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  • Writer's pictureDennis Romatz

How to Become a Personal Trainer in Chicago

Updated: Aug 19

So you're considering becoming a personal trainer in Chicago as a career. Being the owner of Dennis Romatz Fitness with my main business operations in Chicago, Illinois and a career professional personal trainer for more than five decades, please allow me to provide insight into just exactly how to become a personal trainer in Chicago and what exactly is involved the process and as well how to go about it intelligently and efficiently to be full prepared.

Take A Deep Dive Into How To Become a Personal Trainer In Chicago

Obtain Your Personal Trainer Education & Qualifications

To obtain personal trainer education and qualifications, you can follow these steps:

  1. Research educational options: Look for educational institutions or programs that offer courses or degrees in exercise science, exercise physiology, kinesiology, or related fields. Consider both traditional brick-and-mortar institutions and online learning options. Look for accredited programs to ensure the quality and recognition of your education. There are some reputable Universities globally who have excellent exercise science related programs with solid curriculums.

  2. Choose a program: Select a program that suits your needs, budget, and availability. Consider factors such as program length, course content, practical experience opportunities, and the reputation of the institution or program. You may opt for a diploma, associate degree, bachelor's degree, or even a master's degree in exercise science or a related field.

  3. Enroll in the program: Once you've selected a program, complete the application process and enroll. Be sure to meet any prerequisites or admission requirements, such as a high school diploma or equivalent. Depending on the program, you may need to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, or personal statements.

  4. Attend classes and complete coursework: Actively participate in classes, lectures, and labs to gain knowledge and practical skills. Complete assignments, projects, and exams as required by the program. The coursework may cover topics such as exercise physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, anatomy, program design, and client assessment.

  5. Gain practical experience: Some programs may include practical experience components, such as internships or clinical rotations. Take advantage of these opportunities to apply your knowledge in real-world settings, work with clients, and learn from experienced professionals. If your program doesn't offer practical experience, consider seeking part-time or volunteer positions at gyms, fitness centers, or sports organizations to gain hands-on experience. It's recommended that an aspiring personal trainer do an internship with a reputable, credible personal trainer such as myself (Dennis Romatz) to gain an understanding of what an actual personal training sessions looks like an how it is conducted.

  6. Obtain relevant certifications: While not always required, earning a personal training certification from a reputable organization can enhance your qualifications and marketability. Look for certifications offered by organizations like the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American Council on Exercise (ACE), or the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Research the prerequisites, study materials, and exam requirements for each certification and choose the one that aligns with your goals.

  7. Prepare for certification exams: Review the study materials provided by the certification organization and prepare for the exam. This may involve self-study, attending workshops or seminars, and taking practice exams to familiarize yourself with the content and format. Study topics such as exercise science, program design, client assessment, and legal and ethical considerations.

  8. Take the certification exam: Schedule and take the certification exam according to the guidelines provided by the certifying organization. The exam typically consists of multiple-choice questions and may have practical components as well. Passing the exam will earn you the certification and validate your knowledge and skills as a personal trainer.

A few of the relevant certifying agencies in Chicago who currently provide personal trainer certifications include:

  • American Council on Exercise (ACE)

  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

Both ACE and NASM have a variety pf personal trainer certification courses you can take to specialize in different areas of ben a personal trainer.

Remember to stay updated with the latest research, trends, and industry standards even after completing your education and obtaining certifications. Continuing education courses, workshops, and conferences can help you expand your knowledge and skills throughout your career as a personal trainer.

Gain Practical Personal Trainer Experience

To gain practical hands-on personal trainer experience, you can follow these steps:

  1. Complete a formal education program: Consider enrolling in a degree or certification program that includes practical experience components, such as internships or clinical rotations. These programs provide an opportunity to gain hands-on experience under the guidance of experienced professionals.

  2. Volunteer at local gyms or fitness centers: Approach local gyms, fitness centers, or sports organizations and inquire about volunteer opportunities. Offer to assist trainers with tasks such as setting up equipment, demonstrating exercises, or providing general support. This will allow you to observe and learn from experienced trainers while getting exposure to different types of clients and training settings.

  3. Seek part-time or entry-level positions: Look for part-time or entry-level positions at fitness facilities or personal training studios. These positions may involve duties like greeting clients, maintaining equipment, or assisting with administrative tasks. While not directly related to personal training, such roles provide valuable exposure to the fitness industry and allow you to network with professionals.

  4. Shadow experienced personal trainers: Reach out to personal trainers in your area and ask if you can shadow them during their training sessions. Shadowing provides an opportunity to observe how trainers interact with clients, design workouts, and address specific needs. It can be a valuable learning experience that helps you understand the practical aspects of personal training.

  5. Offer to train friends and family: Practice your skills by offering to train friends or family members who are interested in fitness. This allows you to gain experience working with individuals, assessing their needs, designing workout programs, and providing guidance and support. While training friends and family may not be the same as working with paying clients, it can help you develop your coaching style and build confidence in your abilities.

