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How To Get Started As A Personal Trainer

With so many people across the country being overweight, it only makes sense to put yourself in a position to help those who struggle with health.  

The health and fitness industry offers a variety of career paths to choose from so that you can make an impact in the world.  

One profession in particular is personal trainer.  With the rise of obesity, also comes the rise of those wanting to become personal trainers.  

But what are the steps for one to get started. In this article I will go over how to get started as a personal trainer.

Choose A Niche

We can agree that the health and fitness industry is a very broad one.  So it helps when starting off as a personal trainer to figure out what you plan on specializing in.  Some categories include:

  • Youth Sports
  • Women
  • General Population
  • Seniors
  • Athletes
  • Weight Loss

These are just to name a few.  Figuring out what you plan on being an expert at, will help you go a long way when it comes to being a successful trainer.  

If you’re not sure yet what you want to specialize in , then that is ok.  Sometimes it take a little while to figure out what you like and what your strengths and weaknesses are.

Career as a Full or Part-Time Trainer

The next thing you want to consider is if this is something you want to make a career and do full-time, or just something you’re doing for some extra cash.  

One thing you need to understand is that in order to be successful in this industry as a personal trainer, you need to do it full-time.  Starting off trying to build clients can take a while, so doing this part-time will only get you part-time results.

Get Certified With an Accredited Program

The most important step if you are someone that is serious about taking it to the next level, is making sure you get certified.  You want to make sure you certification is from an accredited place like American Council on Exercise (ACE), or National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).  

There are many more, but these are two highly accredited certification programs to help you with your training.  You may here from some that you don’t need to be certified to train clients, and yes this is true, but if you are serious about this, then it’s important that you do.  

A couple of reason I will explain in the next section.

Employee or Self-Employed

Most of the time when someone is getting started in their personal training career, they decide to get employed by a gym.  It’s a great way to get experience, steady income, and also learn what niche you would like to specialize in.

If you’re like me and would rather go it on you own, then you should know that it takes a lot of work since your income is dependent on how you market yourself.  You have to manage all of your finances and treat it like a business.

Also as mentioned in the previous section, if you’re not certified by an accredited program, most gyms will not hire you, and insurance companies will not insure you if self-employed.  So making sure you get certified is key if you are serious about doing this long term.

Find A Fitness Facility To Train Clients

If you decide to work for a gym, then finding the space to train will be no issue as this is the benefit of being employed by a gym.  But if you plan on going independent, then finding space is probably one of the hardest things to do.  

Finding a gym or studio that will allow you to train your clients in their facility can be tough as many of them fear you will be taking their clients from them.  So this is something you want to keep in mind as you decide which path to take.

My Final Thoughts

These are just the basics of how to get started as a personal trainer.  The great thing about being in the fitness industry is being able to try different things to create income.  Just don’t limit yourself to personal training since you only make money if you are training clients.  

Especially in the world of technology, putting yourself out there with something like a website is a great way to help more people with less effort.  Being successful in this industry is about being able to think outside the box.  So get the creative juices flowing.  

As always, if you have any thoughts or questions, please don’t be afraid to share below.  

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Why Do You Want To Be A Personal Trainer?

why do you want to be a personal trainer

So why do you want to be a personal trainer?  Yea I know getting into the fitness industry can offer amazing opportunities especially when it comes to doing something you love.  But why?

If you are someone that is into fitness and couldn’t imagine yourself working behind a desk like myself, then personal training is an ideal choice.  

But before you think about if you should become a personal trainer, knowing what it takes to find success in the fitness industry is key.  

It’s easy to think that dressing up in gym gear everyday is fun,  and trust me it is, finding success as a personal trainer takes a little thinking outside the box.

Is Personal Training a Good Career?

Personal Training can be a very exciting career to get into, especially if you are someone that is really into fitness.  Being able to work in an industry where you get to exercise for a living sounds pretty cool.  

But remember, the reason is not only to help others better their health, but also to make a living doing it.  

Unfortunately this is where the not so glamorous part of being a personal training comes in. One of the most difficult part about deciding to become a personal trainer is getting started.

How To Get Started as a Personal Trainer

Choose a Niche – With the fitness industry being so large, it would be impossible to find yourself covering all parts of it.  

