Becoming a personal trainer cannot be done overnight.
We can't wake up one morning and say "I think I'll be a personal trainer today".
It is a highly regulated profession that requires certain personal qualities as well as tangible skills, and that is why a college diploma or a professional license is essential.
Moreover, becoming a personal trainer requires serious emotional qualities and determination.
What Kind of Personal Trainer Will You Be?
Depending on whether you are an in-home coach or a coach in a club, the services you offer will not be the same.
Personal Trainer in a club
Being a coach in a club, you would be responsible for advising clients on the various training platforms the gym offers and helping to choose the right device (rowing machine, treadmill, bike, etc.) according to the needs and expectations of the client.
It would also be according to the age, state of health and the goal of the student that a sports coach would create a personalized training program.
Personal Trainer in a home
In the case of private lessons, the in-home personal trainer would focus more on using the proper postures on different in-home sports equipment and with bodybuilding.
You would supervise private lessons or group lessons at your own home or the home of the client.
Your advice would be more targeted for muscle strengthening of certain parts of the body (glutes, hips, thighs, biceps, etc.) or you would monitor and help to boost the clients' cardio endurance, all in a more intimate and friendly atmosphere.
In all cases, you should look into personal trainer insurance...
The 5 Essential Skills of a Good Personal Trainer
However, it is not easy, at first, for someone to bring a stranger into their home to workout with.
So on what criteria will they use to choose their sports coach? This professional must have not only officially recognized physical and sportive skills but also qualities inherent to any fitness coaching.
Here are the top 5 qualities needed to become a sought-after personal trainer.
1- Have solid qualifications
Indeed, to become a personal trainer, there are 3 main types of courses: an Advanced Diploma, Diploma, or Certificate in Personal Training, and taken at either a college or a private institution.
Certificate in Personal Training
If you've already worked as a Gym Instructor, you can qualify as a personal trainer by getting a:
- Certificate in Personal Training
This course will qualify you so you can offer clients fitness, lifestyle and nutritional advice and create custom-made plans.
Diploma in Personal Training
To become a personal trainer you would normally be an experienced fitness instructor with either of the following qualifications:
- Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing – Gym
- Level 2 Diploma in Health, Fitness, and Exercise Instruction
- Level 2 Diploma in Instructing Exercise and Fitness
You will learn how to work 1-2-1 with clients, but also how to run group classes.
Advanced Diploma in Personal Training
If you want to take further qualifications to specify even further in this career, you can take the advanced training and receive either:
- Level 3 Diploma in Fitness Instructing and Personal Training or
- Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training
Some advanced courses include teaching you how to be an entrepreneur and run your own personal trainer business.
With either of the three routes of qualifications, it is always a good idea to also become a registered member of a professional organisation, such as the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) or National Register of Personal Trainers (NRPT). It's a great way to demonstrate your competence and skills and will certainly put your clients more at ease.
Learn more about personal trainer qualifications...
2 - Choose your place of work
As we mentioned before, a personal trainer can work in different kinds of organizations and locations: in a company, a sports club, a fitness centre, at your home, or the homes of others.
The job will not always be the same depending on where you coach.
In a club or a fitness centre, you would mainly give group lessons (cardio training, fitness, bodybuilding) or individually take care of some of the members.
For the in-home coach, you would need to bring the necessary equipment for your clients: a floor mat, weights, balls, etc.
It will be up to you to take the time to define your clients' fitness goals and offer them a tailor-made program. Your time and attentiveness here will pay off as it will surely encourage them to continue to book regular appointments with you.
Finally, a personal trainer for business can offer personalized coaching to a small group within the company by proving group classes in the workplace.
These interactions would be more focused on reducing stress at work, creating social bonds and relaxing the sometimes pressurized work atmosphere.
Finally, it needs to be noted that no matter where a coach chooses to teach their custom exercises, they must protect themselves and the clients by finding the appropriate personal trainer insurance.
3 - Keep in shape
To be able to lead others is a good start, but it is also necessary to walk your talk and show a good example!
