How To Become a Personal Trainer

Posted by Sarah Robertson on Monday, November 8, 2010.

Something I get asked a lot is how I became a personal trainer & what made me want to be one in the first place.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is why do you want to be a personal trainer. If your answer is to get a big paycheck you should consider a different career. I hate to be so harsh but being a personal trainer is all about helping others achieve their goals & making them feel great about all their new accomplishments. I find that way more rewarding than money! You have to put your clients first so they feel comfortable, most people are pretty nervous when they first start working with a trainer. If they don’t feel comfortable around you they aren’t going to want to go to you for help. You also have to ENJOY putting them first. Sure there will be days when it will get to be very stressful working around the clock completing your clients program design in time for their next session, conducting free consultations, looking for new clients to add to your schedule, & getting in all those continuing education courses but it all pays off in the end! There is nothing better than the feeling you get when a client simply tells you that they enjoy the time spent with you even though you’re giving them a butt kicking!  So if you want to be a personal trainer to lend your fitness expertise to those in need & change people’s lifestyles for the better (often times for very little pay, especially while you are first starting out), then this may be the career for you!

Now there is the question of how. How does one going from fitness enthusiast to fitness professional? There are a few different routes you can take but today I am going to focus on the route I took which was going straight to getting an NCCA accredited certification. Why? It’s really simple actually, whether you take classes at a community college, go to a seminar, self teach, shadow another trainer, or even have a bachelors degree in exercise science a gym is going to ask that you have a certification that is accredited be the NCCA before they hire you.

I went with The National Academy of Sports Medicine (or NASM). I chose them because they focus a lot on corrective exercises. Many gym members that you will meet will be plagued with muscle imbalances & injuries. It’s really important to know how to handle this, you don’t want to further injure your clients! While this is my personal choice there are many certifications out there to choose from, you have to just look around and find an organization that suites your needs & relates to your own training philosophy. It is also very helpful to visit some of your local gyms and ask what certifications they prefer their trainers to have or ask some trainers at your gym what they suggest, most are happy to lend advice.

Other organizations to consider are:

NOTE: You will also be asked to obtain a CPR/AED certification. Visit The American Red Cross website to find a class in your area!

Each organization has a different certification process. Some are entirely done at home, some involve a weekend seminar or webinar. Some are done on the computer & some provide textbooks or a combination of the two. Again everyone will have different needs or preferences you just have to do your research & find the one that the on that is right for you. Just please be careful and watch out for scams! There are so many people out their trying to make money off of people with the best intentions of finding a good certification, don’t let them fool you. This is another reason to ask gyms in your area what they prefer for you to have.

Once you get certified the next step is to look for the perfect gym for you! It can be a little discouraging at first, some gyms want trainers that already have experience but don’t give up! Everyone has to start somewhere & you WILL find a gym that is willing to give a new trainer a shot. You can also try shadowing a trainer that already has experience. You won’t be compensated but he or she will give some very valuable advice.

From there everyone has their own journey. You may decide to work in a health club for the rest of your career or start your own business. You may also find an area of fitness that you want to specialize in and limit yourself to that specific area. The possibilities are endless from this point on!

I hope some of you found this helpful if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment & I’ll do my best to answer you. Are there any trainers out there that want to share their experience or have any advice? I would love to hear from you too!

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