How To Become a Fitness Trainer

A fitness trainer is someone who teaches others how to become more active to live healthier lives. It can be extremely rewarding work in terms of both money and personal satisfaction. However, it can also be very challenging and demanding. Here are some steps to becoming a fitness trainer.

Get Certified

You do not need a college degree to become a personal trainer. However, you do need certification from an accredited third-party organization. In some cases, this merely means passing an examination, while others require a home-study program, workshop, or seminar. In addition, you must typically be at least 18 years old to become certified and have a high school diploma or a GED. You typically also require training on using a defibrillator and performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

While you do not require a degree to become a fitness trainer, you may find it helpful to take out some student loans and obtain a business diploma from an accredited university if you intend to open your own fitness studio or training facility. You do not necessarily need a four-year bachelor’s degree for this. A two-year associate degree program is more affordable and should cover the basics of what you need to know to start your business and keep it a viable concern.

Decide on a Specialty

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There are many different types of opportunities available in personal training, so you should be able to find a niche that suits your interests and passions in which you can excel. Some trainers work as medical adjuncts as part of rehabilitation programs, some train athletes for participation in mixed martial arts and other sports, others focus specifically on weight management and lifestyle, while others work with special populations, such as kids or older adults. While you may not get to do your dream job right away, working in an area that is of particular interest to you makes the work more rewarding, and your experience is more applicable to what you eventually want to do.

Choose Where You Want To Work

Depending on your specialty, you have many choices of the type of facility where you want to work. You could work as a trainer at a spa, a local community center, hospital, commercial gym, cruise ship, or all sorts of other interesting places.

Consider Opening Your Own Fitness Center

Instead of working as an employee of someone else, you could take your certification and open up your own personal training center. This would allow you to be your own boss and make your own schedule. However, there are tradeoffs involved. Self-employment means giving up any employee benefits, and while you make your own schedule, you may have to work much more than 40 hours a week, at least at first, to make enough of a profit to stay open.

Opening your own fitness center means obtaining the necessary funding, either by taking out business loans or finding investors, finding premises, buying the necessary equipment, complying with zoning laws, as well as marketing and promoting your business.

Maintain Your Credential

As with many other careers, you have to undergo continuing education periodically to keep your certification up to date. This usually involves taking special courses, whether in person or online. You may also have the opportunity to earn continuing education credits by attending conferences, workshops, or seminars. You have to earn a certain number of credits to renew your certification. The specific requirements depend on the organization from which you obtained your certification. Each certifying organization typically offers several different types of opportunities to earn CE credits, meaning that you can choose which options work best with your schedule.

Anticipate Challenges

Despite all your preparation, you may encounter unexpected challenges from your clients. They may cancel unexpectedly, fail to comply with your workout regimen, or blame you if they don’t see results. They may know next to nothing about the exercises or have medical conditions for which you have to compensate. You need to anticipate challenges such as these and plan for how you will address them when they arise.

It is important for fitness trainers to have soft skills such as communication, problem-solving, and patience.


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