It is essential as a fitness professional to always be in excellent physical condition, and by remaining active and dynamic, you will be able to train your students to the best of your abilities.
Avoid the mistake of believing training others is your physical activity. You must also take care to do your own exercises on the side: always try to improve, learn new skills, train in new methods of coaching, and discover new sports related to fitness, weightlifting or mental strength.
A personal trainer, especially when you are doing group lessons, is often perceived as a model, one that others want to follow, and if you don't present a good example, it will be impossible for you to be credible as a leader.
Not to mention that if you just train with your students and forget your own exercises, your students will catch up to your level quickly.
Finally, as a personal trainer, you must commit to a healthy lifestyle: your working hours will not always follow a traditional schedule and you'll need to learn to adapt to this new rhythm and still take the time to eat, sleep and exercise enough to stay healthy and last all day.
4 - Think about the future
Unlike many professions, the coaching profession does not often last until old age.
Sports coaching is a demanding profession, which requires a lot of energy and personal investment.
The physical abilities of a personal trainer will not stay the same over time and it will become more and more tiring to participate in sports daily and with high-intensity.
Therefore, a good personal trainer is also one who thinks about retraining and plans for the future, to avoid being unemployed overnight, if they can no longer teach for any reason.
Depending on the coach's specialities, they could move into:
- Becoming a trainer of new personal trainers
- Becoming a gym manager in a fitness centre
- Teach children's sports teams
- Specialize even further in nutrition and healthy eating
Whatever happens, you can continue to evolve in the sports world with less demanding physical exercise involved.
Also discover how much a personal trainer stands to earn...
5 - Be a "Team Player"
Personal trainers are in high demand these days, and it can be hard to keep up at times.
To be successful, you'll have to stay flexible and motivated throughout your career. Most importantly you will need to sustain this energy over time in order to:
- Solve daily problems
- Adapt your schedule to your students!
- Stay flexible and don't lose your motivation in the face of small administrative problems, they are present in all professional activities
- Prioritize your goals!
Check for newly posted online teaching jobs here.
The 6 Emotional Qualities Needed to Become a Personal Trainer
1. Be a good listener
This is one of the necessary and inherent qualities to all good sports coaching.
Being a personal trainer does not boil down to only offering only physical and sports exercises.
The notion of "emotional coaching" is also part of the work of a personal trainer and that is why as a professional you must have many skills in teaching and coaching:
- know how to listen to your students
- understand their needs
- help them to be successful and achieve visible results
- motivate when necessary
In addition to your physical abilities and skills, a good coach must also know how to put their students at ease. Thankfully, these are skills that can eventually be learned during the personal coach training.
Indeed, the basis of being an excellent coach is how you make your clients feel and can give them confidence: if the student feels good and has faith in the advice of their personal trainer, they will make progress.
Personal training can take several weeks or even months, this is why it's so important for the client to really trust the person they're working with.
It is recommended for the coach and the client to have a trial session together first so that the client can evaluate your methods, personality and if it will be a good fit because once you find a good match, you'll both be able to do great work together.
Ultimately, a good personal trainer knows how to bring a positive energy to the session and find the right words to restore confidence and motivation to their client.
They always keep calm, know how to be patient and keep smiling so as not to discourage or rush their students.
Never forget that a personal trainer, beyond the physical exercise aspect, is also an emotional coach who supports their clients, who helps them to believe in themselves, regain confidence, and eventually thrive.
2. Be a source of continuous motivation
It is important to understand that you are responsible for each individual who chooses to spend one hour of their time exercising with you (this is true even if you only work part-time).
To give the best experience to everyone you meet, your preparation needs to start well before the music begins. You'll need to be ready to work hard to prepare for your classes, whether it be your first class or the hundredth.
When your student hits a rough patch, it will be up to you to put them back on the right path.
To do this, it will be useful to show them the way by being a good example yourself. This is one of the basics, a coach must be irreproachable and apply to himself the advice he teaches. Like this, the clients can clearly see that your methods will work.
