If you've been working on your personal fitness for a while, and particularly if you've engaged a personal trainer to guide your journey, you might feel inspired to become a personal trainer yourself.
There are many good reasons for doing so, from encouraging others to adopt a healthy lifestyle to forging lasting bonds with the fitness community. You may even decide to become an enterprise onto yourself by setting yourself up in business, building a client list and passing on all the wisdom needed for a fit and fabulous life.
Now, Superprof shows you that becoming a personal trainer is not as hard as you might think.
What a Personal Trainer Does
You might rightly assume that a personal trainer works with individual clients to help them reach their fitness goals.
That is, indeed, the job description in a nutshell but personal trainers do so much more than just interview potential clients to find out what they want out of their training and then prescribe a workout routine.
Let's say a prospective client wants to lose weight and tone up. That is not enough information to build a fitness plan on, so the personal trainer has to ask about the client's eating and sleeping habits, current level of activity and even about medical conditions that could stand in the way of the client reaching their goals.
In fact, you have to know a bit about your clients' current health status and any medical conditions; anything from high blood pressure to vertigo could determine how your client will respond to the fitness regimen you prescribe.
After all, clients' safety is a personal trainer's Number One priority.
Besides setting up a workout routine that accommodates any health conditions your clients may have, you will also give them lifestyle and nutritional recommendations.
Let's say your new client is a bit of a couch potato (during the lockdowns, who wasn't?) and their commitment to getting back on track seems rather weak. That's really not so uncommon; lots of people believe that a few hours at the gym will excuse their nightly pint or ice cream binge.
As a personal trainer, it's your duty to educate your client on their food and lifestyle choices. It's not that you're playing 'parent' with them; you are a professional with the knowledge and experience to educate. Whether your clients follow your recommendations is their responsibility.
Sometimes, even personal trainers in the UK's best gyms feel frustrated that their clients don't follow the recommended steps towards healthy living; it takes a certain type of person to separate the job of being a trainer from the person leading the training.
What Defines a Successful Personal Trainer
For some people, high-profile coaches losing their temper on camera is the best part of any sports event. NBA coaches are particularly prone to losing it... but you, as a personal trainer, should not be.
One of the leading recommendations made to anyone contemplating a career as a personal trainer is to cultivate patience - both for yourself and to pass on to your clients. There have been many personal trainers cut by clients' sharp tongues because they weren't seeing results fast enough or because the trainers were pushing too hard, in the client's opinion.
Just like workers in any other service job, the more the client stresses and shouts, the more the personal trainer must remain calm. You may even decide, after the storm is over, to terminate that client's contract if their behaviour is too far on the side of outrageous.
Whether you keep working with such clients or not, you should draw on your calm demeanour and patient handling of the situation to defuse their worst impulses.
Other qualities personal trainers need include:
- working well with others
- enjoying working with the public
- the ability to work unsupervised
- being good at customer service
- being understanding and sensitive to clients' needs and moods
- being a good mentor; having the ability to teach
- having endurance
- being physically fit
You might think of that last one as a no-brainer but take a look at professional sports' coaches. Some don't look like they could outrun even their worst player; usually, it is their past athletic feats that allow them to continue coaching even though they may not be physically able to perform as they instruct their players to.
As a personal fitness trainer, your obvious fitness will serve to inspire confidence in your clients. Besides, you'll need to be able to do everything you instruct your clients to, so you'll have to be fit enough to do so.
If you're not quite there yet, you might see the worth of subjecting yourself to a bit of personal training...
The Administrative Side of Personal Training
Being a personal trainer is not all stretching and weightlifting. Especially if you're going into the fitness business for yourself, there's quite a bit of paperwork to contend with.
For one, you'll have to maintain a schedule. It wouldn't do to amass a large clientele only to lose track of who you're supposed to be working with at any given time. Or worse, you schedule two clients for the same time slot. And how will you record their payments?
You'll also have to fill out intake forms for each client - their current weight and BMI, their eating habits, medical issues and fitness goals, and you'll track their progress, too. Some personal trainers prefer the standard clipboard-and-paper method while others have gone high-tech, keeping such records on a pad or tablet.
Be aware that you should keep a fitness journal for every client, even as you recommend that they do the same.
And then, there are the nuts and bolts of running a business: keeping track of expenses and paying taxes, and making sure you have insurance to cover any injury a client might sustain while working out under your direction.
Speaking of client injuries... it's not required but definitely a good idea that you undergo first aid and CPR training and keep your certificate up to date.
Finally, as you are assuming a duty of care over your clients, you should submit to a DBS check, especially if you plan to work with children.
All of this is apart from the qualifications needed to embark on your career as a personal trainer.
Qualifications Needed to Become a Personal Trainer
Becoming a personal trainer isn't simply a matter of having an enduring passion for fitness. The UK government website details the three ways to gain needed qualifications to engage in this rewarding career.
To get started, you may go to college to attain the necessary credentials, undergo an apprenticeship or apply directly with a company - but only if you already possess the necessary credentials.
A Level 2 diploma from a college qualifies you to work in a gym or other fitness facility as an exercise and fitness instructor. You may lead classes - Jazzercise or other aerobics ventures, for example.
To become a personal trainer, you need the Level 3 qualification. This Certificate in Personal Training gives you license to work one-on-one with clients, either in a facility or in clients' homes. You may even work with clients in your own training facility.
To qualify for entry into any of these programmes and for an apprenticeship, you will need a good showing on your GCSEs. For the Level 3 qualification, you'll need at least 4 results above 4 (a C grade). Should you decide on an apprenticeship, you'll need at least 5 such GCSE results.
As a personal trainer, your fitness type matters greatly but it's clear that you also have high-level smarts to go along with your high-level physical conditioning.
Building Your Personal Training Business
Now that you have a clear idea of what it takes to be a personal trainer - from the human qualities to the legal and administrative requirements to legitimize your business, you only need clients to make a go of it.
You might choose to start out in your local gym to gain experience and make yourself known in fitness circles. Try leading a few exercise classes and ask the manager if you could invite gym members to give your brand of personal training a go.
To introduce people to your brand of fitness, you could hold workout demonstrations at your local schools and colleges, community centres and even in the park. It doesn't have to be a big, formal affair - no tent or special equipment needed but you should have flyers to pass out so people know your reason for putting on the show.
As you already have flyers printed up, you might tour your local shops and supermarkets. Usually, there is a corkboard for people to pin adverts on; yours would likely fit right in.
What about advertising online? Gumtree, Freeads and other such outlets will allow you to post an advert for little to no money; you'd be surprised at how well that time-honoured method works.
Also, don't forget to talk yourself up to your neighbours, friends and family. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising and, best of all, it costs nothing!
You may also consider getting started as a Superprof personal fitness trainer. Simply fill out the profile page, set your price and upload your credentials; we'll assure your future clients that you are well-qualified for the job you set yourself to do.
Now, join the discussion: which pre-workouts would you recommend to your clients? Why?
The platform that connects tutors and students