So You Want to Be a Personal Trainer

7 Secrets to Deciding if Personal Training is For You

I recently landed a position as a PE teacher in a local high school.  It is a great opportunity, despite the extra needy, at risk, high risk, low achiever, non achiever and just don’t give a darn kids whose parents enable and expect them to get A’s.  I have a lot of great experience and coaching/athletic background to offer the kids, which means absolutely nada to them.

This got me thinking about my real gig in life as a personal trainer, athletic coach, and competitive athlete.  Teaching may be tricky and even the personal training field has its challenges.  For those of you thinking of getting into this arena, here are a few things to consider.


1. Patience

You will need this in large amounts for two phases.  First, do you have the patience to get people to ‘come around’ to understanding the value of what you do and why they need it?  Remember we are not our clients 🙂   Secondly whether you venture out alone or initially with a company patience equates to virtually no income, which is what you will have.  Pick a time in your life you can float for at least 6 months to a year.  If your company tells you just a few months, you may want to find another outfit to work with as about a year is more realistic.

2. Knowledge

You need to understand the human body, including anatomy, physiology, and basic human movement.  Even if you get your certification (the big 4 these days are ACE, NASM, NSCA and ACSM) the course material doesn’t give you a firm hold on the nuances of movement that will hook your clients.  I probably got more from community college courses on anatomy, physiology, and even EMT study, but pick your poison.  What will offer your client MORE if they work with you than a cross-fit trainer?  This may be sacrilegious but I stand my ground that true medical knowledge win out over AMRAP and way-too-fast powerlifting methods.

3.  Walk the walk

Do you really understand how to look at and listen to somebody with a goal and understand the biomechanics and body dynamics they are looking for to develop an appropriate program?  Do you know periodization, progressive overload, and program development?  Do clients jobs require hunched-over shoulders that would require rows/chest openers?  Do they understand push/pull philosophy to balance the body?  Do you?  Get dialed into the current research and continue research throughout your career to give clients a reason to come to you vs. anybody else.

4. Know the mechanisms that best work the body

Show clients the value and time-saving features of multijoint, compound, and complex movements.  Think movement over muscles (or muscle groups) and show clients how to get the most bang for the buck


5. Problem solving

Clients will come to you with specific problems and goals so be prepared to be an analyst and problem solver.  You will need creativity:  how will you translate and transfer the information into another persons’ needs and current abilities?

6. Group Training


If you are training Groups, can you stay out of their way and they out of yours?  How will you orchestrate them?

7. Real-world experience

Circles back to walk the walk—talk the talk only when you have walked the walk.  I can ensure trust and confidence in my clients who want to learn to lift most effectively because I am a world-ranked powerlifting who trained 6 days/week for years with an Olympic-contender coach.  Do you have clients put their feet up on the bench for presses?  Do you put weights under the heels of clients on squats to ‘hit the muscles differently?’  Then you are doing a disservice to clients.  And if that doesn’t make sense to you, do the research.  Do you know which stretches are contraindicated?  I see folks doing them regularly.

Be the expert.  Be the advocate.  Be the example.  Be the motivator.