Enthusiasm is also an irreplaceable quality in a good sports coach. The energy you give will help motivate your customers. Give them the desire to go farther and give the best of themselves. When we succeed in achieving our goals, we want to go further and, thus, create a positive reinforcement cycle.
In contrast, failure and lack of results can affect motivation. It is, therefore, always important to set realistic and achievable goals.
3. Be versatile
This is another secret of good personal trainers. To become a coach and provide quality coaching, this is one of the basics: you will have to constantly adapt and demonstrate versatility.
A bit of creativity, a touch of daring, and you will find solutions to all the problems you might encounter, whether they be to:
- Provide personalized advice
- Address different aspects of a sport
- Deal with unforeseen situations, such as changing weather conditions which can interfere if you're not prepared
- Adapt to the ever-changing needs of your clients and to fitness trends
4. Be disciplined
As a sports coach, you have a mission. Your job is to call on all your skills and know-how in order to support your students in the best way possible and enable them to achieve their goals.
It is necessary to be disciplined as a personal trainer: to plan adapted sessions and be involved in the success of your customers.
Being responsible is also:
- Being punctual
- Proposing effective monitoring tools to measure progress
- Tailoring personalized sessions
- Reviewing your approaches when necessary if they are not giving the expected results
Being disciplined is also being organized and, luckily, it is possible to improve this skill. It involves learning how to set rules for yourself and others (and following them) as well as learning to plan your sessions effectively.
5. Be patient
You are an accomplished athlete, which is not the case for all of your customers. Some have become inactive in their daily lives and others have accumulated extra pounds.
Whether your customers are totally passionate about sports or they are forced to return to physical activity to feel better every day, you will need to consider all of these elements without judgment.
We all have the right to temporarily give up, give in, to not to get it right the first time. So be tolerant, show understanding and empathy. It's your role as a personal trainer to always push your clients to dig deep, and eventually find the best aspects of themselves.
Don't be too demanding and pushy. The goal is to motivate your clients to enjoy sports. Being tough and demanding has its limits and in the end, you may have the opposite effect of the one you want.
6. Stay POSITIVE
The most difficult part of being a personal trainer is consistency.
You are, in a way, obliged to have a positive image.
By being positive, you can energize your coaching sessions, and you will also by transmitting your motivation, your desire, and your involvement. Being around a positive attitude is contagious, it's hard to not get pulled in. Your clients will begin to see the good and fun parts of training as you help them see it in a different light.
To be positive, you'll need to adopt positive languaging, encourage all effort, and value any progress and success. This is essentially, the heart of your coaching job.
If you have these qualities and more, becoming a personal trainer might be easier than you think...
Being a Personal Trainer is Also...
Know your students
The more you know about your students, the more effective you can be as an instructor.
I learned this early in my career when I told a class that I would be taking a 6-month leave of absence.
The disappointment and uncertainty I saw on the faces of many people helped me to realize that I had provided something to them by my actions, behaviours and words, without really knowing what that represented.
It turns out, I had really impacted their lives!
Leigh Crews, a fitness group director at the Rome Athletic Club in Rome, Georgia, believes that adults "do not want to be anonymous" and that "you should know each participant a little bit."
She goes on to say that by recognizing individuals in a class, you can
"Help members respect one another and at the same time foster a sense of belonging."
It is essential to always keep in mind that each of your students has a complex life outside of the gym.
They are mothers and fathers, lawyers, secretaries, journalists, actors, athletes, accountants, singers. The list is long.
These people come into your class with life experiences and previous knowledge in many different areas including physical activity.
Develop a true relationship of trust
Regardless of the format, whether it be dance, yoga, bodybuilding or cycling, the common denominator of coaching is the relationship between the teacher and the student.
The theory behind the exercises is important, but to really understand it, people need to feel what it's like to actually perform a movement or exercise pattern.
"I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand." Confucius
While understanding may require a lot of practice, repetition reinforces the learning process and allows the learner to improve and succeed in the task at hand.
