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How to Become a Personal Trainer

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The journey to becoming a personal trainer is a worthwhile pursuit in today’s world of selfies and dating apps. Now more than ever, people have a desire to get fit and look great. Many will hire personal trainers to not only help them improve their overall fitness but also to help them feel better inside and out.

What a Personal Trainer Does

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, personal fitness trainers lead, instruct and motivate individuals or groups in exercises, strength training and stretching. They will consult and instruct clients of all ages and skill levels. Their duties will range from creating custom exercises for clients to giving clients tips and tricks when it comes to diet, nutrition and overall lifestyle habits.

Personal trainers will get to know their client's personal goals, habits and aspirations in regards to their physical health and customize a plan for them. They will monitor and advise on form and range of motion when it comes to their exercise routine.

Many people opt for a personal trainer for the many benefits they provide including:

  • On-going education.
  • Correcting form and technique.
  • Personalized training plan.
  • Accountability.
  • Efficiency in the gym.
  • Encouragement and motivation.

Education You Need to Be a Personal Trainer

The type of certifications, education and training required to become a personal trainer will vary based on the specialty you want to strive for and the facility you work at.

A high school diploma will be the minimum requirement for trainers and instructors. Though many will gain a leg up if a bachelor's degree in the fitness or health field is acquired. Certain degrees will make a mark on a resume including exercise science, physical education or kinesiology.

Most gyms and fitness facilities will require their personal trainers to be certified. Many organizations offer certification for aspiring personal trainers. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies compiled a list of certifying organizations that are accredited. The NCCA holds high standards in regards to a proper certification to ensure the health and safety of the public. It is recommended to become certified by an NCCA-approved organization to gain credibility in the fitness field. Depending on the organization, certifications can take 6-months-to-a- year to attain.

Personal trainer certification exams online or at a facility consist of a written test covering a wide range of questions from human anatomy and training development to professionalism and personal skills. Many certifying organizations will offer study programs and guides to help potential trainers prepare for their exam. It is also important to note that CPR and AED certification are a prerequisite for personal training certification.

Costs to Get Certified as a Personal Trainer

The prices for personal training certifications will vary by organization. However, some will offer more tools than others to succeed. The top five NCCA-approved certification organizations have exam fees ranging from $219 to $599. This does not include material cost, test retake cost or recertification cost. Some organizations also require a small membership fee. The price of certification may be steep, but the investment in your career will be worthwhile.

How Much Money Can You Make as a Personal Trainer?

According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for a Personal Trainer is $33,120 in the United States. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $19,150 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $72,980. This can vary based on education, certification and facility. Personal trainers may have the ability to pick their own hours which likely includes nights and weekends when clients have free time. Some personal trainers may even work at multiple gyms or out of their homes.

Building a client-base is an important piece of maintaining a sustainable career as a personal trainer. Gaining popularity or “celebrity” status can help further your career even more. The power of social media is as popular as ever and all personal trainers should take advantage of such a large platform. Building a personal brand on social media is the first step to gaining popularity and celebrity clientele. Utilizing hashtags, community management and paid social advertising are key to developing a relevant and engaged audience. Networking and making personal connections can also help build your clientele. If your goal is to become a celebrity personal trainer, finding a job at a high-end gym in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago will be your best bet.

Many large corporations and businesses are seeing the value of healthy employees and promoting healthier lifestyles in their missions, which makes the occupation of personal training more relevant than ever. With the right certifications and sales attitude to gain clientele, the profession of a personal trainer can be an enjoyable and lucrative one.

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