  6. Network with fitness professionals: Attend fitness industry events, workshops, and conferences to meet and network with established personal trainers and other professionals. Engage in conversations, express your interest in gaining experience, and inquire about potential mentorship or apprenticeship opportunities. Networking can lead to valuable connections and opportunities for learning and growth.

  7. Obtain relevant certifications: Earning certifications from reputable organizations, such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) or the American Council on Exercise (ACE), can enhance your credibility and demonstrate your commitment to professional development. Certifications often require practical experience hours, which can be gained through internships or supervised training sessions.

  8. Create a portfolio: Document your experiences, including any volunteer work, shadowing opportunities, or training you have done. Develop a portfolio that showcases your knowledge, skills, and accomplishments as a personal trainer. Include testimonials from those you have trained or worked with to demonstrate your abilities and professionalism.

At Dennis Romatz Fitness, we do, from time to time accept new personal trainers who want to shadow us to gain relevant, necessary personal training experience. Please contact me if you would like to be considered as a personal trainer intern.

Remember, gaining personal trainer experience takes time and dedication. Stay proactive, be open to learning from others, and continuously seek opportunities to refine your skills. As you accumulate experience, update your resume and leverage your network to find paid positions or clients who can benefit from your expertise as a personal trainer.

Learn and Exude Strong Personal Trainer Characteristics

A strong personal trainer possesses several factors and characteristics that contribute to their effectiveness and success. Here are some key factors and characteristics to consider:

  1. Knowledge and expertise: A strong personal trainer has a solid understanding of exercise science, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and program design. They stay updated with the latest research and industry trends, allowing them to provide accurate and evidence-based information to clients.

  2. Excellent communication skills: Effective communication is crucial for personal trainers. They can explain complex concepts in a clear and understandable manner, actively listen to clients' concerns, and adapt their communication style to meet individual needs. They also provide feedback and motivation in a positive and encouraging way.

  3. Strong interpersonal skills: Personal trainers work closely with clients and must establish rapport and build trust. They are empathetic, understanding, and supportive, and they genuinely care about their clients' well-being. They are skilled at creating a comfortable and non-judgmental environment where clients feel safe and motivated to reach their goals.

  4. Adaptability and customization: A strong personal trainer recognizes that every client is unique, with different goals, preferences, and abilities. They can tailor workouts and programs to meet individual needs, adapting exercises, intensity, and progressions as necessary. They also consider clients' limitations or medical conditions and adjust training accordingly.

  5. Motivational and inspiring: Personal trainers inspire and motivate their clients to achieve their fitness goals. They lead by example, exhibit a positive attitude, and provide continuous encouragement and support. They help clients set realistic and achievable goals and celebrate milestones along the way.

  6. Professionalism and ethical conduct: Strong personal trainers adhere to high ethical standards and maintain professionalism at all times. They respect client confidentiality, maintain appropriate boundaries, and prioritize client safety and well-being. They also stay within their scope of practice and refer clients to other healthcare professionals when necessary.

  7. Continuous learning and professional development: The fitness industry is constantly evolving, and strong personal trainers commit to ongoing learning and professional development. They attend workshops, seminars, and conferences, pursue advanced certifications or specializations, and seek opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills.

  8. Organizational and time management skills: Personal trainers juggle multiple clients and schedules. Strong personal trainers are organized, punctual, and efficient in managing their time and appointments. They plan and prepare individualized workouts in advance and ensure that sessions run smoothly and effectively.

  9. Results-oriented and goal-driven: A strong personal trainer is focused on helping clients achieve their desired outcomes. They set realistic goals with clients and design structured programs to optimize progress. They regularly assess and track clients' progress, adjusting strategies as needed to ensure continuous improvement.

  10. Professional network and collaboration: Strong personal trainers understand the value of collaboration and building a professional network. They foster relationships with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, physical therapists, and nutritionists, to provide comprehensive support for their clients' well-being.

Remember, while these factors and characteristics contribute to a strong personal trainer, each trainer may have their own unique strengths and style. It's important to find a personal trainer who aligns with your individual needs, preferences, and goals.

Apply For A Job As A Personal Trainer In Chicago

To apply for a job as a personal trainer in Chicago, Illinois, you can follow these steps:

  1. Prepare your resume: Update your resume to highlight your relevant education, certifications, and experience as a personal trainer. Include details about your qualifications, previous work experience, specialized training, and any notable achievements. Tailor your resume to showcase skills and attributes that are relevant to the specific job you are applying for.

  2. Research fitness facilities: Explore different fitness centers, gyms, and wellness centers in Chicago. Look for establishments that align with your training philosophy and the type of clients you would like to work with. Visit their websites or contact them directly to gather information about their services, clientele, and any job openings they may have.

  3. Craft a cover letter: Write a compelling cover letter that introduces yourself, expresses your interest in the position, and explains why you believe you would be a good fit for the specific facility or organization. Customize the letter for each application, highlighting how your skills and experience align with their needs and values.

  4. Submit your application: Submit your application materials, including your resume and cover letter, to the fitness facilities you are interested in. Follow their application instructions, which may involve emailing the documents, submitting them through an online application portal, or hand-delivering them to their physical location.

