I made the move from London to Paris in May 2019. I had spent most of my working in life in London as a veterinary surgeon (5 years) and the last 18 months as a Personal Trainer. Both very different worlds even within the same city! Clearly, a big difference being that I had much less stress and much more free time as a Personal Trainer.
So how does being a Personal Trainer in London compare to being one in Paris?
Firstly, I am self-employed in Paris. In London I was employed by SIX3NINE. A significantly different challenge regardless of the city. I spent months networking to make as many contacts in Paris as possible and also seeking advice on how to even set up a website that can stand a tiny weeny chance of popping up on Google. I spent MANY hours designing my own website. A curse of the perfectionist. I still don’t feel it’s quite there but it is far better than when I first launched it back in June. I also have business cards here. The French seem to love ‘em!
Instagram, of course, goes without saying. It’s a pain but it has to be done. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with it. I rarely touched it in London and I didn’t have to worry about it as much as I wasn’t using it to advertise my business. It was more for personal use. Anyway, I have also found that once you get the ball rolling, word of mouth wins hands down.
There are many other little bits and bobs about being an entrepreneur in Paris which I won’t bore you with. Mainly how to invoice and don’t even mention the taxes…!
Secondly, I don’t have my own gym that I work from. I train my clients primarily outdoors in a nearby park or along the Seine. There’s a few cool places to train along the river where they have a little “outdoor gym” area and/or climbing frames. This also means I have a big fat heavy rucksack full of resistance bands, tennis balls, cones, skipping rope, suspension cables, first aid kit (a must!) and whatever else I think might be fun and easy to carry. Plus my light, easy-to-blow-away-in-the-lightest-of-winds workout mats! Usually one under each arm.
A big factor with working remotely is the travel time. I see far fewer clients each day in Paris than I did in London as it takes me at least 30 minutes to travel to each client. I am working on booking in certain clients in on the same days that are in the same arrondissement (“neighbourhoods” of Paris which are numbered 1-20) so I can see more people and travel time is minimised.
I do also offer online training. I only have a couple of clients at the moment. The ultimate goal is to have the majority of my clients online which enables me to work from anywhere :)
Thirdly, having a PT or even a gym membership isn’t really a “thing” in Paris. All my clients so far are expats. Even gym chains are a relatively new addition! In London, on the other hand, it is hard to go more than 100m without seeing some sort of health, fitness or nutrition-related marketing. In Paris, you really have to look.
Parisians certainly enjoy a healthy lifestyle and I am always amazed at how many people you see running in parks or along the river and especially amazed (and a little annoyed!) at how many people go swimming. There are many more pools in Paris compared to London. In spite of that, in the morning, lunchtime and evening it is like a battle field in each lane and each person for themselves! Most swim lanes have 12-13 people in each one! I have had more collisions with people in a pool in Paris in one week than I ever had in 2 years in London!
So there you have it. Quite a marked difference in London and Paris lifestyles. As you would likely expect. Which do I prefer? Right now, I am enjoying the challenge of creating and running my own show in Paris. I am doing my best to learn French and being bilingual is something I have always dreamed of being. The expat life isn’t for everyone. I certainly have days where I miss London. However, I am not in this life for an easy ride.