A personal trainer is someone who helps people meet their fitness goals, including but not limited to weight loss, strength training, toning, or overall health management. Unlike an athletic trainer, a personal trainer does not need a bachelor's degree to work with clients, although the majority of gyms and fitness centres require their trainers to hold general PT certifications.
Clients can range wildly in their physical fitness levels, so a trainer may be introducing one client to basic exercises, helping a second one with a weight loss program, and assisting a third in advanced training goals.
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Trainers will work with clients, either in a small group setting or one-on-one, on their fitness goals, including improving a client's muscular endurance, strengthening a client's cardiovascular capabilities, and increasing a client's physical flexibility. A trainer may also be asked to create or revise specific workout routines for their clients, to achieve extra weight loss, speed, or muscle toning. In some cases, trainers will also help clients with health & nutrition plans, such as recommending a food diary, or working with a nutritionist.
Becoming a personal trainer requires a combination of physical strength and psychological awareness. After all, a trainer may play multiple roles with a client, alternating between coach, mentor, teacher, cheerleader, or even drill sergeant as the situation demands. Outgoing, positive people with an attention to detail and a capacity for improvisation will likely flourish in this career. On the other hand, the strongest person in the gym may not be a good fit for this career, if he or she isn't able to connect with and inspire clients.
Time management and the ability to multi-task are also essential in this career field. A trainer should be comfortable using an organizer to schedule clients.
In addition to general PT certifications, most gyms require trainers to be CPR certified, and be able to run an AED, or an automated external defibrillator. In most cases, a high school diploma or GED is also required.
The look of a trainer's workplace can vary widely. Although the majority of personal trainers house out of a specific gym or fitness centre, some trainers specialize in house calls or even travel with their clients. Other trainers work for large companies, offering customized services to that company's workforce. Still other trainers work within a college or educational arena.
In general, expect to work with a variety of exercise equipment, including free weights or Nautilus machines, cardio machines like Stairmasters or treadmills. Trainers may also be expected to teach or coach their clients through floor work, including stretching, toning, or Pilates work.
A trainer generally dresses in neat, professional clothing that may or may not be workout wear. A tucked-in shirt with a collar and khakis will give you a look of authority in the gym. Trainers who choose to dress in workout clothes should be sure to keep them fresh, neat, and clean. Remember that a trainer presents the image of fitness and health the client wants to emulate.
A personal trainer's pay check can fluctuate greatly depending on where he or she works, as well as the levels of education and certifications the trainer has obtained. The median session rate for a personal trainer is between $25 and $28 an hour, while specialty trainers can see hourly wages of $30 to $45 an hour.
Some personal gyms will hire trainers on as salaried managers, with annual incomes ranging between $40,000 and $60,000 a year. Other gyms offer part-time positions for personal trainers, which allow for greater flexibility in schedule and lifestyle, but pay less as well.
Trainers who have the passion and the time to devote to their business can work full-time for a gym or fitness centre, while simultaneously accepting personal clients on the side. Although that sort of time commitment isn't realistic for everyone, it can help trainers ramp up their incomes considerably.