Health & Beauty

What Does It Take to Be a Personal Trainer?

Dynamic Personal Training is an exciting and rewarding career that allows you to help people pursue and achieve their fitness goals. But before you jump into this rewarding and fulfilling profession, it’s important to understand what it really takes to be a trainer.

Personal Trainer

Personal trainers monitor their customers’ performance to provide real-time feedback and correct exercise technique. They also create customized workouts that take into account their customers’ objectives and degree of fitness.

A high school diploma or GED is typically the minimum requirement for personal trainers, but a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, kinesiology, or other related subjects often leads to better career options and more clients. In addition to the basic education requirements, many programs require students to have a current certificate in Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

A health and fitness-related college degree provides the foundation that personal trainers need to help their clients achieve better physical health. Degrees in exercise science, kinesiology, recreation, and fitness are popular choices because they cover topics such as anatomy, biomechanics, and physiology; exercise programming and assessment; nutrition for fitness and safety; exercise for special populations; and human movement.

An associate’s degree in personal training can also be an excellent starting point for aspiring personal trainers. This program covers the basics of assessing a client’s needs, creating an exercise program, and instructing clients in proper exercise technique. In addition, some associate’s degrees include courses in first aid and injury prevention, which are important skills for any personal trainer to have.

After earning a certification, personal trainers should continue their education by taking continuing education courses offered through their certifying organization or at seminars and workshops that focus on specific niches or topics. These courses often provide a deeper understanding of how to train people and help them develop meaningful industry connections.

Keeping up with ongoing research and health trends is crucial for personal trainers. These discoveries can directly impact the health and fitness industry. By attending workshops and seminars, personal trainers can gain insights into how these new developments may affect the fitness and health of their clients.

Many personal trainers also choose to pursue a master’s degree in their field of interest. In addition to improving job prospects, a master’s degree can enhance a personal trainer’s credibility and the level of service they can offer their clients. A master’s degree in fitness can cover topics such as the science of human movement, sports and exercise psychology, measurement, and assessment. The degree is usually completed in 3-6 months and includes comprehensible study tools that take into account different learning styles.

Experience Requirements

The personal training field is wide open for men and women of all ages who want to help people achieve their fitness goals. They may be aiming for a specific goal, such as building a bikini body for summer, or more broadly seeking to improve their overall health and wellbeing. A successful trainer is able to create comprehensive exercise programs, support clients in their nutrition and lifestyle choices, and encourage them to stick with their plans for the long haul.

As such, it’s important that a prospective trainer have good customer service skills. They also need the physical stamina to stand or walk for several hours at a time, demonstrating exercises and helping clients with their workouts. They also need excellent communication skills so they can discuss workouts with their clients, explain what they mean, and show how to do them correctly.

In addition to having these technical qualifications, a personal trainer needs emotional intelligence to be able to understand and meet their clients’ motivational needs. This is particularly true when they’re working with clients who are pursuing difficult or challenging fitness goals, as these challenges can cause them to feel discouraged and frustrated at times. They also need the ability to build a client list through networking, referrals, or advertising and then retain these clients by offering them regular and consistent sessions.

Most certification programs require that candidates have at least a high school diploma or GED certificate and be CPR-certified before they can take the final exam. In addition, some programs have additional requirements, such as completing certain types of coursework or having specific work experience. These qualifications help ensure that a trainer has the knowledge and technical ability to perform their duties and is familiar with the most current fitness research and practices. They should also be able to adapt their approach to each client’s unique situation, which can vary greatly from one client to the next. Finally, they need to keep up with the latest developments in their field, as this is a fast-growing and changing industry.

Training Methods

Personal trainers may use a variety of methods when they work with clients. They can lecture from prepared notes and provide knowledge to their trainees, or they can conduct a workshop that allows them to interact with the students in person. Some trainers also use role play to help their trainees prepare for specific scenarios in the workplace.

“Most fitness professionals rely on interaction with their clients to help them teach them how to exercise correctly, motivate them to stick to their fitness goals, and develop their overall self-efficacy for exercising,” says physical therapist Julie Khan. In addition, trainers need to know how to help clients identify and overcome barriers that prevent them from exercising.

During workouts, personal trainers keep track of the progress made by their clients, adjusting workouts to accommodate individual abilities and challenges. They also spot their clients while they lift weights and help them with proper form so they do not sustain an injury.

Some trainers offer in-home training sessions, which can be convenient for clients who do not have the space or equipment to work out in a gym. This service can also be cost-effective for those who want to save on gym membership fees.

Trainers can also work with larger groups of people in boot camps or other organized group exercise classes. They can even become authors of books or online exercise instructors who post workout videos on YouTube, which allows them to reach a wider audience.

Many trainers are not only teachers but supportive and enthusiastic champions of physical fitness who encourage their clients to follow healthy lifestyles. They encourage their clients to find support from friends and family and to set a good example by participating in physical activity themselves. They also teach their clients how to make healthy food choices and how to exercise safely. They may also encourage their clients to reward themselves when they meet their fitness goals and to incorporate habitual exercise into their daily lives by scheduling it as an appointment that cannot be canceled. This helps build client loyalty and can increase motivation to continue meeting their goals.


Whether you seek professional certification in addition to or in lieu of a college degree, you want to choose a program that is well-regarded and aligns with your career goals. Depending on the program, you might also have to pay for study materials, student support, and fees for retaking exams.

Most personal training certification programs offer an exam at the end, which you will need to pass in order to gain your certification. The exams can be written or oral and vary in length. You will need to prepare for these by studying course material, taking practice tests, and seeking out professional tutoring if needed.

In order to get a job as a personal trainer, you will need a nationally recognized certification. Most certifications have a program of study followed by an examination and may be offered through online study, on-site workshops, or videoconferencing with a live instructor.

Many certifications have multiple options to help you pass the exam, including free retakes and access to online student forums for support. This is a great option for anyone who is worried about passing the exam. NFPT also offers a trainer guide that covers topics like expected daily routine, income potential, and career options and is included with all of their certification courses.