Short answer – It is extremely easy to become a personal trainer because there are no barriers to entry in many countries around the world. To become a personal trainer in many countries, you simply say “I am a personal trainer.”
However, to answer this question more thoroughly, we need to open the context of the question more. In this article, we’re going to look at a few more specific questions:
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In that same light, we are going to remain more surface level with these answers, but we’ll provide you with helpful links to deeper articles surrounding the economics of personal training and fitness coaching as well as some of the trainer certifications that are out there for personal trainers.
Let’s dig in.
This is a really appropriate question because most personal trainers have seen that most larger gyms such as Lifetime Fitness, Equinox, YMCA, and Gold’s Gym almost always require trainer certification(s) in order to be considered for a personal trainer role. So, to answer this question, we’ll ask two more:
The reality is that if you go work for a large globo gym – think Lifetime Fitness – you will almost assuredly need a nationally recognized trainer certification to get through the door. The reason that gyms do this is because it reduces their risk of liability, it lowers their insurance vs if their trainers didn’t have certification(s), and it “should” increase the likelihood of their trainers doing a better job training their members.
Depending on which globo gym you go to, one of these certifications generally works to get you started:
**If you want a lot more info about those particular certifications, check this out
The purpose of this article isn’t to go deeply into these certifications; it’s merely to list them and make you aware that you’ll likely need one of those certifications to work in the United States big-box chain gyms.
This is where, in the United States, things get very open-ended. There are many gyms that do not require any certifications, and there are a large number of micro gym owners who opened their gyms to bypass all of the red tape that having to pony up to the certifying bodies leads to. The above list would still be the list that would generally prepare a coach to work in a smaller studio unless that studio had their own certification. An example of this would be CrossFit. I know countless numbers of CrossFit coaches who do personal training without a nationally recognized certification. Are those coaches better or worse based on not having the certification? To be frank, I don’t see any piece of paper making a coach better without them practicing all of the principles inside of the course, and I also don’t see it as beneficial unless the coach has support as they grow in their coaching practice.
(Resource: Get an introduction to our coaching principles and begin separating yourself from the masses of personal trainers here.)
This depends on which country you’re speaking about. In the United States and Australia, for example, there are actually pretty rigorous certifying bodies that personal trainers must go through. In other countries, it’s more like the United States where the country doesn’t mandate those bodies but because of the relationships that the big gyms have to the certifying bodies, trainers are often forced to get the certifications in order to get their foot in the door. And then there are some smaller countries where there is virtually no certifying body of any kind. We’ll just call that the Wild West.
Trainers need to do two things really well with their clients:
If we begin there, the knowledge a trainer needs must support those two endeavors.
For a very large percentage of most personal trainer’s client, the fitness results they want are to look and feel better. Generally looking better, in terms of what the trainer can control, is losing weight or building muscle. That means that the personal trainer needs to understand the principles of losing weight and building muscle.
This is where many clients reading this would say “but I don’t want to get ‘big.’” This one always makes me laugh. The amount of work that somebody would need to do, and the amount of food that they need to eat is substantial to put on a good amount of lean body mass (muscle). There are many women who don’t want to be “ripped,” which I understand, but the reality is that it takes a dedicated focus to training, food, recovery, and lifestyle to achieve that. Most “normal” clients will not get to the point of being ripped if they don’t want to be, and should that client start getting “too close” to that look, you can always change their training program.
So, how do you help your clients lose weight and build lean muscle?
Notice I am not talking about specific goal results or specific bodybuilding results. I am talking about your sweet spot of a target market of clients: weight loss and lean body mass gain. If you learn the principles of those five bullets above, you will help a substantial number of your clients for a very long period of time.
Where can you learn how to do weight training, easy aerobic work, simple nourishment, simple sleep strategies, and lower stress?
Selfishly, I would say OPEX. Our OPEX CCP Program teaches OPEX’s method for personalized fitness, and we teach you how to implement very intelligent strategies to help your clients see tangible results. You can get a free introduction to our system of coaching here. Sign up now and learn to get your clients the results they want with The Free 7-Day OPEX Coaching Course.
Something important for personal trainers to remember is that you are the fitness arm of your client’s overall health strategy. You are not a psychologist, nor do you want to be.
To build great relationships with your clients, you need to ask them great questions to help them figure out their priorities and values, you need to learn some basics of human behavior so that you can better detect why they are or aren’t being compliant, you need to understand some basics of stress and lifestyle factors, and you need to spend time talking to your clients in a caring and empathetic way.
Where can you learn how to build better relationships with your clients?
Again, this is what we do at OPEX. Our CCP Program is designed to be the place to help you learn and implement the knowledge that you need to help your clients for decades. Get an introduction to the same coaching principles taught in CCP by signing up for the Free Coach’s Toolkit.
With some firepower behind you in terms of what certifications may help you in the bigger box gyms and what education will tangibly help you help your initial clients, let’s move on to how hard it is to get a job in the industry.
In the research we’ve done with numerous coaches and personal trainers, we rarely come across a personal trainer who can’t find a job. Because there are so many gyms in the world – and that number is growing – and because those gyms often have personal training departments that want to grow the total number of clients who do personal training – because it increases those client’s lifetime value – gyms are very often hiring personal trainers.
If you want to get a job as a personal trainer, you’ll need to do a few things well:
You may need to go through this process a few times to find the best fit, so prepare yourself for that now. You’ll need to have a thick skin in case you’re told you’re a poor fit. Nothing to worry about, onto the next and better fit.
In the fitness landscape, there are many personal trainer jobs available, but many of them will then require a number of years of great results and continued education for you to earn more money and status within the company. Prepare for that and look for the companies who will help you learn and grow the best and fastest and you’ll be in a great position.
If you spent the time to get the job that you wanted in the gym you’re excited for, now it’s time to deliver the goods. You need to do three things well as a personal trainer once you’ve been hired
We must include the fact that you’ll need to be a bit entrepreneurial as a personal trainer – truth be told, you may need to be very entrepreneurial because you’ll get paid on the number of people you train – because you will need to be “in demand.” The personal training game is built on referrals. The better you build your profile and success stories of your clients, the more in demand you’ll be. As you build that demand, you must also build your ability to sell. This isn’t an article teaching you how to sell (we do that in our OPEX CCP Program), but you must know that you need to be able to connect well with people, explain who you are, what you do, and why you have status, ask great questions to help steer the conversation, and then you must be able to elegantly offer them the opportunity to train with you so that they can achieve what they’ve just explained to you is their problem that you have just explained to them how you’ll solve it.
If you take actions to improve your client results, build quality relationships, and drive in new clients to the gym and to your personal training business within the gym, your outcomes will be:
To be successful in all three areas of personal training, you must build trust, and trust is built as you show :
To earn more and more success as a personal trainer, you must always be elevating those three C’s. Some of the best ways to maintain your ascent in those areas are:
I hope you’ve enjoyed these thoughts. In reality, it’s not very hard to get a personal training job, but it’s more challenging to get the right personal training job and then grow in it for decades. Spend some time strategizing how you’ll do this and then throw your hat in the ring. There is no better way to begin a journey than by taking the right first step