GAF Athlete Series | Former Pro Boxer Peter Petrou
We caught up with Peter Petrou to find out how he made a successful transition out of the boxing arena to become a Personal Trainer.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you become involved with the fitness industry?
My name is Peter Petrou and I own and operate a private personal training company in Sydney. I strive to provide top-quality personal training at an affordable price for residents around inner city Sydney.
What drew you to teach boxing for your career?
I started as a young amateur boxer in Sydney training at the Paddington Police Citizen's Youth Centre in the late 1990s. The president of the club approached me about instructing some boxercise classes after noticing I had a positive impact on the other youth's training with me. I then ran the boxercise classes while slowly taking on personal training clients until it closed in 2001. When the gym closed down, I began focusing my attention on a professional boxing career and stopped doing group training. As a professional, I still maintained my PT business by helping a small number of clients when I wasn't training.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My day starts off at 5 am with a quick breakfast so I can get to work and set up the gym to be ready for my first clients at 6 am. I finish with the morning crowd at 9 am and then I'm off taking my kids to school. Before I meet with my midday clients, I get a couple of hours to do my own training, and then I will usually work with 3-4 clients throughout the lunch period. After that I generally have a bit of free time in the afternoon to help my kids with their homework and start working again at 5 pm through till 9 pm. Once I'm done, I'm back home and straight to bed to do it all again the next day!
Do you have any advice for any aspiring Personal Trainers looking to start their own business?
It's been over two decades since I started my business so there have been a lot of changes in the industry over that time. I don’t remember running into any significant mistakes but if I was going to give any advice it would be to learn how to manage the financials of your business. You will spend a lot of time with your clients and get to know them very well, but I also recommend learning as much as you can about the tax system. This will allow you to organise your own books and avoid having to pay any excess tax.
What are some of the reasons your clients fail to hit their fitness goals?
They all lack consistency. A workout doesn't have to be hard each and every time you train. There is a common misconception that you need to train with maximum effort at each session, but if you reach your pain threshold every time, all you will do is increase your risk of an injury. Conversely, if you quit when training gets hard, you will not make many improvements. It's about finding the balance and showing up when you don't want to.
Do you have any favourite exercises you use with all clients?
I don’t have favorite exercises that I use with my clients. My programs are designed with the individual goals and aims of each client in full focus. If a trainer practices the same routines on all of their clients, then they are not providing personal training. The client may as well go and do a group training class because they are not getting a personalised service. It's vital to recognise the needs of each client individually so they can make progress at a rate that encourages them to keep reaching new goals. As I have a boxing background, any cardio training tends to be my personal favourite for of exercise to do in my own time.
Any tips or suggestions for people looking to get into the fitness industry?
It is actually quite hard to make a living as a personal trainer and not many people do really well. I also think that the majority of trainers who tend to succeed in this business are those with an athletic background behind them. These trainers have a wealth of knowledge and first-hand experience to fall back on. If you are just someone who thinks it’s a cool or sexy way to make a living, you may need to re-think why you want to get involved with the fitness industry.
What do you think makes a personal trainer succeed in the long term?
I personally meet all potential new clients first in order to answer any questions they may have and build some rapport. I get them to fill out a pre-exercise questionnaire to find out exactly what they want to achieve from their training, if they have any injuries, or illnesses that I need to work around. I can then go back and either design them a program from scratch or use an existing program on my database. Whilst doing this I can determine whether we have matching personalities and if I don’t think we are going to get along I don’t take them on as a client.
If you train with someone who you enjoy spending time with and you don’t mind being in their company, it makes training more enjoyable. When you enjoy training there is more chance you are going to do it and do it regularly, and this is how a client reaches success and it also makes you a successful trainer.
Where can people get in touch with you?
I can be contacted via email at email@example.com