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How to become a personal trainer

17th July 2018

Author: Dakota Murphy

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Would you like the chance to set your own hours, work with people and keep active? Dakota Murphy takes a look at what being a personal trainer involves and how to get started.

What is a personal trainer?

A personal trainer is someone who helps individuals get and stay fit.  Personal trainers usually design personal fitness programmes and can also act as a coach, motivator and instructor.

What makes a good personal trainer?

You’ll need to be fit and enjoy different types of exercise, and be comfortable working outdoors or in a gym.

Excellent people skills are a must. You’ll need the ability to support people at different levels of fitness, so patience and enthusiasm are important. Being a morning person helps – expect unusual hours, early starts and busy weekends.

You’ll also need to be self-motivated. Personal trainers need to be in the habit of attracting clients and working hard for the ones they have.

Personal trainer job duties and responsibilities

You might assume that landing a job as a personal trainer is as easy as spending plenty of time at the gym, learning how to get your body in great shape and being a good people person. This can look like what it takes to become a personal trainer, but in reality it takes much more.

A qualification in fitness instruction is good starting point.  It’s also helpful to have a good understanding of healthy eating so look for a course which includes nutrition.

In most modern personal training jobs it is important for you to have a good idea about the business and financial side of the role. Even this is not a part of your day-to-day activities, it can still be extremely useful to have a good grounding in what it takes to run a fitness business.

It is also smart to have a general understanding of marketing and the things that you can do to attract new clients and retain existing ones.

Get experience any way that you can

The best advice is to simply start doing it. If you can’t attract paying customers straight away then try running outdoor classes and fitness sessions for friends or family. You may find that this will develop naturally into paid sessions.

Finding a personal trainer job: keep an open mind

There are many ways to look for roles – one of the first is to look at search sites that specialise in roles in the industry such as Leisurejobs. You can also seek out local recruitment agencies that can help you find work.

Contact local gyms and leisure centres to see if they have positions available – some may not advertise, and rely purely on word-of-mouth from other trainers.

If you are struggling to find a job, you may want to think about becoming self-employed and working for yourself. You may even prefer this to being employed by a gym or fitness company.

For the interview: do your research and be confident

If you are applying for a fitness role, spend some time looking into the business. This way you can show and explain exactly how you can contribute to the success of the organisation and why you have a personality that will blend with the business.

Also practise your people skills. A personal trainer needs to be confident in their knowledge and skills so that clients feel comfortable working with them. Smiling, making eye contact and coming across well are surprisingly important factors, so don’t forget these at your interview!

Dakota Murphey specialises in career development for young people. She writes for a number of educational resources, industries, including Storm Fitness Academy.

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