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Personal Trainer: Job Description, Income & Salary, & How To Become

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Being a personal trainer counts among the best side hustles, which can be incredibly rewarding and lucrative.

You can help people reach their health and fitness goals and incorporate physical training into their lives.

Additionally, you make a comfortable living while doing so.

There are also several niche personal training types to specialize in, from the 70’s Schwarzenegger style bodybuilders to lean muscle athletes like fighters, runners, and soccer players.

Clients could also train in flexibility. In short, personal training as a career has something for everyone.

Therefore, consider becoming a certified personal trainer if you love training and the gym and want to turn a hobby into a side hustle.

What Is a Personal Trainer?

A personal trainer helps clients become stronger and healthier and achieve goals.

The client can set these goals, or the personal trainer can work with the client on setting goals.

Once a plan has been established, personal trainers oversee the client’s workouts and, sometimes, their diet.

Typically, this includes creating workout plans tailored to specific clients and working out with them or at least being present while they do so.

This way, a personal trainer monitors their client’s form and energy levels during the workout.

But, of course, you’re also responsible for client health and safety as a personal trainer.

What Does a Personal Trainer Do?

Day in and day out, a personal trainer gathers clientele and helps that clientele with health or fitness goals. These goals vary from client to client.

For example, one client may need an introduction to the most basic exercises, while another may want to be shown advanced exercises to gain strength or mobility in a certain part of the body.

Moreover, you also need to offer useful feedback, motivation, and encouragement to your clients as a personal trainer to keep them coming back, develop a relationship, and push them further toward their fitness goals.

What Does a Personal Trainer Usually Focus On?

Typically, personal trainers use their extensive fitness and human body knowledge to develop workout plans personalized to specific clients’ goals.

Of course, this requires fostering a connection between trainer and client and keeping an eye on their health.

You may need to tell clients to scale back their workout intensity for their health just as often as you would tell them to pump it up.

You should also know when to refer to a healthcare professional.

Personal Trainer Job Description

Personal trainers have several important responsibilities in addition to speaking with clients and creating tailored workout plans.

They need to maintain their client’s motivation throughout the training session.

They must also ensure client safety by using proper lifting form and techniques.

Moreover, a personal trainer must be knowledgeable enough to answer their clients’ questions, provide them with actionable feedback, and hold them accountable throughout the training process.

Finally, personal trainers need to market themselves to find new clients.

Top Personal Trainer Jobs and Careers

There are several awesome personal trainer job opportunities out there!

First, you need to know what you’re looking for. Read on for a few examples.

Exercise Physiologist

An exercise physiologist uses exercise-based tests and experiments to evaluate a patient’s health.

Typically, they measure heart rate, breathing rate, metabolic rate, and blood pressure.

Injury Prevention Specialist

Injury prevention specialists are self-explanatory. They use their extensive knowledge of kinesiology, first aid, and exercises to prevent injuries.

This means they guide clients on the safest ways to use things like free weights, dumbbells, and barbells, as well as cardio or exercise machines.

Physical Therapist Assistant,

A physical therapist assistant is someone who helps physical therapists treat patients recovering from injuries or invasive surgery.

They do this by strengthening muscles and limbs to regain normal mobility as well as function via exercise, massage, and a formulated care plan.

Where Can a Personal Trainer Work?

There is a huge variety of places a personal trainer can work!

Typically, they work in gyms with various exercise equipment, but they can also work online on video, at community centers, outside, and even at the trainer’s or client’s home.

What It’s Like To Be a Personal Trainer

Of course, if you’re hunting for info on becoming a personal trainer, you should have a good idea of what it’s like to be one.

This should go without saying, but if you want to be a personal trainer, you should be in shape.

This requires working out and eating well, which may be difficult when seeing clients all day.

Not only do you need to be in shape, but you also need extensive knowledge of the human body.

Is Being a Personal Trainer Hard?

While personal training is a rewarding career, it can also be physically taxing.

As mentioned above, you need to be in great shape for anyone to take you seriously as a personal trainer.

Due to genetics, this is more difficult for some people than others.

However, staying in shape does require a conscious, consistent effort to maintain, regardless of genetics.

