Karen qualified as a Personal Trainer with Focus and worked 1:1 with clients in her own home - even after a back injury meant that she needed to use a wheelchair.
Having lost a lot of weight a number of years ago, 58-year-old Karen decided that she wanted to help other people do the same by training as a Personal Trainer. She went on to study a number of other courses after this.
At first, Karen was a little put off by the thought of studying again but then she found out about the Advanced Learner Loan which gave her peace of mind. This is a government-funded loan that doesn’t need to be paid back until you’re earning over 25,000.
To work towards the Personal Trainer qualification, she first had to do the Level 2 Gym Instructor course. She enjoyed learning about the body and how it worked even if it didn’t always come naturally to her: ‘I've got dyslexia so I can't keep things in my head.’ She says, ‘Learning about muscles or how the heart works was very difficult at first. I did find myself getting stressed out. I felt other people knew things already and I was quite new to it.’
Karen says the support she got from her tutors really helped her and four weeks later she passed. When she started studying her full time Personal Trainer course it was no different with staff going the extra mile to support her: ‘I used to panic a bit because there were things I didn't understand’, she explains how her tutor would take time to explain anything she didn’t understand during or after the session. ‘All the teachers, they're amazing - everyone was very professional and really, really good at teaching.’
Once Karen had qualified, she decided to run her business from home in her conservatory. Her customers liked how personal this was, many of them said they preferred it to the gym. Then, as her business grew, she found herself moving into the living room and getting more equipment.
Then, one day while at a spa, Karen had a terrible accident. She slipped on excess water, falling on her back. At the hospital, she was told that she had broken her back and had to have an operation to cement her spine. The doctors were confident that she would recover but what her MRI scan did not reveal was that she had damaged her spinal cord.
Karen had just finished studying our Lower Back Pain Specialist course and was getting ready to take her exam. Because of this, she understood a lot of things the doctors were talking about. ‘I was in a really bad way’ she says ‘and had a big brace on for about a year. I took my exams in the brace and I passed. I can walk a little bit but I'm still in a wheelchair.’
Karen thought her Personal Training career was over but many of her customers persuaded her to keep doing it because they loved her style of training. ‘I would instruct sitting on a chair in my lounge. People said I motivated them because once I'm in my training head my smile goes - they call me the Rottweiler!’ Karen continued training people right up until the first lockdown: ‘I had so many good clients and spent a lot of time getting people's backs right.’ she says.
Karen might have stopped training people for now but she has very good memories of her career as a Personal Trainer and the support she received from Focus. ‘My tips for getting a job is to focus, keep on social media and get as many qualifications as you can. This helped me so much to be successful.’