John Galasan turned his hobby into a second job that pays.
First, tell me about your day job.
I work for Union Bank in Mutual Funds. I like it because it’s stable, and because I love to be in tune with market movement (Dow, S&P, Russell indices, etc.). I also like learning about new investments and/or the latest financial trends.
That pays the bills, right? So, why the second job?
Well, I’m both a numbers person and a fitness-lover. I have been working out for all of my adult life, and I figured I already read all the fitness & muscle magazines, keep up with all the latest workout trends as well as the diet and nutrition articles, so why don’t I take a certification test and train other people to work out safely, effectively and make it fun?
What kind of process did you have to go through to get certified as a personal trainer? How long did it take, how much did it cost, etc?
I took a program called ACE [American Council on Exercise] certification. I think it’s the most commonly accepted, and in 2005 it was about $300 to order the books and materials. It’s basically a self-study program, and you decide the date that you want to take the test. I took mine on campus at UCSD. These days the test is available online, too. It cost about $200 when I took it.
Right now, I train as an independent contractor for a local company called Fit-X San Diego. After the certification, I found Fit-X online. They had an apprentice program that helped trainers market themselves and establish themselves in the field.
Every two years continuing education is required to maintain the certification along with an updated CPR card. I enjoy attending fitness conventions for credit -learning things such as yoga, Pilates, Zumba, spinning, nutrition, and business topics. Where else can you find a bigger bunch of the healthiest, most alert and energetic people than at a fitness convention?
So, how does that work? And how much extra money does this gig make you?
I currently have about ten rotating clients on a weekly basis. It’s split between male and female pretty evenly. Some are fit, and some more out of shape. Most of my clients are at Qualcomm offices, and since most of the Qualcomm buildings have gyms, we usually work out there. I see each of them about once a week in the evenings. On average, I work as a trainer between one and two hours a day. I know in January, I’ll have more new clients because of all the New Year’s resolutions.
My rates vary between $60 and $80 an hour. It depends on how often we meet and how long. We also have specials for paying up front for ten sessions instead of weekly. Fit-X takes 35%, so I end up with an extra $200 or so a week.
It sounds like your work as a personal trainer is more like getting paid for your hobby than it is a second job.
It really is. Working out relaxes me. It gives me time to get in tune with my body, to see how far I can challenge myself, whether it be a longer or faster run or a heavier weight or a higher rep while resistance training. I think exercise is the best stress-buster. And I love all my clients. I truly enjoy training them. Seeing them grow and develop strength and fitness is empowering.
What kind of advice do you have for someone who wants to turn his/her hobby into a second job?
I’d say go for it. Check online for any accredited certification programs or university or college programs. Networking with people already established in the field is important, too. You can talk to them about mistakes they’ve made or regrets they might have. Ask them about the best and worst parts of their job, too. I started by talking to trainers at my gym, and then I called Bally’s and a whole bunch of other gyms to find out what they require.
It’s also helpful if you work with someone else who’s interested in doing it with you. I did this with a friend, and we helped each other so much along the way, from the studying to the networking to the research. We really supported each other.