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  • So you want to be a personal trainer...

    So you want to be a personal trainer?

    After being in the fitness industry for 9 years(yes, I know that is a very small time compared to some of you), I get asked very frequently about getting certified to train people. Many people think that the ability to shape your own body, and control your own nutrition, is enough knowledge to become a trainer, and while that may be true, there are quite a few other variables to consider.

    So let me start at the beginning with just a little of background. I started researching exercising in 2004, at the ripe age of 15. I was a scrawny little runt, who had no interest in athletics. My main interest at the time was computer technology. After being pummled in a school fight, I thought it may be time to put on a little muscle. After recruiting the help of a local gym member who I respected, I got to work. I put on some muscle, and like most, thought, “Hey, training must be easy! I'll work at a gym and make tons of money.” Unfortunately, that's never the case. I've worked at 4 different locations, 2 family owned gyms(one for a year, the other for 4 years), an Anytime Fitness, and 2 and a half years ago opened my own personal training studio. I've trained a wide array of people, from 14 year old kids wanting to become more agile/athletic to 80 year old people wanting to improve mobility. Enough about me....

    What do certifications mean?
    There are a ton of certification agencies out there to look into. The most respected ones(NASM,ACE,ISSA), usually involve significant financial investment, and/or a bachelors degree to attend. As with any profession, you have the $20 online certifications that you can get in 20 minutes and say you are a “Certified Trainer.” I have seen this happen on more than one occasion, and usually the result is disastrous. The trainer in question has very basic knowledge of how they exercise, but no knowledge about form manipulation, corrective exercises, and program design.
    After training the majority of my clients for three years or more, can you guess how many have asked me who I am certified with? Not one. That's right, the money I invested in becoming a trainer with ISSA has absolutely no relevance to them. Why? Because if you are friendly enough, and exude confidence(not cockiness) a client will trust you from day 1.

    How have you built your clientele?
    When you begin your first job as a personal trainer your first instinct may be, “All the other trainers at the gym are going to be super nice to me, and help me out, and get me clients!” Sad to say that is the furthest thing from the truth. Most personal trainers are vain, and extremely arrogant about their training methods. This means they will usually do anything to prevent you from gaining new clients. The best way to overcome this is with the old saying, “Kill them with kindness.” If you are out in the gym, talking to members, building relationships, offering members the opportunity to get to know you, and being nice to the other trainers at the same time, your clientele will grow, no doubt about it.
    I would say above all if you are a new trainer trying to grow your clientele, get to know everyone in the gym by first name. One thing that I am very strict about at my studio is that my other trainers get to know everyone by name. The reason for this is that there is no better feeling than walking into a gym, which usually you are intimidated to be at, and have everyone greet you friendly and be genuinely happy you are there!

    What are some of the frustrations of being a personal trainer?
    It is very rare to run into clients that are into fitness as much as you are as a trainer. In a perfect world, every client would follow the nutrition guidelines you give them 100% of the time, do all the cardio that you ask them to do, get enough sleep, never miss a session, and love being there. In reality fitness for most clients is a very small priority.
    What I mean by this is usually things like children, vacations, work related stress, and just general laziness will intervene at every possible opportunity. I could write a book on the excuses I have heard(and yes, I am working on that book as we speak) from clients. Everything ranging from “I'm feeling a little weak today, won't be in!” to “I have to miss my session tonight because I am so stressed out about the Presidential elections.”
    Very rarely will you run into a client who will log their food as you ask them to. As you know, nutrition is 90% of results, and sadly it is very tough to get people to understand this concept. Most try to undereat to lose weight, with bad results.
    The other largre frustration I run into is general whininess. Most people do not like to work hard to accomplish a goal, hence why America is so over weight. It is much easier to sit on the couch than show up for your appointment with your trainer.

    This is a very basic run down of some of the things to consider when you are contemplating becoming a personal trainer. There are plenty of things I haven't covered and I urge you to please ask those questions that come up. I am sure there are other trainers on here who may disagree with my opinions, so it should be noted that at the end of the day they are just that, opinions.

    I look forward to your thoughts.
    2013 NPC Heartland Classic OKC - 1st Men's Lightheavyweight Novice/Overall

  • #2
    Amen! So much of that rang true. I've been doing it for about four years myself. Just curious if you've ever run your own facility and, if so, more thoughts about getting one up and running. Like you mentioned, other trainers tend to be pieces of shit. I ha an arrangement with two others that is in the process of falling through and I'm thinking about opening my own place. Nothing huge. A warehouse type gym.

