Damian Gilder is a personal trainer who operates his own private studio and gym in Oldham. He’s been training clients for over a decade now and has built a reputation and name as a trainer who can be relied on to help people meet personal health goals. We interviewed him about his micro business.
Tell us about your micro business in a nutshell
I am a qualified personal trainer and I have a small gym in Oldham where I train all my clients. My job is to help clients to meet a huge variety of personal health goals.
How long have you been doing it?
I’ve been a personal trainer for nearly 20 years and working on my own for over a decade now.
What’s the hardest thing about running your business?
Probably the same as it is for a lot of very small businesses. Scale. I offer one to one personal training so I need to be there for each client I deal with. I do have one or two other trainers who come in and train clients too which gives it a little bit of scale. But finding good personal trainers is really hard and giving up control to let them actually take a client on fully by themselves is something I struggle with.
My clients invest a lot in their health so whether they’re trying to lose weight, tone up, get fitter or just feel healthier, they expect the best.
It’s not just about telling people to do press ups. For every single client, I need to understand their goals, what has stopped them achieving those goals before and what will motivate them to smash it this time.
And to make it more difficult, clients can range in age from teenagers up to those literally in their 70s and even 80s. Some have injuries we have to work around. Some have mental health problems I need to be aware of. For some, sugar is their kryptonite while for others, carbs are the killer!
I need to understand their motivations, their vices and their state of mind.
Most newly qualified PTs can write a fitness plan or they can show someone a range of exercises for a certain body part. But there’s so much more to it than that and that’s why I think it is so hard to find great personal trainers who aren’t already running their own thing.
So scale and finding the right people is my biggest challenge day to day.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love everything except the paperwork! Ha.
But in all seriousness, I get my kicks from watching people succeed. Seeing someone hit that weight loss goal, or manage that 10k, or have someone tell me their Doctor has just told them their blood pressure is finally normal… that’s what inspires and motivates me to continue.
I believe mine is the best job in the world. And by working for myself rather than anyone else, I’ve been able to create an environment that I believe is best for people to succeed in rather than having to work in a big faceless chain gym. Not having a boss is amazing. Having nobody else to answer to and nobody else to blame is exactly why I went out and did it on my own.
What advice would you give to someone about to set up as a self employed personal trainer?
Spend more time on the consultation at the start. I’ve seen lots of PTs who run through the plan quickly and get straight to training. But the key to success is digging into each client’s strengths, weakness and motivations.
That’s what helps you to keep clients for longer. And it’s loyal clients that really pay the bills in the long term rather than lots of new clients regularly.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I still see myself working for myself in fitness. I’d like to be more financially secure, so to have bought my own house by that point and to have bought the premises I currently rent for my business.
I really hope by that point to have more established PTs in the gym, so I’m doing less of the hands on myself (but not too much less – I still love it).
I wouldn’t mind a motorbike and a motorhome as well while we’re writing the wish list.
But most importantly, I see myself still very much happily married and enjoying time with my family. That’s what it’s all for at the end of the day.