≡ Menu

6 Drawbacks of Working in the Fitness, Blogging & Freelance Industries

On this day four years ago I spent my last workday sitting in a cubicle. (For those of you just catching up, I worked in advertising and marketing for six years before making the switch to fitness and freelance full-time. You can read more about it in this post.)

Ultimate Plank Fitness Jen DeCurtins

Each year on this day I find myself reflecting back on the journey and taking stock of where I am now. The last 12 months have been significant when it comes to career growth. My first book was published, I turned in a second, I landed some pretty amazing ambassadorships and partnerships with wonderful companies like Premier Protein, The Track & Field Store and ALDI, I totally reworked my schedule to free up more time for what I want to focus on, I partnered with one of my best friends to launch Core Desire Yoga, I let go of freelance work that wasn’t filling me up and I stepped into a marketing and communications role at Y2 that is my dream job.

As I have shared with you time and time again, I feel so blessed to call what I do my work. I never wake up one single day dreading what’s in front of me. Four years later and I still can’t believe I pulled this off. And I not only pulled it off but every year I have been able to increase my income while continuing to really hone in on the things that I’m really passionate about.


(Photo Wanda Koch)

But I’m not here today to write another post about all the good stuff. Instead, I wanted to share the hard parts of working as a full-time fitness trainer, yoga teacher, blogger, writer and freelance marketer. The question I get asked most often is advice for transitioning to this type of career. I have written continuously about the perks but here are some of the more difficult aspects of the profession.

The hours.

In the fitness industry, you work when everyone else is not working. That means saying yes to to clients who want to train at 5:30 a.m. on the same day that you also teach a 7:15 p.m. yoga class. If you don’t like getting up early, seriously reconsider this profession. Those clients who want to train at 9:30 on a weekday morning are few and far between. Snatch them up when you can!

Also, weekends. I have worked every single weekend teaching and training clients since starting this profession (except when traveling). I usually try to stay off the computer on Saturdays whenever possible but I do devote a lot of time on Sundays to blogging and studio marketing work.

While we’re talking about hours, it’s hard to set boundaries around hours when it comes to blogging. I set my intention to blog every day but usually end up taking 1 day off per week (usually Saturday) but then there’s social media to maintain, comments and emails to respond to, etc. I would love to get on a schedule where I work on my blog at the same time every day but it’s hard to do with the fitness piece because my schedule changes week-to-week depending on clients, meetings,  subbing classes, etc.

I would say that when I was REALLY trying to make this career happen I was working upwards of 80 hours per week (including teaching and training a ton more than I am now) and these days it’s probably more like 60-70. It’s hard not to work a ton when you really love what you do. I’m learning every year how to get better at this.

It can be physically and emotionally exhausting.

On the days that I teach multiple classes and also train a few clients I find myself totally exhausted. First, just because you are standing on your feet all day and moving around assisting yoga students in a 100 degree room (remember…I don’t practice with them…I just walk around the room and assist), loading bars and moving weights around for clients, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I love not sitting all day every day but it’s a physically demanding job. (And worry what I would do if I broke my leg or something happened where I couldn’t do the physical part of it.)

And from the emotional standpoint…in this field energy is constantly being passed around. (Read this post about energy exchange as a yoga teacher.) But I give my clients and students a lot of my energy and take on a lot of whatever they have going on. This is not an industry where you can just show up, put your head down and do your job. This is an industry where you show up, connect, engage and give all you have to give despite what’s going on in your private world. And it can leave you feeling completely wiped after a long day of teaching and training (although more often than not, it totally lifts me up and energizes me). It’s super critical to have a strong self-care practice with this type of work.


There’s no set salary.

I have a ballpark idea of what I’m going to earn if I teach “x” amount of classes per week and train “x” amount of clients but the freelance income can take huge swings depending on what opportunities are available. There’s simply no way to predict what kind of opportunities are going to come and when. It makes budgeting and planning for taxes pretty challenging.

When you don’t work, you don’t get paid.

While we’re on the topic of money, there’s no vacation time or sick days. When I sub out a class or cancel a client session or skip a blog post, I’m missing out on income. It’s a major decision to go away for the weekend or take a vacation.

