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Advice for a Wanna-be Personal Trainer

CT,

I am one of those upstart young people who wants to start down the road to being a personal trainer. Thing is, I don not want to be like 99.8% of the other broscience personal trainers that blog the Youtube Channels and Ezine Articles website. I want to do it right, pay my dues, and really help people. Enough of my soap box.

I could really use some advice on how to start, the right way. I am a Junior at the University of Colorado at Boulder, studying Political Science, and slotted to commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in two short years. I have helped a couple people prep for military training, but nothing beyond friends and nothing for money. My end goal is to own my own business, but that is way down the road.

Not really sure if this is the right place to post this, but I respect your training methodologies and figured there would not be a better place to start than one of TMUSCLE’s top trainers. There, an ego stroke for you. Any advice would be appreciated, or at least a nudge in the right direction.

Thanks, and anyone contributing to this thread is more than welcome to add their two cents.

First step would be to get certified. Realize though that it’s only the start of the process of being a great coach.

I’d look into NSCA, ACSM, NASM. These will get your foot in the door anywhere.
Any idea of what type of population you’d like to work with?

If possible, try to find a local trainer that is well established and that you can shadow, or go intern somewhere. Several of the top coaches in the industry offer an internship type of deal, though most of them you’re going to have to pay, but it would be quite invaluable to learn directly from some of the best.

Never stop learning. I fell into this trap for the last few years and recently realized I had slacked off (ego issues, along with being busy with daily grind).

A lot of young guys come up to me with that same question. I always answer them that you need to have one of three things to have a chance to be a successful trainer. You do not absolutely need to have all three, but the more of them you have, the better chance you have.

  1. A paper attesting of your qualification. This could be a degree in kinesiology or exercise science (best option) or a certification from one of the recognized organizations like the NSCA, ISSA, etc. (JF mentionned a few in his earlier post). Ideally if you bank on this to put your foot in the door having both a college degree AND a cert is the best.

I’ll be the first to say that a degree and certification do NOT make you a good trainer. In fact, it could even make you a bad one if you apply what they teach you blindly. BUT to the general public eye the paper will give you legitimacy as a trainer.

  1. Personal realisations in an athletic or physique field. This could be a very good athletic career (e.g. olympic level athlete, pro athlete in a sport or college star). To be effective as a hook it must be something special though, just having been on your high school football team doesn’t cut it.

It could also be some success competing in bodybuilding, powerlifting or strongman contests. In fact, this is probably better than having been involved in football or another sport.

It could also be having worked with athletes who had success. For example, I started designing programs and training athletes even before I ‘‘officially’’ became a trainer. In Canada amateur athletes don’t have a lot of money and can’t often afford the guys who are already at the top. I trained quite a few young guys who ended up having some success. When I decided to become a trainer I already had results to showcase.

Finally it could be publications. A book or DVD is the best business card you can have. Obviously getting published is hard and book deals are rarely ended out to nobodies. Which is why I self-published my first book. I invested over 30 000$ of my own money to get it published and printed out and distributed it myself. Lucky for me it was a success and it gave me a great business card from the start.

Now with e-books it is much cheaper to publish a '‘book’. But an e-book doesn’t have the same impact.

Writing articles for a RECOGNIZED website (like Tnation) is also a good way to get your name out and can also help a bit.

  1. Having a great physique. A lot of successful trainers have built a clientele solely on the fact that they have a body that most people want to emulate.

The ideal physique to get a lot of clients is lean (the leaner the better, unless you start to look gaunt in the face) very muscular but not ‘‘pro-like’’ in size. To give you an idea, I’m talking about the size of an NFL running back or receiver with 8-10% body fat or less.

At 5’8’’ my ‘‘most popular’’ size was 205 at 6% body fat. Now that my clientele is built I can afford to get up to 220-225, but initially this was too big to bring in a lot of people. Understand that very few, if any, trainer makes money solely on training athletes. Even the top trainers make their money training the general population. And the general population prefer somebody who is not pro-size.

Think ‘‘the physique that most men would like to have and the body that most women would like to f…’’ and you’ll be pretty darn close!

Now, these 3 things will ‘‘get you an audition’’ in that they will attract clients. But keeping your clients (the keep to being successful) is a matter of knowledge, passion and trainer-client relationship.

