On my ten-year anniversary of qualifying as a personal trainer, I find myself looking back over my career as a coach – why did I even go down this path?
I remember the day, I was in the gym, which was actually quite a new thing for me at the time. The gym owner/manager, Chris, said to me, “Helen, I don’t know why you don’t just become a personal trainer. Then you could just hang out in the gym all day.”
That was it! The spark had been ignited. I was working at a pub at the time, and had started training in the gym more and more. I was also running an obscene amount, and really enjoying it (OK, so some things have changed…!)
In the past, my work experience was extremely higgledy-piggledy. I’d worked with horses A LOT. I’d also been running a cleaning company but it had been extremely stressful trying to manage every-thing and every-one. I knew I needed a break but I didn’t have any sort of direction as to where I should be or what I should do.
The gentle nudge from Chris had been what I needed to go and get my qualification sorted. Back in those days, there was no quick option to get you REPS Level 3 (the minimal industry standard for personal training) so I embarked on a year long journey to complete my training.
I started working in the gym, as soon as I had my level 2 (gym instructor – only allows you to teach classes, not 1-2-1) and absolutely loved it. I felt so comfortable there. I felt like I belonged! Picking up clients was hard because I had absolutely no confidence in my ability to teach so never promoted myself, but when someone came to the gym, I was more than happy to help them through a workout and ultimately gained a good few clients like that. Just being myself.
Many things happened in my personal life throughout the next few years and I ended up taking a few ‘steady’ jobs before ultimately moving to Thailand where I realised my real passion: fighting!
My whole outlook on life change when I moved to Thailand. The training was constantly brutal. There was always someone stronger, fitter and with better technique. There was no easy day, or anything that came close to coasting. It was incredible. I got myself a job, teaching in a nursery school, so that I could afford to stay there long term. Although I was no longer training adults, the same basic rules applied and I learnt an incredible amount teaching the kids. It was hard work, but I can honestly say it was one of the best jobs I've ever had.
Since coming back from Thailand, I’ve had a number of roles, but have always come back to one thing: Personal training. I have no idea why I love it so much. I’ve tried to change my career path multiple times, but I just love the feeling of watching people progressing, growing and learning. When I have had something to do with it? It’s 1000x better. I’m like a proud mother hen!
Now that I’ve started to take my business more seriously (ultimately realised this really is what I want to do, and it's time to stop messing about trying to find short cuts), it’s enabled me to reach more people than I otherwise would have. People that I can make a difference to. It’s the best feeling in the world, to be able to say that I can make someone’s life better by helping them to find the motivation to exercise. Increasing their confidence, their well-being, their pride! Even typing this now, puts a smile on my face.
It might sound cheesy, but that conversation with Chris, all those years ago, shaped my future in a way I could never have imagined. You never know how much of an influence you have on someone.