How to become a successful personal trainer


If you are passionate about helping people achieve their goals and fitness, becoming a personal trainer could be a great career option . You may be a keen fitness enthusiast and have done personal training in the past. Or maybe you have created or coached a fitness program. There are many steps you need to follow to become a certified personal trainer, get employment, or start your own business. Find out more about this career and decide if it’s right for you.

Find out if personal training is right for you

Personal training can seem like a fulfilling career from the outside. Personal training allows you to help others achieve their goals. It’s also flexible and offers many options. Personal training has many great benefits, but you need to consider all angles before making the leap.


Personal trainers, like other professionals in specialized fields, need to be able to use a range of skills. Personal trainers must have the ability to coach clients and create personalized training plans. You must enjoy working with people of all ages, be self-motivated and be able to listen well. This competitive industry requires patience, organization skills, persistence, and patience.



It’s important to understand the work environment before you start this new career. You can improve your client training skills with practice. While you can learn about the business of personal training, it is best to get practical experience. Although it may seem easy, training can be difficult.

Clients who are:

  • Do you feel afraid to push too hard?
  • Do not expect them to comply with your workouts
  • Blame them if they fail to reach their weight or fitness goals.
  • Cancel without notice
  • There are many excuses why people don’t want to exercise.
  • Injuries or Other Conditions 2
  • Never exercised before and require good modeling to even do the most basic exercises
  • Wear your workout shoes and other essential exercise gear.

Each person is unique, so you must be able determine what you can push the client to do, what their needs are, and what they want. If a workout is not going as planned, you need to be flexible and willing to make changes.

Both the pros and cons


  • Flexibility
  • Fulfillment
  • Potential for Growth
  • Relationships


  • Hours of work that are not traditional
  • Sales stress
  • Unpredictable pay
  • Burnout potential

Personal training can lead to many rewarding and fulfilling careers. These are the best aspects of personal training, from the work itself to the client relationships.


  • It’s flexible. You can often set your own work hours. If you are working for yourself, you may be able set your own fees.
  • It’s rewarding. It’s amazing to see and feel the difference when you help a client.
  • There are many opportunities for growth and variety. Personal training is often a starting point for other pursuits, such as becoming a personal trainer, a health writer or seeking higher education.
  • You can build relationships. Personal training is a great way to get to know people and build relationships.


Personal training is a career that requires you to be ready for all the challenges. These are some of the many gratifying aspects to personal training.


  • Peak hours are the most convenient for the client. Clients can cancel without notice and reschedule. Most people want to train before, after or on weekends. Your busiest times will be often on weekends.
  • Learn how to market your services. Although most people do not choose to work in the fitness industry because they enjoy selling, it is an important part of your job, particularly if you are working at a commercial gym. Part-trainer and part-marketer will be required to sell your training services to potential customers.
  • The pay is variable. Personal trainers can earn anywhere from $15 an hour to more than $100 an hour depending on their location, work experience, and where they live. Your hourly rate is not the only thing that will affect your income. It also depends on how many hours you can work each week.
  • Income might not be stable. Personal training is not without its challenges. You may have a full day, but the next you will not have anyone to work with. This can often mean that you aren’t getting paid.
  • Burnout is more common. Personal training requires a lot of energy. It is easy to burn out, especially when you are training constantly.

Be certified as a personal trainer

You have decided that personal training is right for you. Now you need to become certified. It is important to determine if the certifying agency has been certified.


Certifying organizations have their protocols and certification procedures accredited by an independent third-party, such as National Commission for Certifying Agencies. Find out which certifications are required or recognized by the employer you wish to work for.


Do your research. You can find answers to these questions on the websites of certifying agencies:


  • Is the exam available online or on-site? Where and when can the exams be taken if they are offered on-site?
  • Is the exam a requirement to attend a seminar or workshop? If so, where can you find them? Is this a home study program or a workshop?
  • What is the cost of this course? Prices range from $300 to $1000, and may not include study materials or workshops.
  • Is it a national/international certification? Does it have universal recognition?
  • What continuing education requirements are required to renew a certificate? Most certifications require that you complete a certain amount of continuing education hours. This will add cost and commitment.
  • What are the requirements for taking the exam? The majority of the exams require a high school diploma and a CPR certificate. You must also be at least 18 years old.

Certifying Organizations

There are many other certification organizations, but these are the most well-known and accredited.


  • ACE, American Council on Exercise, accredited by NCCA
  • ACSM, American College of Sports Medicine, accredited by NCCA
  • AFPA American Fitness Professionals and Associates, not accredited
  • IFPA International Fitness Professionals Association, accredited by NCCA
  • ISSA is an International Sports & Sciences Association, accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission
  • NASM National Academy of Sports Medicine, accredited by NCCA
  • NCSA National Strength and Conditioning Association, accredited by NCCA
  • NCSF National Council on Strength and Fitness, accredited by NCCA
  • NFPT National Federation of Professional Trainers, accredited by NCCA


You can find a job as a personal trainer

Personal trainers can be either an employee or an independent contractor. Clients can also be trained by you. Many trainers prefer to work in an established company when they are just starting out. Here are some ideas for job opportunities:

  • Commercial gyms: Many popular gyms like XSport, 24 Hour Fitness and Gold’s Gym hire new trainers every day. This can lead to lower wages, commissions, selling lots, and long hours spent on new member orientations in order to gain new clients.
  • Corporate wellness: Companies that offer corporate wellness packages can hire you if they are interested in improving their employees’ health.
  • Personal training is offered by many cruise lines. You can search online for different jobs at different cruise lines using Cruise Ship Jobs Finders.
  • Wellness centers: Many hospitals have personal trainers who help patients with their illnesses and other conditions. This may require a specialization or higher education to work with clients with health issues.
  • Check with your local park district or community center to learn about clubs that offer personal training. Personal training is available at almost all fitness clubs. This could be a good place to begin.
  • Personal Training Studios: These studios focus almost exclusively on small group and personal training. They may need more education or experience, but they are usually more expensive.
  • All-inclusive resorts and spas may hire personal trainers to instruct classes. Online job boards such as Cool Works or offer job listings for resorts and spas.


