Tag Archive for: Fitness

Actress, adventurer, athlete and goodwill ambassador Hlubi Mboya-Arnold does it all. Driven by a desire for self-mastery and constant improvement, Hlubi actively seeks opportunities to challenge herself and step out of her comfort zone.

Whether that’s stepping onto the competitive Bikini stage, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or riding the world’s toughest mountain bike stage race, the Absa Cape Epic, Hlubi revels in the thrill of venturing into the unknown – constantly taking on new adventures and challenges is what gets her through her training every day.

But it’s more than just her drive and commitment that makes Hlubi a fitness role model of the highest calibre. She achieves all this despite her hectic schedule, where she juggles her career in the deadline-driven media industry, while still finding time to pursue her passion for social entrepreneurship and community upliftment.

It’s a demanding lifestyle that Hlubi masters with rigorous physical and mental preparation. And when there’s an opportunity to combine the two, Hlubi doesn’t hesitate to exploit it. That’s why she has aligned her personal brand with South Africa’s premier provider of fitness education – the HFPA Fitness Academy

Developing Body and Mind

“I got involved with HFPA because I wanted to be something more than just a sports and fitness lover. I’ve always been serious about the things I love most in life, which is why I wanted to take my passion for health and fitness to a new level. I wanted to dig deeper and discover more, and education creates opportunities to do that.”

Beyond simply satisfying her curiosity and quenching her desire for personal growth, Hlubi also felt it was important to formalise her education as a brand ambassador and fitfluencer.

“I work hard to be a credible role model, particularly to young black girls. I want to show them that they can break the mould and do things differently. And by broadening my competencies through on-going education, I can empower others with the information I share. There is so much poor, unqualified advice out there on social media, which is why I want to make sure I can cut through the clutter and add value in others’ lives.”


Aligning values

Hlubi says her decision to align with HFPA was an easy one based on the brand’s reputation and the recommendations she received from her friends and colleagues in the health and fitness industry.

“HFPA offers diversity in their subject matter and courses, and are also inclusive, catering to every sector of the industry and society. These are values that resonate with me.”

And the HFPA team also recognised the similarities, which prompted the them to sign up Hlubi as a brand ambassador.


“HFPA lets me be authentic about my passion for sport and fitness, which is important because going by the book bores me. I’m all about energy, which aligns with HFPA’s culture. The brand also embodies the values of balance and constant progress, which is what I strive for every day.”

Lean, mean learning machine

This association has given Hlubi unfettered access to HFPA’s rich resources, which she plans to utilise to its full potential.

“I love HFPA’s learning environment – it’s open and dynamic. It’s also innovative, offering full-time and distance learning options with workshop study modes available, which makes it accessible nationwide. The lecturers always advance their knowledge to stay with the times, while the course work keeps step with new industry trends and developments. And their qualifications are also internationally recognised!”

This dynamic caters to everyone, from the mom and entrepreneur to the passionate fitness fanatic and someone who is looking to build a career in the industry. It’s also a great platform to grow your network, believes Hlubi.

“I’ve aways said your network is your net worth. Studying at HFPA has helped me build relationships and gain access to an international network of potential opportunities. It’s the type of platform that tears down the barriers many South Africans face when trying to gain access to people and places.”


Get paid for following your passion

Since obtaining her qualifications – with more to come – Hlubi believes she can now walk the talk.

“I now know what it means to love something and be a professional and expert in it at the same time. I believe my qualifications as a personal fitness trainer, and a kids development, sports conditioning and a life coach enable me to apply core skills to various areas of my life. I now view these certifications as assets I can use to make myself a better human being and benefit society.”

In the context of her life, Hlubi plans to expand her knowledge base for her own benefit by obtaining additional qualifications, like a pre and post natal exercise course.

“I believe this provides invaluable knowledge to women who should always feel empowered, not afraid of a natural process like child birth and motherhood due to a lack of understanding or knowledge – gaining knowledge is the most powerful form of empowerment.”

And adding to her list of qualifications also creates new opportunities for Hlubi to pursue divergent career paths.

“I firmly believe that to truly be successful, your career should reflect your greatest passions in life, and that if you’re passionate about something you should pursue every opportunity to get paid for it. When it comes to the health and fitness industry, institutions like HFPA offer the best starting point to realise that ambition.”

