income. I spoke about this in depth in this YouTube video, so go and check that out if you want a deeper look into the concept. Having multiple streams of income could be teaching classes at 4/5 different gyms, having personal training clients, doing sports massage or running an online coaching service. If you have a mix of ways you can earn money then if one stream of income falls away or decreases, you have the others to fall back on. It gives you a safety net which is invaluable in turbulent times like these.
2. Stay up to date with the news and trends
Being able to pivot and adapt means you need to be prepared. If you can foresee some of the changes that might be happening then it can be easier to make your move. Particularly relating to the pandemic, keep up to date with the number of cases in your area to see if local lockdown may be coming your way.
It’s also important to keep up to date on trends within the fitness industry. Whether this is the emergence of zoom classes, the rise of the boutique brands or the changes within the Les Mills and Zumba licensing models, being aware of what’s going on will help you to see ahead and plan ahead. Join Facebook instructor groups, speak to managers at your gyms and follow blogs from others in the industry, like this one 😉 (pop your email in the box at the bottom of the page to make sure you never miss a post)
3. Have a plan B AND plan C
This point is somewhat linked to the first. Having a solid plan of what you will do if a certain situation arises gives you confidence and can help reduce and stress you may be feeling. If you lose one of your streams of income, will it be easy to increase another? Might you be able to pick up some extra clients or cover work? Is your local gym hiring for reception staff or cafe staff which could tide you over?
Having both a plan B and plan C has helped me massively in the last few weeks. With there still being a lot of uncertainty around my main job, I’ve thought through what I will do if I get made redundant, what I will do when furlough stops and what extra work I could scale or pick up. I have the back up plan and the “less than ideal but I won’t be miserable or homeless” plan and it’s helped my mental health hugely.
I also made this video on how to recession proof your fitness business which may help you put together your back up plans.
4. Keep focused on your long term plans
Many of us will have reassessed our long term plans this year, with the pandemic potentially changing where we see our lives going. Whatever decisions you decide to make to your life, don’t lose track of your long term goals. (If you’re struggling to set your long term goals, go check out this post I wrote on it)
Not every action will take you closer to your goals, and that’s ok. I’ve been working part time in Tesco since the start of lockdown which definitely wasn’t in my plans at the beginning of the year! But, it has given me stability and a bit of income security which IS taking me towards my long term goals. Every bit of money I’ve earned has gone into GFT and saving for my future!
You may need to accept some work that doesn’t fit your long term view for your life just to get by short term. As long as you have an exit strategy for this and hold yourself accountable to it then do what you need to do. I’ve told myself (and my parents/friends to make sure I do it 😅) that I will leave Tesco once my gym based income reaches a certain level again. Don't allow yourself to get stuck at a job that you don't want.
5. Consider going it alone
So I put this as the final point because it is certainly not for everybody and the thought of starting your own business may not be for you. However, if you are a fitness professional you are probably self employed already so I’m sure there is a bit of entrepreneurial spirit in most of you. Starting your own business gives you total control over your income and freedom. You aren’t at the mercy of a gym cutting your classes or a programme provider putting up your license fee. It’s up to you what you do and when you want to do it. This could be selling an online gym programme or making fitness apparel, or completely non fitness related. Now, obviously it’s not guaranteed that your business will be a success, but what do you lose by trying?
An extra qualification may be a great tool that can help you earn extra money during these difficult times! In the next few months we will be launching level 2 and 3 courses in exercise to music, gym instruction, circuit training, kettlebells, Pilates and emergency first aid at work.
If you want to receive more info and get the early bird price (the lowest the courses will ever be!) then pop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.