Fitness journalist and Personal Trainer Sam Rider reflects on his Future Fit Training (FFT) experience
Tell us about yourself and your career path?
One of my first jobs in journalism was with Men’s Fitness magazine, joining as staff writer and climbing the ranks to fitness editor. It was a natural fit. I’ve always had a keen interest in sports and fitness and through MF I had the opportunity to interview and learn from the leading experts in their field, from Olympic sprinters and heavyweight champion boxers to Premier League managers and Super Bowl-winning NFL coaches.
Why did you decide to look at fitness courses?
Working for MF fuelled my ambition to change people’s perceptions around exercise; to help people see it as a joy not a chore. I know first hand that fitness is so much more than superfoods and sit-ups – it’s a passion that motivates, empowers and enriches. In 2015 I went freelance, providing me with the opportunity to pursue this ambition and study for the REPS level 3 personal training qualification.
At first I hoped this would give me added credibility to write on the topic and a second income to support my freelancing, but as more friends and colleagues asked me for advice around exercise I realised many people lack confidence and knowledge on how to look after their health and fitness. There’s a lot of confusing misinformation online and in magazines that can hold people back. As a PT I would be able to cut through all that and help people get real, sustainable results that will improve their quality of life now and long into the future.
Why Future Fit Training?
Becoming a personal trainer isn’t cheap. It’s an investment, which can pay for itself if you come out the other side with the requisite skills to earn a living as a PT. For that reason it’s not worth cutting corners. When searching for training providers FFT looked like the obvious choice. They had excellent reviews, have been providing expert tuition for 24 years, have a 97% student satisfaction rate and were named UK Active "Training Provider of the Year" in 2016 and 2017. Their part time online course also meant I could study at home around freelance projects and work at my own pace.
How did you find the course?
Tricky at first. But ultimately great fun. Staying on track with your online study takes plenty of discipline and organisation, especially with journalism deadlines looming. But the online portal was very easy to use while FFT tutors stay in touch to keep you on track and are always available for any questions. The weekend workshops for the level 2 and level 3 course (four weekends across six months) also anchored the training, giving me something tangible to aim for. These weekends are when the quality of training really shone. They were great fun and excellently taught – thanks Paul, Jacqueline and James! – giving me the opportunity to get hands on experience and boost my confidence to coach in a live gym environment.
What have you learned since passing the course?
That no matter how well prepared you are, there’s nothing better than getting real world experience. You can’t take baby steps into the industry. When someone’s health and fitness is at stake, it’s only deep end. At times your role is that of emotional support and pain relief above getting someone lean and strong. You’re constantly problem solving. You’re constantly learning – both about your clients and your skills as a trainer.
You should also know it’s not a given that you’ll have consistent work after passing the course. You should offer to train your friends and family to build experience and encourage them to refer you to their friends to build up your network. You should continue to upskill. Read, research, learn off other trainers, take extra courses. I did an extra FFT workshop for functional training and am looking to add pre/post natal – something every partner/father could do with learning.
Ultimately, I’ve discovered that personal training is an incredibly steep learning curve but it’s also very rewarding. Helping someone achieve things they didn’t previously think possible, helping them become more confident in their body, helping them enjoy rather than just endure exercise is incredibly fulfilling.
Sam Rider is a freelance fitness journalist and personal trainer, regularly contributing to Men’s Health, Gentleman’s Journal, Welltodo, the Huffington Post and The Telegraph. He believes fitness is so much more than superfoods and sit-ups – it's a passion that motivates, empowers and enriches. Follow Sam on Instagram @your_dailyfix and learn more at samrider.co.uk.