Health & Fitness Tips from Australia's Personal Training Professionals
Personal Training

Personal Training

Phil McKay

“Online study gives you the theoretical knowledge you need for a practical work setting.”

The fitness industry has come a long way since the Jane Fonda workout videos of the 1980s. In 2014, more than 200, 000 people around the world signed up for the CrossFit Games — a competition to find the fittest person on Earth. Fitness is now a huge industry, with great career opportunities.

For many people, “fitness” means much more than a visit to the gym a few times a week — it’s a way of life. Phil McKay is one of those people.

The founder of Ambitions Fit and Lean Boot Camps, Phil’s professional career has been dedicated to helping people achieve their fitness goals. That includes providing everything from personal training to nutritional advice and motivational support.

He started his career as a personal trainer in 2008 and was soon in charge of a team of trainers and group fitness instructors. In 2011 he branched out into his own personal training clinic. Within a year he had expanded his business to include group fitness and group bootcamps.

That experience means Phil doesn’t just understand fitness, he understands the fitness industry itself.

1 What are the qualifications needed to work as a fitness trainer?

If you want to work in fitness you need a SIS40210 Certificate IV in Fitness. To work in fitness generally, you require an Australian Framework Qualification in fitness, such as a SIS30313 Certificate III in Fitness, SIS40210 Certificate IV in Fitness, or Diploma of Fitness. However, in saying this, most trainers and assessors have health or science-related degrees, which ensures they are as informed as possible in all the fields relevant to a career in fitness.

2 How does studying fitness online prepare you for a job in the industry?

Online study gives you the theoretical knowledge you need for a practical work setting. Seriously, once you have covered all theory components, the application of the practical makes so much more sense.

3 What is the importance of a formal qualification? Do you really need one?

Formal qualifications are essential if you want to gain employment in the fitness industry. More than that, they are an absolute requirement if you want to run your own business because you will need one before you will be able to get insurance — which is an absolute must!

4 What are the key fitness industry events to attend in Australia?

Functional training (a form of training that has its origins in rehabilitation therapies and is designed to train the body for activities performed in daily life) is becoming more and more popular. CrossFit is definitely one of the biggest names in that space at the moment and it holds lots of events and competitions, including the CrossFit Games, so getting on board with those would be a great idea.

5 What would you say is the secret to getting employment in the fitness industry?

You should absolutely be proactive about gaining on-the-ground industry experience. It helps show you what it’s really like to work inside the industry, it shows you have initiative and enthusiasm, and it exposes you to potential future employers. I had a student ask if they could do some work experience at my fitness studio after they finished their qualification: two weeks later, I hired them.

6 What’s the secret to setting up a successful group bootcamp?

Even if it is a group situation, it’s important to give each of your clients a personal experience. Get to know them. Focus on their goals and objectives. Provide them with the personal and direct assistance they need to reach their particular goals.

To discover more great expert tips about strength training, health and fitness, check out the rest of our interview series here.

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Annie Crawford

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