Related: this is why it’s crucial to have a strong cancel policy with clients. I’m generally pretty lenient with mine because I’ve worked with most of them for so long but last minute client cancels are typical in this industry and can result in a pretty big loss of income because you could have been training someone else during that time.

Also related: there is no maternity leave so for all of you in your 20s and 30s who want a family, this is something to seriously consider.

Also related: there’s no company 401K or retirement plan. You have to figure all that out yourself.

Your life is somewhat public.

Whether you’re a group exercise or yoga instructor who teaches 10+ classes a week to over 300 people a week or a blogger who shares day to day updates on the internet, people are up in your business. You will constantly run into students and clients around town and just by nature of being a leader people are curious about what you’re up to. I totally own that I have a tendency to be somewhat closed off and introverted so this was a pretty big adjustment for me. (Although it hasn’t been all bad…it’s also been great for getting me to come out of my shell and open up more.)


(Photo David Adams)

Things are constantly changing.

When I first started teaching group exercise on the side one of my group ex directors said to me when I was looking for more classes, “Oh don’t worry, something will come up. Group exercise changes like the wind.” Was she ever right on that! And it extends beyond group exercise into the fitness industry as a whole AND freelance work. Things are ALWAYS changing. I look back and can’t believe how many job titles I’ve had in just four years. And how different my schedule has been year to year.

This kind of work requires an open mind and a lot of flexibility. You have to be willing to try out and test different things and see where they might take you. Some are amazing. Some are good for a short time. Some are complete fails. You learn from all of it.

There is no guarantee of what will come tomorrow. This is an industry full of short-term, part-time and contract work. You just do the best you can and pray the next best way to grow is right around the corner. This is why I diversify what I do so much. It’s important to me to have multiple revenue streams so that if one gets shut off I won’t be totally screwed. It definitely adds a little to the exhaustion piece to spread yourself around but for me personally it’s a worth it for the peace of mind.

Would I do it all over again?

A thousand times yes. Having work that allows you to help make a positive difference in the lives of others is an awesome responsibility. The purpose of this post isn’t to complain, garner sympathy or make it seem like my life is hard. I know that every profession has its benefits and drawbacks so I just wanted to share my take on that since so many of you are curious about this work.

Please let me know if you have any other questions about working in the fitness industry, teaching yoga, freelance marketing or writing. I am so happy to share any insight I may have. And I’d love to hear from others who work in these industries. What would you say are the drawbacks for you?

{ 42 comments… add one }
  • Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious September 23, 2015, 8:52 pm

    You have such an inspirational story! I have considered leaving my IT job to work in fitness and health coaching and write recipe books, however, I just don’t know how I could do it without blowing all my savings. I don’t have a husband’s income to fall back on and a mortgage. It feels like this massive mountain to climb, but it helps knowing there are other people out there who have done it & have been successful.

    • Jennifer DeCurtins September 27, 2015, 8:41 pm

      Hey Megan,

      I totally get that. It is a massive mountain but possible. I always advocate starting by doing it on the side to see if it’s something you can build and something you really want to do. Sometimes making hobby/passion a full-time job can take a lot of the fun out of it. I waited until I had enough things lined up on the side that I knew I could pull it off without financial devastation.

  • Emily @ My Healthyish Life September 23, 2015, 9:02 pm

    My mom has been a personal trainer and group ex instructor since I was in middle school so it’s always been part of my life, and something I’ve considered for a career (part time or supplemental). I found this really inspiring AND honest, which I always love. I always complain that my mom works so much when I’m home, but you need to in the industry. No work = no pay that day. It’s a very part-time job but she loves it and it suits her needs and lifestyle.

    • Jennifer DeCurtins September 27, 2015, 8:44 pm

      That is really cool Emily! Part of what I love about the trainer/teacher thing is that it’s something that I can easily do as much or as little of as I want to depending on life stage and circumstance.

  • Katherine M September 23, 2015, 9:11 pm

    I the director of studio operations for a brand of interval training studios— I LOVE it but it definitely has its challenges. The hours can be a little crazy and being flexible is super important. Definitely an adjustment coming from a 9-5 job but I wouldn’t change it for the world!

