Personal trainers

Hey any and all of you t-mag addicts that are now or have been personal trainers, I have a question for you. I am asking you guys because if you read T-mag then you are definitely a cut above the rest of the trainers I have ever met. Here’s my problem/question, I am kinda discontent with my current job, I am also a full time student. I guess my question is, should I give personal training a shot? My current job is easy, and pays OK. It is just kinda boring, and I have limited contact with people. However, it is very low stress and I get to read and surf the net alot. I have a pretty decent knowledge of exercise principles of what works, what doesn’t and I design workouts for my frinds alot, those who stick with them are allways satisfied with the results. I have about 3 years of experience with sports training, and 3 years of weight training. I could easily pick up a certification, and there are gyms in my area that probably don’t even require certs to begin with anyway. Now as far as what I can expect getting started at a gym. I was curious as to how much I can expect to make, and if it was a job worth doing while going to school. Or is it kinda lame and totally fake and sales oriented to the point that you find yourself feeling like a shmuck at times? The trainers I have met at the local gyms definitely come off as shmucks. Your input would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.

How much you get paid depends a lot on what part of the country youre training in. Its also a good idea to get a good education and lots of experience. A certification with a good reputation is a good idea as well. The more experience and education you have down on paper the better off you are. Even if you do know more than people who have that you may not be taken seriously. Hope that helps

There is no way that I can ever tell you if a profession/job was “worth doing” while you are going to school. Being a personal trainer is all dependent upon what you want to make of it. If you realize that the certification is not the “end all” and that it signifies the beginning of a life-long learning process - where yes, you can also learn from your clients - than personal/fitness training would be a enriching experience for you.

Your fees are all dependent on whether you are "inhouse" (gym employed) or "private" (where you pay a "allowance" to the gym to be able to train your clients). If "private" it would be strongly dependent upon your experience. I strongly suggest you read the article that was on T-Mag about the various certification orgs out there (the link is in the FAQ section). Talk to both the private and inhouse trainers and get feedback from them.

Personal training is not as easy as you would think. Just because you can train with weights doesn't mean you can properly relay that information (proper technique/form) to someone who is NOT at all familiar with weight training AND have that person be able to remember that exercise and the proper form on their next workout - when you're not there. Personal Training is also a business. So, having some-type of business savvy is a plus. Marketing savvy as well.

I found my foray into the "fitness profession" rewarding - and am working on getting recertified to try it again. It is hard work, though - but then, trying to be good at anything you do is hard work. ;-)

I hope this helped.

Letters behind your name will help you get into the door with the general public, so get a good certification. The NSCA and ACSM are the best recognized, but you could try the ISSA. I don’t know how much you will make because it depends on the gym and clientele.

You can definately succeed as a trainer, but that is dependant on what you do. Do a good job and go above and beyond the call of duty and you can make a career of it. On the other hand, you could just be a person's workout partner for the day and never teach anybody anything and you will never get beyond 24hr Fitness.

Do a search. This topic has been brought up before, and there have been some good threads on it.

I’ll relate my experience with a national chain gym (I won’t name any names, but it starts with a B and is very similar to the first word of a song in the production “South Pacific”). You really have three pay scales. First, you have “floor time”, which, as of two years ago, was $6.50 per hour. That’s your basic wage. On top of that, you have your actual “training time” that’s paid at $10, $12, and $15 an hour (for doing something like 8, 12, and 20+ hours a week of actual “training” time). If you’re certified, that goes up to $12, $14, and $17 an hour. Now remind yourself that these are training contracts that are sold through the gym, and they get anywhere from $30-50 per hour, depending on the umber of sessions the client buys. Your job is to not only train them, but to keep them buying contracts. (there’s that schmuck part) My mentality just didn’t fit with that philosophy – my goal was to educate the client to the point where they didn’t need me.

I think personal trainers are either really worth the money or a waste of time. Most personal trainers I saw were just workout buddies who happen to get paid because they didn't really try to teach me anything. They were mostly interested in putting me on a cardio machine (I don't need to pay someone to watch me run, trust me!) or walk me through the circuit training machines. Most of them were reluctant to work with free weights with me. None of them were interested in helping me out with nutrition or anything. Whatever I know about nutrition, I asked other T-men/-vixens and read from T-mag.

But I think having a good trainer can be an awesome experience. My friend had a very knowledgeable trainer, and she loved it so much. The trainer, God bless her, wanted my friend to squat, deadlift, bench, and pull downs (she wasn't strong enough to do chin ups). And the trainer went through my friend's food log to evaluate her nutrition and gave her advice and tips. Trainers like that are worth every penny. I'd gladly pay them $50-60/hr. (Too bad the trainer doesn't live in US!)

