T Nation

Becoming A Personal Trainer

I know this has been posted alot before, but i am seriously thinking about getting into personal training and thought i would see if anyone can offer any good advice.

As far as certifications go i am kind of leaning towards the ISSA. I want something that will get my foot in the door, but not anything as in depth as the CSCS right now.

I called a local 24 Hour Fitness to see how they pay their personal trainers, as i dont know how that system works. I need to call a few other local gyms as well, but here is what 24 HR told me.

When not training someone you get minimum wage, while you are training a client you get anywhere from $12-24/hr, depending on number of certifications. $12/hr is for no certs, $24/hr if you have the max of three certs. You also get a 20% commission when someone buys an hour of training. Personal trainers are employees of the gym and work a regular schedule.

One of my questions is how people go about wanting to train with you. If someone comes to the front desk and wants to sign up with a personal trainer, does the gym just pair them with whoever is free? Or is it more like a sales type atmosphere, with all the trainers at the gym trying to snag customers as they walk in or are working out.

I need to call a few more places to get a better idea. I live in Portland, OR, and on Craigslist there seem to be regular ads for personal trainers needed.

My other thought was how much does looking the part factor in. At 5’10" 160lbs i am not a big guy. My main activity is Brazillian Juijitsu/Submission wrestling. I train for muscular hypotrophy at times, but also strength endurance, explosive strength, conditioning, not to mention the sparring and skill training. I would not mind working to put on more muscle in the future, its just not my main priority right now. Its hard to be a good grappler and a good weight lifter.

Anyways, as far as looking the part, i dont think anyone is going to choose me to be their bodybuilding coach. I think i could do alot to help the average person get in shape, as well as perhaps eventually some athletes who want to improve their conditioning.

Those are my main thoughts at the moment. I am still not entirly sure i want to persue the PT route, but am thinking alot about it. I want to school, got a BS in Information Technology, and have been working in the help desk field for a few years. It pays the bills, but one can only troubleshoot so many computers before starting to go a little crazy.


Answer this question honestly: Would you hire someone to train you who is tiny?

It doesn’t mean you won’t be able to make a living. But most of the best-paid PTs look like they work out.

Maybe that is how they work, but it is not how I work.

I am not paid if I am not training someone. Point blank, period.

There is no waiting around wage, and I have no regular schedule. I work with those who hire me, at the times they want. If I choose not to take that client, I am NOT paid.

That being said, I make significantly more than $24/hour. I don’t get commisions however. At my place the sales staff handles the selling of PT and feeding me clientele. I also chase my own clientele to jack up my earnings potential.

2006 I took home over $70,000 working only as a personal trainer. But I busted ass, every day, for that money. I had one week vacation, and maybe one day off a week. And that wasn’t every week either.

My spot will NOT hire you unless you are certified. They will not feed you clientele unless they believe in you, and you get nothing if you aren’t working.

Being 160 lbs will not help you get or maintain clients. I started at 180 lbs at 6’1 and it was hard. I weighed in christmas eve at 225 at 7% body fat and clientele is coming to me more often now, but this took 3 years of paying my dues.

It is not easy nor a walk in the park by any stretch. Be sure you have the love of the profession, the look, and the ability to stick it out during hard times, and relationship troubles, and all the bad things that come with it before you make that decision.

I have lost lots of quality time with my family, my friends, lost girlfriends due to my schedule, missed out on weddings, parties, all sorts of life’s fun things for this obsession to my career to get where I am now. Do not take this choice lightly at all. Most PT’s burn out or quit within the first year because they get into it thinking it is easy money for telling people what to do and looking good. It is not that at all.

That being said, I LOVE IT. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else with my life. You better have this before you even begin.

Suggested reading (I’m sure there are tons more threads like this too; only I recall)


TrainerinDC has spoken yet again with 100% truth on the subject. Kudos on the great post DC.

OP, take his advice, this career choice is not a light one. It’s not a cake walk.

Thanks for the honest advice guys. I realize this is something i need to think long and hard about before i commit to it, in addition to putting on some muscle.