    Comment


    • #3
      Absolutely spot on about killing other trainers with kindness. I have had PT's slag me off to clients saying I don't know what im doing; making them squat ATG its going to put them in wheelchairs in 10 years time.
      I didn't even bring it up with this particular trainer. People like that always set themselves up to fail.Always.
      My tutor on the course I took for the qualification said this (in response to being asked how to keep clients)"You have to make them realise they can't and never will get results without you" Unbelievable.

      I think my main frustration is that you find yourself putting in more effort to peoples training than they do themselves.

      Another classic is:I will spend hours writing up a training and nutrition plan and that person who has employed me to help them get into better shape etc, questions every thing I have done for them: "thats not how I used to do it, thats not how the other PT i hired had me training and eating" Why the fck have you hired me then, clearly what you were doing worked before, thats why your still overweight and the old PT got you nowhere. MIND FCK

      You quickly learn that there is a difference in wanting to get fitter/lose weight/put on muscle and actually WANTING to do it.
      The former will bitch and moan about getting there and how its hard and hurts, excuse excuse excuse whine whine moan.
      The later just grind it out and do whats asked and questions things they don't understand (which I love) so they understand better. These are the people who get results and make it part of there life forever..That is why its the best job on earth for me. Helping other people and seeing them change visually and mentally is a great feeling.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by wesmantooth View Post
        Amen! So much of that rang true. I've been doing it for about four years myself. Just curious if you've ever run your own facility and, if so, more thoughts about getting one up and running. Like you mentioned, other trainers tend to be pieces of shit. I ha an arrangement with two others that is in the process of falling through and I'm thinking about opening my own place. Nothing huge. A warehouse type gym.
        Get a small warehouse at first and rent equipment. If it takes off then eveutally you can move to a bigger facility. With renting equipment, if it didnt work out, your not left with a huge bill and equipment you dont need.

        I use alot of basic training and use:

        2 Power racks
        4 barbells
        Chains / bands (people love these as they think its some sort of novelty, when infact they are awesome training tools)
        Kettlebells
        Prowler (if you have room, get it outside and bomb it down the front the warehouse.
        battling rope
        Tires
        Sisu warhammers / sledgehammers

        Basic training equipment will get you far, especially if you find it cheap/2nd hand (just need a little sanding down and a respray)

        Think of it this way..Your paying rent to a gym to use there equipment (most of the time its subpar stuff) why not spend that money on renting your own little space.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by martin_h View Post
          Absolutely spot on about killing other trainers with kindness. I have had PT's slag me off to clients saying I don't know what im doing; making them squat ATG its going to put them in wheelchairs in 10 years time.
          I didn't even bring it up with this particular trainer. People like that always set themselves up to fail.Always.
          My tutor on the course I took for the qualification said this (in response to being asked how to keep clients)"You have to make them realise they can't and never will get results without you" Unbelievable.

          I think my main frustration is that you find yourself putting in more effort to peoples training than they do themselves.

          Another classic is:I will spend hours writing up a training and nutrition plan and that person who has employed me to help them get into better shape etc, questions every thing I have done for them: "thats not how I used to do it, thats not how the other PT i hired had me training and eating" Why the fck have you hired me then, clearly what you were doing worked before, thats why your still overweight and the old PT got you nowhere. MIND FCK

          You quickly learn that there is a difference in wanting to get fitter/lose weight/put on muscle and actually WANTING to do it.
          The former will bitch and moan about getting there and how its hard and hurts, excuse excuse excuse whine whine moan.
          The later just grind it out and do whats asked and questions things they don't understand (which I love) so they understand better. These are the people who get results and make it part of there life forever..That is why its the best job on earth for me. Helping other people and seeing them change visually and mentally is a great feeling.
          The part in bold above. For the majority of your clients, this will be the case. You will care more than they do for the first year or two of regular training. After that, you won't give a rats ass if they don't listen. It's just part of the job.

          What still bothers me, though, is the lying. Don't come tell me that you're doing everything I asked and still not losing weight. It's math, really. It's like telling me that I am wrong, and 10-5=8, not 5.


          When I PCS'd with my wife to Germany (she is USAF), I found myself without access to train clients in a gym. I have a criminal background due to some trouble back in 2001, and I can't get clearance to utilize the facilities here, so I had to get creative.

          I invested in a bunch of simple, mobile equipment. Suspension training straps, rubber bands, kettle bells, dumbbells, yoga mats, etc...

          I chose a demographic that I knew would fit with me. Overweight spouses that are uneasy about working out in a gym filled with in-shape soldiers.

          I was booked fast. I drive to their house, or meet them at a park, and we train. It's been great and I have almost zero overhead.

