Being A Personal Trainer

Posted byLori Posted onJuly 14, 2011 Comments8

So, you’ve decided you want to know more about actually being a personal trainer. You’ve already read about getting certified and now you’re ready to train. Good! Let’s get started.

I haven’t been personal training for that long but I can say I have trained enough to know the ins and outs of actually working with clients.

Showing others how to exercise properly, what to do for exercises, having them actually get going and start sweating can be extremely fun and extremely rewarding. I mean, if anyone out there can tell me you feel like crap after you get done with a great workout, raise your hand.

Nope, didn’t think so.

Exercise makes you feel good, usually, and my job is to get you to the place of endorphin-land. AKA: The end of the workout. The clients I’ve worked with and currently work with are almost giddy after their workouts simply because after each session you have achieved something. Whether it be getting up early, meeting your friend at the gym, lifting that heavier weight, holding that plank pose just 10 seconds longer, or getting in a workout at all. You, the client, have achieved something that you might not have otherwise.

As the trainer, you also get to meet and work with all kinds of people. I’ve had clients ranging from 27 years old to 86 years old. And on a completely side note, my 86 year old client just scratched off sky diving from her bucket list. If that’s not motivation to live life, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, each person you train has a different personality, different exercise motivations, and different skill levels, making your job, the person training them, fun and exciting- all mixed in with challenging. And of course, there are times when it’s tough finding exercises that work around and work with injuries.

I wouldn’t say personal training is difficult, but it can be challenging, as I mentioned before. It can also be frustrating. When you get to the gym at 4:50 am for your 5 am client to not show up, I wouldn’t call that the highlight of a morning. And no-shows will happen. Cancellations will happen. No-shows and cancellations, and not getting paid because of them, will happen. These things should be taken into consideration when starting down the personal training path.

Overall I do like training. It’s tremendously fun seeing people progress through an exercise, a full workout, and skill level. That said, my first week, I was ridiculously intimated. I didn’t want to push my clients too hard and I didn’t want to “mess up.” Let me just say, you can’t really mess up if you’re being safe and showing them the proper form for exercises.  Well, you can, but I didn’t and I was scared for nothing. In fact, getting certified and actually training helped me with confidence (in now knowing I can accomplish anything)!

And for the most part, it’s easy bringing on new clients. But that completely depends on if you own your own personal training business or work for a gym. I currently work for a gym and they’re always needing trainers to take on more client. In my case, the gym brings in a lot of business for me.

Alternately, if you run your own business or studio, you’re the one hunting to find clients. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s not.

This is all my opinion on being a personal trainer. And that means just one view. I really want you to know what it’s like to be a trainer, especially if you’re thinking about becoming one yourself, so I asked two great friends of mine, and excellent personal trainers, a few questions about what it’s like for them to personal train.

You may know Anne better as one of my best friends, and forever partner in crime. I’ve worked out with her a few times and let me just say, this girl knows her shit. She’s one of the strongest trainers I know- and when I say strong, I mean professionally and knowledge-wise!

Anne with My Zen Pulse

Anne at Zen Pulse

I am an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, AFAA Certified Group Exercise Instructor and an AFPA certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. My programs are a mix of strength and power conditioning designed to stimulate fat metabolism and build muscle while developing core strength, and most training sessions feature high intensity training intervals in 360 degrees of movement with close attention to alignment and mind-body connection. In addition to functional power training, I have a passion for Russian Kettlebells and Vinyasa Yoga, and will be completing my Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification (HKC) in July 2011 and 200 Hour RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) Training in 2012.

Why did you decide to start personal training?

I ultimately decided to start training because I wanted to help create change on a daily basis.  Physical change may take time, but I am able – on an hourly basis – to help improve my corner of the universe by gifting clients with healthy self-image and a side of endorphins!

I was actually planning to start with nutritional counseling, but I started with personal training to get access to the industry quickly and see how I liked it.  I loved it!  I trained part time for about 6 months at a boutique fitness center and decided to go full time when my client load picked up to the point where I could no longer sustain both my “day job” and my passion for fitness.  I am forever grateful to the manager at the club in Virginia who sat with me at Starbucks one day and talked me through what it would take to get my certification and told me to come find him once I had it.

What was it like on your first day with your first client?

I was terrified and terrifically excited.  I’m not really one for “making mistakes” – and a first crack at anything is always difficult.  An hour (and a mistake or two) later, I realized that I was good at this.  Intuitive, even.  And that she left feeling better about her body, better about her tennis game and better about her health.  I was hooked.

Mistakes, they’re bound to happen, how did you handle making mistakes?

