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How to Become a Personal Trainer in Michigan

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Personal training can be a very rewarding profession. Trainers work one-on-one with clients to improve their physical fitness, which often leads to improvements in overall health and life satisfaction. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for fitness workers is expected to increase by 29 percent during the 2008-2018 decade, which makes training a promising career prospect. Becoming a personal trainer in Michigan involves several steps that most any motivated, fitness-minded individual could accomplish.

Fully understand what personal training entails before embarking on a career. Trainers should know the components of aerobic exercise, weight training, stretching and overall physical fitness and health. Trainers should also be personable, good motivators and have self-discipline.

Research a specific position or location. Different fitness institutions have different prerequisites for personal trainers. Michigan does not have specific standards that every trainer must meet. Instead, aspiring trainers should research fitness clubs, gyms and any other locations where they might like to work. For instance, Lifetime Fitness, a popular fitness club in Michigan, requires personal trainers to have a high school diploma or GED, a Level One personal training certification and a list of skills or abilities that pertain to training such as ability to resolve conflicts and excellent interpersonal skills. Though Lifetime does not require a four-year degree, it does prefer one.

Enroll in courses. This step is only mandatory if the aspiring personal trainer wants a position at a company that requires a two- or four-year degree. If this is the case, most personal trainers complete degrees in kinesiology, sports medicine or another fitness-related field. Students can enroll at community colleges, universities or even in online schools to complete an associate's or bachelor's degree. Michigan-based Lansing Community College offers several two-year degrees for future personal trainers, including weight training, kinesiology and health and wellness.

Complete a certification. Most trainers will find that a personal trainer certification is a necessary part of the career process. Students can get certified through the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) and several others, many of which offer online certifications. The National Council on Strength and Fitness has several Michigan locations for exam completion including Sault Ste. Marie, Lansing, Troy, Livonia, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. Students complete a series of requirements online and then take their final test at one of the previously mentioned locations.

Find a job. Contact local gyms and fitness centers to find job openings or offer your services. Some trainers choose to be independent personal trainers and train clients in their home or at a local gym that allows the trainer to bring in clients for a small fee. Generally, it is beneficial to work in a fitness center to meet potential clients and learn the business before embarking on a solo enterprise in training. Popular Michigan gyms include Lifetime Fitness, the Michigan Athletic Club, Fitness USA and many more.


Based in northern Michigan, J.R. Erickson has been a freelance writer since 2006. She has been published at the White Pine Press, Michigan Nature Association, Life in the USA, and The Four Cornered Universe. Erickson holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Michigan State University.