          Anyway, just some thoughts. If you are creative enough, and driven enough, you can make a business with very little.
          Lee Salado, E.P.A.S.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by wesmantooth View Post
            Amen! So much of that rang true. I've been doing it for about four years myself. Just curious if you've ever run your own facility and, if so, more thoughts about getting one up and running. Like you mentioned, other trainers tend to be pieces of shit. I ha an arrangement with two others that is in the process of falling through and I'm thinking about opening my own place. Nothing huge. A warehouse type gym.
            I have, and am currently running my own studio, Image Total Fitness Great Bend if you search it on FB I have a lot of pictures of our set up, also our website imagetotalfitness.com has some more pictures. As far as getting it up & running, I used a company called ProMaxima to source all of my equipment. All of the heavy equipment is very similar to Hammer Strength but about 1/4 of the price. Other than equipment my recommendation is to keep overhead to a absolute minimum. I have no employees. Only 2 other contractors who pay me 30% of their monthly training revenue.

            Originally posted by martin_h View Post
            Absolutely spot on about killing other trainers with kindness. I have had PT's slag me off to clients saying I don't know what im doing; making them squat ATG its going to put them in wheelchairs in 10 years time.
            I didn't even bring it up with this particular trainer. People like that always set themselves up to fail.Always.
            My tutor on the course I took for the qualification said this (in response to being asked how to keep clients)"You have to make them realise they can't and never will get results without you" Unbelievable.

            I think my main frustration is that you find yourself putting in more effort to peoples training than they do themselves.

            Another classic is:I will spend hours writing up a training and nutrition plan and that person who has employed me to help them get into better shape etc, questions every thing I have done for them: "thats not how I used to do it, thats not how the other PT i hired had me training and eating" Why the fck have you hired me then, clearly what you were doing worked before, thats why your still overweight and the old PT got you nowhere. MIND FCK

            You quickly learn that there is a difference in wanting to get fitter/lose weight/put on muscle and actually WANTING to do it.
            The former will bitch and moan about getting there and how its hard and hurts, excuse excuse excuse whine whine moan.
            The later just grind it out and do whats asked and questions things they don't understand (which I love) so they understand better. These are the people who get results and make it part of there life forever..That is why its the best job on earth for me. Helping other people and seeing them change visually and mentally is a great feeling.
            Other trainers who do that always end up looking like asses, which is fine by me lol. Often times I feel like my desire for the clients results far outshadow their desire for it. Like you said though, when you find one client who just KILLS it, it makes up for all of the whiners.

            Originally posted by martin_h View Post
            Get a small warehouse at first and rent equipment. If it takes off then eveutally you can move to a bigger facility. With renting equipment, if it didnt work out, your not left with a huge bill and equipment you dont need.

            I use alot of basic training and use:

            2 Power racks
            4 barbells
            Chains / bands (people love these as they think its some sort of novelty, when infact they are awesome training tools)
            Kettlebells
            Prowler (if you have room, get it outside and bomb it down the front the warehouse.
            battling rope
            Tires
            Sisu warhammers / sledgehammers

            Basic training equipment will get you far, especially if you find it cheap/2nd hand (just need a little sanding down and a respray)

            Think of it this way..Your paying rent to a gym to use there equipment (most of the time its subpar stuff) why not spend that money on renting your own little space.
            Equipment like you mentioned is an AWESOME way to start! And at the end of the day you will only have a few thousand in initial investment if you buy. I honestly do not know much about renting equipment, but it's always an option!

            Originally posted by Lee Salado View Post
            The part in bold above. For the majority of your clients, this will be the case. You will care more than they do for the first year or two of regular training. After that, you won't give a rats ass if they don't listen. It's just part of the job.

            What still bothers me, though, is the lying. Don't come tell me that you're doing everything I asked and still not losing weight. It's math, really. It's like telling me that I am wrong, and 10-5=8, not 5.


            When I PCS'd with my wife to Germany (she is USAF), I found myself without access to train clients in a gym. I have a criminal background due to some trouble back in 2001, and I can't get clearance to utilize the facilities here, so I had to get creative.

            I invested in a bunch of simple, mobile equipment. Suspension training straps, rubber bands, kettle bells, dumbbells, yoga mats, etc...

            I chose a demographic that I knew would fit with me. Overweight spouses that are uneasy about working out in a gym filled with in-shape soldiers.

            I was booked fast. I drive to their house, or meet them at a park, and we train. It's been great and I have almost zero overhead.

