Do this before you make your passion your career.

by Tara Fitness

 

“Assumption is the mother of all fuck ups”.

 

Ain’t that the truth!

 

You see, three years ago I decided to leave my comfortable, well paid social work job. Actually, I tell a lie. It was no longer comfortable. It had driven me to that point where you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning because you don’t think you can get through another day in that hell hole. But the easy Monday to Friday, 8 to 4.30 and a fortnightly paycheck made my life comfortable.

 

In the year before I left, I’d been working through my personal training qualifications. Initially, I wanted to learn more about my own training, so it was a bit of fun. But after a round the world trip led to falling in love with Scotland in 2014, I decided I should get a move on with my qualifications, so I could head back to Edinburgh on a working visa.

 

Things didn’t happen quite the way I planned.

 

Just before I quit my job I met the most amazing woman, who thankfully is still by my side 3 years later (mental note: don’t forget our anniversary on Monday). She’s English, so I’ve ended up on the other side of the world just a little later than planned. It’s not Edinburgh but it’s close, and I’d prefer to be in Kent with her, than in Edinburgh alone.

 

I’m getting ahead of myself here.

 

You see, when I quit my job, I applied for another in a similar field. I got the job, then politely declined when they informed me I’d be working longer hours with far more responsibility than in my previous role… oh, and for $500 less per fortnight. No thank you!

 

It’s around this time that the opportunity presented itself to become a personal trainer in a brand-new gym. How could I resist?

 

Six months in and I still wasn’t even making minimum wage. I’d found myself on one of those ‘pay rent to use our facility and work with our members’ contracts. You know, the type that bleed personal trainers dry and probably contribute to the significant number of trainers who leave the profession within the first two years?

 

I lasted three, which is a decent effort in itself considering I’ve been broke for the best part of my time as a personal trainer. Lucky my beautiful, supportive partner values my need to eat.

 

Aside from the bank account, there’s one huge factor that contributed to my decision to quit personal training.

 

My career as a personal trainer killed my passion for training!

 

If you go back and read any of my previous posts, you’ll find times where I’ve given up on training because it was too overwhelming to fit into my day. I’ve talked time and time again about trying to get back on track. No matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn’t stay consistent enough to make exercise a habit. I always ‘had work to do’.

 

In hindsight…

 

I’ve always loved sport and exercise. When I started strength training in 2012, I felt I’d found my calling as an athlete. No, I’ll never be a competitor because I like food too much, but I knew I was good at lifting. My strength and technique progressed quickly.

 

Working in an emotionally challenging role, the gym was my escape. Luckily, it was right next door to work so every afternoon at 4.30pm I’d walk to my car, switch bags, and mosey on into the gym for a 60-90 minute workout.

 

So, a few years later, when presented with the opportunity to work as a personal trainer, I dove in head first without too much thought. I loved the gym and training so naturally, I’d love teaching others to train… right?

 

Wrong!

 

About 12 months in, things started to go downhill. I’d moved away from the gym and started coaching online, while also helping my Nana renovate her house. I was project managing a renovation, trying to build an online business and trying to figure out how the hell to build it, all at the same time. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a place for training.

 

I’m not saying I didn’t have time to train. I didn’t have the emotional energy to ride the rollercoaster. On days where I did train, I felt great. But when I didn’t make it to the gym, I felt like a failure.

 

In the following two years, my commitment to exercise gradually declined. I was so caught up in trying to build my business, I forgot to build a life. Every day I talked about exercise and nutrition, and every day I found myself exhausted by all that talk, so I wasn’t taking action in my own life. Month after month, I’d make a plan to get back to the gym or eat better… and not follow it.

 

My passion, my escape, my release… had become my prison.

 

I closed my business.

 

In June 2018, I closed my personal training business. I’d known for a while I wasn’t effectively looking after myself, and despite trying time and time again, it dawned on me that I wouldn’t be able to while working as a trainer.

 

Since then, I’m back training consistently 3 times per week. It’s not where I want to be, but I’m building up slowly. I’m writing a dinner menu again, and enjoying cooking tasty, healthy food. I’ve deleted the social media apps from my phone and only check emails once per day. I’m prioritising myself and my relationships again.

 

I wish I had…

 

To be honest, even if I’d known what I know now, I probably would still make the decision to become a personal trainer. This last three years have been a journey of self-discovery, and I am a far better person for it.

 

But if you’re considering turning your passion into your career, consider this.

 

I assumed I would love being a personal trainer because I love exercise and cooking. But there’s a disconnect. You see, loving your own training does not mean you’ll love teaching others to train. I didn’t. I’m passionate about staying fit and healthy myself, and closing my fitness business has opened up the headspace to focus on myself again.

 

Now, I’m a writer. I love writing and I get to write every day. I don’t have to teach anyone, check in with clients or troubleshoot anyone else’s issues… I simply sit here and do my work.

 

So, if you’re considering pursuing your passion as your career, critically analyse it first. Don’t just assume you’ll love to teach something because you love doing it yourself.

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