T Nation

Why not?

Most of us bash personal trainers because many are ACE certified and don’t know their Rhomboid from their rectum. Many give poor, under-researched, outdated and sometimes just plain dangerous advice. I know all this is true - but dang, I love bodybuilding and I’d love to make money at it. My current job is a good job, but I’m already certified as a trainer (ISSA) and I know more about nutrition and training than I do about computers (my current field). Anyone who is out there, who is currently training (and trying to train the right way) could I get some advice? Is there a market for REAL personal training or are my clients going to leave me if I don’t tell them to do leg extensions and munch on celery to watch calories? I’d like to give honest advice, but just like “Merry Christmas Bob” I’m not sure if people want to hear that.

Having done PT for a while (this was about a decade ago, though), I can give you a few pointers. One, look at my advice to Rian on another thread in the Training/Nutrition forum. This is almost always the advice I give to people who come to me, and it works wonders for (politely) separating out those who are really going to stick with training and those who “want to do it” but somehow never seem to have the time, etc. Two, you should try it part-time (in addition to your current job) for a while to see if you can make it work or not. Have some business cards printed up, hand 'em out and see if you get any nibbles. It’s going to depend largely on where you live, though (I was in L.A.), as to whether you have enough people who’ll come to you to make it work. I seem to remember that you live in Kentucky, yes? That might be tough… Three, no matter what, it’s going to take some time to build a client base. But all it takes is getting good results with ONE person, and the ball’ll start to roll. Good luck!

ironbabe, Yes there is a market for “REAL” personal training. I have been training since 1993 and broke-out totally on my own in '95. Since then I’ve been able to make a decent living by doing something I enjoy. I’m not “certified” , but I have a bachelor of science degree in exercise physiology. This is no big deal, since I have seen MANY trainers with the equivelent or even advanced degree who SUCK! In fact, I’ve learned more out of school than I learned in it. Clients will not abandon you if you give them good,honest,true advice and coaching. In fact, quite the opposite; you’ll create clients who will be very loyal and helpful in expanding your business. I personally have several who have been with me for over 5 years. Just be able to back up what you say and do with FACTS and RESULTS. If you do that you’ll start to build a following and be successful.Finally, I noticed in your post that you “love bodybuilding.” I like it too, but pleeeease don’t be one of those trainers who thinks that since they know a little about bodybuilding, that they know how to train everybody. The worst trainers are the ones who think they already know it all. Exercise science is always changing and progressing so there’s always something new to learn and implement into yours and your clients training. Good luck and GOD BLESS.

Thanks for the advice guys. Actually I live in Nashville, TN. I’m not worried about bringing in much money, just doing something I love and doing it well. My husband just got a huge raise and the tiny bit of money I make on my own right now (28,000 a year) isn’t making much of an impact. I’m going to keep working for 6 months to a year and finish my upstairs into a training studio with great equipment. Another reason I want to do this is because I’ve been the “fat housewife” and now I’m proud of how I look. I think ladies seing how I used to look and how I look now, well, they will believe I can help them get there too. I know I don’t know everything, I feel like I will learn the most by training others. I also know that the average person doesn’t want to be a “bodybuilder” , just fit. I understand that I will have to help them reach THEIR goals, not mine.

Ironbabe, there certainly is a market and I like the comments already made. (I’m ISSA certified too). A few things I’d like to add… since you’re serious about your training AND knowledgeable, coupled with the fact that this is income that won’t make or break you … you can have a bit of luxury of going after the types of clients you want (serious ones). For instance, many people in my area think that if you don’t have a leg extension machine and a smith machine that you can’t get a good workout. To some of these people you can show the light, others you cannot. I think it’s important not only to train someone the right way, but also to educate them as to WHY you’re training them in that way … what the movement will accomplish and why it’s better than a machine, if that’s the truth. Personally, I don’t use any machines to train my clients, and may bring in a lat pulldown machine just because I’m a fan of it. I also have them do a lot of GPP stuff (Renegade Style) and it makes it so much more fun than doing 10 sets of 10. But like I said, you know what you’re doing … so once your clients start seeing results, they’ll trust you a lot more. Also, for your female clients… I get this all the time: “I don’t want to do squats because I don’t want to get big…” I think it’ll e extra important for you to educate them that they won’t get big unless they eat to get big especially since you’re a body builder. Most women I know want to be waify and toned, with not a whole lot of muscle mass. GOOD LUCK!

I apologize if I’m stating the obvious, but success as a personal trainer is much more about marketing yourself well than about your training knowledge. I quit the PT game very quickly because I had no interest in doing the things one needs to do to build up a client base. I can say from my limited experience, though, that if you’re serious about training, 95% of your potential clients will just piss you off. It’s HARD to find PT clients who are serious, devoted, and rewarding to work with. That’s the other reason I quit personal training very quickly.