guest post: tips on becoming a trainer.

by Janetha on July 25, 2012

in guest posts,tips

hey, guys! i have a very special friend of mine taking over today. paige and i have been blog friends for years and we even met last year at the healthy living summit. she’s a personal trainer by day and blogger by night. today’s post combines the two! enjoy!


Hi meals & moves readers! I’m Paige from the blog, Your Trainer Paige (formerly, Running Around Normal,) where I share workouts, recipes, fitness tips, and nerdy fitness-related studies that I find fascinating, as well as a peek into my personal life.


Today, however, I want to share with you all something different. I’ve been a personal trainer and sports nutritionist for a few years, now, and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. So, I’m going back three years ago before I decided to get my personal training certification, and telling you what I would have told myself – and anyone else who’s thinking of becoming a personal trainer. Plus, Janetha loves lists.

1. Research your certifications.

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Although I’m happy with my certification (ACE,) I admittedly didn’t put too much thought into it. In fact, I opened up a catalog for my local community college, saw they were offering an eight-week course to study to become a personal trainer, and signed up for it. Luckily, it was through ACE, who is nationally accredited.

When researching your certifications, think about how you want to use it. Do you want to work at a gym? Research which certs gyms required. Then see which cert fits you best. My two cents? Go for a cert that’s nationally accredited, like ACE, NASM, ASCM, etc.

2. Decide how you’re going to use your certification.


Are you going to work for a gym? Just use a gym’s space? Open your own studio? Train online? Train in-home? I started out in a gym. However, the gym that I began training at (and still train there today) didn’t consider me as an “employee.” My clients hire me, not me through the gym. This is great, because I get 100% of the profit, however, this also meant I had to think about self employment taxes. Instead of just 1099-ing myself, I got an LLC, which was the most responsible decision for me at the time. Getting an LLC also meant I was clear to train in-home and online, which has been great. However, if you plan on getting hired on as personal training staff at a gym, then your taxes should be taken care of.

3. Make a study plan.


I took an 8 week course, but I studied outside of class. It was just like studying in college, but I also had a full time job at the time. I had to block out times to sit my butt down for hours at a time and study. Just like in college.

4. Shadow a trainer.

At the time that I was studying for the exam, one of my friends was seeing a personal trainer. I asked her if I could tag along on a few of her sessions to get a feel on how a personal training session goes – from rapport, to format, to the exercises completed. This gave me MUCH more confidence when it was time to train my first client.

5. If you get an interview at a gym, ask questions.

How does the gym utilize their personal trainers? Do they push you to make sales? Do you only get paid when you’re training clients? Or do you get paid to be there as well? How many trainers are there in the gym currently? How full are their schedules? What hours would you be working.

6. Accept that your schedule is at the mercy of your clients.

I had SO much trouble with this at first. I’d be at the gym at 5:15 in the morning, and then leave the gym at 7:30 that evening. Now, I have my schedule set so on the days I train early, I finish by 4 or 5 o’clock. And on the days I train late, I don’t start until late either. I also make sure I have one day completely off, to ensure my sanity And speaking of insurance…

7. Get personal trainer’s insurance.

Thank God and knock on wood that I’ve never had to use my personal trainer’s insurance, but the peace of mind is worth the couple hundred dollars I pay for it each year. If, God forbid, anything happened to a client, and they came back to sue, I know I’ll be covered.

8. Don’t be nervous at your first session!

I remember shaking in my pink Nikes before my first training session. To get past this, I thought about trainers I looked up to, and embodied their confidence. It helped me get through the session with ease. Besides, your client is probably just as nervous – if not more!

9. Get more certifications.


Since becoming a personal trainer, I’ve gotten certified as a sports nutritionist, specialized in training clients with Multiple Sclerosis, and am currently studying to get my group fitness certification. More initials = increased marketability ;)

Hope these tips are helpful!


What’s one thing you would go back and tell yourself before starting the current job you’re in?


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Danielle @ Clean Food Creative Fitness July 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Great post Paige! Super informative and as a trainer I wish I had something like this available to me when I was starting out! It’s super helpful!

Paige @ Your Trainer Paige July 26, 2012 at 7:15 am

Thanks, Danielle! :)

Lindsay @ Lindsay's List July 25, 2012 at 7:28 pm

loved these tips!! I’m getting my ACE Group Ex right now too!!

