33 years for me – good Lord! I have friends who have been in it longer. However, I never called myself a “Personal Trainer” until the late ’80’s. We were “Fitness Instructors” before that. The first person I remember to use the term “Personal Trainer” was Jake Seinfeld (Body by Jake). Of course the Founding Father is Jack Lalanne (RIP) who I had the pleasure of meeting about 25 years ago in Dallas. So to answer your question, I can’t. My guess is that the average shelf life of a Personal Trainer is pretty short, since I don’t know too many people making a full time living out of it. I’ve met plenty of part-timers over the years who got out of it all together – it was nothing but a hobby. I’d be very interested to hear stats on that. Sorry for rambling!
This is not an easy question to answer. I’m not sure if there are any accurate statistics because there many who might get certified but not all become trainers or instructors. Many work on the side, under the table, part time, etc., so it’s difficult to get a clear picture on this. In my 25 years in this field, I have seen countless trainers who came and gone after only a small amount of time of working in the industry. So, the number of people who are certified doesn’t necessary reflect the actual number of active trainers. Also keep in mind that there are many who are training clients and do not have any certification (unfortunately), so I’m not sure under which category you can place them.
This is a question that deserves more research. Based on my experience, the turnover rate in the industry is high. Most certified independent trainers I know eventually went back to their “day jobs” after unsuccessful attempts at starting their own businesses. There are also the large chain gyms but the turnover tends to be high in those as well due to the high-pressure sales structure. Like any other industry, a lot depends on individual circumstances. If you already have your name out there in your community, your chances of success are greater. If you’re just starting out with no contacts, it’s going to be a lot more difficult.