4 Easy Steps to Becoming a Personal Trainer

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Turn Your Passion Into a Profession

Imagine that it’s Monday morning, 6:15 AM, and your alarm is buzzing on the bedside table. On the way to work, you spill your coffee in your lap. You miss your exit and, as usual, you spend fifteen minutes circling the neighborhood looking for a place to park.

It’s going to be a long day (aren’t they all?).

When five o’clock finally rolls around, you heave a sigh of relief, hop into your car and hit the gym. You work up a good sweat and finally, after 40 minutes on the treadmill, you can feel the stress of the workday melting away.

Are you passionate about fitness and wellness? Are you a good motivator?

Then, in the middle of a set of crunches, it hits you: You’ve got the wrong career.

If you’re a gym nut with a passion for health and fitness, then you might be missing out on an inexpensive, easy way to earn a living as a self-employed professional. Personal trainers make anywhere from 60 to 600 dollars an hour, depending on their credentials, their resources, and their clients.

So why spend 40 hours every week cooped up in a stuffy office with a bunch of soda-slurping, fast-food-eating chair rats? In just a few months, you can become a certified personal trainer for very little money.

It’s Not About Appearance

If you think you’re ready to take the plunge, then ask yourself these basic questions: Are you disciplined? Are you empathetic and encouraging? Are you passionate about fitness and wellness? Are you a good motivator?

Becoming a personal trainer is about more than muscles. Sure, it helps to have a lean, sculpted physique, but you don’t need to be a bodybuilder in order to be a successful personal trainer.

A good trainer is a coach, a friend, a guide. In the end, when it comes to running a successful small business or freelancing as a trainer in a gym—booking clients, creating relationships, and helping people meet their goals—your physical appearance is a minor detail.

The Four Steps

  1. Get Certified: In order to attract clients, you will need to become a fully certified physical trainer. There are a variety of organizations that offer certification workshops and exams—just make sure that you choose an organization that is nationally recognized and accredited. If you are interested in working with a particular fitness club or gym, find out if they require a specific license or accreditation.
  2. Choose a Specialty: Whether you plan to work in a club or to build a small business as a freelance fitness expert, you need to distinguish yourself from the competition. Boost your resume and build your brand by pursuing a specialty certification. This will help you develop the skills and tools you need to offer a more complete service to your clients, and it will also increase your value as a trainer. Where should you focus your attention? Nutrition, whole-body wellness, rehabilitation, training for injured and disabled persons—focus on whatever area of knowledge and practice appeals to you as an individual.
  3. Set Up Your Business: Choose a business structure, such as a sole proprietorship, and register a business name with your Secretary of State’s office. Make sure to purchase general liability insurance for your business—no matter how safe your techniques are, there is always a chance that a client will sustain an injury during a training session.
  4. Market Yourself and Your Business: Now you’re ready to promote your business. Hit up Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn; build a webpage to advertise your services; and spread the word to your friends and family. You might be able to attract new business by offering free consultations, or community seminars. Once you get people in the door, you can demonstrate your value as a trainer. Consider contacting corporations and businesses in your area to see if they are interested in organizing a fitness seminar for their employees.

Being successful as a trainer takes skill, dedication, knowledge, and a little luck. Keep improving your skills, keep your nose to the grindstone, and soon you will a profitable job you actually enjoy waking up for.

Is this a career path that you've ventured down as a self-employed individual? Consider telling your story now, in the Self-Employed blog!