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Personal Trainers- What Are They, How Long Does It Take to Be One & More

Author: Personal Training
by Personal Training
Posted: Oct 16, 2017

Have you been hitting the gym and your acquaintances and friends ask for your help to fulfill their fitness goals? Just looking at one’s exercise routine, you can gauge his or her fitness level? Seeing a few exercises, you have a good understanding of the physical ability of the person? If you said "yes" to most of these questions, have you ever thought of becoming a personal trainer? It surely takes some time to become one but it is not that arduous.

A person trainer is the one who professionally assists people in areas like exercise, diets, nutrition, goal setting, healthy lifestyle and much more. It takes a lot of time to learn as well as develop the necessary education and skills required to be a certified personal trainer. The time involved depends on one’s prior experience, method of becoming the trainer and knowledge.

Personal trainers basically help people to achieve their fitness goals through designing, planning and implementing different training programs. The trainers should know how to listen to the clients, work with different people, how to identify their goals and give them the best ways to reach such goals. In order to do this properly, the trainers should have good knowledge of nutrition, exercise techniques, fitness assessment and human physiology. Also, knowing the ways to motivate clients is helpful for the individual trainers.

What are the job prospects for certified personal trainers?

Personal training is soon becoming a fast-growing profession and the number of trainers in the US has doubled from 2001 to 2011 and is further expected to grow by about 24 percent in 2010 to 2020. The better the education and training you possess, the more likely you will get a job in this field. Some trainers also work for themselves so this way, your success is dependent on your marketing and business skills plus on your personal knowledge.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics say that the demand for fitness instructors including the personal trainers will certainly increase by 24 percent by the year 2020 as mentioned above which is indeed far greater than 14 percent which is expected for all jobs across all industries. A survey conducted by the American Council of Exercise in 2010 pegged the annual income for these trainers at $53,323 which is equivalent to around $25.71/hour.

How to become a personal trainer?

Personal trainers are responsible for educating their customers on the grounds of self-motivation and physical fitness. To be effective in their field, the trainers should demonstrate that they have mastered those areas on their own as well. As you plan to become a personal trainer, ask yourself these things-

Are you yourself in perfect shape? This is very important because the clients definitely want to look up to their trainers as the perfect examples of what it actually means to be fit and fine. Even the greatest motivators may find it troublesome finding clients when they don’t seem to be in perfect shape. But at the same time this does not mean having a status quo of physical beauty. As each body type is different, being in shape simply means different things for different persons. However, personal trainers should be able to demonstrate variety of exercises and train as hard as they can so that their clients can be successful in reaching their goals.

Do you trust in power of fitness? Personal trainers are into exercising not only because they want to be slim and fit. They see fitness as a force that enhances one’s lives. It is their motivation and belief in their profession that enables them to be inspiring for others as well.

Research well

Once you have made the plan to become a fitness professional, the very first step is to choose a certification program that you want to do. There may be a lot of options available out there but the choices narrow down as you take into account the accreditation by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. Considering the high rating in fitness and health, NCCA accreditation ensures programs for various industries meet specific standards of excellence for doing a specific task. It is the standard that is recognized by the leaders in the fitness industry.

Understand the human anatomy

The best trainers have a deep understanding of the way in which the human body works. It is a huge responsibility to advise your clients to do exercises that are suitable as per their abilities and that can save them from injuries. Clients often work with weight training equipment and machinery that can injure them when used improperly. Personal trainers can help avoid such mishaps to the clients. Personal trainers learn what they need to know about the human body in the courses that they take in order to get their certification. But at the same time, it is also important to have an interest in working with human bodies to figure out how to help clients stay safe.

Be a leader

Personal trainers need to be trustworthy, inspiring and caring. In fact, they lead their clients through exercises that can evoke frustration, tears and pain. Trainers also help the clients stick to their goals and share the happiness that comes along when goals are achieved.

How long does it take to become a personal trainer: courses to opt for?


There are certain organizations like Aerobics and Fitness Association of America that provide workshops as a choice to become a certified personal trainer. Rather than studying on your own, as the case with online programs, you can easily participate in these workshops which help you prepare for the certification exam. As per your level of knowledge, this method can take even less than a week to complete the certification process.

Online courses

Fitness organizations like the International Sports Sciences Association provide an online personal training program to those who are interested in taking up personal training as a career option. These programs can take up to 6 weeks to be fully complete. The time span is just an estimation based on average time used by the past enrollees. As you complete the online examination, it can take several days to receive the grades.

Vocational courses

There are a lot of vocational schools that offer fitness and health programs to the students. Generally, these courses take about 2 years to complete the certification. And upon completion, the student will gain enough experience and knowledge to pass the exam.

College degree

Many health clubs, fitness centers and gyms accept the 4-year college degree as equivalent to personal training certification. The degree needs to be in related field such as physical education, kinesiology and exercise science etc. This is indeed the longest time that one can take to be a personal trainer professionally.

Education and training for individual trainers are easily available through certification organizations, universities and colleges.

To enter into a certification program, you need to be at least 18 years of age or older and have a high school GED or diploma. These types of programs generally include buying the study materials, taking an active part in workshops and seminars, and then taking the exam. The study material and seminars prepare the students to take the exam that may cover the topics such as nutrition, weight management, training program development, anatomy, training techniques and health evaluation. Also, the candidates should have knowledge of the automated external defibrillator and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before they take the certification exam.

A lot of colleges and universities provide bachelor degree programs in the field of exercise science. It is generally not important to hold a bachelor’s degree to be a personal trainer but getting one can give you better options for specialization and advancement in your career. Exercise science candidates take courses in topics such as neuroscience, physiology, human anatomy, injury, exercise psychology, exercise assessment, sports, biomechanics etc. They may even complete their internship at sports, rehabilitation and training facilities.