Every trainer makes mistakes.  We overestimate a client’s abilities and frustrate them with an exercise they can’t do.  Or choose the wrong motivational technique for a given situation, leaving a client feeling helpless.  I handle making mistakes like anyone – I get frustrated.  Then I take responsibility for any harm that I have caused and use it to make me a better trainer and coach.

What are the 5 best exercises to challenge your body?

1. Squat Progressions (hip stability, knee mobility and general fitness!)
2. Push Up Variations (shoulder strength and endurance)
3. Pull Ups (upper body strength, scapular stability and sheer mental grit)
4. Box Jumps or Step-Ups (Hip stability, knee mobility and cardio)
5. TRX or Barbell Roll-Outs (CORE CORE and CORE!)

What advice can you offer someone just starting out training?

Put yourself in an environment rich in skilled trainers, then don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Learn as much as you can from the people around you and use what you learn from watching and listening.  The biggest mistake I made as a newbie fitness professional was operating in a vacuum, rather than admitting that I didn’t know how to handle a particular injury or muscle imbalance, and getting expert advice from a veteran trainer.

What do you feel is the #1 thing that personal training offers a client?

Stability.  Every client struggles with something different and every trainer has a different skill set.  But every client needs someone they can lean on when they don’t trust their bodies, don’t understand their behavior patterns or just feel stuck.   A trainer or training team offers long-term stability in schedule and goal-setting, which puts in perspective the day-to-day variations in self-image, personal performance and weight.

Nick was my personal trainer for a few months (and I loved his workouts!). We even did a TRX session for you- it’s still what we’ll call, a work in progress.
From Double TRX


Nick at Los Gatos Health & Fitness

Certifications: NASM CPT/PES, NSCA CPT, TRX,

Why did you decide to start personal training?

I became a trainer initially because I was passionate about fitness. As I grew in the industry I looked at helping clients from a multifaceted approached that went beyond creating a well rounded weight training and cardiovascular routine. Lifestyle modifications are paramount for success, and behavioral adjustments are the foundation these changes are built on. I am continually inspired by the ability we all have to change for the better. Knowledge is an important quality to possess as a trainer but just as importantly I strive to bring enthusiasm and positivity to my clients and friends. My mantra is the 5 Pā€™s of success Passion Purpose Practice Perseverance Progress

What was it like on your first day with your first client?

My first day with a client was a little intimidating. Luckily I had already spent two years working as a fitness administrator working alongside some of the greatest trainers in the area. It is a lot of responsibility to take on the task of helping an individual strive to attain their goals. They are investing a substantial amount of money, time, and hard work.

What advice can you offer someone just starting out training?

I made plenty of mistakes in my short career. No mistake is greater than
making your client immobile by injuring them, and thankfully I have
avoided that thus far. Oftentimes its not what you do thats a mistake
its what you dont do. Some of my earliest programs lacked the components
that I see now as essential such as: stability training, power
training, and functional full body exercises.

What are the 5 best exercises to challenge your body?

Choosing 5 top exercises are tough but here are mine:

What do you feel is the #1 thing that personal training offers a client?

A strong piece of advice I would offer to someone new to training is to remember you are in charge, not your body. It is nothing but a result of your environment. Change your environment and change your life.

The #1 thing a personal trainer has to offer their client is the enthusiastic blueprints to a new body and a new life.

Ah, words from true wisdom. I love it! Thanks for the input! I hope this information has helped at least one person- in any aspect of fitness. Let me (and Anne and Nick) know what you think about this post. Comments!

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8 People reacted on this

  1. Very nice! I’m going to pass this along to Suzanne – cuz she’s studying hard. So great to learn more about you – thanks!

  2. excellent information and postings! only problem is that I am such a novice to these “new” TERMS that I don’t know what some things means, like Dips or
    these other best exercises… I guess I need a personal trainer, huh?!

    1. Squat Progressions (hip stability, knee mobility and general fitness!)
    2. Push Up Variations (shoulder strength and endurance)
    3. Pull Ups (upper body strength, scapular stability and sheer mental grit)
    4. Box Jumps or Step-Ups (Hip stability, knee mobility and cardio)

  3. Hi Lori,
    Great post šŸ™‚ reminds me that I always wanted to be a Pillates teacher…. gotta follow your dreams, right…? well, maybe in a few months…

  4. great tips and motivation, as you know we are debating about getting ours…still unsure

  5. Great post!! I always love the different perspectives since this is my husband’s profession! šŸ™‚

  6. Thanks for sharing–that’s really interesting. I couldn’t imagine _being_ a trainer, that’s not where my talents lie, but as I work on my fitness more and start making the same mistakes I always make, I’ve started to wonder whether it would be smart to work with one.

    I looked up ‘jump lunges’ after you mentioned them, and have been doing them!

  7. Aw! Thanks, girl! Training is an amazing gift… both for the trainer and the client. Hooray Fitness!

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