Have you been to dance school all your life? Can you only see yourself up on that stage? Meet Kate Lindley, a 27-year-old Freelance Fitness and Dance Professional who took a different route in life to the one she thought she would…
What does a Freelance Fitness and Dance Professional do? I personal train clients, teach fitness classes and take control of kid’s dance classes!
Did you always know that this was something you wanted to do? Not at all, I wanted to be a paramedic and then I wanted to be a professional dancer!
Did you go to university? Yes – twice! Throughout school, I was sure I wasn’t good enough to be a dancer, so I originally went to uni to train to be a paramedic! I got six months into my course only to realise that I wasn’t nearly as brave and emotionally mature as I had thought. I loved my uni and had already made great friends, so I decided to stop wasting everyone’s time and just follow my heart to undertake a BA Hons Dance Degree. Bizarre, but fun.
What was your first job after graduating? In line with my decision to follow my heart and not my brain, I moved to London… alone. Of course, my first port of call was hospitality and I worked in a pub full time.
How did you end up in this role? While continuing my dance training and working at the pub, I began to audition for dance jobs, looking for my big break. I met a girl at an audition and she told me that she was a fitness instructor and that it was much better to earn a living while dancing.
That was my lightbulb moment.
I took my Exercise to Music qualification and that’s where it all began…
What do you love about your job? I have realised that this is what I was meant to do. I am not a lot of things but what makes me special is my relentless energy and passion to get up and to move every day. I love to pass that energy onto my clients, classes and children and make them fall in love with moving their bodies and enjoy being physical as much as I do. Teaching life skills to people and improving their quality of life is very rewarding. I like the flexible lifestyle it offers me too.
What do you hate about it? Oh, my… it can mean working lots of unsociable hours. Everyone has work or school, so I can only see people in the mornings or evenings. I am only just at a point in my career where I am confident enough to say no to weekend work. It’s also not a wildly lucrative occupation.
Where do you see yourself next? I am currently trying to open my own fitness business, ‘ZIGZAG Fitness and Dance studio’ or ‘ZZ’s’. I have a business plan, some savings and a dream. Currently searching for a venue and it is my aim to be open at some point next year.
What has been the hardest thing about getting to your position? When I took my first big fitness qualification, I thought I would waltz up to gyms and that they would beg to have me work for them. Not so – shock. Like all trades, having a wealth of experience is key. Luckily, I found the YMCA in central London and they helped me to become the instructor I am today. It took a lot of time, earning next to no money and volunteering to get here – no one really prepares you for what that’s like.
Has your job turned out to be what you expected? I thought the fitness industry would just be my little job until I made it into Rambert (pause for laughter). However, once I had put all the hours, work and money into making a half decent career for myself, I felt hard pressed to give that up for a dance job that would only last a couple of months before I landed back at square one. I have realised that this was my true calling. Not the stage or a medical career – but a weird mix of the two. Basically, helping people through movement.
What does a typical day at the office look like for you? Every day is different, so I will tell you about Wednesdays and Thursdays because they are fun.
Every Wednesday I slip out of bed, like a ninja, and try to get out of the flat without waking my partner at 5.50am. I take my kit and train a client in Southwark Park from 7am-8am. I come home, have breakfast and then go to sleep for an hour. I have to be an expert at napping. I get up again, eat and head to the YMCA where I teach two back to back fitness classes. After this, I come home, eat and sit in front of the computer. Surprisingly or not, there is a lot of admin to do: invoicing, planning, promo, website, social media scheduling; the list goes on. I earn around £90 on a Wednesday.
Thursday is mental. Same ninja routine and off to train a client in central London between 7am-8am. Home. Eat. Train a client in Southwark from 10am-11am. Home. Eat. Then I teach an Older Adult’s Seated Fitness class and an after-school ballet class for my company (ZZs) from 14.30pm-16.30pm. Home. Eat. At this point in the week I usually binge-watch some YouTube and fall asleep. On Thursdays, I earn about £130 – which is a good earning day for me. I aim to make at least £100 a day.
What’s the dress code at work? HURRAY FOR ME! I get to wear comfy sports bras, leggings and trainers all day, everyday. Thanks to some luxe sports brands I don’t feel totally fashionably-challenged, but where most people get home and can’t wait to get into some joggers, I get home and can’t wait to put on a dress and actually do my hair…
What are your achievable goals? Right now, I have to think about the business I want to open. I can’t find a venue right now. It’s a waiting game. So, while I wait, I will be running some classes in a local hall using my company’s name ‘ZIGZAG Fitness and Dance studio’ to get some brand recognition in my area. Opening the doors to ZZs will definitely be a long game.
If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would it be? Who knows! I fantasise about being a glamorous city worker with wonderful clothes and a half decent pay cheque. I was head-hunted once to work at an insanely fancy concierge company…. Realistically, though, I think I would try medicine again. As I am approaching 30, I know myself better and I think my passion and skills lie in serving others and helping out where I can.
What’s the best way to make a good impression? Erm… smile, of course! And be kind. That’s not code for ‘be a pushover’, by the way. Finding that elusive space between integrity and niceness is tricky, but it will blow people away if you get the balance just right.
What are two of the most likely interview questions you might get asked when going for your job?
Are you currently working and what do you teach?
What’s your availability like?
And finally, what one piece of practical career advice would you give to your younger self? I would say: just keep going and buckle up. I would tell young me that there is no end to the rainbow and that the hard work keeps coming relentlessly but – believe me – you learn to love the ride.
Want to know more about the fitness profession or fancy being trained by the wonderful Kate?