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How to Become a Celebrity Personal Trainer

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If you've ever looked at tabloid pictures of celebrities working out with their personal trainers and thought to yourself, "I could do that," then you might be right. If you're a seasoned fitness pro who is interested in working with the likes of Madonna, Kate Hudson and Justin Timberlake, then becoming a trainer to the stars may be easier than you think.

Celebrity personal trainers are certified, well-educated fitness professionals who know how to engage in self-promotion and stay up to date on pioneering fitness trends. They must also be prepared to work around celebrity clients' often-erratic work schedules and lifestyles and remain a discreet, trustworthy presence.

Job Description

A personal trainer is someone who leads, instructs and motivates individuals (or groups) in customized exercise activities designed to help them reach their fitness and health goals. Personal trainers maintain a working knowledge of human anatomy and are very familiar with the concepts of basic nutrition, exercise science and functional fitness. They are friendly, upbeat, caring professionals who want to help people improve their physical health through appropriate cardiovascular, resistance and flexibility exercise.

Personal trainers typically offer clients an initial training session to get to know them and find out their goals. From there, the trainer will assess the clients, evaluate their current fitness level and design a customized fitness program that helps the clients reach their goals. Occasionally, a trainer will also offer diet and nutrition advice or other holistic health tips.

Once the initial session is done, a personal trainer will then meet with clients a few times per week (or as needed), offering personalized instruction and providing motivation throughout each session. Trainers are expected to be able to clearly explain and demonstrate proper techniques, spot clients while they perform exercises, monitor clients' progress, explain safety rules for equipment and offer emergency first aid if necessary.

Personal trainers may sometimes specialize in certain exercises or areas depending on their background and expertise. They may choreograph or plan their own classes and strength training programs, or they may use prechoreographed routines. The most important thing is that a trainer is adept at assessing a clients' physical fitness, helping them set goals and coming up with a solid, foolproof fitness plan that works.

Being a Personal Trainer in Hollywood

There are a few key differences when it comes to training Hollywood celebs versus training the general public. For instance, celebrity gym trainers must learn how to adjust appointments and accommodate their clients' tight schedules (much more so than when working with people who aren't Hollywood actors). Trainers must remain flexible, be ready to accommodate special requirements and be prepared to not take it personally if a client cancels or needs to switch days at the last minute. After all, such is the life of a Hollywood celeb.

It's also important to gain a Hollywood client's trust, perhaps more so than it is with other clients. Since celebrities are used to having their picture taken constantly, trainers should be aware of this and never take and post a picture on social media without the client's consent. In fact, trust is one of the biggest components of having a long, successful career when it comes to training celebs and building a career as an A-list trainer.

Celebrity personal trainers should also know how to be discreet since celebs are often followed by media and fans everywhere (yes, even to the gym). If you're going to work with Hollywood stars, it's important to value your clients' privacy and prioritize discretion above all else. It's also important to treat all your clients like normal people and not engage in brown nosing or over-the-top fussing; this is the last thing a celebrity wants or needs.

Trainers must remain in tip-top shape themselves, of course. The hottest names in Hollywood won't want to work with you if you don't have a fantastic figure, so it's important to stay as svelte as possible to attract high-profile clients. It's also important for trainers to stay up to date on all the latest fitness trends and innovations so that you can customize successful programs according to each client's personal requirements and desires.

Of course, living in Los Angeles or New York is a prerequisite for those looking to train celebs. This is where the biggest concentrations of celebrities live, so naturally, you'll be much more likely to gain A-list referrals by living in either city. If you don't currently live in New York or L.A., you should make plans to relocate if you want to have a successful celebrity gym trainer career.

Education Requirements

There are many paths to becoming a personal trainer. While a four-year degree isn't totally necessary, it's definitely beneficial. Some popular degree programs for fitness instructors include an Associate of Applied Science in health fitness specialist, a Bachelor of Science in sport and exercise science or a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology. All of these programs will provide you with a solid foundation in anatomy, aerobic techniques, sports nutrition and other skills that are necessary for becoming a personal trainer.

In terms of personal trainer certification, trainers should start with a National Academy of Sports Medicine certification. This is considered to be the gold standard in the personal training certification industry. To qualify for the NASM certification program, you must be 18 years of age, have a high school degree or GED and hold both a current cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification and an automated external defibrillator certification. You can obtain both certifications at your local Red Cross.

