Trevor Clarke YMCAfit Tutor photo
Trevor Clarke YMCAfit Tutor

Trevor: Changing lives and breaking barriers through teaching

Meet Trevor Clarke, one of our expert Personal Training Tutors who has helped shape the fitness industry for over 30 years.

Trevor Clarke has been a Personal Training Tutor, training thousands of PTs and Gym instructors with YMCAfit since 1988. Initially starting life as a TfL ticket salesperson, he has gone on to have a considerable impact in the fitness industry, breaking down barriers, working on some inspiring projects and gaining national attention through interviews on the BBC.  

Our Tutors are at the heart of what we do, and the impact Trevor has had on our fitness courses and on our history is vast and incredible. He is undoubtedly one of the best Fitness Tutors in the country and a true legend.  

Trevor started his career in fitness with YMCAfit back in 1986, only a year after we were founded. Having grown up with a love of sport, he saw a much better opportunity for development and enjoyment vs his current role at Transport for London.  

"I played football for years and got into boxing as an amateur; I even had two professional fights. I love sport and always have. 

I realised that I could probably change career - I could become an instructor instead of selling tube tickets. It all made sense. I would have been able to train for free; it was easy for me and more relaxing." 

"People wanted to work with me and trusted what I had to bring." 

The transition from student to teacher was not a giant leap; during his course, Trevor was seen by his peers as someone to turn to. Everyone could see that he was an individual able to teach complex topics with ease and confidence.  

"Even on my training course, I found people coming and asking me to help them out. With weight training and stuff, I knew what I was doing. I knew the exercises; I'd read up on the muscles for my benefit.  

Even at the start of my career, I was helping other students to learn. People wanted to work with me and trusted what I had to bring." 

"I have been with YMCAfit since, helping to train up people." 

Personal Trainer courses did not exist at the time; it was down to Trevor and our other Tutors to help create it from the ground up. Initially starting on the resistance and weight training aspects of the Personal Trainer courses, he has since gone on to help shape a large number of workshops and courses at YMCAfit.  

Breaking down barriers in the fitness industry 

In 2010, YMCAfit ran a pioneering Gym Instructor for Disabled Participants course specifically designed for people with disabilities to break down barriers and help the fitness industry become more inclusive and supportive of people with disabilities. Trevor was a big part of this programme which went on to win awards and impact the lives of a large number of people.  

"There were people with all sorts of disabilities, and they were there to be Gym Instructors. I asked them all kinds of questions, such as why they never went to mainstream gyms or wanted to be Gym Instructors. For them, there was no one else like them at mainstream gyms or Gym Instructors trained to work with people with disabilities. They wanted to encourage more people with disabilities to go out there and get fit by being role models or trainers who understand the additional support they face.  

It was an eye-opener because I had never worked with people with disabilities before. I learned to appreciate the little things that are harder for others. It is why the special population courses are so important to me." 

This programme, InstructAbility, was so impactful that Trevor featured on the BBC's Saints and Sinners TV show. Magazines and newspapers also reached out to talk with the tutor who was helping change the lives of his students and helping improve access to fitness for those with disabilities. In 2013, the course was recognised by Prime Minister David Cameron with a Big Society Award for its work to encourage more talented people with a disability to work in the fitness industry. 

More recently, Trevor worked with Central YMCA in a partnership with Nike to offer a free Personal Training course aimed at helping a diverse and often disadvantaged group of young people to start their careers in the fitness industry.  

"It really makes my day hearing from my students. They are my highlights." 

With the impressive career that he has had, Trevor has remained humble. Talking with Trevor it is clear that what’s most important to him is seeing his students thrive. 

"I have written for magazines, done videos, and even been on TV. That is all OK, but the reward is what I get from people coming back and telling me their stories of where they are now. Hearing about the impact I made on them. It really makes my day hearing from my students. They are my highlights. It just makes me smile. 

One lady last year reached out asking if I still remembered her. I trained her when I was just starting out 30-odd years ago. She remembered me, and 30 years on, she is still going strong with her career." 

Having been teaching for so long, Trevor has collected many interesting and valuable stories that he shares with his current students. One story helps him illustrate the importance of spotting gaps in the market after a graduate managed to get 30 clients in one week. Other stories include students who have struggled with their studies and how they have overcome them to become successful in their careers.  

Trevor’s top advice for PTs: “Be open-minded." 

Having seen how the Personal Trainer industry has evolved throughout the years, Trevor has seen the trends forming and keeping YMCAfit ahead of the curve. His insight has helped his students go on to have highly successful careers.  

"If you want to be a Personal Trainer, be open-minded. That's how we deliver the course; we teach our students to look for that opportunity and be open to it. 

I think that people will see gyms aren't the only places for Personal Trainers. You don't just have to work for a gym anymore; you can be a freelancer or work from home. If the last year has taught us anything, more people want to do things from the comfort of their own homes. There is demand there, and it is only going to grow. 

I didn't see myself becoming a Tutor, and yet here I am. Don't assume that working for a gym is the best career direction for you. There are so many more options these days – especially with online or freelance opportunities. Being open-minded has helped many of my students and myself." 

The biggest shift in the fitness industry 

Throughout Trevor’s fitness career he’s seen many trends and has noticed that one of the largest growth areas is for a PT to being able to work with the specific needs of a changing population.  

"The special populations are seeing massive growth in interest and uptake regarding Personal Trainers. Whether this is older adults, ante and postnatal women, people with mental health issues, on exercise referral schemes, or those with disabilities, you must now think broadly about who your clients might be and build your knowledge for that audience.  

The special population area is growing and is only going to get bigger so there is a lot of scope and potential for freelance work. Personal Training isn't just for one set audience anymore. The diversity of clients and what they want will be the biggest shift." 

Visit YMCAfit to learn more about our courses and how our tutors are leading the way with fitness training in the UK.