Personal Trainer to Personal Training Studio Manager

Name: Duncan Sailors
Job Title: Personal Training Studio Manager / Personal Trainer
Years of Experience: 5 years
Where: West Seattle, WA
Current Employer: West Seattle Fitness Together (full-time), CrossFit Seattle (part-time)
Education: BS, University of Washington; ACE certified personal trainer; Crossfit Level 1 certified, Crossfit Endurance Level 1 certified
Salary: See the PayScale Research Center for the average salary of a personal trainer


Turning a Passion for Fitness Into a Successful Management Career

What is it like to manage a personal training studio as well as be a personal trainer? West Seattle personal trainer Duncan Sailors shares his story of how he took his life's passion for fitness and turned it into a successful management career.

PayScale: Describe your Job Duties as the Manager of a Personal Training Studio

I have five main areas of duties: sales, marketing, facility upkeep, training and personnel. My main sales duties include: following up on leads, scheduling free sessions, entering sales data, maintaining sales and client database, retaining clients, and providing accurate sales reports to the owner. My main marketing duties include: managing in house and outdoor signage, doing internet outreach, maintaining a presence in social media such as Facebook, blog, YouTube and Yelp. I also do  business to business collaboration, seminars, street fairs and In house contests. On the service side, I do training sessions (15 to 30+ per week), client follow-up, nutrition programs, exercise programming, and fitness assessments cards (birthday, anniversary, thank you, referral requests). I also handle all client contact and client safety communications via e-mail, phone and text. From the facilities standpoint, I manage cleaning, equipment maintenance, new equipment acquisition, recycling, office equipment and consumables: water, towels and fruit bowl. On the personnel side, I hire, train, review and fire trainers as well as run staff meetings. There are also lots of other small tasks the manager of a personal training studio does each day.

PayScale: How did you get started doing this type of work? What motivated you to start this career?

After many years as a competitive athlete, I decided to change my professional focus from contracting to personal training. I wanted to share my passion for fitness with people and assist them with improving their quality of life. I wanted to help people get the most out their workouts by avoiding the biggest pitfalls of exercise: injury, lack of motivation, boredom, and (worst of all) enduring hours of hard work without seeing results. I now work as manager and personal trainer for a well-established, upscale West Seattle personal training studio.

PayScale: What do you love about your job as personal trainer?

I love to see people working hard to not only change their bodies, but to change their lives. I have seen a 340 pound man, who could barely make it up the stairs of our West Seattle training studio, transform into a 260 pound fit strong, healthy man. He came to us because he was afraid he was going to die. Helping people like him is what I love about this job. I love the pride a client gets when they can pick up their own body weight. We are big on progressions and benchmarks. When a client does more than they did a month ago, they feel awesome. Their boost of confidence is very satisfying for me. 


PayScale: What are the biggest challenges you face in your job as manager of a personal training studio?

The challenge of this personal training job is that you want to be able to help everyone, but not everyone is ready to be helped. I have met with prospective new clients that needed our help, but for one reason or another, they were not ready or willing to make the necessary commitments. That is heartbreaking. Another challenge in our West Seattle gym is overcoming unrealistic expectations. The media floods people’s minds with what they should eat, how they should look, how they should exercise, and what the latest Hollywood actor is doing to get "skinny." There is no magic pill. That fact is hard to swallow for some people. 

PayScale: What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a personal trainer or manager of a gym?

When first entering the personal training field people usually do it because they love to work out and want to help other people love to work out too. They focus on the technical aspects of the job - what exercises to do and how to do them. Knowing all that is great, and important to a point. However, people will keep coming back to you for who you are and not what you know. If you honestly care about a client and their goals and aspirations, you will get a client for life. All of our West Seattle personal trainers were hired because they are great people with technical knowledge. This is what sets us apart from other gyms. 

PayScale: What are the most interesting things that have happened while working as a personal trainer?

At our West Seattle personal training studio, people work hard to accomplish their fitness goals. There is sweat, pain, racing heart rates, tears and laughter. It takes courage to want to change. That courage and drive to want to be stronger, fitter, healthier, for whatever reason, is amazing.You can get a real feel for the types of successes you can be part of in this industry by reading some of our personal training clients' success stories.

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