    • Jennifer DeCurtins September 27, 2015, 8:44 pm

      Katherine, I couldn’t agree more!

  • Lindsay September 23, 2015, 9:14 pm

    Hey Jen! Thanks so much for taking the time to write this post. I needed to read this more than you know. I am still working at a non-profit that I have a lot of faith in, but I’m not at a point where I’m out there doing what I’m passionate about ALL DAY yet. I’m teaching hot yoga 3 times per week and am just starting to dive back into my blog, and both take so much energy and discipline — I really don’t know how you do it so consistently and write so beautifully even on days you’re tired.
    I struggle right now with my blog because I DO believe in it and want it to succeed, but I also don’t want to do it just to make money. However, I would love for it to be a source of income to justify all the hours I spend writing. I’m sure you can relate!
    Do you have any advice about where to go once you’ve decided you are all in with the blog? As in, what to do next? Maybe resources or things that have worked for you?

    P.S. I’m doing a Desire Map class with a group in Spartanburg led by an amazing woman and am loving it. Y’all are onto something with Core Desire Yoga – I love the idea!

    Thanks for your time and for your honesty!!

    • Jennifer DeCurtins September 27, 2015, 8:50 pm

      Hey Lindsay,

      I have SO loved following your journey over the last few months. I am so proud of you. I can totally relate to your comments about blogging. I have blogged almost daily since starting this blog, even when I had a 9-5 and was teaching on the side. Here’s what I’ve found…the more I do it, the more efficient I get at it. It takes me half the time to write a post now than it did 5 years ago. It’s just part of my day and I make it a priority. That said, sometimes it’s been at the expense of getting other things done or unplugging at night. So not always a good thing.

      I think the most important thing with blogging is being consistent. That doesn’t mean you have to blog every day. Maybe you only blog 3 or 4 times per week but your readers know when to expect it. Also, make it as formulaic as possible. For example, Sundays are weekly workouts, Mondays are weekend recaps, Tuesdays are a recipe, Wednesdays are a product review, Thursdays are weekly eats, etc. Whatever works for you. This way you aren’t wondering, “what should I blog about today?” A lot of people have success with editorial calendars but I need more freedom and flexibility than that.

      I hope that helps!

      • Lindsay September 27, 2015, 11:22 pm

        Hey Jen!

        Thank you so much, this is extremely helpful. It takes the pressure off having to do it every single day – I just know realistically I don’t have the time to make daily posts a priority right now. 3-4 times a week is a really good goal, and I love the idea of themed days. I have thoughts about monthly themes, but weekly structure is good for me. I’ve been exploring editorial calendars, and it is a little overwhelming. It would be fun with a team, but by myself it seems so daunting.

        Thank you for taking the time to reply, and thanks for reading.

        Congrats on your half marathon decision! Good luck training!


  • Morgan McAllister September 23, 2015, 9:23 pm

    LOVE this post!!! Especially as I begin my own transition and am experiencing all of these drawbacks personally. Funny thing is, I come home from work each day filling more fulfilled than I have in a long time. Reading this just reinforces that it’s 100% worth all of the hard work I’m putting in now. Side note, I’m auditioning for my first group fitness class in 2 weeks! Couldn’t be more nervous and excited!

    • Paula B. September 27, 2015, 10:28 am

      Morgan… good luck on your audition. What group fitness classes do you or will you be teaching?

      • Jennifer DeCurtins September 27, 2015, 8:51 pm


        It’s so great to hear from you! And get an update on what you’re doing. We just had our second Core Desire Yoga weekend and I thought of you so much! 🙂

        What class are you auditioning for!? How are things going!?

  • allie@sweetpotatobites September 23, 2015, 10:22 pm

    Great post! I did the same thing this year – left my ad agency job to pursue becoming a freelance marketing consultant full time. It’s been the most challenging thing that I have ever done, but by far the most rewarding. And I agree – budgeting and planning is definitely tricky in regards to taxes and projected income!