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

For many fitness professionals, their career choice is driven mainly by their passion for the industry, rather than the earning potential it offers.

But for those who excel at their job, it is possible to create a lucrative business, says Robert Walker, an HFPA graduate and founder of Walker Strength, an online and personal training business based in Sandton.

Hitting a ceiling

Robert explains that many trainers tend to hit a ceiling with regard to their earning potential at about R20,000-25,000 per month. “The average rate for a one-on-one personal training session varies between R350-500. This depends on various factors, such as the trainer’s experience and qualifications, where they’re based and the type of training they offer.”

According to Robert, most trainers hit this ceiling in earning potential based on how many active paying clients they can secure, rather than any limit in terms of billable hours each day.

“While you need to be good at what you do, in these instances it is often less about your abilities as a personal trainer and more about your business acumen,” he adds. “For those who understand how to market and sell their offering, and constantly deliver exceptional service and results, the potential is there to exceed R100,000+ a month in revenue.”

Consider overhead costs

Of course, there are various overheads associated with running a personal training business, the most significant of which is normally gym rental.
“Depending on where you’re based and the type of gym you work in, monthly rentals can vary from R6,000-R8000 a month, up to R17,000 or more at flagship locations within the big chains.”

If trainers hope to establish a sustainable career with consistent revenue streams to support their lifestyles and meet their monthly financial needs, they must first establish a solid client base. In terms of one-on-one
training, this requires a large pool of potential clients to market to. A small gym with many trainers will obviously make competition for business more intense.

“So select your location wisely. Trainers also need to have a clearly defined offering that clients can understand, and support this with suitable marketing initiatives that effectively sell you and your services. And don’t forget to make it easy for potential new clients to contact you, either via a phone number, email, on social media, instant messaging or via a website,” adds Robert

Deliver results

Once a trainer finds new business and attracts clients, it’s imperative that what they offer and how they offer it, works.

“Fitness professionals need to be good at what they do and understand human physiology and exercise science beyond the fundamentals taught during certification and diploma courses. You need to educate yourself however you can to make sure you can deliver. This is also vitally important because clients need to trust you if you want to build long-term relationships and retainer-based business.”

Robert adds that a trainer’s offering also extends beyond their ability to effectively programme exercise routines. “You also need to be personable and engaging during sessions. The time a client spends with you needs to be enjoyable, otherwise they’ll be less likely to come back, or even to recommend you to others.”

And with referrals a major source of new business for trainers, failing to meet these requirements will curtail your earning potential. Those that get the formula right can quickly build a core base of long-term clients who they see on a monthly basis, and supplement available hours with ad-hoc sessions.

Other opportunities

“Trainers that are taking 10 one-on-one sessions a day are doing good business. This type of client base also offers opportunities to leverage the network and up-sell clients to any other services a trainer may offer,” continues Robert, but he cautions fitness professionals against diversifying their offering too much.

While broadening your service offering with additional qualifications such as massage therapy, for example, can help to supplement income during periods when personal training clients aren’t as active, Robert believes too
many fit pros get carried away with these extra services.

“Too many side hustles can dilute your offering and many trainers soon become a jack of all trades but a master of none. While continued education is important, I believe the greatest success comes from the mastery of one or two core services. When you become an expert in a field, people will naturally prefer to hire you over someone who less experienced or capable.”

He adds that there is also the opportunity costs to consider. “How can you expect to grow your personal training business if your time is taken up providing other services? This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for ways to
diversify, though. But when you do it’s best to stick to your core offering.”

Looking online for growth

In this regard, online training has become a popular avenue for trainers to boost their earning power. It is also something that Robert has added to his offering. “Many trainers today take a blended approach, mixing online coaching with personal training. There are so many good white label app-based systems out there that trainers can rebrand, which offer opportunities to scale a business.”

Through online training a fit pro is not constrained by the number of hours in a day. “When you sell programmes online you’re no longer billing per hour, but rather selling your intellectual property. This can grow your earning potential by 10x rather than just 10%.”

Roberts adds that an end-to-end digital solution also aids online lead generation, expands your potential client base, and can assist with admin, which frees up more time for a trainer to work on income-generating activities. Trainers can also fill gaps between clients with online training work
to boost their daily earning potential.

