Interview with Personal Training Graduate Keith McNiven
Former student and founder of Right Path Fitness made some time to chat with us about the industry, his PT course and what he gets up to in a day.
When did you first start your fitness adventure?
I grew up in an inner-city area of Leeds with my younger sister and my mum. I’ve got a lot to thank my mum for because she not only kept everything together but really encouraged me to try out different sports. The one that stuck was freestyle wrestling and I competed for England and Great Britain right though my teen years. So yes, that was definitely where my love of fitness started and once I got the bug it’s something that has never left me. It’s a part of my identity now, and I could never imagine not being involved in fitness in some way.
When did you realise you wanted to become a PT and why?
Like a lot of young men, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was at school. I suppose I didn’t think any further than the wrestling at that time. I’d worked as a fitness instructor in a family run gym near Leeds for years when I was competing, so developing and moving down the PT route should have been the natural progression. As it was, I actually moved into the social care profession and worked with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Social care actually has a lot in common with personal training in that you’re helping people with their demons and pushing them to achieve their dreams. When I was 29, I felt the time had come to get qualified as a PT. With my experience both with the wrestling and the social care, being a PT was something I truly believed I’d be good at and would enjoy too.
What did you think about TRAINFITNESS and your time on the course?
I spent quite a bit of time researching different courses and decided that I wanted to do the course full time so that I could really focus. I’d been living in London for a few years by then and saw that TRAINFITNESS offered the intensive PT course full time at Fitness First in Clapham Junction, which was a brilliant location for me. I took leave from my job at the time, got my head down and got qualified in four weeks! Obviously, being 29 I was keen to get started in my new career as soon as possible and I preferred the more hands on, practical nature of the course compared to distance learning. My experience was really positive, everyone was very helpful, supportive and you could see that they knew their industry inside out.
Want to become a personal trainer? Find out more about TRAINFITNESS PT Courses
What do you think makes a great PT?
Clients look to you as the expert, so they need to know you have the knowledge to help them to achieve their aims. You need to be confident and assured which in turn helps clients to trust you. Obviously you need to be a great motivator and be a determined person. But to be a great PT I think you also need to have compassion for others. For some people, working with a PT is a major step. Not everyone that walks through the door has experience with exercise, or they might even have poor experiences with exercise. You really need to have excellent people skills to engage clients in conversation, build rapport and get to know them so that you can better understand how to help. It’s a relationship built on trust and respect.
Tell us about Right Path Fitness, how did it come about and how did you make it happen?
From the start, it was about building a personal training/fitness brand that reflected me as a personal trainer and aligned with my beliefs about fitness. After qualifying with TRAINFITNESS at almost 30 years old, I felt I was finally on my right path and my goal was to help as many people as possible to get onto their own right path to fitness. So, the name for the company just made sense to me and was perfect for the brand I was trying to build. I started out by networking and developing partnerships with East London studios were I could train clients, and I invested a lot in developing a brand that could grow with me. Since then, I’ve taken many personal trainers on board and things are growing nicely!
What does the future look like for you and the team?
We’ll be opening our first Right Path Fitness studio next year which we’re very excited about. It means we’ll have a dedicated space to train clients, and can offer a greater range of services and more of them. Our goal is to keep growing and making a positive impact on the people we work with.
What’s a typical day in the life?
I like to wake up to a good breakfast, brown toast with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon is a favourite. I live in East London so I might head to London Fields for a run, which really clears my head for the day. First thing, I will check in on emails and catch up with the team before meeting PT clients myself. When I started Right Path Fitness, I had to learn a lot about pretty much every aspect of running a business like marketing, HR and accounting. I mean, the last 5 years has been one huge learning curve! So, a typical day involves working on my Mac and phone dealing with the day to day business stuff, alongside PT sessions. I try and keep weekends free, where possible.
We have lots of people training for their PT qualification, what’s your top tip/s for when they qualify and begin their careers?
If you’re setting up on your own, you have to be both determined and patient. Determined to make it work, but patient enough to realise that it won’t happen overnight. I’d recommend spending time to establish your product- what it is that you are offering. Do your research and see what’s out there so that you can offer something different. Also, don’t think that just because you’re qualified, that you don’t need to learn anymore. Things are constantly changing and you need to be refreshing your skills and learning new ones too.
Do you think the health and fitness industry has changed since you started out, do you see more changes coming, how can fresh PTs adapt/be prepared?
Yes, it has changed even in the last 5 years. People are becoming both more aware of the need to take care of their health and more strapped for time all at once. So for the PT, it’s about trying to meet the needs of clients by being as flexible as you can with services that are built around the client. This might mean offering early morning or late night sessions. Online coaching has also really increased in popularity, and I think it will continue to do so. The fitness industry is constantly evolving, and you need to believe in what you are bringing to the industry, and be ready to adapt with it.
You’re a busy man, what does your training look like currently?
It can be difficult sometimes to get my training in but that only makes me have more empathy for my clients who are also struggling to do the same! That said, as a PT I feel it’s important to practise what you preach and be the best version of yourself that you can be. At the moment, I train 4 times per week with weights and do some cardio too.
Salmon or Beef?
I love seafood so it has to be salmon!
Never leaves the house with?
My iPhone, I couldn’t run my business without it.