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What Qualities & Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Personal Trainer?

Blog > Tutoring > Advice for Tutors > Essential Qualities of a Personal Trainer

Are you a personal trainer and on the lookout for new clients?

Do you already have a recognized diploma as a fitness professional or are you a professional athlete looking for a new career and on your way to becoming a personal trainer?

Indeed, what could be more rewarding than to help people achieve their fitness goals with one on one fitness courses at home, away from the impersonal atmosphere of a health club?

Do you know what the origin of the word “coaching” is?

It comes from the word “coach”, a closed horse-drawn carriage dating to the 16th century.

First used in Kocs in Hungary, the coach soon spread throughout Europe and became generalised as a means of public transportation. It could hold six to eight people and was well-adapted to longer distances as well as short ones.

"Coaching" comes from horse-drawn passenger coaches. Personal coaches are descendants of the coachmen who saw their passengers safely to their destination. Photo credit: Cavedragon on Visual hunt

So where does modern “coaching” come in? The coachman – the driver of the coach – was the one who accompanied everyone and helped arrive at their destination.

By 1830, the word “coach” had become a word for an instructor or tutor, mentor and finally trainer.

Becoming a Personal Fitness Coach

There are various reasons why someone would decide to hire a personal fitness trainer:

  • To stay motivated
  • Get back in shape
  • To stay mentally and physically fit
  • To live a healthier lifestyle
  • To build confidence
  • To lose weight and shed pounds.

In the UK, you need some sort of fitness certification to become a personal trainer. Unlike some other sports coaching jobs, personal trainers are generally self-employed. That means they set their own rates, decide on their speciality (kinesiology, Pilates, aerobic exercises, kettlebell training, bodybuilder training…), and use their own methods.

So how can you convince your potential clients of your competence as a personal fitness instructor?

In this article, we at Superprof will show you what factors are decisive in being taken seriously as a fitness trainer.

Qualities and Qualifications to be a Personal Trainer

There is nothing preventing you from simply declaring yourself a personal trainer, but clients will be more eager to trust someone with the proper certification. Also, getting insurance to protect yourself and your clients will be next to impossible if you cannot prove you are competent in your field.

Personal Training certification

Your best bet is a Level 3 Personal Trainer Certification, though another fitness certification such as Level 2 Gym Instructor or similar might get you started as a fitness trainer in a fitness studio. This will give you the necessary experience to make it on your own.

Here are some qualifications you might consider:

Level 2 certificates in:

  • Fitness Instructing (gym)
  • Health, Fitness and Exercise Instruction
  • Gym Instruction

Or go further in your education and take the exam for a Level 3 course in:

  • Fitness Training
  • Personal Training

Your continuing education courses might lead you to a Level 4 certification, but you can do that while practising your craft.

Becoming a personal trainer with other sports degrees

If you have degrees from a college or other institutes of higher learning a specific type of sports, you can decide to work one on one rather than in gyms or sports clubs.
But remember that a personal trainer is more than just a sports trainer or an at-home PE teacher. While a degree in sports medicine or exercise science will be invaluable in understanding the biomechanics to set up exercise programs best suited to your client’s goals while protecting them from injuries, don’t forget that program design is only one part of what people want from a personal coach.

You will be expected to motivate them, keep them on track and provide advice beyond the scope of practising sports.

For example, if your client wants to lose weight, you will be expected not only to provide them with a fat-burning cardio workout, but also advise them on nutrition, changes in lifestyle and help them through the inevitable plateaus in weight loss.

If your client is trying to combat depression through exercise, you will need to have a sympathetic ear and demonstrate compassion and the right mix of boot-camp firmness and supportive guidance.

If your client is looking for corrective exercises to help them combat early-stage scoliosis, you will need a certain knowledge of anatomy to set up the right training course beyond what your textbook might say.

So you might want to supplement your academy of sports or university diploma – or your hands on experience as a professional athlete – with a seminar on nutritional health or a professional certification as a wellness coach to help your clients relax, or take motivator training to get the most out of those workouts.

The more you educate yourself, the more your clients will profit – and the more successful you will be as they recommend you to all their friends!

Qualities to be a Personal Trainer

To become successful as a personal trainer, you need to remember that you are accompanying someone on a journey toward personal wellness, exercise and fitness.