Because it's important to stay abreast of current fitness trends and tricks, it's also a great idea to enroll in continuing education programs or workshops that specialize in cutting-edge exercise techniques and philosophies. Remember that celebrities expect their personal trainers to be trailblazers in their field.

Self-Promotion and Marketing Tools

Knowing how to market yourself and build a solid client base is almost as important as earning your personal training certification if you want to become a personal trainer in Hollywood or New York. In general, the process of getting new high-profile clients is very much rooted in word-of-mouth referrals, networking with the right people and building an online presence that makes you stand out in the crowd.

When it comes to self-promotion and marketing tools, social media can be extremely helpful in getting the word out about your training skills. Instagram in particular is a hotbed of celebrity activity, so creating an Instagram presence should be at the top of every aspiring celebrity trainer's to-do list in addition to keeping up with all other forms of social media, of course.

To build a big Instagram following as a personal trainer, get creative with hashtagging (and cross-promote your hashtag by sharing it in print ads, flyers or signage at your gym) and change up your bio URL at least twice per week with links to quality content about exercise trends, facts and more. Interact regularly with influencers (those people in your field who influence the people you want to attract) and create descriptive captions that aren't just boring, recycled, one-sentence descriptions. The most important thing you can do to build your Instagram presence, though, is to create and develop your own style that makes your content stand out.

Personal trainers can also market themselves and expand their networks by doing plenty of in-person promotion as well. Hold a meet and greet to meet new clients, have regular group classes that offer exercise to bigger, more diverse groups, offer group rates and discounts and target potential clients by promoting your services at places where celebrities hang out. Promoting yourself doesn't have to be scary, and effective marketing tools don't have to be complicated. The important thing is that you get the word out and become a trusted trainer in the eyes of potential clients.


Celebrity personal trainers may work in upscale gyms or the private homes of their clients. Whereas other trainers may work in educational environments, government facilities or civic and social organizations, trainers who work with celebrities typically work in gyms or homes, or they may even start their own gyms or fitness companies.

Personal trainers who land superstar clientele typically have to work in a gym, health club facility, school or other fitness center for a handful of years before acquiring A-list clients. Once a trainer does attract celebrities, he will likely be asked to travel (or, in some cases, temporarily relocate). Celebrity personal trainers may work nights, weekends or holidays depending on their clients' needs. They may teach group fitness classes or hold full-time or part-time jobs in other fields.

Years of Experience and Salary

While current data is not available regarding celebrity trainer salaries, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does offer data for general fitness trainers and instructors. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for fitness trainers and instructors in May 2020 was $40,510, or $19.48 per hour. This means that half of those in this profession made more than this, while the other half made less. The number of jobs in 2016 (the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections) was 299,200.

A celebrity gym trainer can likely expect to make much more money than a general fitness instructor or trainer, but again, this information is not readily available. In terms of years of experience, budding celebrity trainers should expect to work for several years in their field before attracting celebrity clients.

Fitness Trainers and Instructors salary

  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $76,550 ($36.80/hour)
  • Median Annual Salary: $40,510 ($19.48/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $21,640 ($10.40/hour)

Job Growth Trend

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of fitness trainers and instructors is projected to grow by about 10 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is faster than the national average for all occupations, which is 7 percent. Personal trainers with professional certification and increased levels of formal education in health or fitness will continue to enjoy good job prospects in many different areas.

The BLS posits that as individuals, businesses, governments and other organizations continue to recognize the benefits of health and fitness programs, incentives to join gyms and other fitness facilities are expected to increase the need for personal trainers. Other employment growth will likely come from the continuing emphasis on health and exercise to combat obesity and prevent injuries and illnesses associated with aging.

The Bottom Line

Becoming a famous personal trainer is often a game of luck; even if you engage in effective self-promotion and networking, and you're a top-notch trainer, landing Hollywood clientele can be difficult. The best thing you can do as an aspiring personal trainer to the stars is to move to Los Angeles, build a strong social media and in-person presence, focus on providing your existing clientele with excellent workouts and do everything you can to work your connections and get the word out. Becoming a personal trainer for celebrities isn't an easy endeavor, but it's one that's well worth the effort.

  • Separate yourself from the pack of personal trainers by offering new and exciting training techniques.

Justine Harrington is a writer based in Austin, Texas. Her work has been published in Forbes, USA Today, Fodor's, American Way, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, Texas Highways, Austin Monthly, and dozens of other print and online publications.

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