Thinking About Becoming a Personal Trainer? Read This First

When Idaho resident Katie Hug reached 270 pounds, becoming a personal trainer wasn’t on her mind.

She was taking a long list of medications. She felt tired and hungry most of the time. And in between chasing three little kids around, she ate...a lot. It was her way of dealing with anxiety, stress, and depression.
Not exactly the hallmark of fitness you might expect of a personal trainer.

But then something happened. She went to see her doctor. And what she learned changed everything. “You’re morbidly obese,” her doctor said. “If you don’t do something about this, you’ll die.”

That was Hug’s tipping point. She got laser-focused on eating healthier. She started exercising 15 minutes a day. Walking, jogging, and running followed, along with losing over 130 pounds.

She looked different. She felt different. And she was so motivated by her own transformation that she became a personal trainer and group fitness instructor.

Have you thought about becoming a personal trainer?

Maybe you have your own story to tell. Or maybe you’ve always been healthy and active, and want to help others achieve their fitness goals and earn a living doing it.

Download the Personal Trainer Career Guide

Being a personal trainer isn’t your typical desk job. But it can be a rewarding way to earn a living and help a lot of people achieve their health and fitness goals.

    • A flexible schedule. Some personal trainers might work a 9-5 shift at the gym. But many work morning hours, evening hours, or both to accommodate clients. You can also run your own personal training business and set your own hours.
  • Passion and profits. If you’re passionate about health and fitness and helping others, personal training can be a great career path. Median pay for personal trainers is $38,160, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and demand is expected to grow by about 8 percent.
  • Continuing education. In this field, continuing education is important to stay abreast of the latest trends and practices in health and fitness. Most organizations require trainers to recertify every two years by taking health and fitness courses and maintaining CPR certification. If you enjoy learning, personal training will give you plenty of opportunities.

Sounds pretty good, right? Personal training is a rewarding career path for a lot of reasons. But to be successful, you need to know more than how to help people in the gym.

7 Things You Need to Know About Becoming a Personal Trainer

Before you get your first client, complete a fitness assessment, or help someone achieve a fitness goal, there are a few things you need to know about becoming a personal trainer.

It’s not just a gig where you help people lose weight and build muscle. You need to be able to do other important things to be a successful personal trainer, such as:

1. Attract Clients 

You need to figure out how to get personal training clients. If you work in a gym, offer members a free fitness assessment, host a meet-and-greet event, or simply help people work out smarter and safer when you’re on the gym floor.

If you’re running your own personal training business, work online, or have an independent contractor agreement with a gym, you’ll need to step up your marketing efforts to find your own clients.

Online marketing, like creating a lead magnet, can help you connect with potential clients. Developing social media profiles on popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can help you build an audience of potential clients, too. And in-person networking can help you build your personal training business whether you work for a gym or on your own.

2. Understand Business Basics

If you’re on the payroll at a gym, taxes and insurance may already be taken care of. If you’re running your own business, talk to an accountant about how to handle taxes. And check out your options for liability insurance as a personal trainer.

3. Be Willing to Commit

Most personal trainers don’t wake up one day with a schedule booked with clients. It takes time to get clients, train them, and get results. The first couple of months can be hard. But if you stick with it, just one client who gets great results can be an excellent referral source to help you stay busy.

4. Choose a Part-time or Full-time Path

Being a personal trainer can be a full-time job. But it doesn’t have to be. Lots of successful trainers work part-time hours around school, family, another job, or other obligations. It’s a good idea to know what you want to do when you get started. But don’t worry, you can always change your mind later.

5. Be a Good Listener/Teacher

One of the best skills you can have as a personal trainer is being a good listener. When a client feels comfortable telling you about their health, fitness, diet, and other things in their life, you’ve got valuable information to help you create a customized training program to help them get results.

Of course, you have to do more than just listen. Trainers are also great teachers who can show a client how to squat safely, for example, and make smart decisions about nutrition.

But it doesn’t stop there. You’ll also need to be able to motivate and inspire clients to stay on track to achieve their goals. One way you can do this is by simply being a model for health and fitness by working out and eating right.

6. Expect Income Fluctuations

It’s one of the challenges of being a personal trainer. One week you might be fully booked with client sessions every hour. The next week, only half of your available hours are booked. And that means there can be income fluctuations from week to week or month to month. Create a plan to help you manage your finances.

7. Be Organized

There’s a lot more to keep track of as a personal trainer than just reps and sets. You’ll want to develop a system to organize and secure client information. Easy access to fitness assessments and progress reports will help you provide a better client experience. A paper-based filing system works, but more and more trainers are using online platforms and software to stay organized. And if you’re not already using a calendar to keep track of your training sessions, it’s time to start.

If you’ve been thinking about becoming a personal trainer, now is always the best time to start. Complete the coursework and pass the exam, and you’ll be ready to help clients lose weight, build muscle, and achieve their fitness goals. And with these tips, you’ll be on the right path to building a successful personal training business.

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