Dont know what area you are going into the military as but if you are going to be a Lieutent that happens to be in charge of a platoon(like combat arms) then that will give you a good amount of experiance in training. Even though you have to stick to the military PT format being in charge of the platoon leaves you some room to add to the program.

If the LT wants to run 5 miles that day then thats what the platoon does. But if the LT can convince the commander to let you take your platoon to the gym a couple times a week all the better. Lets you experiment enough with “clients” but having to stay within the safety guidelines makes sure you dont overdo it with them.

Get the cert

Look Good

Learn to promote yourself

Develop Social Skills that “magnitize” you

don’t let the certification stop you from reading about fitness

These are two very informative Interviews that Chris Shugart did with Alwyn Cosgrove on the subject :

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
A lot of young guys come up to me with that same question. I always answer them that you need to have one of three things to have a chance to be a successful trainer. You do not absolutely need to have all three, but the more of them you have, the better chance you have.

  1. A paper attesting of your qualification. This could be a degree in kinesiology or exercise science (best option) or a certification from one of the recognized organizations like the NSCA, ISSA, etc. (JF mentionned a few in his earlier post). Ideally if you bank on this to put your foot in the door having both a college degree AND a cert is the best.

I’ll be the first to say that a degree and certification do NOT make you a good trainer. In fact, it could even make you a bad one if you apply what they teach you blindly. BUT to the general public eye the paper will give you legitimacy as a trainer.

  1. Personal realisations in an athletic or physique field. This could be a very good athletic career (e.g. olympic level athlete, pro athlete in a sport or college star). To be effective as a hook it must be something special though, just having been on your high school football team doesn’t cut it.

It could also be some success competing in bodybuilding, powerlifting or strongman contests. In fact, this is probably better than having been involved in football or another sport.

It could also be having worked with athletes who had success. For example, I started designing programs and training athletes even before I ‘‘officially’’ became a trainer. In Canada amateur athletes don’t have a lot of money and can’t often afford the guys who are already at the top. I trained quite a few young guys who ended up having some success. When I decided to become a trainer I already had results to showcase.

Finally it could be publications. A book or DVD is the best business card you can have. Obviously getting published is hard and book deals are rarely ended out to nobodies. Which is why I self-published my first book. I invested over 30 000$ of my own money to get it published and printed out and distributed it myself. Lucky for me it was a success and it gave me a great business card from the start.

Now with e-books it is much cheaper to publish a '‘book’. But an e-book doesn’t have the same impact.

Writing articles for a RECOGNIZED website (like Tnation) is also a good way to get your name out and can also help a bit.

  1. Having a great physique. A lot of successful trainers have built a clientele solely on the fact that they have a body that most people want to emulate.

The ideal physique to get a lot of clients is lean (the leaner the better, unless you start to look gaunt in the face) very muscular but not ‘‘pro-like’’ in size. To give you an idea, I’m talking about the size of an NFL running back or receiver with 8-10% body fat or less.

At 5’8’’ my ‘‘most popular’’ size was 205 at 6% body fat. Now that my clientele is built I can afford to get up to 220-225, but initially this was too big to bring in a lot of people. Understand that very few, if any, trainer makes money solely on training athletes. Even the top trainers make their money training the general population. And the general population prefer somebody who is not pro-size.

Think ‘‘the physique that most men would like to have and the body that most women would like to f…’’ and you’ll be pretty darn close!

Now, these 3 things will ‘‘get you an audition’’ in that they will attract clients. But keeping your clients (the keep to being successful) is a matter of knowledge, passion and trainer-client relationship.[/quote]

Do they offer the degree in exercice science in the province of Quebec? I was supposed to go to Sherbrooke in Kinesiology next year, but I would like to know if theres a better degree I could do instead.
Thanks !

Exercise science is just another name for kinesiology.

[quote]awaken279 wrote:

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
A lot of young guys come up to me with that same question. I always answer them that you need to have one of three things to have a chance to be a successful trainer. You do not absolutely need to have all three, but the more of them you have, the better chance you have.

  1. A paper attesting of your qualification. This could be a degree in kinesiology or exercise science (best option) or a certification from one of the recognized organizations like the NSCA, ISSA, etc. (JF mentionned a few in his earlier post). Ideally if you bank on this to put your foot in the door having both a college degree AND a cert is the best.

