Experience Talks: Interview with Qualified Personal Trainer Ray Lally

Giving us some perspective on his own personal journey to becoming a qualified personal trainer is Ray Lally, fitness & personal trainer at Club Vitae, Clayton Hotel Cork City:

What were you doing before you became a personal trainer and what was your inspiration for getting qualified?

I was playing football professionally whilst also studying. I have always been interested in fitness and how the muscles worked, so obviously personal training was a natural progression. I think like most things in life, you never stop learning and especially when it comes to the human body you have to constantly work on it. I originally looked at fitness as a tool to improve my sports performance. I didn’t realise how important it actually was. I developed a passion for it and got my first job in a gym at 18 after getting qualified. I continued to learn both in the gym and on paper as I also went to Cork Institute of Technology, receiving a degree for business sports and recreation leisure management.

In what capacity did you start when you first qualified, did you go straight into freelancing or work for a gym?

I went down various different routes to get qualified. At 18, I gained a gym instruction and personal training qualification from two different nationally recognised sporting bodies while playing soccer and getting football coaching badges at the same time. I went straight into working in a great gym, while continuing to study, playing football and coaching at the same time. I have continued to further educate myself in all aspects of fitness.

What marketing strategies have you used to get your name out there as a personal trainer?

Word of mouth is very important! Even if you have lots of social media followers they may still dislike you. People do use the gym, not only for injury rehab and general fitness improvement but also as a get away from the general stresses of life. I believe a positive and encouraging personality is very important! I am very approachable and friendly and try to give realistic advice that everyone can stick to. Not everyone that enters a gym is an aspiring disciplined competitive body builder, you can’t be too strict with people as you don’t want them thinking they’re failing when they are actually improving every day. I think it is through this positive attitude that I gained a slot on primetime afternoon TV on RTEs Today Show as their Fitness Expert.

Also, being a brand ambassador for Club Vitae i get to do other fun events like warming up thousands of participants for Charity runs like ‘The Run In The Dark’, etc. I know Social Media is very important but I put more emphasis and effort on the actual job of training people.

What would you say are the most important skill sets for someone to who is looking at starting their own personal training business?

The most important thing to know if you are starting your personal training business is patience, confidence and knowledge…

Knowledge is thinking you know everything…its knowing what you do and don’t know is what makes you a better trainer. Do not give a client something that you can’t or won’t do! recently I had to refer a client after long conversation as they actually wanted to build themselves up to help defend themselves. I had to refer them to a Jiu Jitsu Trainer as the client felt he will need these skills to defend himself. I am very confident in what I do but I think everyone will agree that a Jiu Jitsu Instructor knows more about defending himself. You also have to realise experience is also very important.

Also surrounding yourself with people that will help you in what you want to achieve. For example where i work, I have a manager who fully supports me and has confidence in me. All other staff are very friendly and the whole gym has a very warm atmosphere.

What words of advice would you give to somebody who is thinking about starting a career in fitness as a personal trainer?

Patience is very important. To get my name out there I also did a lot of free classes anywhere I could. I made the classes fun and try to have people sweating but smiling as they leave. For personal clients also you need a lot of patience. Patience in building up your clientele and also patience in results. It does take time to transform your body so you have to remind your clients that. When helping people in their nutrition; go natural. For the first month at least don’t let your clients take any ‘body building’ supplements. If they are struggling with results then you may introduce supplements to help, but remember vegetables have no marketing team behind them promoting them but eating naturally is the best thing you can do for your body!!!

How do you see your own personal training business developing in the next year or two?

I hope to concentrate on my online business and working with more companies. I’m hoping to promote a healthy lifestyle for everyone that everyone can afford. Fitness For Everyone.

Learn more about our REPs Recognised Personal Trainer Courses and start your path to a rewarding career that you can personalise for your own goals and lifestyle.


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Written by Luke Hughes


Luke is the CEO for OriGym, with a masters degree and 1st class honours degree in sport and exercise science and is a qualified personal trainer. Luke loves playing football and running, but his main passion is for cycling, where he can often be found cycling round the Lake District on a Sunday afternoon!