Personal Trainers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

If you are interested in health and fitness, you are probably already taking physical education classes and involved in sports activities. It is also important to take nutrition courses. Business courses can help you prepare for the management aspect of running your own personal training service. Science courses such as biology, anatomy, chemistry, and physiology are important for your understanding of muscle groups, food and drug reactions, and other concerns of exercise science. If you are not interested in playing on sports teams, you may be able to volunteer as an assistant. These positions will allow you to learn about athletic training as well as rehabilitation treatments.

Postsecondary Training

While an increasing number of businesses are requiring fitness workers to have a bachelor's degree in a field related to health and fitness, a college education is not required to work as a personal trainer. Some relevant college programs include health education, exercise and sports science, kinesiology, fitness program management, and athletic training. These programs include courses in therapeutic exercise, nutrition, aerobics, and fitness and aging. IDEA recommends a bachelor's degree from a program that includes at least a semester each in anatomy, kinesiology, and exercise physiology. IDEA offers scholarships to students seeking careers as fitness professionals.

If you are not interested in completing a four-year program, many schools offer shorter versions of their bachelor's programs. Upon completing a shorter program, you'll receive either an associate's degree or certification from the school. Once you have established yourself in the business, continuing education courses are important for you to keep up with the advances in the industry. IDEA is one of many organizations that offer independent study courses, conferences, and seminars.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Certification is recommended to succeed as a personal trainer and most gyms require certification to teach at their facility. More than 100 organizations offer certification so it is critical to pick the certification best suited for your career goals. Speak with the manager at a gym you would like to teach at to determine which certifications they recommend or talk with personal trainers you admire to find out which certifications they found most helpful.

The American Council on Exercise, the National Federation of Professional Trainers, and American Fitness Professionals and Associates are just a few of the more popular groups with certification programs.

Most states do not require a license is to be a personal trainer. Some states require a license to use the designation, "certified athletic trainer." In 2014 the District of Columbia passed the Omnibus Health Regulation Amendment Act, becoming the first municipality to require that personal trainers hold a license. It is likely that more states will require personal trainers to be licensed.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Many personal trainers will start out by teaching group classes at a gym in yoga, aerobics, spinning, or weight lifting to gain experience and to build a clientele for personal instruction. Personal trainers should also seek to learn about new trends in the fitness industry.

A passion for physical fitness and knowledge of health and nutrition are the most important assets of personal trainers. You should be able to explain things clearly, recognize progress, and encourage it. Patience and the ability to motivate clients is also critical. You should be comfortable working one-on-one with people of all ages and in all physical conditions.

Those who seek to build their own personal training business will need to develop business skills such as marketing.