Just as participants bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the classroom, so do you!
Remember that your students keep coming back to learn from you, so take everything you've learned and gathered over the years and use it to create the best learning environment possible!
Becoming an In-Home Personal Trainer Means Becoming an Entrepreneur
Beyond technical skills, sportive and relational skills, you should also realize that your personal trainer activities must be managed like a real small business.
Obviously, paperwork, admin work and marketing are not at the heart of your job, but they are essential aspects for the best development of your personal training business and its sustainability.
To say it simply, here are some key points that should not be overlooked:
You will need to set up a profitable business model. For this, it is essential to determine how to generate sufficient income for your needs:
- Offer a sliding scale or discounts
- Take into account your professional expenses (travel, equipment, snacks...)
- Also, keep in mind that your schedule will not include 7 hours of daily coaching sessions
- Anticipate your expenses
- Determine your availability and manage a schedule of coaching sessions
- Adjust your fees according to the activity (individual coaching, group classes, discounts for bundled or long-term registration, offer the first course free...)
As a fitness specialist, you will have to grow your business. You will have to transform yourself into a salesperson and learn how to sell yourself to develop your clientele. To do so you will need to:
- Promotion: finding your first clients is never easy because you can not always rely on previous experience or a network
- Loyalty: a satisfied customer will continue to see you, but also will talk about you to his friends. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to develop your clientele without doing anything. Make your customers your best ambassadors!
- Diversification of your activities: taking into account the opinions of your customers and their suggestions will allow you to develop new useful approaches. You may need additional training (ex: nutrition, weight loss...), but it will add value to your business
- Choose your target clients (individuals, professionals...), and your specialities (getting in shape, fitness trainer, elderly, weight loss, in-home training...)
You will also have to surpass the competition. You will need to think about how to emphasize and promote your approach, your skills, your qualities and your experiences in order to attract new customers.
Sports activities have to stay enjoyable. Routine is sometimes the enemy of motivation. It is, therefore, important for a coach to stay innovate and be creative. You will need to be able to develop unique ideas:
- Offer sports events to your customers
- Organize group outings with the idea of mixing sports and fellowship
- Help them discover new sports activities
Communication is essential to the development of your business. You will have to make yourself known and grow your reputation.
The most popular coaches have great personalities and are masters in the art of communication. But don't worry, you don't need complicated tools to get improve:
- A personalized website to showcase what you have to offer
- A presence on social networks, where you discuss tips and tricks or your new courses, as well as keep in touch with your clients between sessions
- Ads on sites dedicated to private lessons (like Superprof!)
With these few communication tools, you will be able to develop your reputation and clientele little by little.
This is not the most exciting part, I admit, but it is indispensable. You will not only have to determine the status that suits your business (self-employed for example) but also take the steps necessary to properly manage your business:
- Declaration of revenue
- Payment of fees and taxes
- Professional insurance
Becoming a Personal Trainer Summary
As you can certainly see, becoming a personal trainer doesn't happen overnight and making a living as a sportive coach is not as easy as some might think...
First, it will require a real commitment and a very clear professional objective. Secondly, you'll need to acquire the proper qualifications, which will later bring trust and confidence from your future clients.
Even if you do not have many students at the start, especially as an in-home or business coach, don't give up; in this business, word of mouth is an important building block that can prove to be very useful.
If you know how to be professional - if you are dedicated to your fitness, bodybuilding or weight loss classes; if you know how to show human qualities like empathy and listening to others; if you know how to identify your clients' needs and understand your students - it's a safe bet that you will quickly grow your business.
A personal trainer knows how to be discreet (it often happens that your clients will confide parts of their life to you, even private details) but you'll know how to be trustworthy, to make good decisions and to firmly and patiently guide your students to achieve their goals and be successful.
Sports coaching is above all a moment of fun and enjoyment, and even if the physical exercises are sometimes difficult, the quality of the atmosphere, your attitude, and your relationship with the client must be the primary goals.
Now discover how to become a fitness professional anywhere in the UK!