“Ultimately, though, the same principles apply. The industry is already full of online trainers and coaches. You need to distinguish your offering, be it PT sessions or online consultations or programmes by delivering results and exceptional service. Be honest with your clients, be confident in the offering, set realistic goals, manage expectations and always overdeliver on what you promise. When you get these fundamentals right then your health and fitness-focused business will flourish,” he concludes.

The health and fitness sector is one of the most dynamic industries out there – it’s one of the many reasons why we’re so passionate about it!

New information is constantly coming to light regarding how the body works and how we can apply what we already know in new and innovative ways to improve fitness, boost performance, aid our health or reshape our physiques.

It’s therefore essential that as fitness professionals we stay up to date with the latest trends and industry best practices if we hope to deliver the best results for clients.

And one of best ways to do this, which is increasingly becoming a regulatory
requirement in countries around the world, is through the attainment of Continued Education Credits (CEC).

Regulated requirement

Certain health and fitness professionals who require a license to practice, such as physiotherapists and biokineticists are already required to attain a certain number of CECs each year to remain registered members of the relevant governing body or industry regulator.

Despite a number of plans to implement a similar system for personal fitness trainers (PFTs) in South Africa, there is currently no governing association or regulatory body that enforces CEC requirements within this sector of the industry.

Fitness professionals who want to adhere to industry best practices can register with the Register of Exercise Professionals South Africa (REPSSA), which is a non-profit public register for the local industry that seeks to maintain industry standards.

REPSSA is a member of the International Register of Exercise Professionals (ICREPS), which gives REPSSA members international portability for various fitness qualifications earned in SA.

Any fitness professional who is registered with REPSSA need to earn a minimum of 12 Continuous Professional Development, or CPD points each year to maintain their membership, which are a form of CECs. While CECs are not a regulated requirement, PFTs and other fit pros shouldn’t rely on foundational certificates, diplomas or degrees to sustain them throughout their careers, if they hope to stay relevant and effective that is.

First for foremost, CEC courses offer valuable opportunities for fit pros to stay up to date on various industry topics, from new developments in functional training and sports science and conditioning, to group exercise innovations, the latest research on diets and proactive health and preventative interventions.

Various options

CECs generally take the form of short courses, which can be completed over the weekends, after hours or via online learning platforms. Depending on the course content and duration, a certain number of credits will be allocated to following the successful completion of the course.

Fit pros can also attend health and fitness a variety of related conferences,
seminars or industry events, which often also count towards attaining credits when organised by a registered provider.

Business benefits

While there are generally costs associated with obtaining CECs, and the opportunity cost of time spent out of the gym or away from clients should also be factored in, continued education can benefit a your business and boost your earning potential. Additional certifications, even short courses, can help to broaden your service offering, which makes it possible to tap into your existing client base to generate new revenue streams, or fill gaps in your day between personal training sessions.

Popular options include group exercise trainer courses, sports massage courses or indoor cycling options. Continued education is also a practical means to specialise in a specific field, such as sports conditioningpre- and antenatal exercise, or training special populations. By accumulating qualifications in a specific field, you can become an expert and can crave out a niche in the industry, often with the ability to charge a premium for your services.

A more comprehensive CV filled with CECs can also boost your employability with the major gym chains, many of which have adopted a ‘best practice’ approach which mandates that their PFTs and fitness instructors attend CEC courses annually, often as part of their contractual obligations with the gym.

While a relevant certificate, diploma or degree is a mandatory requirement for a career in the fitness industry, a resume filled with qualifications is no guarantee of success.

There are a number of factors beyond a fitness professional’s acumen and understanding of exercise science that will determine their success in this services-based industry, with their so-called ‘soft’ or social skills playing a very important role.

A people’s person

While a personal trainer or fitness instructor doesn’t need to be the most outgoing individual, it is important to understand that fit pros work directly with people every day.

You therefore need to be comfortable engaging with people on a daily basis. Your ability to interact with clients and potential clients will ultimately determine your long-term success, often more so than the type of services you offer or your understanding of exercise and nutrition.

You also need to be agile in your approach. Not every client responds well to a drill Sergeant, while others thrive in that environment. If you’re able to switch between a softer approach and a more regimented style, you’ll have broader market appeal.

