How To Become a Personal Trainer

Enjoy helping others get in shape? Have a love for fitness? Learn how to become a personal trainer, the day-to-day tasks of a personal trainer, the specializations once you become a personal trainer, and the skills a successful personal trainer possess.

How To Become a Personal Trainer

To become a personal trainer, students should spend time planning, developing, and implementing fitness and nutrition programs. Personal training students should learn to document goals and successes during training. The student personal trainer needs to develop, prescribe, and oversee exercise routines and track the progress of clients over a specific period and document their results.

To become a personal trainer, students must prepare to sit for industry-recognized exams required for certification as a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT).  The curriculum at Gwinnett College is specifically geared toward the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT) exam.

What a Personal Trainer does on a Day-To-Day Basis

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, personal trainers lead, instruct, and motivate clients in exercise activities. Personal trainers typically do the following:

  • Demonstrate how to perform various exercises and routines
  • Watch clients do exercises
  • Demonstrate or explain correct exercise techniques to minimize injuries and improve fitness
  • Provide alternative exercises during workouts or classes for different levels of fitness and skill
  • Monitor clients’ progress and adapt programs as needed
  • Explain and enforce safety rules and regulations on sports, recreational activities, and the use of exercise equipment
  • Give clients information or resources about nutrition, weight control, and lifestyle issues
  • Give emergency first aid if needed

Personal Trainer Specializations

NASM offers 11 personal trainer specializations once you have become a personal trainer and completed your National Academy of Sports Medicine’s Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT) exam.

Corrective Exercise Specialization (CES) – Corrective exercise is one of the most important components of a comprehensive exercise program. Almost every person has some degree of dysfunction that increases the chance of injury.

Performance Enhancement Specialization (PES) – Sports performance is one of the most demanding forms of training and allows you to help athletes perform at their highest level. Once you become a PES specialist, you can help improve clients’ athletic performance including their power, speed, agility and quickness.

Behavior Change Specialization (BCS) – The BCS specialist helps clients with motivation triggers to attain sustainable results in health and fitness related behaviors. The personal trainer will be able to assess and implement behavior change tactics.

Fitness Nutrition Specialization (FNS) – The go-to expert in nutrition and diet. As a personal trainer, you will be able to help clients with weight loss and weight management. Once you become a FNS specialist, you will understand metabolism and calorie needs, how to interpret nutritional labels and how to select appropriate portion sizes and eating healthy.

Group Personal Training Specialization (GPT) – Train more clients in less time and offer a group dynamic that will help motivate clients to achieve their goals.

Weight Loss Specialization (WLS) – An in-demand specialization that helps the personal trainer work with overweight clients to gain the knowledge they need to lose weight. The personal trainer will understand the secrets of diet, exercise and psychology to help their clients’ loss weight.

Women’s Fitness Specialization (WFS) – This specialization helps the personal trainer understand female specific training to help younger, pre-natal and post-natal techniques for their clients.

Youth Exercise Specialization (YES) – A focus on youth fitness and nutrition to show kids how to have fun while improving their sports skills, increasing their physical activity and losing weight.

Senior Fitness Specialization (SFS) –  This specialization helps personal trainers understand senior specific training to help them preserve their independence.

Golf Fitness Specialization (GFS) – The go-to expert on golf conditioning. This personal trainer specialization helps them work with clients to learn corrective exercise strategy, improve head speed, bolster shooting distance and prevent injuries.

MMA Conditioning Specialization – Learn to condition clients with training techniques and coaching strategies employed by top MMA fighters.

Where do Personal Trainers Work?

Personal Trainers work in facilities such as health clubs, fitness or recreation centers, gyms, yoga and Pilates studios and off-site at clients’ locations. Depending on the location a personal trainer may work nights and weekends to appease clients’ busy schedules.

What are the Skills of a Successful Personal Trainer?

Customer Service Skills – Many personal trainers must sell their services, motivating clients to hire them as personal trainers or to sign up for the classes they lead. Personal trainers must be polite, friendly, and encouraging, to maintain relationships with their clients. A personal trainer with good customer service skills is patient, attentive, uses clear communication and positive language, and has the ability to read customers.

Communication skills – Personal trainers must be able to clearly explain or demonstrate exercises to clients. A personal trainer with good communication skills is a good listener, keeps eye contact, is clear and concise, friendly, confident, open-minded and shows respect for their client.

Listening skills – Personal trainers must be able to listen carefully to what clients tell them in order to determine the clients’ fitness levels and desired fitness goals. A personal trainer with good listening skills maintains eye contact, is attentive but relaxed, keeps an open mind, and doesn’t interrupt the client.

Motivational skills – Getting fit and staying fit takes a lot of work for many clients. To keep clients coming back for more classes or to continue personal training, personal trainers must keep their clients motivated. A personal trainer with good motivation skills enables the client to become motivated to work toward achieving goals. A client will be highly motivated if they achieve their goals so a personal trainer should set short-term and long-term goals.

Physical fitness – Personal trainers need to be physically fit because their job requires a considerable amount of exercise. Group instructors often participate in classes, and personal trainers often need to demonstrate exercises to their clients. The personal trainer is the example of fitness and what the client can become so being physically fit shows the client that if they work hard they can look like the personal trainer.

Problem-solving skills – Personal trainers must evaluate each client’s level of fitness and create an appropriate fitness plan to meet the client’s individual needs. A personal trainer with good problem-solving skills has an analytical ability, can think laterally, is intuitive, has logical reasoning and is persistent.

What is the Job Outlook of a Personal Trainer?

According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment of personal trainers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

If you’re interested in helping people learn to live a healthier lifestyle, our Personal Training program at Gwinnett College could be ideal for youUpon completion, students will be prepared to sit for industry-recognized exams required for certification as a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT).  This curriculum is specifically geared toward the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT) exam.