A Day In The Life Of… A Personal Trainer

Published: September 1, 2010
By: Faye Hollands

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to turn your passion for fitness into a full-time job?  Gretchen Hodgkiss is a Sydney-based Personal Trainer who has turned a thirst for health and well-being into several thriving businesses, helping Australian’s get more active.  Here’s your chance to take a peak into the life of a successful Personal Trainer…

Professional Profile

What is your current occupation?

I own and manage a handful of fitness companies operating in Sydney and online.  There is Fit Space, providing outdoor training to groups, individuals and companies in Sydney.  Run Coach, providing personalized running training plans for events and phone coaching for extra support.  And there is my latest project – 30 days of Feel-good fitness, a national campaign to get more Australians active, demonstrate the positive impact this has on their mood and raise funds for the Black Dog Institute, who support people with depression and their families.

I’ve worked in the fitness industry since 2003 and started Fit Space in 2008.  Run Coach followed in 2009 and 30 days of Feel-good Fitness launches this week.

What were you doing before you started your current job/business?

In my earlier years in the fitness industry I worked my way up from part-time receptionist and gym instructor, to group fitness manager and in 2005 I began working as a gym manager in central London.  I’ve also worked as a freelance personal trainer, contracting to various gyms in London.  All of these experiences helped me to discover the type of fitness services I want to offer and the type of clients I want to help.

When I returned to Australia in 2007, I needed a part-time job to pay the bills while I built up Fit Space.  I decided my best option was to learn something new, so I worked as an office administrator for a business coaching company.  This way, I learnt invaluable tips on how to successfully running a small business and I improved my organization and time-management skills.  In hindsight, it was one of my best business-building decisions.

How did you make the move into your current position?

I had a strong background in fitness and a degree in Physical Education, so the transition to being self-employed was more about building up a client-base than a complete life change.  Not that that made it any easier!!  There were plenty of long days, working on my business plan before training 6am clients, then off to the office for the day, teaching fitness classes in the evening, then back to the business plan and set-up after dinner.  There were about 3 months where I was contracting to other gyms, working part-time and working on the business.  As my business built up, I was able to gradually cut back on other work until I found a better balance.

Recently, the workload has picked up again.  As I’ve discovered, I am forever coming up with new ideas to get Australians more active.  My latest project, 30 days of feel-good fitness, has largely been developed at the beginning and the end of long days with clients.  I came up with the idea in June this year, it was a light bulb moment and I refused to let the idea wait.  So I’ve spent the last few months pulling together the website, marketing the program and creating 90 interesting, motivating yet simple exercise plans.

I’m certain that I will forever be in the transition stage, adding to my fitness businesses and growing our client base.  And I’m fine with that – when you love what you do, working hard isn’t all that hard!

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

  • 5:15am – out of bed, bite to eat, make sure all the training equipment I need is in the car and head off to my first client or group, usually at 6am.
  • 6am-9am – training clients.  Clients can be one-on-one, small groups or 2 friends training together.  What we do depends on who I am training – our clients range from early 20s to late 60s and we have an amazing range of fitness levels.
  • 9am – noon – administration.  This is when I pay the bills, pay the trainers who contract to Fit Space and Run Coach, make phone calls and generally keep the business ticking over.  Depending on the day, I might be able to train myself in this time.
  • Noon – 2pm – more clients.  This is prime time for training corporate clients, either in the Domain or in their boardroom.  We also have some lunchtime running squads.
  • 2pm – 5pm – business building.  This is when I have time to work on bigger projects, like 30 days of feel-good fitness.  I can also use this time for marketing activities, business planning, writing newsletters and meetings with potential corporate clients.  Every now and then, if it’s a quieter day, I might also fit in a 20-minute power nap!
  • 5pm – 7:30pm – More clients and sometimes more opportunities to train myself.  I also make sure I have one evening a week off.
  • 9:30-10pm – off to bed.  Early starts mean early to bed, every night.

Some of the other activities I do include networking meetings and events, writing programs for clients or e-mailing them results, creating business alliances and finding out what else is going on in the fitness industry.

What do you love most about your job?

I love working with people and seeing them get results.  It is so satisfying seeing someone become happier and happier as they get fitter and healthier.  This is ultimately what made me start 30 days of feel-good fitness, because fitness really does make people feel good!

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

The hardest thing about what I do is finding the balance between training clients and working on the business.  Because it is a mobile business, I lose a few hours everyday driving to various parks and finding parking spots.  Life would be much simpler if I could just sit still for entire days and work on the business, then have clients come to me.  But on the other hand, training clients is what I love and why I’m in this industry, so would I really be happy sitting in an office for a day?  And would I really trade in the fresh air, sunshine and beautiful sunrises I see from Sydney’s best parks?

What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would give someone considering following your footsteps?

  • Be prepared to work hard – when it’s your baby, it’s hard to sit back and relax unless things are ticking over perfectly (which they very rarely are).  Be ready to work long days and lots of them!
  • Think about the overheads – being self-employed can be expensive, so what you charge is not a very accurate reflection of what you will earn.
  • Take holidays – being self-employed doesn’t mean you can never leave town again.  And if you do take the leap of faith and put your e-mail on auto-reply for a week while you relax by the beach or take off on an adventure, you’ll come back reinvigorated.  Leaving you more likely to take your business to a whole new level!


Gretchen Hodgkiss is an inspiring Personal Trainer who owns and runs Fit Space, Run Coach, and 30 Days Of Feel-Good Fitness

If you’d like to take part in the first ever 30 days of Feel-good Fitness, go to www.30daysfitness.com.au and sign-up online.  The event starts on 1st September 2010 and provides you with a new and varied 20-minute exercise plan to do each day for the entire month of September.  It costs just $55 and all profits go directly to the Black Dog Institute, supporting people with depression and their families.

You can contact Gretchen on 1300 65 25 66 or email admin@30daysfitness.com.au

Faye Hollands

About Faye Hollands

Faye is an accomplished Career Coach, Small Business Coach and Productivity Specialist who has successfully coached countless clients on how to create a career they love, get more done in less time, and achieve personal and professional success. To receive weekly articles to improve your career, business and time management skills click here or book your Free Focus Session here.

You can contact Faye on +61 2 8323 4335 or email fayehollands@outshineconsulting.com

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2 Responses to A Day In The Life Of… A Personal Trainer

  1. Cool posting on A Day In The Life Of… A Personal Trainer — Outshine Consulting.

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