Becoming a Special Populations Personal Trainer


If you want to become a special needs personal trainer, there are a few things to take into account. You have to check in with yourself and make sure you’re prepared for the work ahead. It’s not impossible, but it certainly will require your attention, your motivation, and your dedication if you have any hope for following through. You have to find a way to get motivated when you want to quit, to do your research beforehand so you can find the right path for you, and more. Here are your expert tips for becoming a special populations personal trainer:

Decide If This Is the Right Decision

It takes work. You’ll only follow through with getting a special populations personal trainer certification if this is something you’re truly passionate about. It’s natural to have a little cognitive dissonance before making a huge leap into a new field, but you have to get to a place where you’re firm in your decision before starting the process. This certainty and determination is what will propel you through to the finish line.

How can you be sure this is the right decision?

Volunteer With Special Needs

The best way to determine if working with the special needs population, in general, is right for you is to work with individuals with special needs and see how you do. We recommend volunteering at organizations that specialize in working with adults or children with disabilities.

You’ll be in the company of people with years of experience who will ensure you’re not doing anything that might be considered detrimental, somehow, to the clients’/students’ wellbeing. This is exactly the atmosphere to safely make mistakes. Then you’ll be able to see if you can learn from those mistakes, change your ways, and maintain the temperament needed to work with people with special needs.


Shadow a Special Needs Certified Personal Trainer

While volunteering at an organization will be helpful, it won’t mirror the atmosphere in which you’ll be working with special needs clients, if you choose to follow this career path. Contact a personal trainer in your area who is certified to work with individuals with special needs and shadow them. Just observe at first, taking everything in, so you can ask questions and take notes.


Take on a Special Needs Client

Embarking on the journey of taking on a special needs client after shadowing a certified personal trainer is a significant step towards solidifying your career path in this specialized field. It’s crucial to approach this responsibility with dedication, ensuring that you develop a deep and personal understanding of your client’s unique needs, challenges, and fitness aspirations. This personalized approach not only allows you to design more effective, tailored fitness regimes but also helps in forging a stronger trainer-client relationship based on trust and mutual respect.

One of the cardinal truths you’ll quickly learn when working with individuals with special needs is the immense diversity in abilities, limitations, and goals. No two clients will ever present the same set of needs, which compels you as a trainer to adopt a highly adaptive and intuitive approach to training. This diversity reinforces the importance of treating each client as an individual, focusing intently on their specific journey towards health and fitness.


Tap into Your Motivation

Finding motivation and tapping into it will be much easier now that you’ve decided, definitively, that this is the career path for you. It’s not that the coursework for a special needs personal training certification is Harvard-level hard or anything, but anything you try to take on, on top of your day-to-day responsibilities is going to be tough at times. There are going to be days when you want to quit. Tapping into your motivation can be the thing that separates you from being a quitter to being a special needs certified personal trainer.


Tell People Your Goal

Confessing your goal to other people will hold you accountable to follow through. You can post your progress on social media, message your group chats about your aspirations, or tell your good friends what you’re planning. The point is that communicating your goal to other people makes it real. It makes it to where you’re not just letting yourself down if you don’t follow through; you’re letting down your word.

We’d like to specify here that it’s important to communicate your goals to people you trust and who support you. If you have a friend or coworker or In-Law who constantly tears you down when you try to build yourself up, now is the time to distance yourself from that person. Eliminate as many obstacles to your goal as possible.


Find an Accountability Partner

While your good friends may be enough to hold you accountable, you’ll be that much more likely to be successful you find someone with whom you share this goal. Get in contact with people who want to become personal trainers, with people who want to work with the special needs population, or if possible, someone who also specifically wants to become a special needs certified personal trainer. Being around people who are driven pushes you to finish what you started.

Embarking on a journey to become a personal trainer, especially one specializing in the special needs population, requires a commitment to continuous learning and personal growth. Beyond the technical skills and knowledge acquired through certifications, the support system you build plays a pivotal role in your success. Consider finding an accountability partner who shares similar aspirations. Connecting with individuals aspiring to become personal trainers or specialize in working with the special needs community can create a supportive network. This shared journey not only fosters camaraderie but also provides a platform for exchanging insights, challenges, and triumphs. Having a dedicated partner ensures mutual motivation, helping both individuals stay on track and achieve their goals in the dynamic field of special needs fitness training.


Make It a Habit

Before you start your coursework, it’s important to get into the right headspace. You can trigger motivation, drive, and inspiration in yourself by communicating your goals and getting an accountability partner, but you can also do it through creating a new habit.

