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If you want to work in the fitness industry, personal training is one option to consider. Or maybe you’re thinking about hiring a personal fitness trainer but aren’t sure how they can help. Understanding exactly what a trainer does can make both of these decisions easier. So, let’s answer that question now.
On a basic level, a personal trainer helps people achieve their fitness goals. These goals might include weight loss or muscle growth. Or clients may just want better health and wellness. The way a trainer assists with each of these is through exercise.
This begins with conducting a fitness assessment to determine the client’s level of fitness. This assessment also reveals any physical limitations. This information is used to create an exercise program. Typically, an exercise program includes both cardio and strength training. A comprehensive training plan also includes physical activity designed to improve flexibility, such as through stretching.
During the actual training session, a personal trainer teaches clients proper exercise technique and form. This ensures that the training program is followed safely. It also helps improve effectiveness.
Perhaps the best way to understand what is expected in this role is to look at a personal trainer job description. Here’s an example of what this description may look like:
Busy gym seeking a dedicated personal trainer to join our team. Job duties include:
Conducting fitness assessments
Creating safe and effective training programs
Providing one-on-one training sessions
Teaching group fitness classes as needed
Educating gym members about the value of fitness
Promoting the purchase of personal training packages
Most personal trainers work in some type of gym or fitness facility. This provides access to the equipment needed for the training session. Working at a gym may involve training one-on-one with clients. It can also include leading a fitness program, such as a boot camp or group exercise class.
Other trainers provide at-home fitness services. They go to a client’s home and do the workout there. This is helpful for clients who find it difficult to get out, such as due to age or transportation issues. Some celebrities and other high-profile clients hire trainers to come to their homes to avoid drawing attention in a public gym.
Personal trainers can also use their fitness knowledge to promote physical education. This might involve working for a public agency, such as a health department. Or it could involve working for a civic organization. Private companies also hire trainers to educate their employees about how to achieve a higher level of health through fitness.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median pay for a fitness trainer or instructor is $40,700 per year or around $19.57 per hour. Though, several factors can impact a trainer’s salary potential. They include geographical location, level of education and experience, and whether you hold a certification.
Salary can also be affected based on where you work. If you provide personal training services at a gym, for instance, you may be limited by your hourly pay and the number of hours you can work. Conversely, if you have your own personal training business, you set the rates. And you can work as little or as much as you want. This gives you greater control over your income potential.
Personal trainer jobs are expected to grow 39% between 2020 and 2030 according to the BLS. This rate is “much faster than average” and is anticipated to create roughly 121,700 new jobs.
This high growth rate is attributed to a few different factors. One is that it will be necessary to replace fitness professionals who leave their jobs. This could be due to changing occupations or retiring. Another factor is an increase in the number of employers wanting to promote employee wellness. More companies are offering their staff gym incentives. Or they hire trainers to help create a wellness program for their employees.
The BLS further suggests that certain areas of fitness are likely to increase over the next decade due to an aging population. This includes yoga, Pilates, and other forms of low-impact exercise. So, if you’re interested in working with a senior demographic, becoming a yoga instructor may be a good option.
Anyone can learn the skills needed to be a personal trainer. However, there are a few traits that make for a good trainer or even a great personal trainer. What traits are these? Good trainers have:
Good communication skills. You must be able to clearly say how to perform an exercise correctly. If you can’t, your client can be injured. Part of communication is also being a good listener. You can’t help a client reach their fitness goals if you don’t know what those goals are. This requires listening to what they hope to achieve through training. In some cases, it means also paying attention to what they don’t say.
Good motivational skills. One of the largest obstacles clients face is the ability to stay motivated. So, a good personal trainer knows how to motivate clients. This keeps the client coming back long enough to get the results they desire.
Good problem-solving skills. Clients often pursue training because they couldn’t achieve their goals on their own. As a trainer, it’s your responsibility to figure out why. What obstacles were in their way? Once you know this, the next step is to find a way to overcome them. The better you are at problem-solving, the easier this becomes.
Good customer services skills. As a personal trainer, your ability to make a living depends on making your clients happy. This is where good customer service skills come into play. The happier clients are with the service you provide, the more they’ll want to work with you. And if you are a really good personal trainer, they’ll recommend that their friends and family work with you as well.
Developing these traits can make you more successful in this field. Conversely, if you’re looking to hire a trainer, finding someone with these traits can provide a more pleasurable training experience.
There are no mandatory educational requirements to work as a personal trainer. However, if you plan to work at a gym or other fitness facility, certification is often required.
Certification requires completing a training program, then passing a certification exam. During a training program, students learn about human anatomy, physiology, and exercise mechanics. This type of course also teaches you how to create a workout program for clients based on their limitations and needs. You learn the skills needed to help clients reach their fitness goals safely. This reduces their risk of injury.
Once the training program is complete, you take a certification exam. This exam tests your knowledge and validates that you’ve learned the information provided. Successfully pass the certification exam and you gain the title of Certified Personal Trainer or CPT.
As a personal trainer, it’s also important that you know cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). If you work for a gym, CPR certification is generally required. This certification shows that you know how to respond should a client experience a medical emergency.
Some employers may have more stringent requirements for the personal training role. They may require a degree in exercise science, for instance. Reading the personal trainer job description thoroughly can help you understand what is required for a specific employer.
Once you obtain your certification, you must also complete a certain number of continuing education credits regularly to retain this certification. This helps ensure that you stay updated in the field. It also gives you the knowledge and skills needed to be the most successful personal trainer you can be.
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Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Fitness Trainers and Instructors,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/fitness-trainers-and-instructors.htm (visited April 19, 2022).