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Skills Needed to Be a Certified Personal Trainer

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published July 2015 and has recently been updated and revised for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Personal trainers are often their own greatest assets, advertisements and selling points. But why? Is it because of their approach and technique? Or is it because they exemplify the standards of health and fitness through proper nutrition and training? Perhaps it’s a combination of all of the above.

At the end of the day, a successful career is defined by an individual’s dedication to becoming the best possible person he or she can be in his or her respective roles—in this case, personal training. Do you have the skills needed to be a certified personal trainer?

Six Skills a Certified Personal Trainer Needs to Master

Knowledge of the industry

In order to guide your clients to success, you must be at the forefront of the market to stay informed and knowledgeable for your clients. In addition to staying on top of the latest trends, remember that your education never stops at your certification because the industry is always evolving. This approach to professional growth will also help you to become open to new possibilities. If you always dreamed of writing for a fitness magazine or lifestyle blog, for example—with the right expertise, you’re that much closer to fulfilling that dream. But you don’t have to wait to find the right publication to start sharing your knowledge. Creating your own blog and sharing your articles on your social media channels is a great way to demonstrate your health and fitness knowledge to strengthen your brand and attract new clients.

Passion and determination

Personal trainers’ passions are made crystal clear to their clients because they follow their own advice and are constantly looking for ways to improve their lifestyles through education, challenging activities and proper nutrition. Your passion for the health and fitness industry will also help you to explain and guide your clients through a training plan in a way that imbues confidence and motivation.

Friendly personality

If there is one thing your clients are looking for in a personal trainer, it’s instant motivation. But your clients also want a trainer that is approachable and easy to talk to. That’s where your outgoing and friendly nature can really come in handy. Think of it this way: If the interaction between you and your potential client is seamless, you’re more likely to sell your services on the spot. Not to mention, you’ll bond with your potential and existing clients much faster when you’re friendly and approachable.


Following a by-the-book method is so last century. As a personal trainer you must have the ability to harness your creativity to keep your fitness routines fresh, challenging and engaging. When you’re coming up with routines, focus on your clients goals. Do they hope to tone and build muscle all over? If so, combine HIIT and cardio for an optimal, targeted fitness program.


Successful trainers inspire their clients to accomplish their health and fitness goals through proper training and a healthy, well-balanced diet. In order to accomplish this, you must have powerful leadership skills and the ability to motivate others through sound instruction and advice.

Organizational skills

Organizational skills are paramount in most industries. In organizing your training schedule and managing personal time, personal trainers are presented with a challenge. With the right skills, however, you can be successful. Take time management for example. If your clients don’t have much time to dedicate to your training sessions, you will have to make the best use of your time together and the time in between your sessions. Luckily, technology is making it easier to stay on top of things. There are a variety of apps available to help make everything from creating unique training plans to communicating with clients faster and easier.

At AFPA we provide world-class health, fitness and nutrition advice. To learn more about how you can find success in the personal-training industry, download our Personal Trainer Career Guide.

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