Meet a Personal Trainer

Interviews with real people in real roles across our industry.

Name: Zak Woods
Role: Personal Trainer
Qualifications: Certificate II in Sport and Recreation, Certificates III and IV in Fitness, Precision Nutrition Certificate, Strength and Conditioning Course, M10 Personal Training Mentorship.

Interested in finding out more about a career as a Personal Trainer? Read our Career Guide.

Q&A with Zak Woods

When I was in high school, I was always training myself or in a sporting team of some sort. The main thing about personal training that piqued my interest was that I could combine my love of training and sports with being able to help people achieve goals.

I was always looking to do something that could combine my interest in business and being an entrepreneur with fitness or sport. I’ve been able to find an amazing medium with fitness instructing, as I get to train amazing people while growing my business through social media and client referencing.

I completed a Certificate III and IV in Fitness as well as a Certificate II in Sport and Recreation through my high school, where some VET courses were offered to students.

The actual pathway for me to get here was ambiguous. I knew that I had to get my qualifications and get into a gym with clients. At first, I didn’t know how I was going to do that because gyms can be intimidating places.

I was working at McDonald’s when a friend I worked with told me he was heading down to this new gym that had just opened up and was looking for new trainers. I decided to go down to this new gym the next day. I put my resume in, shook the hand of the owner, said hello, and he said:

“Right, you start on Monday at 5 am”.

I’m not saying it will be that easy for everyone, but gyms are always looking for fresh faces who can do things differently from the previous generation of trainers.

When I first started, it was almost like work experience. I didn’t have any clients. I didn’t take any classes. I just worked with the head trainer as his assistant where I would help set up weights and exercises. Greeting clients as they entered, cleaning equipment, and moving around the gym to be on hand for people who needed assistance were all things I did when I first started.

The thing about the fitness industry is that there’s not a huge barrier to entry. You can do your fitness certificates and go straight into a career.

After I completed my certificates and found my feet at a professional level, I did a course in nutrition through a highly regarded provider. This has helped me with my nutrition programming for clients.

I have also done a course on strength training which involved strength periodisation, technique breakdowns, and how to show a client proper form.

I’ve also done work with a British company that teaches more in-depth principles of personal training.

Your education as a PT is self-directed, especially when you start. That is why it is important to have a desire to constantly work on your craft.

My days are split shifts. I usually start work at 6 a.m., and I’ll have clients until late morning. This is about the time I clock off, do my own training, have some food, and work with my brother (who is also a fitness instructor) on our online programs. I clock back in to work at around 4 p.m. and take clients until about 7:30 p.m. It’s a long day, but extremely rewarding because I spend around 6 to 8 hours on the gym floor with clients or classes.

People forget that trainers are the only professionally qualified people in a gym setting. You want to make sure people are safe, performing things correctly, and not mucking around.

Another thing people don’t always understand is you are working with a client’s life. The direction that a trainer gives in terms of nutrition or programming is so important because they trust your guidance.

You also have an emotional responsibility to clients. You spend a lot of time with these people so they will tell you a lot of things that they trust you with, especially health-related issues.

My absolute favourite part of the job is that you get to have a positive impact on somebody’s life. When somebody starts with you in a certain position or condition, you get to see how much they change physically and mentally.

To know that you played a small role in helping them do that is easily the most fulfilling part of the job.

The people I work with and the culture I work under are also another great aspect of my career.

This industry is self-directed. You have to make sure you have a genuine passion for all the aspects that accompany the fitness industry.

Like any job, you must work hard to build a reputation. You don’t turn up to work one day and have clients waiting for you.

Spending time working on your craft and having a genuine passion for fitness are the two best pieces of advice I can give.

The first thing that comes to mind is people skills. You’re with people all day every day, so people skills are so important.

You must also have a level of selflessness and a real desire to help clients more than yourself.

If you’re willing to show up, and work hard for your clients or community, then you will succeed. Everything else can be learned through your certificates and practical training.

There are so many. The fact that you get to create a lifestyle for yourself in which you stay super healthy is a major benefit. Spending all day at the gym allows me to work on myself as well as my clients.

Once you’ve set yourself up with enough clients and created a good rapport with your superiors, there is also a bit of freedom with your time and how you structure your workdays.

You get to help people every single day and regularly, you are the thing that your clients most look forward to before or after their workday.

The greatest promotion I can give is that you get to change the whole trajectory of someone’s life.

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