Interest in becoming a personal trainer has grown rapidly along with the general public interest in being in better physical shape. If you want to pursue this occupation, you must like working with people and not be shy. As far back as 1936, one of the first (if not THE first) personal trainers was the late Jack Lalanne who was way ahead of his time. He was a true visionary in that he believed many of the problems of the world could be solved with sound nutrition and exercise. He promoted weight training when many doctors were against it. He recruited women to get involved in lifting weights when it was unpopular. Lalanne started out as being shy. He was fond of often telling the story of when he sold his personal training services to his first client. He walked around the block many times before he even had the nerve to knock on the door. You would never have thought that he was once a young upstart with shaking knees from the image he was known for later as that of a strong and confident icon of fitness. Jack Lalanne and those like him have put out some pretty big shoes to fill. Before you start to go along the same path perhaps you have a few questions.
What is the Salary for a Personal Trainer?
If you are an employee of a gym you may get a combination of one or more of the following: a salary, hourly wage, a percentage of the client price for a training session or a commission. If you are an independent contractor, you can make anywhere from 40 to 200 dollars an hour and over.
What Different Career Choices Does a Personal Trainer Have?
Most people think of a gym when they think about becoming a personal trainer. There may be other perhaps more interesting places to work. How about working on cruises or at resorts, spas or corporate fitness centers? You can be a strength and conditioning coach at a college or for a pro football team. On the medical side, you can be a therapist in a hospital setting.
What Kind of Education or Certification does a Personal Trainer Need?
You would probably need a college degree to work in the medical industry and at the sports collegiate or pro level but it may sometimes depend also on reputation and references. As for certification, this opens up a big can of worms that needs some clarification. There is no blanket certification that covers all personal trainers. The most common sense answer to this question is look in the classifieds or on the job boards for the kind of personal training work you may be interested in. Take note of the differ ent certifications that are required, and then go get the certifications that you need. Some common organizations are:
ACE–The American council of Exercise
NASM—The National Academy of sports Medicine
ISSA—International Sports Sciences Association
NSCA—National Strength and Conditioning Association
ACSM—The American College of Sports Medicine
AFAA—Aerobics and Fitness Association of America
There are numerous other certifications. If you are working with clients on this kind of physical level, chances are almost for sure you will need to also be certified in first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Again, if you want to work for a particular organization, call up the fitness manager and ask what certifications they accept. You will probably get a list of a dozen or more. Do a little research on each one, pick one and go for it but be prepared that some certifications cost hundreds of dollars. You must understand one critical point and that is, even though you may some great certification and a couple degrees, you are essential signing up for a sales position at the fitness center.
Motivation and Keeping It Real
One of the main aspects to the trainer’s job is motivating the client. In order to do that you have to listen to each client individually to know what motivates them. You will find this out when initially interviewing them before you work with them. What motivates you does not necessarily motivate them. Not everyone is interested in the process of bulking and getting anabolic and then cut
ting. Some people just want to get the same waist size they had in high school or fit into a new group
they want to join. Others may be athletes who desire to get into the best shape for their particular sport. In any case keep expectations realistic. Before you think of yourself as the “Great designer of programs,” keep in mind that you should not lie and do not project the way that you train and your own goals onto the client. For instance, do not tell a 250 pound female they can lose all their excess weight within 2 or three months to start a career in modeling; do not tell a 140 pound male that they can be one of the physique champions of the bodybuilding world within 6 months.
You help to realistically define their goals for them. As their instructor you will use your knowledge to help them progre
ss from where they are now to where they want to be. You educate someone who is obese that losing weight is scientific in that it’s more or less about calories in and calories out, limiting carbohydrates, nutrient ratios, and moving around more. The client who wants to eventually stand on a dais in a natural bodybuilding contest must be told that being lean and muscularly massive is many times genetically determined unless they manipulate their hormones with anabolic steroids. You tell them how it is—what steps and training it takes to get there. You must have the attitude of partnering with them, assuring them you will be there every step of the way as long as they are willing to modify their lifestyle and put in the work. The best way to motivate others is to set yourself as an example for them. You have to first be the real thing yourself.
This aspect involves a bit of sound judgement along with business savvy. A good personal trainer is not necessarily one who employs the latest cutting edge fitness trends in their arsenal. This leads to a discussion of marketing. If a client thinks of training as constantly working on their core by using a Swiss ball for every other exercise, should you humor them or tell them flat out that some of the methods they are expecting you to employ just don’t work. This is where you may lose clients. Do you sell the latest designer fitness programs or be the temperamental expert?
Besides their base certification, many personal trainers specialize and become certified in two or three fitness disciplines to attract clients. Your occupation is a business and your success will mostly be determined by the quality of your references and your reputation. The bottom line is working with your clients so they can achieve the realistic results they want.
Most if not all of your clients will not be famous celebrities such as movie stars, pro football players and professional boxers so if you want to become a personal trainer to live in Beverly Hills and work on movie sets you are in the wrong line of work.
There is an unparalleled sense of achievement in seeing and helping others in their transformation from where they are now to getting each one of them to their individual potential. In order to be a transformative influence for others, you have to first transform yourself into of a force of nature like Lalanne. When you achieve that, you can become a personal trainer and call yourself Jack.