Ready for another injection of New Year inspired #motivation?! As a fresh year is traditionally a time for setting new goals with refreshed energy, I’ve decided to do a series with people who turn their hobbies into their careers. It’s pretty much the dream, right?
As a lot of people focus on their physical health, it felt fitting for my amazing friend Aimee to take to the stage, as a Personal Trainer. I’ve never trained with Aimee (due to wild health problems) BUT I can vouch for her amazingly positive, supportive energy. I used to sing in public a lot (that sounds weird, it was just at gigs, I didn’t just spontaneously break into song) and she was ALWAYS the loudest, best audience member. It would always fill me with the most glorious energy and self belief, so I cannot even imagine how wonderful a PT she would be.
Anyway. It’s time for me to STFU and let Aimee do her thang. Also – read to the end for a DELIGHTFUL reader offer, if you’re in the market to get #ripped (is that the official gym-y term? I don’t really know…
So, first things first, what’s this hobby that you have and how/when did it start?
I wanted to say ‘body conditioning’ but that sounds a bit like I’m trying too hard to be an Action Man Commando doesn’t it? We’ll just stick with personal trainer.
I’ve always been keen on exercise and sport. Skateboarding, basketball and martial arts and boxing have been my main staples since I was a pup. The personal training thing came along when I was unemployed. I’d just quit my super terrible job because it was super terrible. I decided I’d use the extra time to try out Shaun-T’s Insanity (I love you Shaun-T!). For those not in the know, it’s a 60-day fitness challenge that you do 6 days a week. I completed it and felt like Rocky, so I kept it up. At a time that I felt I had no real control over much, it was extremely liberating to have control over my body and fitness. One night when I was scrolling through job sites an advert came up for becoming a PT. A little light bulb went off in my head, and it felt as if it was God saying ‘Well, duuuuh’. Unfortunately the training fee was £3,000 which I didn’t have because who has £3,000 just lying around? I didn’t know about government-funded diplomas at the time either. I decided I’d just have to save up, which would’ve taken me a while (forever). I don’t come from a very well off family so I’d probably still be saving now, if it weren’t for a few months later I was given my inheritance from my grandparents who ran quite successful restaurants (I am that Chinese stereotype) which I was able to put towards my training.
I hope I don’t come off as a richy-Eton kid; I was just extremely fortunate enough to have a sensible Nan who took charge of saving.
And when was it – or what was it – that made you decide you wanted to make it a source of income?
As soon as I committed to it the first day I knew this was what I wanted to do. I’m the nerdy dude that reads about muscles and joints just for fun, and then tells you in great detail-because obviously you care as much as me. I’m also a freelance writer and no one ever pays me enough for that so best to have something else I love as well to keep the lights on.
Also, speaking as a gay woman I’ve noted that a lot of people from the LGBT+ community want to train but are intimidated by the machismo, alpha male dominated world of health and fitness. As well as people on low income. I wanted to be someone that everyone felt comfortable with, whether they were LGBT+, straight, a man, a woman, non-binary, dealing with mental health issues, physically disabled or broke as a joke. Fitness is for everyone, not just a select few. So when this squeaky 5’3, obviously gay person that looks about 14 (I’m 28) turns up with cartoon character tattoos, and silly hair, and starts saying ‘THIS IS GOING TO BE SO RAD! NO NEGATIVE SELF TALK! TIME FOR FUN!’ I think it puts people at ease. Well I hope!
I called myself a femo gymbro as a joke because I’m a feminist and a gymrat, but now I kind of like it.
I fucking love it, dude (or should I say femo gymbro…)
How did you go about doing it?
I didn’t sleep much for 2 years, and really upped my caffeine dependency to a whole new level.
Around the time I began the diploma I started a new job in mental health-housing and drugs. I really enjoyed working in there and my boss was pretty understanding, so as long as I’d got my paperwork done she’d let me study, and the practical exams were on the weekends so I was good.
Once I qualified I didn’t go straight into it though as I decided a while ago I wouldn’t work for a gym because most of them take 50% of your wages for floor rental. I opted to stay in my other job a little longer to save some money, but after moving housing projects I began to really hate it, the hours were all over the place and I was miserable. I figured it was now or never, so I quit and began looking for clients through word of mouth, online advertising and so on. Selling my wears to everyone and their mum.
Susie speaking (*mum voice*): this is not an endorsement of not sleeping or caffeine dependency…
What set backs did you face (if any?!) and what did you do to overcome them?
Well not working for a gym sounds very noble in theory, but oh my days freelance is no joke. I mean I knew this from my writing, but to be 100% dependant on something that isn’t promised, and not knowing if you’ll get paid tomorrow is serious business. Plus a lot of chancers think they can ask for freebies because I love what I do. Would you ask your plumber to fix your kitchen sink for free? No you wouldn’t, but when it comes to physical activities or creative industries people take the piss. I’m sure every self-employed person and freelancer will echo my sentiments. I sell you my labour; you give me shiny gold coins. I give shiny gold coins to landlord; she lets me live in her flat.
A few months afterwards I went full-time, I moved back in with my parents in Bristol for 6 or so months. That gave me a massive breather, and I’m very, very grateful. I needed a break and not having to worry about getting kicked out of my place because I keep coming up short on the rent was a very nice feeling indeed. Now I’m back in London the client base is much bigger, and I’ve got a bunch of online clients but I’m still very fresh so I guess we just have to see. I have faith though.
Do you feel you have made a success of it?
Well it’s still early days; ask me in a year ha. Slow and steady won the race, so as long as I stay consistent and keep going I’m confident.
Running my own space would be the dream though. My sister and I have agreed that she’ll fix bikes and I’ll train people. That would be perfect.
Nope. If everything goes wrong at least I’ve given it a good go. There’s always my totally useful and super important music degree to fall back on of course, that’ll see me through I’m sure.
Now, can you give me some words of motivational wisdom please!
Keep going, even if the sky seems to be falling. Also if you’re going freelance full-time or want do a diploma, it’s a smart move to look into grants funded by local councils, and check if you’re still eligible for financial assistance just in case there’s a few months when you’re living on 23p pence Asda rice. The Job centre won’t tell you all that straight away, but take it from someone who spent over working for a housing charity, it REALLY pays to check. Oh yeah and no negative self-talk in my gym!
Thanks Susie, you’re the raddest ❤
No YOU are Aimee! Way radder than me. And as a treat to you, our readers, Aimee is offering 10% off her services, if you contact her using the code AimeeFitnessSusieBlues10
You can drop her a line via her Facebook, Insta or text her on 07535 702851. GO GET IT GUYS. Boom!
Thanks for reading guys! To see more of me, follow me on Twitter @ or on Instagram @susiebluesyy