Name:  Ben Kilner

My job title: Physiotherapist and Personal Trainer. I now run my own company in Mayfair, London.

How I got the job… To get to the stage where I’m running my own business didn’t happen overnight, it was a long process with a lot of failures along the way and I worked for lots of different organisations before that, to gain experience.

When I was 16, I wanted to be a physiotherapist for a premiership football team and I knew I needed to get certain grades, which was always going to be a struggle for me, so I made sure that I could show the university I was applying to, how much I wanted it. I didn’t quite get the grades required, but still got my place on the course, I think because I did a lot of volunteer work in hospitals during my A Levels.

After three years at Keele University, I went into the NHS for a couple of years, worked at some sports academies, went to Africa and worked for a premiership football team out there. I then worked with some GB triathletes and was working more in the gym settings – this is where I transitioned into personal training. Gaining lots of experience helped me to understand what I was good at and what I really enjoyed.

Eventually, myself and a colleague took the leap and set up a business that combined physiotherapy with personal training. We didn’t succeed immediately and had to overcome some challenges but now we are managing a gym in a top London hotel and it’s a great success. We manage a group of 8/9 trainers and supply them to work with our clients.  

My position in a nutshell… My tasks involve training my own clients to reach their health and fitness goals and I also manage other top-level trainers and network with other health professionals (physiotherapists/nutritionists) to produce an overall fitness package for our corporate clients.

My typical day… Usually an early start to see my first client at 7am and I try and get through 4/5 clients by lunch time. The afternoon can be varied but it’s usually for business admin – designing programmes for my clients, catching up with members of the team and my business partner to see where we can improve or introduce new services into our business.

My most memorable moment… Being in the middle of the Mediterranean on a 100ft Yacht. A client had paid for me to join him, his family and colleagues to run fitness sessions for a couple of weeks. We trained in the middle of these Turkish and Greek islands, on beaches and on the boat – the scenery was amazing and so was diving off the boat into the clear water to cool down afterwards!

The worst part of my job… The early starts. My alarm goes off at 5.30 am. I do feel the benefit of it later in the day though as I enjoy the thought that I am getting a couple of hours work done when most people haven’t started their day yet.

The best part of my job… From a personal training aspect, it’s when I help someone reach their health and fitness goal, or if they have had an injury and I help them get back to doing the sport that they love. When I help someone to achieve their goal, the gratitude they give and the self-satisfaction I get is very rewarding.

From a business point of view, it would be the choice – choosing when and how I work – I am my own boss. .

The key skills/attributes needed in your role… Have a good knowledge of the anatomy – you’ll learn this in your degree – and above all, you’ll need to good communication and people skills, as you’ll be communicating with lots of different types of people and will need to be able to adapt your approach accordingly. I didn’t have this skill straight away, I was always quite shy, but you can learn this.

To run your own business, you need to love what you do, be able to self-motivate, keep a positive, open mind. Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, see them as an opportunity

For running a business, more personal skills – feeling self-motivated, had a positive open mind, not afraid to make mistakes. Have a willingness to work on yourself.

Advice for someone looking to go into something similar… Think about how you can make your university or job application stand out, show them that you understand what physio is about – try and volunteer or look at other little courses you can do – I did my first aid and a sports injury course. Show that you are doing that little but extra.  Find free resources – podcasts, YouTube video, books – and connect with people that have achieved what you want to go on to do, that you can learn from.