The Essential Guide to Part-Time Personal Training

Training Tips

The Essential Guide to Part-Time Personal Training

Reading Time: 6 minutes 35 seconds


Date: 2020-01-17T00:00:00-05:00

For many trainers, beginning in a part-time role is key to getting their foot in the door to a fulfilling career. Others take on part-time work to stay busy in retirement. And many others use part-time personal fitness training to help make ends meet. In any case, the part-time personal fitness trainer can make a huge impact in the health and wellness of clients. And part-time training can add a big boost to your finances if you do it right.

Skills Needed to be a Part-Time Personal Trainer

If you haven't perfected your juggling skills, better start practicing! Working as a part-time certified personal trainer takes skill, dedication, and patience. But the payoffs are well worth it.

Which Skills Are Most Important for a Part-Time Personal Trainer?

When you work part-time as a fitness instructor it is important to have good time management skills. This is especially true if you also have a full-time job. It takes time to create training programs, follow-up with clients, and manage your side gig. Here are three tips to be a time-management ninja:

  • Practice time-blocking. Spend at least 60 minutes writing fitness programs for clients. Take a quick break then spend the next 60 minutes following up with clients. You can also work in shorter or longer blocks. It all depends on what fits into your schedule. The main point—focus on one thing at a time!

  • Consistency is key. Set a schedule and keep it. Schedule administrative work (time-blocking) for the same day(s) and time each week. Keep regular hours for clients to reach you. And hold clients accountable to showing up for their exercise sessions by creating a no-show/reschedule policy.

  • Learn to say no...or be very selective with your yes. Your clients depend upon you to be there for them. If you have other obligations—another job, kids, etc. —it is important to plan ahead and stick with it. See tip number two.

In addition to being a time-management master, the part-time pro is detail-oriented. This means not forgetting to send a recipe to a client or not having to lie and say, "my alarm didn't go off" for an early morning session. It means handing your client an exercise program with their name on it, their correct age and weight, and each of their goals...not someone else's.

Communication is key when you work part-time. Both you and your clients need to know what to expect. And if your part-time gig is in addition to a full-time job, then your boss needs to know the days and times you are not available. If an emergency comes up, you should quickly communicate with clients and have a plan for rescheduling as soon as possible.

A certified personal trainer should be an effective coach and teacher. Coaching includes showing empathy, asking the right questions, and motivating clients. Teaching is all about showing the client how regular fitness and good nutrition impact their lives. Together, coaching and teaching empower the client to make a lifestyle change.

Finally, it is important to know your "why." Why do you love what you do? Why is exercise part of your life? Why do you want to share the message of health with others? Your "why" will move you past any obstacle that comes in your way and it will be the reason your clients love, trust, hire, and refer you.

How Can You Demonstrate the Skills Required for Becoming a Part-Time Personal Trainer?

So, you're newly certified and looking for a job as a part-time fitness instructor. How can you show the gym manager you've got what it takes if you've never been a certified personal trainer? You need to finesse your resume to make it more applicable to the fitness industry and the role of a personal fitness trainer. Here are a few examples.

The First Responder: You have a background in medicine and have earned your personal training certification. You respond calmly and efficiently in emergencies. You know the signs and symptoms of life-threatening conditions and know what to do. You've been in charge of physical training for your department for the last two years and have helped several men and women improve their health.

The Mechanic: Sports medicine isn't in your job description, but you were an athlete in high school and stay fit. As a mechanic, you are helpful and try to explain complicated issues so they are easier for customers to understand. You show up on time and keep the area clean. Your manager says you're dependable and great with customers.

The Stay-At-Home Mom: Life may be busy, but you are dedicated to continuing education and learning. You have an incredible weight-loss story and want to help others write theirs. You keep a tight ship and have consistent availability during the week. You coached your kid's soccer team and love teaching speed and agility.

Finally, be the example. Regardless of your current weight, show potential employers how you have used exercise and nutrition to change your life. Don't fall for the lie that you won't get hired if you don't have a fitness model physique. Clients will hire you because you are a work in progress and they can relate to you.

How Can You Strengthen Your Resume as a Part-Time Personal Trainer?

Once you've landed that part-time gig, keep track of all that you do. Gather testimonials from clients, gym members, your peers, and the management staff. Keep track of your clients' fitness assessments so you can show—with numbers and data—the effectiveness of your exercise programs. Statements like, "helped twenty people lose an average of 10% body fat with my 12-week program," are powerful. But you won't know it unless you track it.

Finally, put together a portfolio. If you decide to take your training business full-time or branch out on your own, your portfolio will act as your most powerful sales tool.

Education and Certifications Needed to be a Part-Time Personal Trainer

What does it take to get and stay certified? Here are the details you need to know.

What Classes Should You Take to Become a Personal Trainer?

Understanding the basic structure of the body—anatomy and physiology—is a good start. But to be a personal trainer you must also understand kinesiology—how the body moves. Other exercise science topics that will help you be successful include:

  • Basic and applied sciences

  • Assessments

  • Program design

  • Special populations

  • Nutrition

  • Professional practice

If you want to be an entrepreneur—even part-time—then taking sales and marketing classes is also a good idea.

Do You Need to Be Certified to Get a Job as a Part-Time Personal Trainer?

Many top gyms require their trainers, both full-time and part-time, to have their personal training certification. You may also be hired if you have a degree in sports medicine or exercise science. Group fitness instructors may need to earn a specialized certification. However, that depends on which gym you decide to work for.

Part-Time Personal Trainer Salary

The really good news about part-time personal trainer pay is that it's usually at the same rate as full-time pay, except with fewer production hours. Why is this really good news? Because you don't have to work your way up a pay scale, you can start earning what everyone else does from the beginning. This makes it easy to branch out on your own and charge what big gyms are charging.

What is the Average Hourly Rate for a Part-Time Personal Trainer?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, personal trainers make about $40,700 annually or $19.57 per hour. But, the gym may charge anywhere from $45 to $60 for training sessions. The rate per session may be higher or lower depending upon the demographics of the area. Higher income areas will charge more than lower income neighborhoods. Group fitness instructors make about the same, but it depends upon the size of the group.

If you want—or need—to make more than $19 per hour, then starting your own business might be the right choice for you.

How Do You Set Your Hourly Rate as a Part-Time Personal Trainer?

Once you have your certification, setting your hourly rate is simple. Do some market research to find out what other trainers and gyms are charging for training sessions. Many articles online advise clients against choosing the "cheapest" trainer. So, stick with rate that is equal to your local average.

If you decide to work at a gym, you'll have to negotiate with the owner or manager. Again, lots of trainers work part-time to get their foot in the door. It's a great option if you don't have the time or skillset to market your services right away. And there are plenty of benefits to working for a big gym. Find out more in our article, Breaking Down Big Gym Pay.

How Can You Get Paid More, Even as a Part-Time Personal Trainer?

A specialized certification will most certainly earn you a higher rate for training sessions—IF you own your own business. At big gyms, it's mostly a selling point for the sales team to use to sign up clients, but it doesn't translate into a bigger paycheck for you.

A large and growing market is senior fitness and earning your senior fitness certification could boost your income. Youth sports are popular around the globe. With a youth fitness certification you could host after-school programs or work with local teams. If your community has a very high obesity rate, then having a nutrition certification could easily double your income.

Helping clients reach their fitness goals is the priority of all personal trainers, part-time or full-time. You can begin a very rewarding career in as few as 8 hours per week! So, what are you waiting for? Get out our Certified Fitness Trainer course now!


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Fitness Trainers and Instructors, at (visited April 19, 2022).

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