Take a look at a specialty

You will gain a better understanding of the types of clients that you enjoy training over time. The next step is to continue your education and obtain a specialty certification. A specialty certification will give you more to offer clients and allow you to charge more for your services. Many certifying agencies offer several specialty certifications. You may be eligible for a discount if your basic certification is already valid.

There are many options:

  • Sports: Help athletes improve their speed, balance, agility, and overall performance.
  • Lifestyle and Weight Management: Clients can be helped to change bad behaviors and create healthier habits.
  • Medical – With a medical specialty such as the Health and Fitness Specialist certification from ACE, you are able to work with clients recovering from heart conditions, muscle sprains or orthopedic surgery.
  • Nutrition – This add-on certificate allows you to help clients with their diet goals. You can give them advice on how to eat healthy and lose weight. 3
  • Orthopedics – You can help clients with knee pain, arthritis or other conditions.
  • Special populations – This certification allows you to work with older adults and help maintain their muscle mass. You can also work with younger children to create fitness programs that are appropriate for their goals and ages.


Continue your education

No matter what specialty you pursue, continuing education is required to keep your certification current. You will also be able to keep up with the latest information in health and fitness.


  • The American Council on Exercise (ACE), offers tours workshops that can be used to earn credits for ACE, ACSMSM, NFPT and other certifications.
  • Empower fitness events are held throughout the year in different cities. You can earn all of your credits in one go while keeping up to date with the latest in fitness.
  • Human Kinetics offers many continuing education courses that can be used by almost any certifying organization.
  • The IDEA Health & Fitness Association offers a variety of courses online and in-person. You can also get all your credits at the IDEA World Convention.


Start a Business

After you have gained some experience and become certified, you might decide to start your own business, either as a sole proprietor or limited liability company (LLC), corporation, or sole proprietor. You should also learn about the benefits and drawbacks of working as an independent contractor in a gym, rather than as an employee.


Business Management

Personal training is a popular choice for people who want to help others. However, you will need to be familiar with the details of personal training, including business registration, incorporation, licensing, planning, zoning, budgeting and accounting. You also need to track your expenses and file taxes. If you don’t know much about these topics, it is worth taking a course in small business at your local community college.


Financial Investment

You will need to invest money at the beginning to get your business started. You may need:

  • Business expenses : Website, business cards and liability insurance. Also, insurance for health, marketing, and continuing education to keep your certification current.
  • Fitness equipment: Cardio equipment like a treadmill, weights and resistance bands, mats and weight benches, step, BOSU and other balance and stability gear
  • Other – Quality clothes, shoes, music system and towels


Marketing and Promotion

Marketing is the most important aspect of starting your own business. These are some of the most important things to do in order to get your name out.


  • Networking – Do your research to see if you are eligible to join the Chamber of Commerce, or any other professional group. You can also find groups via Meetup. You can also network with professionals at industry events such as expos, fairs and trade shows.
  • Referrals – Your clients can be a great source for marketing to their friends and family. Referring clients can get discounts or a free session. Clients who refer others will also receive benefits.
  • Seminars – Offering free seminars on exercise, health, diet and other related topics is a great way for potential clients to be introduced.
  • Social media – Create profiles on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to allow you to communicate with potential clients and clients.
  • Website Getting a domain name is all it takes to set up your website. A web designer can help you create your website.
  • Advertising – Design, buy, and distribute print and digital ads. Sponsorships of local sports teams may be an option for increased exposure in local markets.


Become Indispensable

Personal trainer success requires talent, experience, and skill. A certification does not guarantee you will get clients, or that you will be able keep them. It is important to train your clients, but it is equally important to treat them well.


  • Attend workshops and conferences. It is amazing what you can learn in just one weekend by taking classes with experts. Also, you can often get new equipment at a discounted price. You will find that your clients appreciate the new gear and workouts, as well as your renewed enthusiasm.
  • Conduct regular assessments. You can help your clients lose weight and gain strength by scheduling an assessment every few months.
  • Stay in touch. It is important to keep in touch with your client beyond sessions. To check in, send a quick text or email. Print and make workouts that they can follow. Send them your favourite recipes or interesting articles about their goals. These little gestures show clients that you are invested in their success as well as your relationship.
  • Listen. Active listening is the most important thing you can offer a client. Make it a point at the beginning to check in with your client and determine how they are feeling that day. Then adjust the workout accordingly.


A word from Verywell

There are many opportunities for personal trainers, and the demand is growing because of obesity and sedentary lifestyles. To spread the word about fitness and health, the world needs more enthusiastic trainers. Before you decide to make a career as a trainer, take the time to find out what it takes.


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