Additionally, depending on your number of clients, you may need more time to work out yourself, find new clients, or hold first-time client consultations.

Is a Personal Trainer’s Job Stressful?

Just like any job, personal trainers certainly have the potential for stressful moments.

For example, a client could suffer an injury while working out under your care, even if you’ve done everything right.

Moreover, you need to know each piece of equipment and exercise you employ, like the back of your hand.

Since there are so many different pieces of equipment and even more exercises you can do with them; this can get overwhelming.

Common Personal Trainer Work Day

A typical personal trainer workday includes time to work out in the morning, followed by training sessions with clients from mid-day to mid-afternoon.

There’s usually a lull in the mid-to late-afternoon, with more client time from the late afternoon into the evening, when it’s time to go home.

Personal Trainer Tasks & Duties

Personal trainers have a variety of tasks and duties, most of which have been mentioned above.

In addition to those, however, personal trainers must market themselves to find new clients and keep up with their knowledge of exercise and the human body.

Personal Trainer Work Hours & Schedule

You can find a great example of personal trainers’ work hours and schedule above, but usually, a personal trainer will work out themselves first thing in the morning, then take clients from about 11:30 am to about 7:30 pm.

Does This Career Field Embrace Work/Life Balance?

Freelance personal trainers who don’t work for a gym can make their schedules, providing them with all the work/life balance they could ever need.

However, even if you do work for a gym, your schedule typically depends on your number of clients.

Do Personal Trainers Make Good Money?

This is a loaded question; the answer depends on several factors, including experience, certification, the business you’re working for, and whether you want to make it more than a great side job.

However, the job is projected to grow significantly over the next few years as more and more people become conscious of their health and fitness journeys.

From 2021 to 2031, personal trainer employment is set to grow by 19%, significantly faster than several other professions.

How Much Do Personal Trainers Make?

On average, personal trainers make a median wage of $40,700 annually; however, the factors above impact this number.

For example, clients will always pay an experienced personal trainer more than a beginner.

Also, if you work for a gym, they typically take a cut of your earnings so that you might make more as a private personal trainer.

How Do Personal Trainers Get Paid?

There are three common pay structures for personal trainers.

First, commercial gyms will pay you less directly but bump you up once you start training and often commission you to sell large session packages.

Independent personal trainers can charge their clients however much they like but may need to pay gyms a small fee to bring clients there.

Finally, gyms may contract personal trainers with 1099. This way, the trainer and gym both make money.

Requirements, Skills, and Education Required for Personal Trainers

There are many requirements, skills, and educational items required of successful personal trainers.

Read on to discover the things you need to pursue a personal trainer career.

Who Should Consider a Personal Trainer Career Path?

Personal trainers need several qualities to be successful, and three of the most important are your level of physical fitness, knowledge of the human body, exercise, and social skills.

As mentioned above, nobody will take you seriously if you’re not in shape and trying to be a personal trainer.

One aspect of being a personal trainer is modeling the health and fitness levels your clients want for themselves.

You also need to know about the human body, exercise, and how the two work together so you can develop workout plans and answer your client’s questions.

For that purpose, you can get a degree in a relevant field.

  • Kinesiology
  • Exercise science
  • Physical health education

Finally, you need social skills to motivate your clients and find new ones.

Who Should NOT Consider a Personal Trainer Career Path?

Avoid a personal trainer career path if you are introverted, out of shape, or lack extensive human body knowledge.

Additionally, if you are unmotivated or lack an open mind, personal training probably isn’t for you.

You work with clients from all walks of life as a personal trainer, so an open mind is necessary to understand their needs.

Without this understanding, you cannot develop a more personalized approach to reaching the client’s goals.

Is it Hard to Become a Personal Trainer?

Becoming a personal trainer requires a fair amount of work since you need to be certified by an accredited institution.

Each of these institutions has different requirements, with the most credible ones having age, education, and CPR/AED certification requirements.

Here are some examples of highly-regarded institutions:

  • American Council on Exercise (ACE)
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

What Do I Need to Become a Personal Trainer?