Even if your business is run exclusively online, there are still specific social skills that are needed to engage and interact with clients in a professional manner. That’s because online training is about more than just firing off a gym programme once every month. You still need to stay in contact with clients, be it via messaging apps, email or regular calls to assess their progress and make suitable recommendations.

Scheduling regular one-on-one sessions with online clients (where possible) is also a great way to boost their training and maintain a strong interpersonal relationship.

Be a motivator

Every successful fitness professional must have the ability to motivate and inspire their clients. This requires a true passion for their craft, a drive to constantly improve, learn and grow, and a deep-seated desire to help people transform their lives and achieve their goals.

This also entails dealing with clients who may be struggling, which often requires patience and perseverance. You’ll need to encourage clients on their bad days, with the EQ to know when to push and when to back off to get the most from their time with you.

Competent communicator

The ability to effectively communicate is another critical skill that fitness professionals need to master if they hope to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with their clients. This not only requires the ability to effectively convey instructions and share your knowledge with clients, but also entails being a good listener.

Pay attention to how they describe their experience of your sessions with them and when they express their views on how they feel the programme is going. If you fail to listen to and understand your clients then you’ll fail to meet their expectations and deliver on their desired objectives.

And in a country that boasts such a diversity of cultures and personalities, it is also essential that fitness professionals are adaptable in their communication styles, tailoring their approach to the different individuals they work with.

The same principle applies to digital communication and social media engagement, which requires a multi-channel, often always-on (within reason) approach to client communication.

Polish your bench-side manner

No matter how many clients you see during the day, each one deserves your full attention and the same level of positive energy. This can be difficult in an industry where long hours are common, but it’s imperative that you’re mindful of your attitude and demeanour at every session.

Your undivided attention during every minute of a paid-for session is another non-negotiable in terms of your bench-side manner. Not only is playing on your phone or chatting to other gym-goers during a client session disrespectful, it also erodes the value the client is paying for. Make your client your priority for the entire session by giving them your full attention. And never, ever be late for a session.

Similar principles apply to online trainers. While it can be tempting to scale up and take on hundreds of clients to boost your earning potential, you must be mindful of keeping client numbers at manageable levels. Every client pays for and deserves the same level of service, which cannot be met when trainers are overburdened.

Offer individualised services

While a generic exercise program will work for most people, at least initially, to continue making progress a trainer will need to individualise their approach. Those fitness professionals who choose to follow a cookie-cutter approach, because it’s more convenient and saves time, are doing their clients a disservice.

The fitness industry has also become a creative industry – fit pros must be creative with their programming and activities to avoid boredom and keep it interesting, both for them and their clients. This is more easily achieved when the fitness professional has a broad base of expertise from which to draw.

It’s also important to put in the extra effort to delve into the unique needs, requirements and circumstances of every client to structure specific plans for them. In doing so their rate of success will skyrocket, as will your business!

Those of us who are young and unrestrained by the responsibilities of ‘adulting’ often experience a strong urge to travel and experience the world.

The only hurdle tends to be the financial means to realise your ambition and support you as you feed your wanderlust, be it for the summer, a few months or even a year.

Well, the right internationally-accredited fitness qualification, like a fitness instructor or Personal Fitness Trainer certificate or diploma from a reputable academy, can often be your ticket to travel the world!

Global gallivanter

Health and fitness is a booming industry globally. With the right credentials and some related industry experience, it’s possible to apply for jobs in other countries where a demand exists for fitness professionals.

The US market, for example, is booming. Figures released by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) show that over the last decade the US health and fitness industry has grown annually by 3-4%.

A simple Google search will reveal thousands of other available jobs in far-off lands like Qatar, Europe and Australia. Even high-end hotels require health and fitness professionals to staff their gyms and cater to the needs of their clientele.

This not only offers an opportunity to see other parts of the world and gain valuable life and work experience, but you’ll also earn US dollars or other foreign currencies. Your living expenses may also be minimal if the hotel provides board and lodging.

Registering with a recruitment agency that specialises in international placements for fitness professionals is a sensible first step for a qualified job seeker looking to expand their horizons. There are also numerous job sites, such as GlassdoorIndeed and LinkedIn where you can view available job listings and apply directly to employers that are hiring.

