Personal Trainer

How to Become a Personal Trainer
Job Duties of Personal Trainers
Skills and Qualities Needed to Become a Personal Trainer
Personal Trainer Salary
Influential Professional Personal Trainers
Leading Organizations for Personal Trainers
Top Cities for Personal Trainer Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Personal Trainer

Facilities generally require personal trainers to have some type of certification prior to hiring, however no standardized training path exists. Generally, training begins with the trainee attending classes at which an experienced trainer will provide mentoring. Increasingly, many health facilities require personal trainers to have a college degree in a health or fitness related field. Some fitness companies may also have their own standardized certification program.

Certification programs require that the prospective personal trainer have a high school diploma and can give cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the prospective personal trainer must pass a written exam to demonstrate mastery of the program. The examination covers human physiology, exercise techniques, fitness level assessments and the development of exercise regimens. Some certification programs may include an observational component as well. In an observational exam, an expert in the program observes how well the prospective trainer actually trains.

Personal trainers must renew their certifications every two years and in order for this to happen, they must present documentation of continuing education or contributions to the field through the following activities: 1) attending continuing fitness education classes, 2) attending fitness conferences, 3) presenting fitness information orally and 4) presenting fitness information in the form of written material.

What does a Personal Trainer do?

Three occupations compose the world of fitness workers, personal trainers, group exercise instructors and fitness directors. While group exercise instructors work with a group, personal trainers work individually with clients, either at their home or in a gym. Fitness directors supervise the other occupations.

Personal trainers assess individual fitness levels, set individual fitness goals and devise an exercise program to reach those goals. Their work may involve keeping records of their client's goals. Personal trainers may advise on nutritional issues outside the exercise regimen as part of their overall fitness program.

In smaller fitness facilities, the personal trainer will perform many tasks in addition to the prime role. The trainer may also sell memberships, make protein drinks, give tours to potential customers, ensure that only members or guests enter the fitness facility and monitor the weight and cardiovascular areas. The personal trainer in a small facility may fulfill the role of not just personal trainer, but also group fitness instructor and fitness director. In larger facilities, a personal trainer may be required to sell his or her services to clients by the hour.

Personal trainers will generally have to adapt their schedule to that of their clients. In practice this means frequent night and weekend work. Some personal trainers work at multiple gyms and must travel between them and they can have a great deal of autonomy. As personal trainers have these extremely odd and flexible schedules, some students and young actors find it to be an ideal temporary job, while going to college or getting that acting break.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Personal Trainer?

Personal trainers need to be outgoing and friendly. They also have to have excellent communication skills, particularly for motivating people. Personal trainers need to be in excellent health and look fit, as their physical image forms a walking advertisement for their skills. Personal trainers in large gyms should have sales skills, though they all have to attract and retain clients.

As no facility pays for travel time between facilities, personal trainers need to schedule their hours in way that minimizes unpaid travel time. In short, they need to have excellent planning skills.

How much does a Personal Trainer make?

If the annual salaries of all personal trainers were arranged from the lowest to the highest, the median would be that point at which 50% of the salaries were lower and 50% were higher. Most salaries differ somewhat from the median. The best estimate of a potential salary for an occupation lies in the range between the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile, known as the middle 50% of salaries. The 25th percentile is the point at which 25% of salaries are below and the 75th percentile is the point at which 75% of all salaries are below.

In 2008, the middle 50% of annual salaries for all full-time personal trainers ranged from $37, $63,125. Data was not available for the median salary at the level of personal trainers. These figures show a full-time salary, but many personal trainers work part-time and are self-employed, resulting in wide variations in salaries. In addition, part-time workers are not eligible for benefits, such as vacations, sick leave, retirement, health and or dental insurance.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Joe Weider founded the personal fitness magazines 'Muscle and Fitness', 'Muscle Power', 'Shape', 'Men's Fitness', 'Living Fit', 'Prime Health and Fitness', 'Fit Pregnancy', 'Cooks', 'Senior Golfer', and 'Flex'. In addition, he has written widely on strength training. He also created the Mr. Olympia, Ms. Olympia body building competetions. He was co-founder of the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB).

Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko currently serves on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Science Board. He heads the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His field of interest concerns how physical activity affects wellness and quality of life among the aging. He has served on the World Health Organization, Scientific Advisory Committee. He now serves on the Board of The American Council on Exercise, as Vice-Chair.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM, provides three-day certification workshops for personal trainers. It also offers research grants to ACSM student members for research into health and fitness. The ACSM has partnered with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for research into crew health on space flights. This partnership provides funding for research. The organization promotes interdisciplinary interaction among 40 different professional fields and has members representing 75 countries. ACSM also promotes professional education, meetings and conferences. This organization produces three journals, 'Medicine & Science in Sports & ExerciseŽ', 'Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews', and ACSM's 'Health & Fitness JournalŽ'. ACSM also produces a physician directed journal, Current Sports Medicine Reports.

The National Academy of Sports Medicine ( offers a personal trainer certification, which is preferred by some of the largest fitness chains, Ballys, Golds and 24-hour fitness. This organization also offers advanced specialization certifications, such as the 'Performance Enhancement Specialist', designed to increase performance and the 'Corrective Exercise Specialist', designed to work with people with musculoskeletal impairments or rehabilitation concerns.

What are the top cities for Personal Training jobs?

The US had 235,000 fitness workers in 2005. Of these, 1,880 were self-employed and virtually all personal trainers.

Job growth for personal trainers is expected to be good, with employment rising much faster than the average. As schools have cut back on physical education, some higher income parents have begun to hire personal trainers for their children. Participation in health clubs has increased both among younger and older adults, driven largely by concerns about fitness and looking attractive.

The three cities with the largest number of jobs for personal trainers were Los Angeles, tied with New York, followed by Chicago.

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