    • Jennifer DeCurtins September 27, 2015, 8:52 pm

      Congrats Allie! I’m so happy you’re finding it rewarding…and let me know if you figure out some magic solution to the taxes! 😉

  • meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles September 24, 2015, 8:18 am

    I look back on the day I left my part time job in event planning to focus on blogging and freelance writing in the health and fitness industry too! I wouldn’t change it at all but yes to everything you said! It’s so hard to have set hours and I am always “working” I feel like, even on weekends. Comments, site maintenance, getting ahead of my posts and those moments where posts come to me and I need to immediately start writing them to get them out of my head. It’s so hard yet I love every second.

    • Jennifer DeCurtins September 27, 2015, 8:54 pm

      I so agree. I struggle with all of those things but they’re good problems to have. I’d rather be stressed about my site and scheduling clients than the things I did in my past work life!

  • Darcy September 24, 2015, 11:57 am

    LOVE this! I am currently in what used to be my “dream job” (but after almost four years, it’s exactly the same as the day I started…no longer a dream) and teaching yoga during lunch breaks and evenings. It was drilled into me that all those things about a “real” job are important: insurance, sick times, taxes, etc., but I’m planning to make a transition early in 2016 to full-time teaching. I used a lot of the Desire Map ideas about “how do you want to feel” to determine that the security of my day job doesn’t compare to the joy, fulfillment and satisfaction I get from teaching. While I’ve considered many of these things you mention here, it is so helpful to hear from someone who is currently living it. Thanks for being so honest about both the joy and the challenge!

    • Jennifer DeCurtins September 27, 2015, 8:56 pm

      Hey Darcy,

      Thanks so much for commenting. Just because something is your dream at one time doesn’t mean it has to be forever. Things change! I’m so happy to hear that The Desire Map was instrumental to you in making your decision. Crafting your life based on how you feel is so much more powerful than what you “should do.”

      I wish you so much success. Please let me know how I can support you!

  • Maria September 24, 2015, 12:34 pm

    Great post!

    • Jennifer DeCurtins September 27, 2015, 8:57 pm

      Thank you!

  • Ashley @ A Lady Goes West September 24, 2015, 1:04 pm

    Hi Jen, I could have written these exact words. I too used to be in the PR and writing world in an office up until a little over a year ago. It’s an amazing change, but not an easy one. The lack of a regular schedule has been the toughest part for me, because I’m such a creature of habit, but some days are early and some days are late. I gave up teaching and training on the weekends a few months ago and that has been a nice bit of free time though. Thanks for sharing this! Good stuff and totally true!

    • Jennifer DeCurtins September 27, 2015, 8:59 pm

      Hey Ashley,

      Congrats on your transition. It is NOT EASY but worth it! Yes, the schedule thing is crazy-making. Just when I think I’ve made a new schedule that I love, it all changes again. I’m glad to hear that giving up weekend work helped you with the balance.

  • tara September 24, 2015, 1:05 pm

    i love this but for the exact opposite reason as some other posters! I have often wondered about blogging or doing something else but i’m glad to read these drawbacks because for me they are huge. i really like having a semi set schedule. i like vacation time and 401ks being available, etc. For me i think i am a bit to structured of a person for this type of thing but i’m happy you listed these all out. every job has its drawbacks that’s why its called a job (direct quote from my dad like every other day!) thanks for being honest !

    • Jennifer DeCurtins September 27, 2015, 9:01 pm

      Tara, thanks for offering a totally different perspective on this. Part of why I shared this was to show that it’s not for everyone and that it’s not a carefree, easy lifestyle. I tell people in teacher trainings and classes all the time that having a full-time 9-5 is NOT a bad thing. Sometimes it’s a means to making all the things you’re passionate about happen when you’re not working!

  • Kali September 24, 2015, 2:04 pm

    Great post! I’ve recently transitioned into full-time yoga teacher and it’s been both really rewarding and really challenging just as you describe. I think the hardest part is carving out time for my own practice 1) because I live and breathe yoga so when I’m done teaching the last thing I want to do is get back on the mat for another class 2) I’m usually teaching when yoga classes are offered so it’s hard to find classes I can make and I don’t have a great space for a self-practice. I know I’m a better teacher and a happier person when I make it onto my own mat but it’s hard to make that happen most of the time. Any advice? Thanks!

