For many group fitness instructors, especially in big cities like London or Manchester, teaching classes is a passion project done in the evenings and at weekends, on top of a normal 9-5 job. Maybe you are one of these people and have been thinking about making the leap into fitness full time. Perhaps you don’t enjoy your day job as much as you enjoy teaching or are bored of office politics, peak time commuter travel or wearing a suit all day. You may have some reservations about whether you could make the transition to being a full time instructor and what your life would look like if you did.
If you are currently thinking about making the swap, here are some things to consider before handing in your notice:
Do you have enough classes right now to pay your bills each month, savings you could live on or do you have a partner whose income would be enough in the short term? Even if you hate your 9-5, quitting it with no back up plan and no other income isn’t a great choice if you have rent or a mortgage to pay. If the classes you currently have will almost cover your bills and living expenses and you have an emergency fund you could dip into to make up the rest then you’ll feel much more confident in your decision. If you live with a partner, would their salary help, and would they be comfortable contributing that money?
Do you have enough diversity in classes or skills to make this a full-time thing? If you only teach Les Mills Body Pump, doing that for 40 hours a week isn’t going to be sustainable and you will end up pretty burnt out pretty soon. If you currently teach a blend of programs, including some higher intensity and some lower intensity or maybe hold a PT qualification or coaching qualification then you will be able to build a more diversified and sustainable lifestyle after quitting your 9-5. If you only teach one style at the minute, maybe look into another complementary program or an ETM course to teach freestyle classes before quitting your job. (Hint: if you purchase any product from the GFT store you will get a discount code for 10% off accredited courses when they launch soon!)
What does your lifestyle look like right now and is that likely to change? If you have a young family then maybe a 9-5 job suits you well. You work when the kids are at school and then get to spend most evenings and weekends with them. A fitness career involves a lot of unsociable hours – early morning starts, late evening finishes and generally working on the weekend. However, you may find that office hours are too long and you would prefer more casual work whilst your children are still young so the freedom that self-employment brings may be exactly what you need. Are you looking to start a family in the next 12 months? If so, you might be best off staying in an employed job that will give you maternity/paternity leave as the government support for self employed parents isn’t as great as most companies will provide. If you are looking to buy a house in the near future, mortgage companies will generally lend you up to 4.5x your salary (and your partners combined, if applicable). If you would be taking a significant short term pay cut to go into fitness full time, this may affect the amount you could borrow on a house. It might be worth staying at the office until you’ve made that purchase!
What parts of your job are making you look at taking the leap? If your boss is a jerk or you are just over the office politics but enjoy the industry you work in then maybe searching for a new company to work for would be a better choice than jumping full time into fitness. However, if you really dislike your job and dream about 5pm coming every night so you can get into the gym then it’s worth considering going full time in the fitness industry.
Please note, doing fitness full time isn’t for everybody and it doesn’t make you any less good an instructor if you also have a “normal” 9-5 office job. Many master trainers and presenters have normal office jobs and teach on the side. Everyone’s life position is different, and we all enjoy different things. Maybe this list has made you realise you are not happy in your current job, but full-time fitness is not for you either. That’s ok – take this as inspiration to get on another job hunt! The beauty of working in fitness is that it has the flexibility for you to work whatever number of hours you desire in whatever role you fancy. Not many industries can offer that!