How To Become A Personal Trainer

Becoming A Personal Trainer - Overview

How to Become a Personal TrainerA healthy lifestyle isn't just about looking and feeling great; it's about living a longer, richer life. Unfortunately, most Americans have fallen off the fitness bandwagon. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), a whopping 68 percent of U.S. adults were overweight in 2008 and 32.2 percent were classified as obese. Another CDC report shows that childhood obesity rates tripled between 1980 and 2008, increasing from 6.5 percent to 19.6 percent. That makes this generation of young people the first ever to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. As a personal trainer, you can be a part of the solution by helping transform lives, bodies and minds. Here's everything you ever wanted to know about becoming a personal trainer.

What Does a Personal Trainer Do?

Personal trainers educate clients in the principles of healthy eating and exercising, guiding their workouts and tracking their progress. They also help nurture a supportive environment for positive life change by becoming role models and personal cheerleaders for those striving to become healthier, happier people. Specific duties can include:

  • Assessing clients' personal fitness levels
  • Helping clients set fitness goals and creating a plan for achieving them
  • Overseeing workouts to ensure safe, but steady progress, including the demonstration of various exercises and form corrections
  • Keeping records of achievements to track clients' progress

Other duties can include cleaning and maintaining equipment or creating marketing campaigns, particularly for personal trainers who own their own businesses. Personal trainers can also choose to work in a health club or gym, a medical fitness facility, or anywhere else fitness is achievable, even outdoors or in clients' homes. While many personal trainers are employed by gyms or health groups, others are self-employed.

With obesity becoming a growing concern, opportunities for personal trainers are on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the fitness industry is one of the fastest growing career fields in the nation, boasting a projected growth of 29 percent between 2008 and 2018 in terms of new positions. The BLS notes that most of this growth can be credited to aging baby boomers with a drive to get fit combined with a national trend in which people are investing more time and money into personal fitness than ever before.

Because personal trainer positions are so variable, and income really varies with a fluctuating client load, personal trainer salaries cover a broad range. According to salary.com, the middle 50 percent earned between $38,188 and $65,081 in December 2010. Many personal trainers do not have health insurance or retirement benefits--particularly those who are self employed--but often have free access to the fitness facilities they serve.

What Are the Steps to Becoming a Personal Trainer?

Want to know what it really takes to be a personal trainer? Here's how to get started:

Personal trainer with woman holding dumbbells on fitness ball

  1. Get fit. It sounds simple enough, but you can't expect to counsel people on personal fitness unless you're in great shape as well
  2. Get educated in health and fitness. In order to be a responsible personal trainer, you must learn the ins and outs of personal fitness and exercising, including how to prevent and treat the injuries your clients may sustain while working out under your direction. Expect to learn the basic principles of healthy eating; identifying, achieving, and maintaining a healthy weight; and some degree of sports medicine. A degree program specializing in health and fitness studies can help
  3. Get certified as a personal trainer. You must be certified to work as a personal trainer, though there are a number of certifications and specialties from which to choose. Certification is awarded by one of the following organizations: Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the National Federation of Professional Trainers and the American Fitness Professionals and Associates
  4. Get a job. Once certified, you might consider finding a position at a local gym or health club with a built in clientele. From there, you can start to build up your own client list in order to start your own personal fitness business
  5. Maintain your certification. Most personal fitness certifications require you to meet certain requirements over time to maintain certification, including ongoing education

How to Become a Great Personal Trainer

While getting educated in personal health and fitness and earning your certification is an excellent start toward becoming a great personal trainer, that's only the beginning. A great personal trainer--one who builds and keeps a strong client base--is inspiring and knowledgeable. This often requires the following personal characteristics:

  • Natural enthusiasm and charisma
  • Loves helping others
  • Endless patience
  • Excellent leadership and teaching skills
  • Equally excellent listening skills

With these qualities and the right training, you can become the personal trainer you've dreamed of becoming. Browse top personal trainer training programs, certificates and degrees to get started.

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