How I Worked A Desk Job Full Time, As A Personal Trainer Part-Time + Stayed (Reasonably!) Well

personal trainer laughing with client on the yoke Ever since I first got into fitness and heard about Train Manchester I’ve regarded them as the ultimate training facility in the city, so when I got my very first Personal Training position there I mega proud to be a part of the team. I trained part-time for six months until I felt ready to go fully self-employed in August 2018.

I wrote this post nearly a year ago but for some reason never got around to publishing it, but I’ve been asked a lot how I built my Personal Training business enough to take it full time in six months, so I thought posting this would be useful for anyone in the same position. Warning: it wasn’t easy and I’m not recommending this lifestyle for health, I’m only recommending it as a way to build your side hustle (whatever that might be) enough to make it your full time gig.

I trained people in the mornings, evenings and weekends around my job as a social media manager for Reebok, so it’s safe to say I was more than a little busy! I do find I function a lot better and procrastinate less when I’m busy, but it did require some careful management on my side so I set myself some guidelines.

The title says I stayed reasonably well; the explanation being that although I was physically OK during this time, my mental and emotional health definitely suffered. I was switched on 100% of the time and I missed out on lots of social occasions with friends and family as I was either working or sitting very still to recover from working. As I (hopefully) stress enough during this piece, it’s a means to an end and not a lifestyle I would recommend living for any longer than six months.

These tips could work for you whether you’re working two jobs, studying and working, or even juggling a demanding responsibility and wanting to stay well around it. Read on to find out my strategy for this tough phase of my life.

Prioritising self-care

I ensured that when I wasn’t at work or with clients, I really prioritised self-care. That means that instead of agreeing to go out for a drink or sitting watching TV, I did a ROMWOD session, foam rolled, having an epsom salt bath – the sort of stuff you normally do if you have time for.

Self care isn’t all baths and moisturiser, though – I also made sure I tackled things like bills or life admin as efficiently as I can rather than leaving it all to become piled up, which also helped reduce stress. I found all of this really makes me feel better about myself and it took good care of my body, too.

personal trainer coaching woman on strongman yoke

Working out when I could

I love training and it’s a big part of my life, but if I couldn’t get a workout in on a given day, I didn’t stress about it. I knew that when everything settled into a proper routine I’d be back training hard, but during that time I might’ve fit a 45 minute workout in between clients, moving in a way that made me feel good rather than battering my body – after all, I needed to be in a fit state to coach someone not long after!

I found it took a lot longer to get back into my own training than I thought it would once I went full-time PT, but I got there eventually.

Preparing… everything!

I’ve never been great at prepping, but when it’s the difference of spending half an hour sorting food and outfits for the week out on a Sunday night compared to not eating all day or being late for a client because I couldn’t find the leggings I wanted to wear, it’s obvious which is the more sensible route. Panicking about what to eat for breakfast or which leggings to wear at 5.30am is really not the one!

I made big batches of bean stew to eat with hummus and spinach along with a weeks’ worth of overnight oats which just need toppings added each day (mainly Biscoff spread!). These are both quick and easy to make and make the difference between eating nothing for hours and having a filling, healthy meal.

female personal trainer coaching client

Getting to bed early

This is something I’ve also been historically bad about – can we say FOMO.. over absolutely nothing?! I know you’re the same! – but actually 5am starts and busy days mean I was craving my bed at 10pm latest anyway. Admittedly my sleep quality wasn’t always the best although I used Unplug from Motion Nutrition which made me feel much more refreshed.

Honestly, my sleep was never the greatest while I was working two jobs, but it really paid off – since going self employed and living life by my own schedule, my sleep has never been better.

Compartmentalising work and PT

I didn’t want anyone to ever say that the quality of my daytime work suffered because of PTing, so I made sure that when I was at my day job, my head was fully there and I didn’t sneakily opening any client programming or thinking about marketing I needed to do. Similarly, when I was with clients, my work phone was away in a locker and my attention is 100% on them. If I let everything bleed into one, then everything would have suffered, so compartmentalising them both physically and mentally seemed to keep my working standards high for both jobs I had.

Honestly, around work, Personal Training, and all the above, I didn’t have much of a life so it’s not a lifestyle I’d recommend to everybody, but it was a means to an end. Working so hard for those six months now means I live life by my own rules – I work at home Monday mornings, I have time in the day to train myself and do extra learning, I sleep incredibly well, and I get to work every day with clients whose lives I’m really making a difference to.

At some points in your life you just have to grit your teeth and prioritise certain things, and this was one of them! If you’re in a similar space, don’t give up. Sometimes you don’t know how close to your goal you really are.

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