Let’s face it, people all across the world are eating worse and moving less than ever. The pressure to work, earn and be the best has led to many neglecting the very fundamentals of the healthy life they aspire for.
A healthy diet and adequate amount of exercise used to be an inherent part of daily life until relatively recently. Innovations in food production/processing and the transition from more physical to more intellectual labor has led to a sedentary lifestyle and a poor diet.
Fortunately, just as much as human innovation has led to a decline in the quality of lifestyles, we also developed ways to package healthy living in a convenient on-demand way.
Enter the personal trainer. Your go-to expert in getting you off your corporate/academic butt and slapping that cheeseburger off your plate! If you are looking to embark on a journey as a personal trainer yourself, I’m here to guide you, but there are a few things you need to consider.
Walk It Like You Talk It!
The first consideration when entering the PT space is to have an applied passion for health and fitness. You must be an example of the lifestyle you wish to promote.
You can’t apply principles you’ve never lived by, that’s as good as shooting in the dark. It’s also very difficult to market your credibility when you don’t present yourself as an ideal model for success to prospective clients.
Take the time, do the work and assume the lifestyle!
The next most important step towards taking on the fitness world is to get certified! Don’t get me wrong, it’s very possible to have an advanced, applied knowledge of health and fitness principles without any official qualification. However, being non-certified can leave you at a serious disadvantage.
Firstly, there’s always the question of credibility. No client or gym can read your mind to gauge your level of applied knowledge. You need to have it in black and white.
Secondly, most reputable certifications will provide you with liability insurance or a means to get it. This is very important in order to avoid any legal pitfalls, especially considering most of your clients will be in poor physical condition and prone to injury.
A certification will also provide a platform for further advancement as well as fill the gaps in your knowledge. No matter how much you think you know, there’s always more to learn.
How to Get Certified
In order to get certified, you need to enroll and pass a PT certification. There are many great ones out there, all different in their own unique way, but the same where it matters.
Take a look at my comparison review of PT certifications here. I personally recommend NASM, but others such as ACE and AFPA have amazing programs with a high industry recognition.
I suggest not stopping at just one basic certification. There are tons of specialist programs such as nutrition, weight management and massage therapy to name a few.
Some certifications even go in depth into specific aspects of physical performance or rehabilitation. In other cases, the same certification will have different tiers of mastery, so always try aim for the highest tier.
It also doesn’t hurt to get certified by different bodies or institutions. Holding certs from different authorities will really make you stand out and look ready for business.
Adding multiple certifications under your belt will definitely give you an edge, so invest in your career!
Last Thing… First Aid.
One last thing is to get your first responder certs down. First aid and CPR are essential as a serious trainer. Accidents happen and you’re the first point of assistance as well as the person with the best handle on what exactly went wrong. Most certifying bodies offer a first responder package.
Time for the PT Life. Good To Go?
If you’ve got both the lifestyle and the paperwork to prove it covered or are on the journey to doing so, then the life of a personal trainer is absolutely for you. But before you fill your head full of fantasies of a day job in shorts and sweatshirts, a bit of a reality check is needed.
The life of a PT isn’t always all that it’s cracked up to be. Helping people transform from zero to hero and spending your time working in a gym or outdoors is a road full of obstacles.
On the flip side, a dedicated and smart approach to a PT career can be lucrative, rewarding and fulfilling. And Here’s why…
Personal Trainer Pros and Cons
So, as with anything worthwhile, there is some good and some bad aspects associated with pursuing a personal trainer career. How you ultimately decide depends on what you value and your perspective.
Being a personal trainer means equipping yourself to be able to equip others in ways that can change lives for the better.
As we all know, obesity is now a global health crisis. This is due to a net increase in caloric intake and decrease in physical activity, leading to a decline in general health. As a personal trainer, it is your job to assist those who are fortunate enough to have realized that they no longer want to be a statistic.
This means you have a responsibility to a greater cause, it’s no longer just another day job. You have the livelihood and expectations of vulnerable people in your hands.
You also have to be aware that this new role is not only sought after by you. Thousands if not millions of health professionals are all vying for a slice of the pie. That means the competition is ramped up, a reality that has become way more intense in today’s PT game.
So with these things and more, let’s consider the pros and cons of being a personal trainer.
- You get to help improve the lives and realise the goals of people who really want to improve themselves. Adding value is one of the core principles of being a great PT.
