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How Old is Too Old to Become a Personal Trainer?

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, How Old is Too Old to Become a Personal Trainer?

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People who are not in the fitness industry often have a skewed idea of what a personal trainer looks like: young, zero body fat, and extremely fit. While many trainers do fit this mold, the truth is that fitness professionals come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. 

The only real requirements for a career in fitness training are knowledge and certification and a passion and desire to work with people on their fitness goals. 

If you’re over a certain age, don’t let that hold you back from following your fitness dreams. Age has nothing to do with how effective a fitness trainer is. In fact, personal training makes a great second career or retirement job. 

How Old is Too Old to Become a Personal Trainer? 

The short answer to this question is that you’re never too old. The demographics for personal trainers demonstrate just how diverse this group of professionals is:

  • Female trainers edge out male trainers just slightly. In the group surveyed, 54.5% were women and 45.5% men. 
  • The average age of a personal trainer is 40. 
  • On average, a trainer has been working in the industry for 13 years. 
  • 16% of trainers work with clients as a part-time job and have another source of income. 
  • Nearly 90% of trainers are certified. 
  • Trainers use a variety of workout types and equipment with clients, including dumbbells, cardio, weight machines, resistance bands, and kettlebells. 

The only thing that nearly all trainers have in common is certification. If you have the passion and ability to train people, and you have a personal trainer certification, you can do this job. 

For inspiration, read this personal story about a trainer who turned to a fitness career after retiring from the army. 

Top Reasons to Consider Personal Training in Retirement

You can become a fitness instructor at any age, and even make a career switch mid-life. Many older adults turn to personal training in retirement or for a second career and supplemental income. 

A big reason for this is less practical and more personal. Many people prefer to remain active, relevant, and productive during retirement. Here are some other good reasons to consider becoming a personal trainer later in life. 

Translate a Passion for Exercise into a Second Career

People are living longer than ever, and that means retirement can be decades-long. Maybe you’ve just ended a career at the right time, but still want to work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 55+ labor force is growing and will continue to grow. There is even growth in the number of people working in their 70s and beyond. 

Personal training is a great way to take a passion for fitness and exercise and turn it into another career. Once you’re in your second act, why wouldn’t you do something you love? You can earn spending money or supplemental income and enjoy what you do at the same time. 

Stay Active 

According to a study that surveyed adults working in retirement, 47% report that they continue to work to stay active. Without a job and schedule, it’s easy to slide into bad habits and spend a lot of time being sedentary at home. 

Physical activity and staying fit are important for health, especially as you get older. People lose muscle mass as they age, which can lead to injuries and poor mobility. Active older adults enjoy a higher quality of life. 

A second job of any type is a good way to stay active both mentally and physically. Working as a trainer is especially helpful in keeping you moving. You’ll be in the gym several times a week, working alongside clients during their exercise program. 

Your Experience is Valuable

Don’t discount life experience as a valuable tool for personal trainers. You have a lot to offer clients. In many ways, you have more to offer than the fit 20-something trainer who has won fitness competitions.

With a lifetime of experience, you bring clients professionalism, maturity, and strategies for developing good habits and staying motivated. Senior clients, in particular, will appreciate your age as an older personal trainer. They know you can relate to them and their specific needs. 

Your work experience will also help you be successful in a second career. You have certain skills that can’t be taught and that will help you run a small business, market yourself, and gain new clients. 

Getting Certified Takes Months, Not Years

In terms of second careers, personal training is easier to get into than many others. You don’t need a college degree to do this job well. All you need is a certification. Completing a certification program usually takes several months and rarely takes more than a year. You can start your new career in no time. 

Training is Rewarding and Purposeful

Retirement is a huge life change. You go from being needed and useful one day to lacking purpose the next. Unless you plan meaningful activities for retirement, you risk feeling aimless and even depressed. You may also become socially isolated. 

Some retirees make the mistake of trying to fill the hole left by a career with purely pleasurable activities. Yes, hobbies and fun pursuits are great, and retirement is the time for them, but they don’t necessarily provide purpose. 

To feel fulfilled and satisfied with your life, you need a balance between pleasure and purpose. Working with clients on fitness goals can fill this role. You’ll benefit from being around people and helping them make positive changes in their lives. 

How Old is Too Old to Become a Personal Trainer, Really? 

Truly, there is no age limit to become a fitness professional. However, you should be able to meet certain physical requirements. These vary depending on the type of training you want to do. For instance, you don’t necessarily have to work with bodybuilders and big weights if you can’t lift them. You should be able to perform and model the types of workouts you’ll be guiding your clients through. 

Check out this story about Rose Biscardi, a personal trainer in her 80s, who has been working with senior clients for more than ten years.

How to Start Your Training Career

Whether you’re switching careers midway or looking for a second career in retirement, follow these steps to become a working personal trainer: 

  • Get certified. An absolute must for working as a trainer is certification. This is not a legal requirement, but it is a professional one. Most trainers are certified, so to compete, you need this credential. A certification program will give you the skills and confidence you need to start working with clients. 
  • Consider online certification. There are many good personal trainer programs available online. These give you the flexibility to complete a program at your own pace, where you live, and around your schedule of other retirement activities. 
  • Earn specialization credentials. As you work toward certification, think about the kind of training you want to do and consider earning specializations. For instance, get certified in senior fitness to focus on older clients, or get a group fitness certification if you want to lead classes. 
  • Look for a job. Yes, gyms will hire older trainers. Many clients actually prefer working with trainers they view as more approachable. A young, buff trainer can be intimidating for many. Older clients especially will appreciate working with a trainer who looks more like them. 
  • Or, start a business. If you bring business skills from your first career, consider working independently. You can start up a small personal training business and choose your hours and rates. The downside is that it takes more work to gain clients and manage the business end. 
  • Keep learning. Regardless of age, all trainers need to keep up their skills and knowledge in this changing industry. Sports science is always updating, so stay on top and stay fresh with continuing education courses. 

No matter what your age, if you love to exercise and have a passion for helping others, consider becoming a personal trainer. The flexibility in this career is ideal for a retirement career. 

ISSA is proud to be the top-rated and reviewed personal training certification program in the nation. And we can help you learn, grow and prosper in your new career in health and fitness! Explore our Certified Personal Trainer programs.


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