The cycle of a habit is:

  1. Trigger
  2. Habit
  3. Reward

Before you sit down to study, do something to get you in the mood like listening to a certain playlist on Spotify, lighting a scented candle, or sinking into a comfy chair. A sensory experience makes for a fantastic trigger. The habit, in this case, is you doing your coursework. The reward can be whatever you want it to be, but it has to be the same each time!



Pave Your Own Path to Success

Personal training programs aren’t all the same. Likewise, you have options when choosing a special populations personal trainer certification course. Before signing up for a program, here are some things to consider:

Your Learning Style

Are you a visual or an auditory learner? Is it easy for you to read a manual and know how to put something together, or do you have to watch a few YouTube tutorials first? Do you need face-to-face interaction in order for something to stick? Or, will you be able to learn from online courses?

Look back on your time in school. Which classes did you make As in? What do you think contributed to your success in those classes? Run through the questions above in relation to these questions to get a better sense of your learning style. This information will help you figure out which type of program to sign up for.

Your Availability

How much time will you be able to dedicate to the program and to independent study?

If you’re a single parent with a full-time job and limited personal time, an in-person program may be impractical. Retreat-style courses offer a quick certification, involving travel to another location for a crash course over a weekend. However, this option can be expensive, considering additional costs like airfare, hotel, and babysitting. Weighing the convenience against the financial implications is essential in choosing the right certification program for your circumstances.

The Best Learning Environment for You

This point is similar to your learning style, but your best learning environment is one where you experience as few distractions as possible. Are you least distracted when immersed in the course? Or, do you work better at your own pace, in the privacy and quiet of your own home? These are things to take into account when deciding between an in-person course, a retreat-style course, and an online course.

Get the Proper Education

When thinking about becoming a special populations personal trainer, there’s more to consider than cost, availability, and the learning environment. You should also take into account the source of the certification programs you’re considering. What experience does the program designer have with working with those with special needs? Do they have special needs themselves? How might that insight help you become a better trainer?

Ensuring that the source of the coursework is valid and reputable will ensure two things for you:

  1. The education you receive from the course will be directly applicable to your special needs clients.
  2. You’ll have an instant “in” with the special needs community, your clientele.

Taking this extra step to investigate the certification source will ensure your success as a special populations personal trainer. Completing the certification program becomes more likely when you have belief in it. Moreover, fostering connections is crucial to becoming the best trainer for your special needs clients.

Special Strong Certification

If the list below describes you, then our Special Strong Certification Course will be best suited for you and your learning style:

  • You’re too busy to take in-person courses.
  • You’d prefer not to spend the money on retreat-style courses.
  • You work best when you’re alone and have time to read and consider the material.
  • You don’t like to be rushed and you do things at your own pace.
  • Connecting with someone high up in this field is important to you.
  • You want the coursework source to be from someone who truly understands the special needs population.

Our certification is all online, and you can take it at your own pace entirely. The affordable certification fee includes regular calls with Special Education and Special Strong founder and owner Daniel Stein. Daniel was diagnosed with ADHD as a child but discovered the healing effects of fitness and nutrition on his symptoms. Daniel committed to ensuring that those with unique needs might benefit from fitness after successfully discontinuing his medication. Simultaneously, he sought to educate trainers on enhancing their support for the special needs community.


Strong Education teaches personal trainers and service providers on how to adapt fitness and nutrition for children, adolescents, and adults with autism, Down Syndrome, and other disabilities through our online adaptive special needs certification course.

Tell us where to send your FREE guide:



Get a FREE Adaptive Workout & Nutrition Guide

  • Breaks down Adaptive challenges
  • Breaks down things to Try and Avoid based on Adaptive challenges
  • Gamified challenge to help create new habits
Enter your Email to Receive a 10% OFF Coupon and Download a FREE Sample Exam

Floating 10% Coupon Form

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • 10% off coupon for any certification program
  • Preview our multiple choice sample exam
  • Be the first to know about new monthly adaptive courses
Sale Extended! SAVE 25% & Start for $1!
email tick

Thank you for your interest in Special Strong

One of our local special strong trainers will reach out to you shortly.

Please take a look at this video to know more about what to expect in a training class. Also join our Facebook and Instagram community where we highlight stories of our clients overcoming challenges to live an abundant life. We hope to highlight your story soon.

email tick

Thank you for your interest in Special Strong

One of our local special strong trainers will reach out to you shortly.

In your area we provide virtual in home training. Please take a look at this video to know more about what to expect in a training class. Also join our Facebook and Instagram community where we highlight stories of our clients overcoming challenges to live an abundant life. We hope to highlight your story soon.

Thank you for your submission. Check inbox for coupon code.