- You gain knowledge and learn skills that not only serve as a professional toolkit, but can also be applied to your own self improved lifestyle. As a PT you’ll be able to immerse yourself in resources that improve your own health and quality of life.
- You have the opportunity to network and connect with like-minded professionals, allowing you to expand and cross-pollinate your business interests.
- You gain a sense of personal fulfillment by being in a field that directly impacts the mood and condition of individuals in a typically positive way.
- You have the potential to become recognized as a goodwill member of your community, increasing your status and credibility.
- You can create a lucrative business, especially with enough time and with a great strategy.
- You have access to state of the art training facilities, gyms and equipment, often for free!
- You can generally set your own work schedule, making your job work for you and not the other way round.
- You will start small and slow. Cultivating the right level of reputation and credibility will take time and will be hard at first. Unlike most careers where the completion of a qualification grants you immediate prospects, a PT cert still requires you to grind your way into the game.
- You need to market yourself religiously! As a PT, your influence and visibility require a constant and consistent marketing campaign. This also includes cultivating a personal brand which you will be recognized by. The biggest tool for this is social media, get on it!
- You will face stiff competition. Your peers in the game want what you want, more clients! Personal training is steadily becoming a saturated arena, you have to work hard and diversify in order to stand out.
- You won’t have a guaranteed income or benefits. Unless you are employed as an in-house trainer in some sort of fitness club or gym, you won’t have a guaranteed income. You also don’t get any automatic benefits!
- You have no on-the-job support structure. Because you are a self-employed private contractor, you have no support structure to fill in or keep the show going when you can’t. Circumstances such as getting sick, vacations or personal emergencies will lead to cancellations, loss in revenue and sometimes disgruntled clients.
- You are your own management. You have to do your own tax, legal and insurance. There’s no corporate structure in place to take care of all your nitty gritties.
- You will often prioritize training your clients and under train yourself. The cruel irony of the under trained PT is an all too common reality. By the time you’ve cleared out your client roster, sometimes all you’ll want to do is take a break!
Its clear to see that there’s a lot to consider. Like any worthwhile path in life, the benefits are astounding when things go right. But getting there will often leave you questioning why you even bothered.
Remembering a few of these things might make the path a little clearer.
Personal Trainer Pro Tips
Get Your Money Right
There is a lot of financial risk in the beginning since you don’t have the safety net of full time employment. My advice is have a financial cushion in place when you’re starting out, you’ll need it.
You will need to grind hard and aim to please your clients. They are there because they want a service, but also because they look up to you.
Don’t, however, make the self-defeating mistake of blaming yourself for all your clients failures.
At the end of the day, a client is an autonomous person with their own sense of agency. If you are trying your best, and they just aren’t coming to the party, it’s on them.
When your doctor prescribes your medication and you decide not to take it, the doctor never feels bad. Gotta be eager to help, but know where to toe the line.
Find A Niche
Avoid being a generic trainer. It’s too easy for your services to get drowned out in a sea of gym pros going for the same clients. Try to find a unique aspect to push as the face of what you offer.
That could be as simple as a catchy visual identity. A vibrant logo and a consistent look and feel.
It could also mean bringing in some unique training elements that very few other trainers can offer. This works well if you have a background in an interesting sport.
Whatever it is, aim to be different!
Have an Empire State of Mind
Once you’ve crossed the threshold of a not-quite-there-yet trainer, to a renowned coach, the clients and thus the money will start rolling in.
This can also be a tricky phase because it’s easy to rest on your laurels and get complacent. Never stop learning and developing. The goal isn’t just to be a trainer all your life, it should be to develop and grow a sustainable business.
Look at things like CrossFit or F45 Training as examples of how to evolve from a trainer to the captain of an empire.
You have to be active on social media. That’s just where we are today. If you aren’t actively marketing yourself on social media, you are already far behind.
Instagram and YouTube are your go-to platforms, but try experiment with all the popular ones including twitter, Snapchat and others.
Conclusion on the benefits of being a personal trainer
So there you have it! The pros and cons of being a personal trainer. I obviously focused on the benefits of being a personal trainer, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. The cons do however serve to put things into perspective, motivating you to work hard and making the rewards more worthwhile.
I recommend checking out my PT certification reviews and comparison guide here. That way you’ll get a handle on which cert suits you.
Also, take the quiz for a quick fire analysis on which certifications will work best for you.
Finally, please drop a comment if you have any questions. Good luck, see you on the other side.