Getting an ACE personal training fitness certification can be a nerve wracking experience, unless you are prepared for your test. My experience has been that people who have done a practice run are more likely to stay calm through the actual test. Do not let the worry of the test dissuade you from becoming a certified trainer. Why? That is because certification is the first step towards cementing yourself as a serious personal fitness advisee. After all, ACE is the one of the largest nonprofit fitness certification, education and training organizations of the world. More…
The US Air Force could be perhaps one of the most physically demanding jobs. The enlisted men are required to meet extremely high standards of fitness to always be prepared for the call of duty. Not only is the fitness test used to judge the fitness of the airmen extremely difficult, it is the expectation of performance in these tests that are more surprising.
This article is a reflection of not just my personal experiences or aspirations but the usual steps every individual on the road to becoming a Personal Fitness Trainer has to take. A personal fitness trainer is perhaps the most alluring prospect for any fitness enthusiast interested in spawning a career out of their interest.
I once knew a woman, let’s call her Jane, who taught aerobics to make money while she was in law school. I remember thinking, “How cool.” I mean think about it, you get paid to do your workout. Plus you help people and make new friends.
Maybe you’re a fitness buff who watches other trainers and thinks, “I can do that.” Maybe you hate your day job and envy the freedom personal trainers have. Maybe you spend all of your time in the gym and figure you might as well get paid to be there. Whatever your reason, there may be one thing holding you back from your dream of becoming a personal trainer. How do you compete with all of the star trainers out there with little or no experience? Sarah did it, and so can you.
Show Me The Work
You don’t think that those famous personal trainers you read about decided to become personal trainers, started knocking on the doors of famous people, and got the clients, do you? The one’s I’ve read about didn’t. But they still made it.
In general, there are two types of personal trainers:
- Those you work for a fitness club or a company; and
- Those who are self-employed.
Most personal trainers start their careers at fitness centres or health clubs, just like Jane. These facilities are always looking for staff because employees come and go. Staff members could be like Jane — students working their way through school. They could get a big break — clients who refer them to other people — and then move into the league of the self-employed. For you, the reason doesn’t matter. What does matter is that this is your chance to:
- Start getting the experience you lack;
- Learn more about the profession;
- Improve your skills;
- Network and start getting your own clients (watch out for non-competition clauses though).
You might decide that you like working at fitness clubs. I know trainers who are the big fish in the clubs they work in. They like it because they have the security of knowing that they will get hours, but they have their own clients on the side as well.
Others decide to do their own thing.
Find Your Niche
Once you decide to work for yourself, you’ll have experience, but now you’ll be swimming with all of the other experienced fish, both big and small. That’s why most successful personal trainers have built their careers around a niche. They might target a certain group of people:
- Pregnant women
- Senior citizens
- New mothers trying to lose weight
- Fitness competitors
- College students.
Or they may target people trying to reach a specific fitness goal:
- Injury rehab
- Sport training
- Muscle building
- Fat loss.
Then they get specialised training that allows them to be the expert in their niche.
The obesity epidemic coupled with the ageing of the population means that there are plenty of jobs to go around in this growing field. The next time you’re at your fitness club, why not ask them for a job?
Career coaches are known to ask their clients, “What did you want to be as a child?” To help their clients make better career choices. As a child, you may have loved sports. As an adult you’ve incorporated physical activity into your daily life. Sometimes you come home after a workout and think, “I would love to be a fitness instructor.”
How do you make that dream come true? And maybe more importantly, can you make a living doing it?
Watch And Learn
One of the best ways to learn how to teach fitness classes is to see how the professionals do it. Pay attention to the music they use and start your own music library. Write down what you like and dislike as a student. You can use your notes later to help create your own style.
Also take this time to determine what it is you really want to teach. Nothing leads to burnout faster than doing something you hate. Spinning, for example, might be the most popular things going. Maybe you can last through an entire spinning class. But if just the thought of getting on the bike sends you into a mild depression, don’t teach spinning classes. You may be able to endure the class, but if you don’t love it, how are you going to motivate others? And after all, motivating others to do something they may not want to do anyway is one of the most important aspects of the job.
Keep Abreast Of The News
Your students will look up to you. In their eyes, you are the expert. Really! Let them down in some way, and they will drift to other instructors.
Take the time to read about what’s going on in the industry and about topics like weight-loss, anatomy, and exercise psychology. Scientists are constantly making new findings. When your students come to you with questions, and they will, you want to be the knowledge base they need.
