One area that doesn’t seem to be slowing down in this economy is our need for health and fitness. We continue to keep our gym memberships as well as purchasing the latest diet trends in a quest for better health. If you are searching for a new career, this field may be the best option for you.
Have you always been a health and fitness enthusiast? Do you work well with others and have a flair for marketing? This may be the perfect time for you to consider a career in personal training.
Will I be a good personal trainer?
When you picture a personal trainer what do you see? What attributes do you think they should have? Not only should they have the technical knowledge and certifications, but also it is extremely important that they are able to identify with you on a personal level.
Many going into this field lack the people skills needed to drive a successful career in fitness. You need to be analytical, patient and an effective motivator for your clients. Fitness and health must be a passion for you as well as a way of life. People will need to trust you and believe in your story in order for them to be personally motivated.
Where do I begin?
Most gyms will actually hire you before you are certified from an accredited association. They usually have a comprehensive in-house training program, which will be comprised of floor hours and membership marketing. Some gyms may actually let you work with clients, depending on where you are with your experience level.
The certification that you are looking for is CPT-Certified Personal Trainer. While many programs offer the CPT, it is considered more desirable to be NASM-certified if at all possible; see National Academy of Sports Medicine for details. It is the best certification program out there and will usually garner a larger split right off the bat. NASM is unfortunately the most expensive but if you are working for a gym you may be able to get a lower rate or qualify for a payment program or reimbursement incentive plan.
One great hint is that while you are going through the certification process you will be asked to go to a NASM live workshop. This is a 2-day event that can be taken at any time during the process. It is not required before you take the CPT exam. So, if you wait until after you pass the exam the workshop will be counted as continuing education credits, saving you money down the line! It’s also a wonderful networking opportunity for jobs.
Choosing a Specialty
It is not necessary to have a specialty going into the personal training business, but it will give you a great head start. Most accredited programs will offer packages that tie the specialty into your CPT. For example, with NASM you could opt for a Corrective Exercise or Performance Enhancement Specialist certification. This would allow you to work with athletes or clients who have injuries.
Another way to enhance your resume is by adding certifications that are normally seen in the group exercise classes, such as kickboxing, TRX and kettle bell training. These can add a creative edge and will definitely be a client pleaser; plus it adds to your worth at the gym where all trainers are usually required to teach some group classes.
Marketing, Marketing, and More Marketing
Very few places will actually hand you clients. You will work floor time at the beginning and provide training for the gym on a small split. If you sell training sessions, keep in mind that the buyers may pick whomever they wish to train with. The key is to connect so they will choose you.
You need to be able to market yourself and let clients know why you are the best choice. One thing you can do is to set up your own website. Take the time to put in content and blogs that reflect your fitness beliefs. You also need business cards and marketing brochures. A great place to get this is VistaPrint.com it has everything that you will need at reasonable prices and there’s even a feature there “on the cheap” to build your website.
If you are working in a gym take advantage of their marketing collateral on hand. Use the sales staff at the gym as your allies and go marketing in the neighborhood whenever you can. Hold demo classes to showcase your abilities or give free sessions to bring people into the gym. Keep evolving your marketing strategies and be flexible. Don’t be afraid to try new things and keep up with all of the latest trends””your clients will appreciate it!
Consider furthering your education by completing a bachelor or master’s program in psychology, nutrition or a myriad of biology or medical certificates and degrees. Everything builds your knowledge and experience to make you a more fully rounded and valuable trainer. This is a great career and a good chance to be an entrepreneur; there are a million ideas that will pop up once you start your own business. Having fun, staying fit, and making money””what could be better?
Katie Andersen is a NASM-certified personal trainer, as well as a content contributor for thebestcolleges.org. Check out this year’s top 25 best online schools and all the latest news about the best colleges and universities.