Being out of school for only 3 years I have just taken all the steps to set a foundation in the fitness industry. I am also an expert on the topic because I have traveled around New England presenting to college students on entrepreneurship in the fitness industry and how to become a respected certified personal trainer. For two years I was also the New England Regional Intern Director for Plus One Health Management where I picked and trained interns daily to become fitness professionals.
Being a personal trainer can mean many things and the title includes a broad variety of people. At one end of the spectrum is the self proclaimed CPT to the other end and the Strength and Conditioning Specialists with master degrees in exercise physiology or advanced biomechanics.
In general the trainer’s employer will decide what qualifications the trainers need. To be a respected personal trainer will require a national training certification from the better known organizations and associations such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), or National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Receiving a personal training certification from one of these distinguished organizations will require the student to purchase study materials, take optional classes or seminars (recommended), study and of course pass the certification exam. Beyond the national certification having a related degree will put you in a superior position for better paid training jobs.
Beyond the fancy resume fillers I find that a trainer’s success hinges on their personality. In most cases trainers work for commission. Trainers need to sell themselves as much as the training sessions. A successful trainer will be personable, easy to talk to, have an ability to comfort the client, explain things with clarity and overall be generally likeable. It helps to be outgoing, energetic, and positive. I tell my interns that they need to be the most energetic person in the gym and people will feed off of them and find the energy to workout. In addition to the education it takes to train, self marketing is of equal importance.
Personal Training can be competitive as it is very easy to enter the field. With a health related degree and national certification you can separate yourself from the pack. In the public gym setting you will be out there with other trainers all sharing the same population of members who could be future clients. I find the more likeable and outgoing trainers will always be more successful with sales. Your business can build from there as many new clients come from referrals. Take care of your clients and they will take care of you. I have always given my clients gift certificates on their birthdays and holidays. Those little things go a long was as you build a relationship with the person.
Sell yourself, comfort the client, then deliver results. People don’t mind paying for what works.