            Anyway, just some thoughts. If you are creative enough, and driven enough, you can make a business with very little.
            Lying clients are the worst. One big downfall of training is this: everything, whether positive or negative, is your fault in their eyes. "I lost 20lbs, you are the best trainer in the world!!" "I gained 2lbs, what are you doing wrong that I am not losing weight??" Making clients realize that their actions outside of the gym reflect their results is a very hard thing for most to do..

            That sounds like you are doing great with your business! Home based training is becoming very popular!
            2013 NPC Heartland Classic OKC - 1st Men's Lightheavyweight Novice/Overall

            Comment


            • #7
              Lol how can I forget.."right, show me your last 4 weeks of eating"
              "hmm this seems 95% perfect and you followed what ive been saying, so why have you put on 2% BF...no idea, oh right, magic just happened?" seems legit.

              The lieing is out of embarrassment IMO. It is just like children who say they haven't drawn all over the walls, no matter what paint is on their hands: they don't want to be told off and thought less of.

              Anyway onto the positives.

              You are your own boss (make no mistake though, you dont set your own hours, if you want to earn money, you need to be flexible..5am only time to train client..you better be dragging your arse out of bed)
              You get the best feeling when you see people change and their entire attitude towards themselves and life changes.
              Your always on the move and doing something different,unlike office work where you stare at a screen and work within a 10 foot zone.
              Its making your hobby your job..it was either this or porn star and i haven't got the genetics for a monster mustache.
              You meet all sorts of different characters.
              Walking round in tracksuits all day can't be worse than a tie/noose

              Comment


              • #8
                You know I actually have enough equipment to do my boot camps and one on one stuff already. I probably have to drop a little money on flooring depending on the building. And then slowly add more equipment I wanted as it grew. I was planning on doing the same thing with a couple other trainers working and subcontractors and paying me a percentage of what they bring in. It's just a matter of assuming a little risk I suppose. Just weighing my options right now, but I've gotta make a decision pretty soon.

                You guys are absolutely right bout shithead trainers. Their clients and the public will end up seeing their true colors. As long as you are the best at your job and have a good personality, I don't see how you could go wrong.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I kinda see this as related, but if not and you think I'm detailing the thread, tell me and I'll make a different one.

                  What percentage are you guys charging trainers you bring in to your facility? Or a flat fee?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    There are definitely a ton of positives to personal training. I've had more financial freedom since starting my studio than I ever thought possible. Going to work everyday in gym shorts & a t-shirt is freaking awesome as well. Nothing better than making a hobby your career.

                    Wesmantooth-
                    Typically I have found gyms charge 50% so I charge my trainers 30% of whatever their monthly totals come out to. Both trainers that work for me are very close friends so I trust them to pay me honestly. Otherwise, you could always use a program like Mind & Body Online to help track sessions.
                    2013 NPC Heartland Classic OKC - 1st Men's Lightheavyweight Novice/Overall

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I did personal training for several years when I was in my 20's. One of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had.

                      My University degree is in Exercise Physiology ... which trumps any cheesy a$$ 'certification' any day of the week.

                      But to be a good PT ... one must also be good at 'psychology' to a certain degree. I use that term loosely.

                      Many times you are just as much a sounding board for the clients day to day life as you are their trainer.

                      You become a friend and a staple in the clients life. You are their 'outlet'.

                      It is a great responsibility.

                      Unfortunately for most trainers .... you will never make enough money at it to live in this economy. It is very hard for the average trainer to have 6 or more training sessions 5 days per week Do the math on that and figure out what kind of money you are going to be making.

                      For young people fresh out of college ..... I think it is a great profession.
                      I train Dogg Crapp. When not training DC ... sometimes I train arms 3x to 5x per week. Sometimes I train 'modified dogg crapp' which includes an 'arms only' day.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Ill be retiring in a few years and plan to go into the fitness field in some capaçity

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by martin_h View Post
                          Lol how can I forget.."right, show me your last 4 weeks of eating"
                          "hmm this seems 95% perfect and you followed what ive been saying, so why have you put on 2% BF...no idea, oh right, magic just happened?" seems legit.

                          The lieing is out of embarrassment IMO. It is just like children who say they haven't drawn all over the walls, no matter what paint is on their hands: they don't want to be told off and thought less of.

                          9 times out of 10 it could be non-compliance, but there could be that one person whose metabolism is in the toilet, complete with hair falling out in clumps. :llama:

                          Also, if you ask them casually and act like it's no big deal (because it really isn't), then they're more likely to tell the truth.
                          #docswholift
                          PGY-1 FM
                          "No idea is above scrutiny and no people are beneath dignity." -Maajid Nawaz

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