There are many areas in the fitness realm where you can specialize, and it’s important to figure out which one you would be interested in.  

Whether it be athletes, general population, or even children, knowing which area of expertise you would like to cover is key to finding success.

Get Certified – after deciding which area you would like to specialize in, it’s time to get certified.  First let me start off by saying that it is possible to train clients without being certified, but if you are someone that is serious about helping others get fit, then I would suggest you do.  

Before I got certified, I had been working out in the gym for years, and it wasn’t until I got certified and gained the knowledge where I learned that I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew.  

Some of the best personal training certifications are CSCS, ACE, NASM just to name a few. You can read more about the Top 10 best personal training certifications to learn more.  

But getting proper education is essential when it comes to the health of your clients.

Employee or Independent – next you need to decide if you want to work for a gym or for yourself.  If you are someone that likes to have control of how you train clients, then going independent may be a better option.

When I started my career as a personal trainer, I decided to go independent since I felt there was more money to be made.  But knowing the positives and negatives is key to making such an important career decision.

Pros and Cons of Being a Personal Trainer

Overall, being a personal trainer has its many benefits, like being able to exercise for a living. You also get the opportunity to help change the lives of many people who struggle with health.  

But with those benefits comes a lot of hard work that needs to be put in for you to have a successful personal training career.  Below are some of the pros and cons for both the gym employee and the self-employed.

Working For a Gym


  • Steady Income
  • Gym equipment available to you
  • Healthcare Benefits
  • Company generated clientele
  • Continued course paid for


  • Have no control over pay rate
  • Not a lot of control when creating exercise program for clients
Working For yourself


  • Control over how much you charge clients
  • Control over schedule
  • Create own workout program


  • Finding space to train clients
  • Income not steady
  • Must find own healthcare
  • Responsible for finances and marketing

How To Make Money as a Personal Trainer

Work at a fitness facility – There are many fitness facilities that are looking to hire certified fitness trainers. Depending on your level of experience, you may have a tough time finding employment.  

But like any job search, all it takes is one to give you that opportunity.  Many gyms are willing to give someone that doesn’t have much experience a chance if persistent enough.

Train/Instruct clients – Maybe you have no interest in working in a gym or studio, therefore you will have to find your own clients to train.  

This takes a lot of ground work when getting started since no one knows who you are and what you do.  So it is important to market yourself as an expert in the field to help grow your client base.

Create a website – With technology growing at such a rapid pace, more and more people are getting their workouts online.  Now some question whether this is viable since nothing beats that personal touch a trainer can give their client when meeting in person.  

But if you are a personal trainer, you would be crazy not to get involved in the online business.  Being able to touch more people with less effort just makes sense.  Remember, when you are training clients, you only make money when you train.  

With a website, there is a huge opportunity to create income while you are sleeping.  So if you are someone that is looking to get into fitness, having a website is definitely something to consider in your fitness career.

What Is It Like to Be A Personal Trainer

While trying not to bore you with all the details of my personal training experience, I will try to give you a quick summary of what I went through.  I started my personal training career as an independent as I really didn’t want to work for the gym due to very low pay when starting.

I wanted to be able to control how much I made per session, and being self employed was the way to go.  I did this for a year and quickly realized that being a personal trainer although is a good career to get into, it wasn’t sustainable for me.  

I knew the only way I made money was if I was training.  So if  for any reason I wasn’t able to train clients, where would my income come from.  So I tried to think of a way to help more people with not as much effort.  

That’s why I made the decision to start a fitness site where I could provide helpful tips and make an income. So now I teach kickboxing along with managing a fitness site.  

Continuing to learn about the fitness industry and help people in the process.

Final Thoughts and Advice

I don’t do much personal training anymore although I’m still certified.  I primarily focus on my fitness website trying to build it up to something bigger.  

So my advice is if you are looking to get into the fitness industry and would like to get employed by a gym, then get certified and apply to as many gyms as possible.  

But if you are like me and wonder how long you can train clients, then it helps to have a gameplan in place and think beyond personal training.  For me, it was starting a website.  

So if you have any questions about what it takes to be a personal trainer, please don’t be afraid to ask below.