Motivation is the main aspect of personal training. Even small motivators count: personal trainers motivate their clients to do better and reach their fitness goals. Photo credit: ebflatclar on Visual hunt

This means you need to cultivate a specific set of skills:

  • Be available and ready to listen
  • Understand your clients’ goals and expectations
  • Know how to motivate your client
  • Be attentive to the limits of your client’s body
  • Be a pedagogue
  • Use psychology to root out problems and find solutions
  • Have a good knowledge of physiology and anatomy
  • Market yourself as a personal trainer
  • Be in good physical condition

Use Your Sports Competence to Be a Personal Trainer

The student shouldn’t surpass the master, especially in a sports training course.

In order to offer your client the best possible exercise programs and be sure not to injure him or do permanent damage to his health, you need to have a basic expertise in the sports you’re are training them in.

When setting up a training program for a post natal course or preparing someone for a track meet, it is vital that you, as a personal trainer, have the necessary expertise and athletic ability to master the postures and exercises that will be part of your workouts.

During your personal training sessions, you will be alone with the client. It is up to you to demonstrate the poses and exercises properly. The client will be expecting results and will want to see progress in the form of improved flexibility or the ability to lift heavier weights.

Your own lifestyle and sports practise will help your clients in the long term – helping them lose weight, tone their figure and improve their mental health by turning to you as an example.

 

Personal trainer qualifications include mastering a sport. Different sports need different physical preparations – and their own specialised and qualified personal trainers. Photo credit: Joint Base Lewis McChord on Visualhunt

 

For under your guidance, they are sure to improve in health and fitness, not only through continuing fitness programs, but also with the proper nutrition, a healthy lifestyle and regular physical activity such as weight lifting or cardiovascular training (at least 10 minutes every day), or even just walking every day.

Your fitness career will depend on your own fitness education and discipline. No-one will hire an out-of-shape trainer! Your body is part of your credentials in your personal trainer career.

This is also why having practised sports on a professional level makes you qualified in the eyes of your clients. They know you have been there and done that and that you have gone through everything they are experiencing. It will also tell them that you are truly passionate about your sport and not simply teaching them the handbook on resistance training, but have hands on experience and are knowledgeable in the field.

Gain Experience in Personal Training

Do you want to register with Superprof and offer personal training at home or as a webinar?

Make the most of it in order to gain and showcase your experience.

Prove you are worth every penny of your trainer certification by showcasing your experience. If you are just starting out as a fitness instructor, you might consider asking an established personal trainer to let you assist him for a few months, or working in a gym for a while to garner some experience.

On this private tutoring platform, you can set up a profile, work for yourself and become your own marketing specialist.

With up to fifty different coaches available in a city near you and hundreds nationally to choose from, you can find clients and gain important professional experience in personal fitness training sessions. As a certified personal trainer, Superprof allows you to display your:

  • Accreditation and qualifications
  • Speciality and abilities (senior fitness, youth fitness, sports for special populations; or else exercise physiology, corrective exercise, resistance training…)
  • What training techniques you use
  • Strategies for helping others stay motivated and achieve their goals
  • How long you have been dedicated to sports and to training others
  • How you set up the sessions for your fitness program (warm-ups, exercise training, muscle building, stretching, endurance exercises etc…)

The greater your experience in personal fitness training, the higher the personal trainer salary you can command, moving up to more challenging clients who may even want to know how to become professional athletes themselves.

If you have already worked in the fitness industry, whether in personal fitness or group fitness, be sure to put it in your profile and on any other marketing material you have. It tells your potential clientele that you have the requisite skills and experience to create a personalised work out suited to their needs.

Taking Care of Your Personal Appearance

Another important factor in creating a client base is your physical appearance.

This means personal hygiene, a neat appearance with trimmed hair and well-curated facial hair (clean-shaven or trimmed beard) and shaved legs for the ladies (feminism aside, it gives the impression of cleanliness and shows off your leg muscles.) Make sure you shower between clients – if your schedule is a bit tight, excuse yourself for your sweaty appearance and ask to use their bathroom for a rub down with a damp towel. This shows that you care about the impression you make – both in looks and odour!

Keep fit and healthy as a personal trainer. Unless you are training sumo wrestlers, you should make sure your personal appearance convinces your clients that you know about fitness. Photo credit: MastaBaba on Visual Hunt

But more than that, clients will expect a personal trainer to be in good physical shape. A personal fitness instructor who is obese or underweight, stiff, and out of shape will not inspire confidence in his or her abilities.

This doesn’t mean you need to look like a bodybuilder. But you need to look fit and healthy. So make sure you stay in shape and eat well since your body is your billboard!

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