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Woman takes big pay cut to become fitness trainer, here's why

Woman takes big pay cut to become fitness trainer, here's why
Valerie Ng gave up a corporate job to pursue a career in personal fitness training.
PHOTO: Instagram/Valerie Ng

Switching careers — should you take the leap?

Valerie Ng, 28, gave up a stable corporate job to become a freelance physical trainer back in 2021, even though it meant that she had to take a pay cut.

"My first job was in recruitment, I switched to one more corporate job after that. I did software sales for an AI tech company, and from there was when I made the switch into fitness," she shared in a recent episode of The Hop Pod podcast by You Got Watch.

Before making the career switch, Valerie mapped out her financial goals and liabilities.

"And I think it was more of just, 'If I don't do this, I really don't think I'll have the guts to ever do it'," she added.

"There was such a strong push that said, 'You gotta try now, and if you give it a solid year or two and you still fail, go back. You can still work in corporate until you're 60'."

After making the career switch, Valerie said she took a 40 per cent pay cut on her base pay. At the time, she was also making commissions at her corporate job.

When asked by host Nicholas Yeam if she set a time frame to get to parity, Valerie answered: "I'm that kinda person. Wherever I go, I'm like, 'Time goal and financial goal, time goal and financial goal'."

She gave herself a year to hit parity "and beyond that, cannot drop below already".

Though Valerie has since hit "more than parity", she added that there were stressful aspects to the job.

"Even in physical training, there are periods like December where [my schedule is] empty," she said.

"When all the clients are ready to train, you gotta just whack".

Hesitations about switching careers

Host Lim Yun Qian admitted that she also thought about "switching a whole industry" sometimes.

"But it scares me to just restart, knowing that, if I restart, I might be older than the people who are in the industry. I think ego and pride are in the way," she added.

Nicholas concurred: "Because you'd need to go and start from scratch, and you are not 100 per cent confident, 'Currently now, I am good or above average relative to the industry or my peers, but what if I go there and I'm average or below average?'"

Fellow host Joie Tan concluded that people would take the opportunity to switch careers if they were guaranteed success in their new industry.

"We're just afraid to look like we're trying or fail at trying, we're just a bit embarrassed. They say it's cringe to look like you're trying, but I love trying," she added. "Success comes from trying something new." 

When Nicholas asked if there was an age that was "too late" to switch careers, the other hosts and Valerie disagreed. Unless one wants to become a surgeon, that is.


"If it takes a lot of education and learning, then it's a little too late," Yun Qian said.

Some may find it easier to switch to other fields, however.

Nicholas shared one example, saying: "When I was in class, there would be someone who was a former nurse who'd come and study mass communications, and now they're really full on in the industry.

"So even if they're so much older than everybody else, they still managed to catch up in some sense."

But he said people also needed to be practical, and it was unlikely for someone to become an athlete at 40.

Valerie added that people should be practical but they also "have to accept" a hit to their ego and pride when it comes to restarting careers, and the feeling that they will be a "noob" in their new job.

"It was something I had to go through also, 'Can I actually coach formally, really, and have people pay me money to do this?' I didn't believe in myself.

"So you gotta have the confidence and be willing to restart."


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