I’ll be the first to say that a degree and certification do NOT make you a good trainer. In fact, it could even make you a bad one if you apply what they teach you blindly. BUT to the general public eye the paper will give you legitimacy as a trainer.

  1. Personal realisations in an athletic or physique field. This could be a very good athletic career (e.g. olympic level athlete, pro athlete in a sport or college star). To be effective as a hook it must be something special though, just having been on your high school football team doesn’t cut it.

It could also be some success competing in bodybuilding, powerlifting or strongman contests. In fact, this is probably better than having been involved in football or another sport.

It could also be having worked with athletes who had success. For example, I started designing programs and training athletes even before I ‘‘officially’’ became a trainer. In Canada amateur athletes don’t have a lot of money and can’t often afford the guys who are already at the top. I trained quite a few young guys who ended up having some success. When I decided to become a trainer I already had results to showcase.

Finally it could be publications. A book or DVD is the best business card you can have. Obviously getting published is hard and book deals are rarely ended out to nobodies. Which is why I self-published my first book. I invested over 30 000$ of my own money to get it published and printed out and distributed it myself. Lucky for me it was a success and it gave me a great business card from the start.

Now with e-books it is much cheaper to publish a '‘book’. But an e-book doesn’t have the same impact.

Writing articles for a RECOGNIZED website (like Tnation) is also a good way to get your name out and can also help a bit.

  1. Having a great physique. A lot of successful trainers have built a clientele solely on the fact that they have a body that most people want to emulate.

The ideal physique to get a lot of clients is lean (the leaner the better, unless you start to look gaunt in the face) very muscular but not ‘‘pro-like’’ in size. To give you an idea, I’m talking about the size of an NFL running back or receiver with 8-10% body fat or less.

At 5’8’’ my ‘‘most popular’’ size was 205 at 6% body fat. Now that my clientele is built I can afford to get up to 220-225, but initially this was too big to bring in a lot of people. Understand that very few, if any, trainer makes money solely on training athletes. Even the top trainers make their money training the general population. And the general population prefer somebody who is not pro-size.

Think ‘‘the physique that most men would like to have and the body that most women would like to f…’’ and you’ll be pretty darn close!

Now, these 3 things will ‘‘get you an audition’’ in that they will attract clients. But keeping your clients (the keep to being successful) is a matter of knowledge, passion and trainer-client relationship.[/quote]

Do they offer the degree in exercice science in the province of Quebec? I was supposed to go to Sherbrooke in Kinesiology next year, but I would like to know if theres a better degree I could do instead.
Thanks ![/quote]

Thank you all for the responses, they are extremely helpful. CT, thank you personally. I’m currently saving a money to get the ISSA certification, and I’m graduating from Uni in two years, but not in Kinesiology. Will this have an impact?

Also, “personal realizations” is your second point. Would a career in the military serve this purpose, or should I start training for competitions?

ddelmast, thank you for the linked articles. I will read up on those as well.

CT, again, thank you for your advice. Hopefully I do well enough to get posted on Tnation so the time you spent answering my question wasn’t entirely wasted.

I got my cert from ISSA and studied ATHLETIC TRAINING in college. Although i graduated college I chose not to finish the degree in athletic training which was a mistake…my university had to cut the program due to a bad economy. So what Im saying is…certifications are great, but to me nothing beats a college education. College taught me so much… I just wish I finished the degree to have more to show for it. CT is right.

[quote]almightyfod wrote:
Thank you all for the responses, they are extremely helpful. CT, thank you personally. I’m currently saving a money to get the ISSA certification, and I’m graduating from Uni in two years, but not in Kinesiology. Will this have an impact?

Also, “personal realizations” is your second point. Would a career in the military serve this purpose, or should I start training for competitions?

ddelmast, thank you for the linked articles. I will read up on those as well.

CT, again, thank you for your advice. Hopefully I do well enough to get posted on Tnation so the time you spent answering my question wasn’t entirely wasted.[/quote]

  1. A degree in a field not related to health will not help you get clients as a trainer. Don’t drop out of school though because your degree could become easier later in life.

  2. Just being in the military would not really rank in as ‘‘personal realisations’’; I’m talking that specifically enhance your status as an exercise expert. If you are responsible for physical training in the military that is another story.

Also, being in the NAVY seals or Marines can help as the average Joe see these guys as training freaks.