How long does it take to become a personal trainer? Steps involved

Make a plan

As you pursue certification, just think of the type of job environment that can best fit you. Get experience by working in various fitness centers and gyms. A lot of gyms actually hire people without any certification as the floor trainers. These floor trainers can later get experience as trainers and find some gym that is a good fit before they actually start getting their own personal clients. Also, there are gyms which pay for the trainers to get certification as a sort of incentive for working there. You can contact your favorite gyms and check if they offer such programs. The time taken to be a certified personal trainer basically depends on the program or course that you choose. There are some programs which may take just a few days while there are others that take up months or years.


In the year 2011, almost half of fitness trainers earned about $31,000 per year as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lower 10% earners made less than even $17,340 yearly while the top 10% made about $65,000 or more per year. So, it basically depends on the education, employer, years of experience and location where you are working. To be a successful and highly paid personal trainer, you need the right certification and education. You can choose from ACE, ACSM, NESTA, NSCA, NASM, ISSA etc.

Choose some specialty

Evaluate your preferences and strengths and then choose a specialty. Choosing one may sound difficult at times. As you choose a specialty, it is crucial to take into account your interests, likes, dislikes etc. Do you wish to work one-on-one with the clients? Would you prefer 20 individuals in a group? The difference between a group fitness instructor and personal trainer is clear. Both are great career choices in the fitness industry and your choice basically comes down to your own personal preferences. You can choose any of them. Just be alert that as there are huge costs involved and as there are different certifications for each, you choose the one which best suits your personality, preferences and goals.

Enroll as a trainer

Your next step should be to enroll yourself with a good gym as a personal trainer if you really want to have a place in the fitness industry. It will even help you find potential clients for the future when you would want to be an independent personal trainer. Most trainers start their training career working for a gym or center even when they know that they want to branch off later on. Gyms offer them the credibility they need. They even give the trainers a chance to learn from others and get practice working with a steady stream of clients.


Liability insurance covers trainers against claims made for any damages and injuries. It is a crucial risk management measure that each trainer should take.

Maintain Your Certifications

Training doesn’t end here as you need to maintain your training certifications carefully. You need to renew your certifications at frequent intervals, mainly every 2 years or so.

Make clients

A lot of gyms attract new and potential clients by providing them a few free sessions with the personal instructors. You can use this time to keep your clients satisfied and interested in your skills. The pay of the personal trainer is basically commission based so, the more clients, the better it is. Always keep in mind that the gym may need you to sign up for a non-compete agreement in order to prevent you from taking its clients when you leave.

Start thinking as an entrepreneur

As you start your business, you will need to attract clients and remember that you will not have an established gym to do it on your behalf. So, be familiar with the marketing basics and start spreading the work about your training business. You can choose a professional and catchy name to attract the clients. Set up a Twitter and Facebook account, post some pictures of your center etc. You can also consider advertising your services in the local newspapers. It is great to hold some fitness events and specials in order to spread the word about your own center.

Life as a personal trainer is not just fulfilling, it has a great potential for development and growth. Trainers have their own hours of working and get to help clients achieve fitness and feel healthy. As you make the decision to pursue your career in the personal training field, always bear in mind that you need to invest some money and time to be successful as is true with other things in life as well. Clients generally want to work with instructors who are experienced and knowledgeable and so it is important to take essential steps to be certified.

Practice what you preach

When pursuing a career in the fitness industry, it is always important to be fit and healthy yourself. Your clients will look up to you and respect you, considering you as their role model and so you need to be physically be able to lead the clients. If you can complete some regimen alone without any difficulty, your reputation will definitely be bolstered. It is also crucial to try everything on your own first. Don’t be a bodybuilder that shuns the CrossFit or spin instructor who says no to yoga. Be a well-rounded instructor with new techniques and things coming up your own. Also, increase your fitness parameters so that you can help the clients to the best of your capability.

At the same time remember that you are a new personal trainer. Don’t just walk and talk as if you know it all. Be open to new techniques and learning and gaining new things from education, other professionals in your industry and from your colleagues. Pursue some more certifications in fields like strength training, yoga, TRX, kettle bells etc. The possibilities are actually endless as health and fitness industry continues to grow and evolve with time and with new methods every now and then.

One-on-one training

Whether it is weight loss, boosting energy, getting strength, fat loss, fitness training or anything, the personal trainers are there to get you where you want to be with the right amount of motivation, inspiration and guidance.

Your certified personal trainer will also design the one-on-one exercise program for you, taking into account your goals, time, body requirements, health, preferences, current condition, body shape, lifestyle etc. Further, in a one-on-one training program, your exercise will be tailored as per the results you want and they will be split into short achievable goals, thus making it simple for you to achieve constant success.

You program is exclusive

Knowing what to consume to go with your exercise plan is also crucial for success. This is the time when your trainer will suggest to you an extensive nutrition plan and will design an individual nutrition meal plan for you. You will also be introduced to fresh, tasty meals and have access to the recipes that are healthy and that will help you achieve your goals.

So, this is all about how to become a personal trainer, what all it takes to be one and the time required. Hope you find this post useful. Happy training!

If you are planning to start your own Personal Train Business, contact Taylor Carpenter for Personal Training Business Consultations.

About the Author

Taylor Carpenter is a certified personal trainer located in Charlotte, NC. Taylor finds great satisfaction in helping others achieve their fitness goals.

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Author: Personal Training

Personal Training

Member since: Oct 16, 2017
Published articles: 1

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