Gathering motivation to get in shape can be tough, and staying on track with a fitness routine can be hard without a little bit of outside encouragement. Personal trainers work closely with clients to help them reach their fitness goals, and they provide support and guidance every step of the way. If you're looking for a way to turn your passion for fitness into a career, becoming a personal trainer is an option to consider. Before you can get paid to hit the gym, there are a few requirements you'll need to meet.
Get in Shape
While you don't need to be an Olympic athlete or a bodybuilder to become a personal trainer, you do need to be in good shape. Clients will judge you based on your appearance, and many want a role model they can strive to emulate, so it's natural for them to prefer working with a trainer that's in good shape over a trainer that can't run a mile or complete a single dead lift. You need to be capable of completing all of the exercises you recommend to clients yourself, so focus on improving both your strength and endurance. Invest in a gym membership or work out at home, and spend time experimenting with a wide variety of exercises to target every part of your body.
Every gym has its own requirements for personal trainers, and some may hire people with no prior experience or education. However, gyms generally prefer to employ qualified trainers who've completed at least a certificate program in fitness training. Enroll in a training program and take some classes to help further your career goals, or consider earning a degree in exercise physiology, physical science or a related field. Some programs, such as the one offered by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, offer a self-study option for busy students, making it easy to fit your schooling into your hectic schedule. With formal education under your belt, you'll have more opportunities available to you -- and you'll be able to provide clients with higher quality training.
Certification in personal training isn't always required, but being certified could expand your career options. Certification is offered by a number of organizations, including the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. Earning certification generally requires completing a certificate program through the certifying agency and passing a written and practical exam. Additionally, you'll need to earn certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, and may be required to do so prior to earning your personal trainer certification.
While being passionate about exercise and knowing how to administer CPR will help you break out in your career as a personal trainer, you won't get very far if you don't have the necessary skills to succeed at your job. Personal trainers work closely with clients, and excellent customer service and communication skills are essential. You need to be able to listen to your clients' desires regarding their physical shape and develop effective workout routines to help them meet their goals. You also need to be good at speaking and instructing so you can teach clients the correct way to perform various exercises. To keep your clients' spirits up and their minds focused on fitness, motivational skills are a must. Additionally, you need to be an effective problem solver so you can analyze the plans you've created for your clients and determine when adjustments need to be made to help them achieve better results.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Fitness Trainers and Instructors
- O*Net OnLine: Summary Report for Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors
- National Academy of Sports Medicine: Become a Personal Trainer
- Aerobics and Fitness Association of America: Personal Trainer Certification