HOW TO BECOME A PERSONAL FITNESS TRAINER
Updated: Aug 18
Here's how to become a personal fitness trainer
How to start your career as a personal trainer & fitness coach.
Becoming a personal fitness trainer is quite similar to starting your career in any other industry.
The steps you take and the path you follow is the same. You get a formal education. You pay your dues with a low paying job on the bottom of the ladder. You gain necessary experience. You work your way up in both credibility and pay. You garner a reputation as an expert.
I'm Dennis Romatz, personal trainer at Dennis Romatz Fitness with personal trainer locations in Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Chicago.
People who choose a career as a personal trainer come from all backgrounds. Most often, people who are sporty, who excel at sports, who were the top performers in their gym class as kids or grow up physically active become personal trainers in greater numbers.
There are exception to this norm. You'll often times see and hear of people who were not active or who were overweight, change their lives and turn to fitness to help others while reinforcing their positive and healthy lifestyle.
Here, I give you tips, pointers and advice on how to become not just a personal trainer, but rather, one of the best personal fitness trainers in the world.
So, let's take a deep dive into the world of fitness coaching.
Here's how to become a personal trainer.
Get a formal exercise science education:
Getting a personal trainer, fitness coach and health & fitness industry professional education is absolutely vital and the first step in not just becoming a personal trainer, but a high quality personal trainer and fitness industry professional.
Three of the most relevant University health & fitness related curriculums are:
These three fitness education curriculums will include necessary and vital classes such as Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Principles of Human Movement & Biomechanics, Cardiovascular Risk Factors.
Learning and knowing every muscle, tendon and ligament is essential for being able to successfully fitness train people.
The education gained from any of these three University health & fitness major curriculums will provide you with the necessary knowledge to train clients intelligently and will be your most important tools for becoming successful.
Get a personal trainer certification:
Having a personal trainer certifications is the bare minimum for working as a personal fitness trainer in a commercial gym, fitness center and personal training boutique studio.
Getting a personal trainer certification is the default pathway for people who choose not to attend a University and gain a health & fitness education.
A personal trainer certification course will provide with some of the necessary human anatomy & physiology information, but not all. There are many personal trainer certifications, however most you will need an Internationally recognized, NCCA accredited personal trainer certification to work as any credible gym.
Some of the best and most credible NCCA personal certification organizations are:
NASM - National Academy of Sports Medicine
ACSM - American College of Sports Medicine
ACE - American Council on Exercise
ISSA - International Sports Sciences Association
NSCA - National Strength & Conditioning Association
Get personal training experience:
We, as humans, learn through performing, doing and practicing. If we practice our craft well enough and long enough, we'll get good at it and one day become known as the best.
The same is true for personal trainers. In the beginning stages as a personal trainer, your avenue for getting a job will be at a franchised commercial gym that pays the lowest or a very low per hour salary. However, this is how you pay your dues, start to gain a training clientele and gain experience.
Personal training managers at gym will require you to "walk the floor" and get yourself noticed. Nobody will hire you if you are in the back room on your phone. So, it behooves you to always be walking the gym floor, providing training tips to gym patrons and offering to give free trial sessions to folks to prove your value.
Focus on exemplary personal characteristics:
Being a successful personal trainer means embodying characteristics of a leader. This is also true for a professional personal trainer.
Here are some important and exemplary personal character traits of a personal trainer.
Keep training appointments
Be on time for every personal training session
Show up early / stay late
Be neatly dressed with an impressive appearance
Maintain an exemplary & fit body
Be polite and never use foul language
Always do what a wise person would do
Shake your clients hands before every session
Focus on continued health & fitness education
Know your audience:
The worst mistake I see personal trainers making is getting caught in a rut of only personal training in a cookie-cutter one size fits all box. This style is usually the default of weightlifting and bodybuilding as it's the easiest method of training.
I mean, all a personal trainer really has to do is stand next to his or her client and count to ten. Well, that's what they think at least. Reality is they couldn't be further from the truth and further from what their clients need.
Reality is, after carefully studying my personal training clients for the past 36 years, most clients have their primary goal set as weight loss. So, if a personal trainer really wants more clients and has a desire to earn more money, they need to focus on the vast majority of people hiring personal trainers and what exactly their goals is.
I saw a lot of personal trainers coming out of the 1990's bodybuilding era get stuck in the same style of fitness program for every client and even worse, targeting bodybuilding clients.
A personal trainer with a website connected to Google Analytics only needs to see that the most search keyword besides "personal trainer" is "weight loss".
So, be smart with who you market yourself to as a personal trainer. Do your research in your particular city or training location and know what your personal training audience wants and why they need a personal trainer to help them.
Be a good communicator:
It's not enough to have a formal University health & fitness related education and/or a personal trainer certification. You must be able to articulate and communicate the clinical based material to your client.
Well presented material comes across with a powerful message...."this personal trainer knows his or her stuff and communicates it in a manner that I can easily understand it".
Treat every personal training session as an interview for your client signing up for another package of 10 sessions.
Be a leader:
In any profession, there are varying levels of staff including upper management, management and subordinates.
The fitness industry has Gym Managers, Personal Training Directors, Elite level personal trainers, Master personal trainers and rookie personal trainers. No matter what your position, status and level of personal trainer, always be a leader. Show up early, stay late, put the weights away even if you didn't leave them on the bar. Help out in the gym. Do the little things that count. Gym Managers and Personal Training Directors will be watching you and appreciate the small gestures.
Be the personal trainer who is striving to learn more, train more people and gain more experience so that soon enough, you will be the Personal Training director.
One of the best ways to become a personal training leader is to start by accepting 6am personal training sessions.
Yes, it's early. You'll set your alarm for 4:30am, but you'll be doing what others won't. And this means that you're already molding your personal behaviors to be a leader.
Someone has to be the next Personal Training Director in the new gym opening down the road. It might as well be you. Work hard, train smart and be a leader so that it is in fact you.
Become a fitness mentor:
If you have a passion for personal training and you love your job and helping people become fit and healthy, the ultimate feather in your cap will be to become a personal training mentor to the younger, newer trainers entering into the fitness industry.
When you have reached the top of the personal trainer ladder, you will be the person who has gained so much health & fitness knowledge, experience, insight and wisdom that you simply find yourself passing on your knowledge, helping others to become healthier, better people.
It might be little words of encouragement to a client who is struggling or perhaps clinical advise for a client on how to correct their Anterior Pelvic tilt.
We are in an industry where our job is to help people become healthier versions of themselves and realize vibrant, optimal lives.
Strive to be the person at the top of the personal trainer ladder who is that wise old Grand Father who always has the best information and advise for your clients.
I have personal fitness training locations in cities world wide where I can help you become a highly qualified personal trainer.
Treat becoming a personal fitness trainer the same as you would treat becoming professional whether it be a Doctor, plumber or beautician.
Their are steps to take, education to be earned, experience to be gained. Be patient. Take all of the necessary steps.
Every personal training session is your opportunity to become a better personal trainer.
Stay passionate, work hard and be determined to succeed.
About the author:
Dennis Romatz is the Owner and Head Personal Trainer at Dennis Romatz Fitness representing the pinnacle of excellence in personal training with locations in Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Chicago, IL. You can contact Dennis to train with him in person or live online or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.