  5. Follow up: After submitting your application, consider following up with the hiring manager or human resources department to express your continued interest in the position. This can be done through email or a phone call. Be polite and professional in your communication and inquire about the status of your application or if there are any further steps you need to take.

  6. Prepare for interviews: If your application is shortlisted, you may be invited for an interview. Research common interview questions for personal trainer positions and prepare thoughtful and concise responses. Practice your interview skills and be ready to demonstrate your knowledge, experience, and ability to connect with clients.

  7. Showcase your qualifications: During the interview, emphasize your qualifications, certifications, and any specialized training you have. Highlight your ability to create personalized training programs, work with diverse populations, and achieve client goals. Share examples of success stories or client testimonials if applicable.

  8. Demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm: Personal training is a client-focused profession, so it's essential to show genuine passion and enthusiasm for helping others achieve their fitness goals. Share why you are passionate about personal training and how you are committed to making a positive impact on the lives of your clients.

  9. Be professional and confident: Dress professionally for the interview, maintain good posture, and project confidence in your abilities as a personal trainer. Be prepared to ask questions about the facility, their training philosophy, and the expectations they have for their trainers. Show that you are a dedicated professional who is committed to continuous learning and growth in the field.

  10. Provide references: If requested, provide professional references who can vouch for your skills and work ethic as a personal trainer. Choose individuals who have worked closely with you and can speak to your abilities and professionalism.

Remember, the job market and specific application processes can vary, so it's essential to stay proactive, follow instructions, and present yourself professionally throughout the application and interview process. Good luck with your job search as a personal trainer in Chicago!

Prove Your Value As A Personal Trainer During Each & Every Training Session

To prove your value as a personal trainer during each training session, you can focus on the following key areas:

  1. Client assessment: Begin each session by assessing your client's current fitness level, discussing their goals, and understanding any specific needs or limitations they may have. This demonstrates your commitment to personalized training and ensures that you design workouts that are tailored to their individual needs.

  2. Program design: Create well-structured and progressive workout programs that are based on your client's goals, abilities, and preferences. Incorporate a variety of exercises and training modalities to keep sessions engaging and effective. Show your expertise by designing programs that address strength, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and any other specific areas of focus.

  3. Proper technique and form: Emphasize the importance of proper technique and form during exercises to ensure safety and maximize the effectiveness of each movement. Provide clear instructions, demonstrate exercises, and offer hands-on guidance when necessary. Correct and adjust your client's form as needed to help them perform exercises correctly and prevent injuries.

  4. Individualized attention and coaching: Provide individualized attention to your client throughout the session. Offer constructive feedback and motivation to help them stay focused and push their limits. Use positive reinforcement to boost their confidence and create a supportive training environment.

  5. Progress tracking: Regularly monitor and track your client's progress to demonstrate the value of your training. This can include recording weights lifted, measuring improvements in endurance or flexibility, or tracking body measurements and composition changes. Show your clients their progress over time to motivate and inspire them.

  6. Goal-oriented approach: Continuously remind your client of their goals and connect each exercise and session to their overall objectives. Explain how specific exercises or training methods align with their goals and how they contribute to their progress. Help them set realistic short-term and long-term goals and develop strategies to achieve them.

  7. Adaptability and modifications: Be adaptable and responsive during each training session. Modify exercises and workouts as needed based on your client's energy levels, any injuries or discomfort, or changes in their goals or preferences. Show your ability to adjust and optimize the session to meet their needs in the moment.

  8. Education and explanation: Take the time to educate your client about the purpose and benefits of the exercises and training methods you are using. Explain how specific exercises target certain muscle groups, improve functional fitness, or enhance overall health. This empowers your clients to understand the "why" behind their training and fosters a sense of ownership and commitment.

  9. Professionalism and punctuality: Arrive on time and be prepared for each session. Demonstrate professionalism by dressing appropriately, maintaining a positive attitude, and being respectful and attentive to your client's needs. Show that you value their time and investment in your services.

  10. Support and motivation: Provide ongoing support, encouragement, and motivation to your clients. Be a source of inspiration and help them overcome challenges or setbacks. Show empathy and understanding, and create a positive and motivating atmosphere that makes them look forward to each training session.

Consistently demonstrating these qualities during each training session will help prove your value as a personal trainer. By delivering personalized, effective, and supportive training experiences, you can establish a strong reputation and build long-lasting relationships with your clients.


You've made a great career choice to become a personal trainer in Chicago. The fitness industry in Chicago is ever growing and will continue to get more popular with more personal trainer job and career opportunities coming available.

Being a personal trainer and having the ability to change people's fitness, health and lives and helping them achieve their goals is wonderfully rewarding.

There is no luck in becoming a talented, educated, experienced and successful personal trainer. It's all hard work, but the hard work pays big dividends.

I wish you all the best on your endeavor to become a personal trainer in Chicago. Please do contact me if you assistance, if I can help you in any way along your journey or if you would like to submit your resume (CV) and apply for a job as a personal trainer at Dennis Romatz Fitness. I'm always looking for ultra-talented personal trainers to add value to my team of the best personal trainers in Chicago.

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 downtown 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.

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