New research claims the National Health Service could save around £8 billion over the next ten years, if one third of people aged over 55 took regular exercise. 

With this in mind, older adults are now being encouraged to retrain as sports coaches and personal trainers. 

The not-for-profit fitness group ukactive hopes their initiative could inspire others to take up gym memberships and enjoy an active lifestyle that protects mobility and keeps people healthier. Their call to action comes at the busiest time of the year for trainers and fitness instructors, as many across the UK make New Year’s resolutions to get fit.  

It takes an army of professionals to give these new starts a sporting chance – in 2018 there were 62,000 working as fitness instructors in Britain, with 190,000 more people employed as gym managers, admins, sports therapists and equipment maintenance engineers. And the latest studies show seven in ten job applicants choose to enter this sector because they enjoy fitness training themselves. 

This is certainly true of Lorna Carson. The 40 year old enjoyed fitness classes so much that she left her job in the insolvency industry to become a personal trainer and is now the owner of Lorna Carson Fitness.  

Her own stamina and determination knows no bounds, especially when it comes to travelling on two wheels – she’s completed the West Highland Way,Scotland in just two days, pedalled from London to Barcelona, and even cycled up Mount Ventoux in France three times in one day to become a member of the famous Club des Cinglés du Mont-Ventoux. 

“I got into personal training after going to a trainer myself and losing seven stone,” says Lorna. “I came to the realisation that, if I could make such hugely positive changes to my own life, I’d love to help others do the same regardless of what their goals might be. My passion is showing people how to move correctly and train safely and efficiently – to really enjoy fitness and, of course, reap the rewards of their efforts.” 

For Lorna a typical working day means getting up around 4:30am, eating breakfast and working with her first client no later than 6am. 

“I usually train three clients at most then take half an hour or so to eat then get straight back into it. I eat again around noon – refuelling your body is an absolute must – then take a couple of hours between to train myself before eating and getting back to work for the last few clients from about 4:30 until 8pm.”  

For Lorna no two workdays are ever the same. She points out that, although lots of the movements and exercise she might teach will be similar, the people she is training certainly won’t be. In fact, the motivations they each have will be incredibly varied, from undertaking rehab, prehab and transformational physical challenges to pursuing sports-specific programmes and even life-saving health changes.  

“Each client will have unique needs,” says Lorna, “and it’s your mission to come up with bespoke approaches to meet these.” 

It’s a rigorous regime, often six days a week, and after preparing food for the next day it’s time to sleep. With such a strict schedule, what’s Lorna’s secret for staying dedicated to the mission and focussed for every one of her clients? 

“You need to be a positive person, have plenty of energy, be a good listener and really hear and take in what your clients’ aspirations are,” she says. “You then have to be able to continually encourage them to keep working hard to achieve these. You must be a motivator, although a little humour goes a long way too – training sessions definitely need to be lots of fun as well as hard work! My clients find that because I’ve been on my own health and fitness journey I have a better understanding of potential issues – the emotions they’re going through and the challenges they may face.” 

For Lorna becoming a personal trainer meant being given the chance to make positive changes in people’s lives. 

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” she admits, “and loving what I do in the gym makes me passionate about my life’s calling and my clients. Getting paid to do what you love and making a career out of it is surely the ultimate dream? You’re in an environment every day that you enjoy, surrounded by like-minded people. It’s true the best jobs really are those that don’t feel like work at all.” 

There are many paths leading into the fitness sector, from dedicated apprenticeships to college diploma courses. It’s even possible to start out by simply helping at a gym’s reception or in its admin office or department before transferring your passion to the gym itself and working your way up the ladder. 

As well as the chance of a free membership, and often spa discounts, for those with the staying power – both in the gym and in the office – there are opportunities ultimately to become a fitness club or gym manager.  

“This is the kind of job where you get the chance to change lives by helping people become healthier and happier,” says Lorna, “and that can be transformational not only for clients but for you each and every day.” 

If you’d like to find out more about career opportunities in personal training and the health and fitness sector all across the UK, take a look at the latest vacancies online.