This question, and the 2 answers you have received so far, represent the best that this forum has to offer.
The question is one that many in this industry care about, and many have had to think about. And the 2 answers provide 2 divergent, but equally thoughtful responses. I think this illustrates that there are many paths that can work, and that there is great value in speaking ones truth, and listening (really listening, not just waiting to speak again) to other viewpoints.
I agree with Harris that to be a professional one has to care passionately about one’s field. One also must care enough to learn enough to be a professional. A lot of questions come into this forum of the “what is the quickest, cheapest road” variety. When I hear someone who wants an online yoga ‘certification’ for example this does not make me think of them as a professional who is truly committed to the discipline. It is the same with the seeping of nutritional services out of the hands of those who have studied the science of nutrition for years. However, I do think it is possible to walk in two fields, and to use the knowledge and strengths of one to support the other.
And for a lot of women the ‘mom’ track is a really big fork in the road. In ANY field there are huge choices one has to face, that practically face the woman much more than the man in this case, at least usually. I have a friend who is a radiologist who chose almost 20 years ago to be part time so that she could be more hands on with her kids. Her colleagues warned her it was the professional kiss of death. In fact she has done fabulously with her career, and has raised a couple of great kids. I’d say I know women who have taken almost every possible path: the partner was child caregiver, working part time, using a nanny, using family….
About 15 years ago I made a choice, when we had to move from the place I had a professional identity to a place I had no ties. I made the choice to stop working. I felt, kind of as Harris says, that I needed to be fair to people who might hire me. I had no one to cover me if a kid was sick last minute. Later I went back part time.
Here is another thing to consider, which affects you as someone who is blending two careers, as well as someone who is blending a career with parenthood: your ability to accept opportunities are challenged if you are pulled in two directions.
If I had not gone out of the work force I would be in a much different place in my profession. I am at this point teaching better than I have in my life, but I am limited to how much time I can expend marketing myself, and what venues I can accept.
What choices will you make when there is a choice between an opportunity in job 1 and another in job 2? One job will tend to take pride of place, and your momentum in the other will not be as great.
Karen has clearly found a way to blend the two, and find her niche. She is able to bring her strengths into the marketplace in a way that serves her clients, and allows her to take both paths. But it takes thought and planning and some compromises to make this work long term. I am sure you will be able to continue to find clients and students whether you are full time or part time, but you must choose with open eyes if you are to make it work, and be happy, and not regret ‘the path not taken’.
Well, my #1 job is being Mom, so you could say that fitness is my secondary career. I work 14-20 hours per week in fitness.
Harris’ points are well taken. A good trainer or a good fitness instructor will make the job look easy, but it’s not easy. Obtaining and maintaining certification, keeping up with what’s happening in the industry, and preparing your classes / workouts takes time over and above the time you spent teaching in the gym.
That said, fitness can be a wonderful secondary career, particularly group exercise where people depend less on a single instructor so you can take a vacation and get subs without feeling like you’re leaving clients in a lurch. Before I left corporate America to be Mom, I worked full time and taught 2-8 classes per week.
Personal training can be done part time, but it is harder. You have to have enough availability that you can match up with your clients’ availability. You might want to set up your work schedule so you have a training niche. You could be the “early morning” trainer and as long as you can be available in the early mornings, and be prepared for your clients’ workouts, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re training during other hours. You might find that five clients, twice a week, is perfect for your case load, gives them enough attention, and you still have energy for your work and your life.
I do this for a living, not part time. Over the many years I have been around, I have seen many part-timers who didn’t last. If you are going to get into this industry, you need the passion to do it for a living. This is a very competitive industry and unless you give everything you have in order to succeed, you will not be successful. It takes time and money to keep up with the certifications and other continuing education requirements. Also, practicing what you preach is another thing that cannot be done “part-time”.
Also, it’s not fair for the clients. They need and deserve a trainer who’s more committed to fitness than they are. Sometimes you’ll have to care more about their fitness than they do to carry them through a rough patch. These people depend on us to give the service and help they are seeking. I knew trainers who were part-timers and in many instances, they arrived late for training sessions or cancelled on clients because they had other obligations that interfered with their training schedule. In my opinion, part-timers don’t have the right amount of motivation and discipline to succeed in this business. Please keep in mind that this is only my observation from the years I have spent in the business. I wish you the best and I hope this works for you.