Paige @ Your Trainer Paige July 26, 2012 at 7:15 am

I didn’t know that, Lindsay! Seems like a lot of people have AFAA.

Katie @ Talk Less, Say More July 25, 2012 at 7:53 pm

i LOVE this! I’m actually in the process of looking into getting my personal training cert. I haven’t started yet but I’m definitely doing my research! :)

Paige @ Your Trainer Paige July 26, 2012 at 7:17 am

If you have any other questions, you’re more than welcome to shoot me an email, Katie!

Corrie Anne July 25, 2012 at 8:59 pm

That’s awesome. I’ve been curious about this, and you really laid it out!! I love the more initials comment!!

Heather @ Fit Mama Real Food July 25, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Great tips! I teach group fitness and have thought about getting my personal training cert next. It’s an awesome field to be in :)

eiren July 26, 2012 at 5:54 am

I would probably tell myself to DO SOMETHING ELSE! lol! no, every job is a learning experiencE! THANK you so much for the info!! I would have NEVER thought to research it through community colleges. I want to get my certification but was just overwhelmed on how to go about it!

meg July 26, 2012 at 8:51 am

I like that you went on to get a sports nutritionist (and to train those with MS too!) because sometimes I wonder if trainers have enough nutrition education to write up a good meal plan (I’ve seen some really lame ones). Even though I have zero desire to be a trainer, I thought this was a great post!

Catherine July 26, 2012 at 9:09 am

Really enjoyed reading that, very informative, thank you!

hellonheelshon July 26, 2012 at 9:24 am

This was a well done post. I’ve been wondering how to go about it once I get myself fit. Thanks for the tips.

Ericka @ The Sweet Life July 26, 2012 at 11:10 am

So crazy that I emailed you about this the same day you wrote a whole post on it! Must be fate. Great info, thanks!

Paige @ Your Trainer Paige July 26, 2012 at 1:36 pm

That’s the way I see it, Erika ;)

meighan July 26, 2012 at 12:28 pm

This is AWESOME, I’ve always been very interested in personal training, but was a little nervous about the first step. Thanks for the inspiration! Are these certifications normally done at a college?

Paige @ Your Trainer Paige July 27, 2012 at 5:18 am

Hi Meigan,
I believe you can do any of them as an at-home study. I just took the college course so I could be a bit more prepared.

Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning July 26, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Paige- these tips are awesome!! I recently quit my job as a high school teacher to become a personal trainer, which is my dream! I’ve been teaching group ex classes for four years, but can’t make a full-time gig of that. I haven’t gotten my personal training cert yet- and have put myself on a schedule of trying to get it by early fall. I actually haven’t CHOSEN a cert yet… I will be emailing you if you don’t mind. :)
Your post is so timely!!

Paige @ Your Trainer Paige July 26, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Of course, Lauren! Feel free to email me :)

Kristina R July 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Excellent post! This will be so helpful to me next summer! I’m taking a year off before I start grad school for several reasons, but I’m planning on getting my personal training certification because I would still love to work. Plus it will be useful in grad school and afterwards! :)

Willow @ My Own Trail July 27, 2012 at 7:21 am

Great post! I have been contemplating this route myself, so I really appreciate all of the information. I’m thinking it might be time for a career change…

Janetha July 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Ah I love this post! I am working on my own training certification now, I have a mentor but have not picked any specific accreditation yet.. but thanks for the guidance! You are the BEST trainer out there. I love your new blog name, too :) XOXO

Tara November 10, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Hi Paige and Janetha,

I just found your blog and the timing of the comments were awesome for me as I have just this year become a fitness personal trainer specializing in golf fitness. I am a certified PGA of BC golf professional for the past 23 years, so coaching is not a problem, but new to the coaching of fitness… very excited about it, but great to hear your personal comments of when you started! Helpful and put me at ease a little more :) thanks!

steve December 6, 2013 at 4:49 am

Thanks! You must have turned out to be a great coach, because you’ve inspired me. I’ve thoughtaabout this for years, and I turn 50 next year. Time for action–thanks for the nudge.

Chanell Thurman January 10, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Thank you for this! I have just recently decided to make the move and get my certification. I have done the research and talked to other personal trainers and I am going to go through NASM. I really excited for this new journey and to know that others are having success like yourself makes me even more confident. Great info!

brenda ripple April 24, 2014 at 7:50 pm

I go June 7, 8 and 9 this year to get certified, I cant wait!

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