Another thing I hate about chain gym trainers -- they're so into sales, I sometimes feel like they care more about selling more sessions than teaching me anything useful. In addition, I always felt like they were not telling me everything they knew about training because they wanted me to come back.

For example, I wanted a trainer to show me how to deadlift. We had maybe 1-2 contracted sessions left. He said, 'Why don't we do upper body, and do lower body later. Oh BTW, do you know that you have 1 session left?"


Stella who no longer hires trainers to do anything...trainers I know at my gym and my previoss gym are good for doing my BF% measurement, nothing more. If anyone knows any good trainer in VA, let me know. I need to hire someone for several sessions to teach me the proper forms for some of the compound movements that I want to try.

Check out your local book store chain. There are a couple of books on the business of personal training. Also check out Charles Poulquin’s website, he is running some kind of intern program.

One good Idea is to try and find a gym that only does personal training. Thats what I do. Im a private contractor and my own boss. I charge what I want and have to give the gym a set amount for usage. Its nice because there are no member fees or anything for the client so they dont feel like they are being slipped hidden fees. Its like getting a haircut. You make an appointment with a trainer and pay as you go.

I suggest a great deal of education! I have been a full time strength coach/ trainer for over 7 years and 6 more before that as a part time business. The most important thing is education…everybody who lifts weights thinks that they can be a trainer. It is much harder than you realize to be excellent at your job…especially if you want to make a living at it. You need to be a business person as well as a knowledgable trainer, if you want your client base to grow. I receive all of my clients through referall becuase of the success that they achieve. If you enter the field do it because of a love and passion to help others not because it is the job of the week.

Let me second two things that were said by Patricia and instrument.

  1. “Just because you can train with weights doesn’t mean that you can relay that information.” This is probably the most important aspect of being a personal trainer. It’s the difference between being a good player and good coach in sports. One of your strengths has got to be the ability to communicate clearly with people. Otherwise you and your clients will wind up very frustrated. when I am training new trainers for the personal training center that I work for, I tell them that they need to know 3 different ways to say the same thing to people in order to get their point across. You have to realize that in many situations you will be dealing with people who are probably not nearly coordinated as you or nearly as aware of their body. This means that instructions that seem clear and would make immediate sense to you, might be lost on them.

  2. “One good idea is to try and find a gym that only does personal training.” I know from working in a place like this that it is a much better environment for personal training than a regular gym. Everyone in a place like this is just there to train, not for social hour. Just look in the yellow pages in your area for personal training studios.

Finally, think about your ability to provide motivation. Your clients will need to have some motivation to come to you but there will be times when you need to get them going! This is also very important for them AND for you, because there are few things more boring and unfulfilling than training an unmotivated client.

Good luck!

Hey all, thanks for the great input. I didn’t mean to come accross like I hadn’t put alot of thought into this allready, I just wanted to get some honest opinions, and info from people that are definitely interested in actually “Training” people and not just selling memberships and sessions. I have a hard time trusting the trainers in my area, they all come accross like total salesmen/women. If I were to get into the feild I would definitely be trying to actually educate and motivate people to improve themselves. That’s the entire reason behind why I got interested in fitness/strenght training. I have alot of friends that get memberships at gyms and quickly lose interest because thier trainers come accross as being insincere and they don’t help them make any progress. It really frustrates me when my friends give up on fitness just because some salesmen suckered them into a worthless contract. I don’t think I am a fitness expert, or weight lifting guru, but I definitely think that I could help people. I have helped alot of my friends reach thier goals, and I find it really satisfying. What I really wanted to know was, does the sales atmosphere ruin the experience for you, and I wanted to see how the income related to my current wage(I am not trying to get rich, just don’t want to take a pay cut). I probably should have mentioned that before. Thanks again for the responses guys, and keep up the good work, you are definitely far better trainers than the ones I have encountered.

This might be a dumb question but, do you think majoring in a ‘Fitness or Sports Medicine’ type curriculum would be better than say, biochemistry or physiology?

I just checked out the other threads on this subject, sorry new to the site. Thanks for the info, you guys rule!


Cool name btw. It reminds me of one of my firm's favorite research analyst groups (Forrester). :)

I think physiology degree's fine. I just don't find English major or Perfomance Music major ... er... fitting for what you have in mind. :)

I think when you start, you may not make a lot of money. You probably don't have any client, etc. But I believe that as you prove yourself and your clients start referring you to their friends, etc., you'll grow as a personal trainer and do pretty well. I don't know how much you make currently, but you may initially have to take the "pay cut" in the beginning. I know that if I didn't want any pay cut, I can never do anything except what I'm doing or go into financial services (like investment banking or private equity). Sometimes you have to decide for yourself what's more important to you: rewarding career or money.

Good luck! :)