How to Become a Personal Trainer

Wondering How to Become a Personal Trainer?

A personal trainer is a person with the qualifications to act as a one on one fitness coach with people who are looking to get fit. Far from being a weight jockey or scale Nazi, a personal trainer has specific skills and experience in helping their clients reach and maintain a set of specific fitness goals. Wondering how to become a personal trainer? You will obviously need to be physically fit before attempting to find work as a trainer, but what other requirements exist?

Requirements for Becoming a Personal Trainer

Let’s start by examining a good personality type for personal trainers. Which of these describes you?

  • Bubbly
  • Patient
  • Enthusiastic
  • Smart
  • Charismatic
  • Thoughtful

How to Become a Personal TrainerYou really need to be most of the things on the above list to make it as a personal trainer. “Bubbly” may sound a bit daft — but those 4 AM workouts are difficult enough for the client without a personal trainer that can’t stop yawning and rolling their eyes.

Outside of a personality type, other requirements for how to become a personal trainer vary. Some people will want to pursue certification — an organization called the NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies) is the most popular national board for certifying personal trainers, though there are other groups.

Finally, decide if you are the type of person who can work in a career in personal fitness — you’ll be setting your own hours, working as your own boss, and meeting people from all walks of life. Sounds great until you realize this also means your hours will be long, you will have to promote yourself, and you’ll often have to work for people you just don’t like. Can you handle that?

How to Become a Personal Trainer – 6 Steps

1. Choose a Certification. Because there are a number of certifying organizations (and each one offers different workshops and exam styles for getting certified) you’ll want to choose the certifying board that is right for you. Look at their fees, their testing style, and their reputation. Pick a certifying board that is recognized nationally and nationally accredited. A good way to pick a board is to contact a potential employer (a fitness club or gym) and ask what certification board they prefer to hire from. Other important considerations when picking a board — what are the pre-requisites, are there workshops and tests in your home town, do they offer a home study program, etc.

2. Focus on a specialty. Though not all personal trainers are specialized, the market for trainers is competitive. You could increase your chances of getting work by earning a specialty certification or two. Yes. this means you will have to work harder, but you’ll also have more skills to offer your clients, and best of all you can charge more for your services. One very popular personal trainer specialization is anything to do with “clinical exercise”, or fitness for people with chronic illness or injury.

3. Look for work. Once you’re certified, it is time for your job hunt. Do you have a favorite fitness club in your area? Maybe you know a handful of people who have expressed interest in your services as a personal trainer — ask them what club you should work at. Now simply contact these clubs and submit your application for work as a personal trainer. This is another area where your specialty certifications come in handy, as well as your charisma, your attitude, and your physical appearance, the more fit you are the better your chances of being hired.

4. Set up a private business. Once you have established a client base at fitness clubs, setting up a private practice as a personal trainer is the next natural step towards a bigger paycheck. This means you’ll have to open a small business in your name, register your company, buy insurance for you and your clients, set up a home gym, make “cold calls” for clients, and dive head first into the world of marketing.

5. Go back to school. As in any occupation, continuing your education as a personal trainer is a must. Staying on top of the latest fitness methods and diet tips will keep your clients healthier and increase your reputation as an excellent personal trainer. Many certifying boards require continued education to keep your certification valid, so continuing education (for many trainers) is a must. Your certifying board will be happy to help you with continuing education courses, or you could branch out and try another board’s courses, such as those from a board that specializes in trainers who are already certified.

6. Be the best personal trainer you can be. A successful personal trainer has some combination of impeccable work ethic, a talent for fitness, people skills, and a variety of experiences. Simply earning your certificate as a personal trainer does not mean you’ll see a line of clients marching to your door, and to keep those clients coming back, you’ll have to show them something special. The country’s greatest personal trainers depend on multiple resources to improve their skills, such as joining national fitness organizations (IDEA comes to mind) and continuing their education above and beyond what their certification requires. There are seminars, national workshops, and all kinds of extra courses you can volunteer to make yourself the “go to” personal trainer in your area.

To become a personal trainer, you don’t have to work for a gym or start a business from your home. Personal trainers can be found in major corporations, on cruise lines or at luxury resorts, teaching workout classes at day spas, or even on the board of certifying organizations like those named above.

In fact, if you work hard as a personal trainer and want to move on after a few years, you could pursue a career writing about fitness, working for publishing companies in the fitness field, consulting for gyms, coaching an athletic team, or opening a gym of your own. Because of the flexibility of work options, becoming a personal trainer is more than a means to an end — it can be the first step on your road to both health and wealth.

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