    • Jennifer DeCurtins September 27, 2015, 9:04 pm


      GIRL! I struggle with this so much. I swear the hardest part of being a yoga teacher is finding time for your own practice. I totally feel you that the last thing you want to do sometimes is spend MORE time at the studio practicing after teaching multiple classes. This is part of why I vary my workouts and have other outlets for moving my body. When I practice I usually take the class before or after mine so I don’t have to make an extra trip to the studio to practice. I also find a lot of inspiration for my classes through the personal development work I do OFF the mat. Lots of reading and listening to audio books, TED Talks, checking out what other teachers are sharing, etc.

  • Katie September 24, 2015, 6:53 pm

    This was the best thing I’ve read all day. I left my full-time job in communications & public relations two years ago and while I wouldn’t go back for anything, all of these struggles are SO REAL. I had a baby a little less than 5 months ago so for the last year my husband and I have been holding our breaths hoping I’d be able to teach and train until she was born (I was lucky and taught the day before she was born), but then I was out for 5 weeks (again… lucky it wasn’t longer) with no income. I will say that “working when everyone else isn’t” is a plus for me as a mom though since I work while my husband is home and then I can be home with the baby. Now that we’re a bit settled I’m trying to diversify more and actually put myself out there instead of having clients find me. It’s amazing to see how far this has taken you and reassuring to know that maybe I haven’t reached a “ceiling” where I have to teach x amount of classes and train x amount of clients just to get by.

    • Jennifer DeCurtins September 27, 2015, 9:07 pm


      Thanks so much for offering the perspective of someone who has had a baby in this industry. It terrifies me! How amazing that you were able to teach and train until she was born. What a blessing.

      I do totally see your point of “working when everyone else is not” working for you as a new parent and how great that your husband is supporting and helping.

      You have not reached a ceiling! The longer you stay in the industry, the more opportunities that will come!

  • Stephanie September 25, 2015, 9:08 am

    Hi Jen! This was such an interesting post. I’m currently working in marketing and have been thinking a lot about freelance writing (on the side for now but I’d love to maybe make it a full time thing in the future). Do you have any advice for getting started? Thanks!

  • Jane September 25, 2015, 9:15 am

    So true. I love the work that I do, but you do have to hustle. I admire you for being so regular with your blog. I have started and stopped so many times! Working in fitness is great, but you are so right with these drawbacks. So many people don’t understand why my vacations are so far between. It’s hard! Just so you know, every time that I see you, you’re inspiring me!

    • Jennifer DeCurtins September 27, 2015, 9:15 pm

      Thanks Jane, it’s definitely tough to maintain but I’ve just made it part of my day-to-day and it gets easier and easier with time. You don’t have to blog daily, but being regular with it is important.

      I really appreciate your kind words. I’m just doing the best I can and I’m happy to hear that it inspires anyone. <3

  • Jenna September 27, 2015, 12:07 am

    Hi Jen!
    Just out of curiosity, where does the majority of your income come from? Wondering how it all breaks down. If this is too personal, I apologize.

    • Jennifer DeCurtins September 27, 2015, 9:17 pm

      Hey Jenna…

      It’s pretty evenly spread out (because I’m neurotic and like multiple revenue streams) but probably this order…blog/writing, marketing freelance, yoga teaching, personal training.

  • Brittany September 30, 2015, 5:36 am

    Great post, Jen. It’s easy for people on the other side to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of “living your passion”. After opening my studio on the side, I was determined to go in it full time as soon as possible. But then I took a hard look at these things (pension, PTO, guaranteed salary) and realized it 1) wasn’t my time yet and 2) my full time gif isn’t all that bad. There’s a misconception I think that it’s all rainbows and sunshine in the fitness industry. Thanks for keeping it real!

  • Colleen October 3, 2015, 9:27 pm

    Perfect post! I’m a full time group ex coordinator, instructor, and personal trainer. I did this part time for 8 years until 2 years ago. I finally knew i was going to be financially secure and quit my previous full time job. Yes, I get up at 4am daily, dread teaching at 6:30pm, have my life in full public display, fear breaking my leg, and only took 2 weeks off after I had my twins, but I wouldn’t change this for the world!!!

Leave a Comment