There are several things you need to become a personal trainer:

  • Clean, high-quality workout clothes and shoes
  • A tangible way to track clients’ progress
  • Access to various workout equipment

Requirements for Becoming a Personal Trainer

  • A base level of physical fitness
  • Certification from an accredited institution
  • Base knowledge of the human body
  • Base knowledge of exercises
  • A can-do attitude and willingness to help people reach their goals

What Skills Does a Personal Trainer Need?

  • Teaching skills
    • The ability to explain complex concepts in a way laypeople understand
    • Patience and willingness to answer questions
  • Customer service
  • Oral communication
  • People skills
  • Time management and organizational skills

What Education Does a Personal Trainer Need?

Many of the best personal training certifications require a college degree in a related field, such as nutrition, exercise science, sports medicine, or physical education.

From there, you need to complete a certification program from an accredited institution.

What Experience Does a Personal Trainer Need?

Starting requires little experience past the certifications mentioned above.

However, more experienced personal trainers can take more clients and make more money, so making a successful personal training career may take some time.

How To Become a Personal Trainer?

If all of this sounds great, here’s how you can become a personal trainer.

Where To Find Personal Trainer Opportunities

Of course, you can find many great personal trainer opportunities at various gyms.

Some of the best gyms for personal trainers to work at include:

  • Equinox
  • LA Fitness
  • 24-Hour Fitness
  • Anytime Fitness
  • Crunch Fitness
  • Planet Fitness
  • The YMCA

Each gym has its rules, regulations, hiring practices, and pay scales.

Applying for the Gigs

To apply for a personal training job, search online at any job boards or the direct websites of gyms you’re interested in working at.

The gyms mentioned above typically require full personal training certification for candidates to be considered.

Of course, each of the institutions you can get these certifications from has different requirements.

Shop around for the one that fits your needs best. Then, once you have your certification, apply online, or head to a specific gym and ask in person.

Interviewing for the Gig

Preparing for a personal training interview is similar to most other jobs; you’ll be asked a series of questions specific to personal training.

Some of these questions may include the following:

  • How do you keep clients motivated?
  • Are you drawn to a specific demographic?
  • How do you work with difficult clients?
  • Describe your training philosophy.
  • What is your greatest strength/weakness?

How Do I Prepare for Personal Trainer Gigs?

You can do several things to prepare for a personal training gig. Some of them include the following:

  • Read up on the client’s exercise tastes
  • Study new exercises and the human body
  • Makeup questions for the client
  • Refresh on the client’s goals
  • Refresh on the client’s history
  • Dress comfortably and respectably
  • Be prepared for some client questions.

Similar Careers to Check Out

Of course, there are many gig economy-based careers similar to personal training; here are a few examples.

  • Spin Instructor: A spin instructor holds spinning classes on stationary exercise bikes, motivating people in the class and maintaining a fun workout atmosphere via their personality and music selection.
  • Crossfit Coach: Crossfit coaches help clients achieve fitness goals via the six criteria of effective training: teaching, seeing, correcting, group management, demonstration, as well as presence and attitude.
  • Micro-Entrepreneur: A micro-entrepreneur founds micro-businesses, which usually start with minimum investments and few employees. You could be considered a micro-entrepreneur if you run your personal training business.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many frequently asked questions regarding a personal training career. Some of the most frequently asked can be found below.

What is the standard price for a personal trainer?

The answer to this question varies depending on whether the personal trainer is affiliated with a gym and, if so, which gym.

Most personal trainers charge an average of $55 per session, with the national average cost being $45-$70 per session. However, certain gyms may have group classes for less.

Is a personal trainer better than the gym?

This is another question that varies depending on the gym and trainer.

Still, personal trainers are generally better than the gym due to the accountability they hold their clients to and the results-driven guidance they provide.

For example, a trainer knows which specific muscle groups to target.

Wrapping Up

Of course, personal training is a great career for those who are in shape and looking to help others get in shape.

In addition, getting in shape has many health benefits, including less stress on the joints, tendons, and ligaments and reduced risks of heart disease and diabetes.

Additionally, you can help people have more energy throughout the day and get a better night’s sleep with rigorous exercise.

All of these benefits contribute to significant improvements in overall health.

If helping people this way sounds up your alley, you now have everything you need to start pursuing a personal training career.

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