career

'At 30, I quit my 6 figure salary dream job to be a PT. I've never been happier.'

"When I'm older, I want to be [insert occupation]". It's something every kid says growing up.

I was always told to do well at school, go to a good uni, get a high-paying job, buy a house, settle down... Most of us are probably familiar with this talk... And that's exactly what I did - for the most part. 

As soon as I graduated from uni, I went straight into a full-time career, and the 9-5 grind (or 9-9 some days) became routine. I had my heart set on climbing the corporate ladder and becoming chief marketing officer, or even CEO one day.

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For nine years, I worked in brand and marketing across different industries. I’d worked my way up to brand manager, running national initiatives and events, creating and executing marketing and brand campaigns, managing multiple stakeholders and travelling A LOT. It was hard work and long hours (think cancelling dinner plans last minute on a Friday night because you need to get a campaign live), but it was the nature of the job and I truly loved it. You spent months working on a project, and then to see it go live for everyone to experience, there’s no feeling like it. 

Then, last year at 30, I quit my 6-figure job to become a personal trainer (PT). 

In some ways, I've also surprised myself. If you told me 10 years ago that I would quit my corporate job to become a PT, I would have laughed. I was never the athletic or sporty type growing up; I didn't even step foot into a gym until my early 20s. 

Just the thought of all the equipment... the steel... the sweat... and the grunting... It was intimidating, to say the least.

I had been exercising on and off for years - usually in the women's only section. It was always cardio, group classes, and an endless cycle of 'working off' desserts and 'cheat meals'. 

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It all changed in 2018 when a friend showed me her strength training program and encouraged me to give it a try. I purchased an online strength program and because I’m Type-A - I followed it to a tee. I even carried a pen and paper around the gym to record my exercises! As boring as that may sound, I began to enjoy going to the gym because I could see my strength progress. 

It was scary at first, but my body confidence grew and the numbers on the scale didn't seem to matter as much as time went by. Food became fuel for my body and I was eating to train, not training to eat.

In 2019, my training partner asked me if I wanted to get a fitness certificate. I thought it'd just be a 13-week course and something fun to do on the weekends to learn about exercise and improve my own training; I didn't know it would lead to a career move. As I went through the course, I realised how I loved the idea of working one-on-one with people, devising personalised training plans and setting goals. 

But that required further study, and so I continued to go to classes every Sunday for the next six months to get my PT qualification. In the meantime, I decided to get my 'foot in the door' and landed my first side-hustle as a group trainer at a well-known global fitness brand.

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After graduating as a PT, I landed a second side-hustle as a one-on-one mobile PT. For the next three months, my days started at 4.30am. I'd teach group classes until 8am, head into the city to start work at 9am, then see PT clients in the evenings. 

Full-on is an understatement.

I could feel the burnout creeping in and something had to give, so I quit group training to focus on one-on-one personal training. I was still working a lot - too much - but I loved my job as brand manager and wanted the financial security of full-time employment.

I worked as a mobile PT and was quickly promoted to head PT, managing a team of 15 PTs - more responsibility in an already busy schedule. I’m a bit of an overachiever... I always hit my KPIs and my client base and retention rates were very high. I’m also a people person: I love a good chat, getting to know people and making them comfortable with me. 


I realised I was pretty good at this and I had great relationships with all my clients, so the question soon became why wouldn’t I want to manage my own time and have my own client base? 

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After seven months, I quit mobile PT to start up my own PT business. 

COVID became a blessing in disguise when Sydney went into lockdown 2.0. Working from home meant I didn’t have to commute three-hours a day to and from the office; it gave me more time to work on growing my business. I did it all: built my website, created content, built an app for my clients, did local flyer drops, and networked with allied health professionals and local businesses. 

It was hard work, but it paid off because six months later, my schedule was full and I couldn’t take on more clients... So something had to give. Again. 

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October 19, 2021 - the day I resigned from the corporate world. 

It had been building to this moment for a while, but it was still a shock to my friends; one of them questioned if it was a mid-life crisis. But it had become clear what I wanted to pursue in life and my business was becoming a success with potential to grow. I was living two lives and the corporate 9-5 had to go. 

It was a rollercoaster of emotions and nerves, and it felt like the biggest risk in the world to throw away a stable career with a six-figure salary. But it was incredibly emboldening to believe in my own success. To become my own boss.

If it was about the money, I would have stayed in my corporate job, knowing exactly how much I got paid each week. But the uncertainty that comes with a schedule that can change week-to-week is worth it because I’m helping people find their confidence through exercise; to improve their quality of life and be the best version of themselves. I’m not dragging myself out of bed on Monday, worrying about deadlines, or stressing about what’s going to blow up at work. 

Sure, my days are longer and sometimes I do miss the 9-5(ish), but looking back, it was the best decision I made. I wanted to be a CEO of a company when I was younger. I'm now the CEO of my own business at 30. 

Jeannie is a Personal Trainer and Online Coach, and owner of Jeannie V Fitness. Her philosophy "Move better. Get stronger" is about empowering you to be confident walking into the weights section at the gym and doing your workout.

Feature Image: Instagram @jeannievfitness.

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