personal trainer career

Starting Your Personal Trainer Career 

personal trainer career

After you have received your certification in personal training, it’s time to start your personal trainer career. In the same way those with college degrees expect to fall into a career right after graduation, you probably thought that getting a certification would immediately yield employment. This is unfortunately not the case. There’s much more to do, but it’s nothing you can’t handle! Here are the steps for starting your personal trainer career:


Get Experience

This is probably the thing that frustrates you the most when looking for work. Every position open is looking for someone with years of experience. But how are you supposed to get experience if no one will hire you?

Thankfully, now that you’re a certified personal trainer, you can do this in a number of ways. You can volunteer at a few places, offering your new skills for free until you have enough experience, or you can post a listing online and do personal training in people’s homes. You can even meet up with clients at gyms — just be sure it’s not conflicting with the personal trainers on staff, if there are any.


Places to volunteer as a personal trainer:

  • Organizations promoting sobriety
  • YMCA
  • City or county recreation centers
  • Your local gym
  • Schools (give presentations on fitness and nutrition)
  • Churches


Write a Specialized Resume

It’s tempting to draft one resume and send it out to all the places hiring for a personal trainer. As strong as this impulse is, we advise that you fight it. Instead of making a templated resume that makes you sound like every other applicant, make sure your resume specifically addresses points for the job description. The job description that the hiring manager posts will make specific callouts to experience and skills that they’re looking for. If you have the experience and these skills, be sure to state them plainly on your resume and even draw special attention to them in your cover letter.


Rapid-Fire Resume Tips

  • Include your best skills at the top, no more than 10
  • Mirror the job description’s language in your wording
  • Try organizing your experience from most-to-least relevant, rather than in chronological order
  • Include an objective paragraph or a short bio that shows off your personality
  • Ensure that your contact information is correct
  • Put your personal training certifications at the top of your education section

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When it comes to getting work, you could rely solely on your skillset and hope that someone will eventually notice you, picking you out of a pile of other totally qualified applicants. Or you could network. Usually, hiring managers will gravitate toward people they know or have some kind of connection with. Imagine how much further your resume will go if your new friend puts in a good word with the hiring manager at the gym you’re applying to.


You can network in a few ways:

  • Join a Facebook group for personal trainers
  • Regularly attend a gym you want to work for
  • Connect with other personal trainers on LinkedIn
  • Attend group exercise classes and mingle after the workout ends
  • Follow personal trainers and health coaches you admire on social media
  • Attend free group exercises in your area
  • Hire a mentor
  • Connect with the owners of healthy food spots in your area
  • Attend niche food events (keto, vegan, etc.)


Apply, Apply, Apply

Now that you’ve done the work — you’ve gotten the necessary experience, you’ve fine-tuned your resume, and you’ve networked with the right people — it’s time to put yourself out there. Apply for the jobs you want. Yes, we said “jobs,” as in plural jobs. Please don’t put all your eggs in one basket and apply for one job. There’s a chance the hiring manager won’t get back to you at all, if they’re especially busy. What will be your cue to look at other positions, in that case? Don’t miss out on the great opportunities that are available, just because you have your heart set on one place in particular.

After you’ve applied to the jobs you’re interested in, look again at what’s available. Are there listing that suddenly seem interesting the second time around? Apply for that too. Expand the distance you’re willing to travel for work, and apply again.


Places to Look for Personal Trainer Jobs:

  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • ZipRecruiter
  • Idealist
  • Craigslist
  • Monster
  • Glassdoor


Gain New Clients

You got a job as an on-staff personal trainer: congratulations! You have officially started a job as a personal trainer — but make no mistake, you haven’t started your career yet. A job is something that will earn you money, but a career is defined by its longevity. Ensure your place at this gym by gaining new clients. Social media is your friend in this case, for sure, but you can also approach people who work out at the gym and try to offer your services. You never know, someone might be interested!


Tips for Gaining New Clients

  • List yourself as a personal trainer on Craigslist
  • Start a personal trainer page for yourself on Facebook
  • Approach people at the water fountain at your gym and introduce yourself
  • Growing an Instagram following and engaging with followers in your area
  • Be forthcoming about your profession when you meet new people (you never know who’s looking for a trainer!)

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Retain Your Clients

Retaining the clients you work hard to get is also hard work. Your client has signed up with you because they’re looking for results, but you have to make sure to set a realistic standard. Your client isn’t going to get a six pack after doing 100 sit ups. You know that, but they don’t. Not really. Explain what their progress will look like. Be firm in your instructions, but also be understanding and encouraging. Be friendly enough that your client wants to come back to their appointments again and again. Keep your client from working too hard up front so they’ll avoid burnout. This is where you soft skills come in handy, those people skills you listed on your resume to get this job in the first place.


Tips for Retaining Clients

  • Set clear, realistic expectations
  • Understand your client’s fitness goals upfront
  • Explain the pain — understanding why they’re doing a workout will help them stay on track
  • Be encouraging
  • Understand who needs tough love and who needs a more gentle approach
  • Celebrate even small victories with your clients
  • Compare where they are in their fitness journey to where they have been so they can clearly see their own growth


Become a Specialized Trainer

Another great way to propel yourself into your career as a personal trainer is to differentiate yourself by getting a specialized certification. You more than likely have a generalized, although nationally accredited certification, but you could focus on a specific niche to make yourself more marketable to your employer and to make yourself more helpful to your clients. For example, you could specialize in working with children, young adults, the elderly, people who want to prepare for military basic training, people going through rehabilitation, and people with special needs. You can get a special needs personal training certification online in just eight hours for less than $500 here.


Types of Specializations You Can Have as a Trainer

  • Special Needs
  • Autism
  • Military Prep Training
  • Children
  • Young Adults
  • Elderly
  • Kinesiology


Consider Becoming a Franchisee

Now that you’ve established yourself as an authority figure in the fitness realm and in your specialized area, you can also advance your salary and your position in the fitness community by becoming a franchise owner. Our sister company Special Strong allows you to become a franchisee anywhere in the world. Be your own boss and make your own schedule when you franchise with Special Strong.


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.

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