With health and fitness becoming more popular than ever, so has the profession of helping others reach their training goals. Personal trainers or PT’s are found almost everywhere, from your local gym, to fitness websites, to YouTube. PT’s are an important cycle in the fitness chain, as most beginners who have been away from the gym for a while (or have never been) will need somewhere to start from. From coaching novices in the gym to planning their daily diet, personal training is an up and coming job that is extremely diverse and pays quite well over time when done right. In this article, we will be discussing the different forms of PT’s and how to become qualified.
Types of Personal Training
When we think of a personal trainer, usually a neutrally fit individual with a clipboard and stopwatch comes to mind, but times are changing. As fitness is becoming more ubiquitous so are different forms of training, as well as different forms of PT’s. When considering a career in personal training it is important to find a type that you will be passionate about and stick to. The most general form of personal training is one who can train a client one on one and create workout programs/diet plans with them. Becoming a general PT requires at least one certificate from an accredited program such as:
● American Council on Exercise (ACE)
● National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
● National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
● International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
These certificate programs are usually a lot of studying from the resources they provide, and conclude with a final exam taken less than six months after buying the program. All of these programs can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000, meaning it would be wise to find a program you know you would enjoy as it is not cheap. After completing and passing the program you will need to decide if you want to work for a gym or try and start a solo business. There are pros and cons to both of these options as working for a gym will give you a solid client base and job security, but a lot of the money clients pay go to the gym while you only get a percentage. Working solo means you get all profits you work for, but you also need to advertise yourself and start from scratch, which means little to no money coming in at first.
While general PT programs will be enough for most, some might want to work with more than one person at a time which is also in high demand. In the form of Cross Fit instructors, yoga instructors, and cardio focused classes, all these PT’s have specialized training needed to qualify. Most of the above certificate programs also provide group fitness options that take about the same amount of time to complete and pass, but requires extra steps such as being CPR certified. Yoga instructors have unique programs and take a surprising 200 hours (or 500 for the advanced class) to complete, compared to the 50-80 to get a general PT certification.
The last (and newest) type of PT we will cover are the Cross fit instructors that have recently become one of the most popular exercise programs to teach. With the most unique form of becoming certified, Cross fit has four different levels of training as well as a $1,000 entry fee. Instead of giving you study materials and letting you take your time to prepare for the quiz, Cross fit training programs makes you attend a two day long in-class course that includes all the fundamentals of Cross fit as well as making you perform all the movements with instructors correcting your form while teaching. After completing the weekend you are technically a level one Cross fit trainer but nowadays most Cross fit gyms won’t accept level one PT’s. The coaches that are picked up have completed the second (and ideally third and fourth) level programs that are more in-depth than the last. Needless to say, becoming a professional Cross fit instructor is definitely more difficult to achieve than most others.
How to Be a Good Personal Trainer
While studying and becoming certified as a PT is very important, knowing how to separate yourself from PT’s who only care about the money and PT’s who care about their clients will determine how successful you will be in this possible career. Most individuals who become PT’s already have their eating/training methods solidified in their life, and what good PT’s don’t do is let that influence how they train and coach individuals. Creating “cookie cutter” diet and exercise plans (or simply the plan you do) and giving that to your clients is not only a bad idea for their progress, it simply comes off as lazy.
As a PT you will be working with individuals of varying knowledge of training/ dieting, meaning that every client should receive their own personalized plan. Whether you train your clients in person or simply give them their plan online, it is important to assess their knowledge and determine what kind of nutrition/exercise plan is right for them. For example your first session with someone who has never walked into the gym before shouldn’t revolve around deadlifts and bicep curls, it should focus on teaching them the basics of form, contractions, compound lifts and so on. On the other side of the spectrum you might have a client who is training for a sport and already has knowledge in the gym, in this case you can skip the basics and go right into advanced lifts and techniques.
Being flexible with your schedule and sleep is also very important depending on how many clients you are able to take on at one time. Each client might require a training session two to three times a week, individual meal plans and training routines, video chat consultations, and random messages/phone calls with questions. This might not be so bad if you have only a few clients, but if you have upwards of double digits that means you will be spending most of your day in the gym training, then hours at home or between clients in the gym putting together meal plans and writing training routines that are specific to each client. Not to mention when clients cancel or try and reschedule, it could mess up an entire day when one client is 30 minutes late or doesn’t show up at all. What this all adds up to is 12-14 hour training days, little sleep and a lot of coffee.
While there are many more steps to becoming a good PT, these are just a few of the most important ones to think about to stand out and be an above average PT.
Take Home Message
While it can be a very rewarding career, personal training is far from an easy one. From choosing the right certificate program for you to investing sometimes $1,000 dollars, and finding a gym to hire you (or starting your own business), PT’s are almost always hard workers to reach the level they are at. Whether you want to be a one on one trainer with personal relationships with all your clients, or a level four Crossfit coach that can teach a class of 30 at one time, it is imperative to learn as much as you can, spread your knowledge to all and above everything, enjoy what you do.