Ship shape

Another extremely popular option among qualified health and fitness professionals is to cruise the world on a ship. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle has become an integral facet of luxury cruise ship holidays, so leading companies like MSC Cruises, which operates a number of the most modern cruise liners in the world, offer numerous work opportunities for specialist instructors.

Cruise ships have state-of-the-art gyms, massage rooms and other specialist
indoor and outdoor physical activity amenities that need to be managed by qualified fitness professionals. Duties can range from group exercise instruction for aerobics, yoga, stretching, Pilates and Latin American dancing classes to one-on-one personal training, supervision and facilities management.

The benefit of working on a cruise liner is that you get to travel to multiple countries, often visiting the world’s most scenic oceans and stopping over in memorable port cities where crew and staff can often disembark to explore the city of call, all while you earn an income! All of this makes for a highly sought after work and travel opportunity for those looking for some fun and adventure.

Applicants generally need to be between the ages of 21 and 35, and they must have a degree, diploma or equivalent qualification in gym-related fields or fitness instruction. A good knowledge of English and at least one other language is often also mandatory.

Working for a luxury cruise operator would provide opportunities to work year round in places like the Mediterranean or Indian Ocean, or seasonally in Northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, North America, Canada and South America.

Employment contracts are regulated by the FIT – CISL – ITF union for sailors. Required travel and other documents include a valid passport, an STCW 95/2010 certification, which is the minimum legal requirement for all crew working commercially at sea, and a medical certifications. You can contact cruise operators directly to explore available employment options.

There are numerous avenues for those who are truly passionate about health and fitness to break into the industry and build a career. However, simply being a dedicated gym-goer or a competitive physique athlete will not suffice. You first need to get yourself a recognised qualification.

But before you register for a course, consider that certain qualifications will offer you more opportunities than others. Often, the best career strategy requires building a broad base that will enable to you fulfill numerous roles within the sector, until you’re able to carve out a niche for yourself, or find a specific area in which you wish to specialise.


These so-called foundational courses prepare you with the basic knowledge and competencies you need to fulfill a number of job roles in the gym environment. In terms of the health and fitness sector, these generally consist of fitness instructor or Personal Fitness Trainer (PFT) certificates or diplomas.

Paul Mills. Managing Director at the Health & Fitness Professionals Academy (HFPA), says that a National Diploma in Fitness is a popular choice as it is an education programme that is offered over two years, with full-time, part-time and distance learning study options available.

“Students qualify as a Personal Trainer after year 1, and as an Exercise Specialist after the successful completion of year 2. Year 2 includes Special Population Groups and therefore increases the fitness professional’s scope of practice and earning potential.”


Legislation requires that fitness professionals obtain a minimum qualifications before they can legally be employed in the industry. A national certificate in fitness and a level one first aid certification are therefore prerequisites for anyone planning to build a career in the industry.

Gyms may also impose minimum qualification requirements. For example, the minimum requirement for PFTs working in Virgin Active gyms is a national certificate and/or diploma in fitness, and any other South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) endorsed or recognised PFT qualification, explains Piet Oosthuizen, national personal training manager at Virgin Active.

Once a foundational course has been completed, fitness professionals can enter the market through the more widely available positions of gym or fitness instructor, or personal trainer, as there is greater demand for these skills and qualifications.

An entry level fitness instructor position in a large gym chain like Virgin Active entails taking new members through induction, basic exercise supervision and offering group classes on the floor, picking up the weights and ensuring the health and safety of members in the club.


A learning institution like HFPA also offers an array of continuing education programmes and short courses, which include nutritionsport massage, group exercise instructor, Pilates, yoga, and various other group training options. However, many of these courses are only available to those who have obtained a more comprehensive foundational qualification, such as a certification or diploma.

These more specialised qualifications can help to compliment a aspiring fitpro’s CV, and it allows them to diversify or specialise in certain fields. This creates additional opportunities to generate revenue, and improves employability.

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However, Paul adds that although a recognised and accredited qualification is enough to find work and start a career in the health and fitness industry, being really successful in this industry goes further than the qualification you have. “It has a lot to do with your personality and drive, and your ability to provide a good service, or something that people want and need.”

For more information on the various qualifications and short courses offered by HFPA, visit our All Courses page.