Coming up on 42 years of coaching and fitness instruction. Started before college and kept working throughout (8 years of working and college. And I loved every minute of it.). Realized that coaching and fitness were better suited to my mindset and chose these over other opportunities. I can’t imagine not teaching, coaching, and training. I look at research and statistics, but these things are only part of what makes up the process of decisions I make. If I listened to the negative nellies that told me fitness was never going to be a viable career, I would probably be overweight, unhappy, and wondering where I went wrong. Thank heavens I am stubborm to a fault. Do what you love and love what you do.
I have noticed two different categories: there are those who try to start in this business rather young, and other,like myself, who already had a career in a different field and moved into personal training as a second career.
It appears to me that somebody like me had a better change of succeeding because I had business experience and I also moved into the field with the ability to afford getting started and having a few years of little income. A lot of younger trainers cannot afford this. Once family obligations exist, maybe children, a job with a regular income and benefits are the most important aspect, and I have seen many move on to different careers even if their heart was in personal training.
I know that is not the answer you hoped for but it may be another angle on the question.
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.
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.