You’ll need to get certified in two things:
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and
- Fitness Instruction.
Heaven forbid that this ever happens to you, but a student could conceivably have a heart attack in your class or in your presence. That’s why facilities usually require that instructors have CPR certifications. It is not hard to get and it will have to be renewed either every year or every two years.
How much you make will depend on who you work for — a club or yourself. Salaries for contracted employees in gyms usually range from around $20k to $40k depending on experience and specialisation. Individual clients might be willing to pay as much as $80 per hour. However between $25 and $40 per hour is a much more realistic figure.
So, you’re interested in becoming a physical trainer. If you want to help people make the leap to a better level of fitness and good health, then this is the perfect job for you.
Who Do You Want To Help?
You’ve already taken a big step by finding out what you need to do to become a physical trainer. Now you need to dig deeper into your intentions to determine what area you would like to specialise in. Take a few minutes to identify the group of people you want to work with: senior citizens; pregnant women; or university athletes, for example. Each population group has different needs. Choosing your specialisation now will help you decide what credential you need. Why waste time by dabbling in this and that? The sooner you finish getting your qualifications, the quicker you can start working.
Where Are You In Life?
You’ll need to take classes to work as a physical trainer. And once you choose your specialisation, this is the next step you’ll have to take. The classes you take, though, depend on where you are in life.
Are you still a student? Then by all means stay in school. If you want to train athletes, either at the university or professional level, you’ll need a university degree. Even if you aren’t in school, you’ll want to consider going back if this is your goal.
Beyond your university days and have no intentions of going back? That’s okay. You’ll just need to obtain a recognised personal trainer certification. There are some large, well-known organisations that offer such certificate programs. You can choose one of these, or a small one. However make sure that it is recognised and covers all of the necessary material. Look for courses in nutrition, science, exercise, and business.
Whichever stage you are at, getting certified in CPR is part of the process as well.
Once you have enrolled in a course, study hard and pay attention to all of the material. It’s not there as space fillers. You need to have a good understanding of everything. In the short-term you’ll need it to pass the exam. But in the long-term, you’ll rely on it to do your job.
While you’re studying, get real life experiences working in a gym or some other type of health facility. Doing so will help you apply what you are learning, gain insight into the field, learn how to handle difficult clients, and stay current. You’ll be studying lots of theory in your course. Believe me; you’ll be happy to combine it with learning what goes on in the daily life of a physical trainer. The experience you gain now will also help you find a job later.
Why not get started now?
Hard-core yoga professionals squirm when they hear yoga being talked of as an exercise. Real yoga is designed to quiet the mind. It is a spiritual discipline.
This means that most people I know aren’t doing real yoga. They practice the movements because each one has this or that benefit. But as soon as it’s time to be quiet on the mat, they are ready to bolt. I don’t bolt, but I admit that I spend the time planning what I’m going to eat when I get home.
That’s okay, isn’t it? If you want real yoga, you don’t go to a gym to get it. Still, it raises the question, “How much training do personal trainers need to teach yoga?” This question may always be open for debate. Regardless of what hard-core professionals think, as fitness and yoga continue to merge, more and more personal trainers are going to see yoga as another fitness discipline they want to teach.
If you are a personal trainer, and the yoga teaching bug has bitten you, there are some basic principles you can follow so that you can be a personal trainer in the field of yoga.
No brainer here. You practice your other disciplines so you know the importance of practicing yoga yourself. Attend yoga classes at yoga studios. This will help you not only be able to better perform the physical postures, but also learn what postures are meant to achieve from a mind-body connection standpoint.
Continue To Learn
Yoga teachers never stop learning. Ok, another no brainer since personal trainers are the same, but it’s worth mentioning. Take courses targeted towards fitness professionals who want to teach yoga. Continue to take yoga classes and learn from your own hard-core yoga professional. Become your yoga teacher’s best friend. Talk to them. Trade tips. That’s right. You could have lots to offer. Your teacher might have clients interested in strength or aerobic training and hey, guess what — that is your specialisation.
Because, you see, professionals may be debating about who should and should not teach yoga, but consumers don’t really see a difference. Well, at least the people I know don’t. They expect personal trainers at fitness facilities to know yoga customs and they expect yoga teachers to know about strength and aerobic training. One of the best yoga teachers I know has this ability. It’s not surprising that her classes are always full.
If you want to teach yoga, commit to it just as you would any other fitness discipline. The more you know, the more you can help others. What a great feeling.