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Personal Exercise Trainer Job Description, Career as a Personal Exercise Trainer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: High school and certification

Salary: Median—$25,470 per year

Employment Outlook: Excellent

Definition and Nature of the Work

Personal exercise trainers provide one-on-one fitness instruction to people desiring a program tailored to their specific needs. Trainers evaluate their clients' physical fitness and keep track of their progress. They typically conduct sessions at a health club or a client's home. Clients may request that their trainers travel with them in order to keep up an exercise routine.

Trainers develop programs and choose exercises that provide the optimum results and take into account the activities their clients enjoy. They act as motivators who push clients to their physical limits. If a client has suffered an athletic injury, the trainer may create a special rehabilitation program. Trainers must be able to demonstrate the movements and exercises recommended. They also provide encouragement and support for the client and recognize the client's strengths and weaknesses.

Education and Training Requirements

Education, training, and background of trainers vary widely. Many trainers have a formal degree—either a bachelor's degree in physical education or a master's degree in adult fitness. However, some trainers have a background in dance, nursing, or sports.

High school courses in physical education, biology, psychology, and business will be useful. A future trainer should enjoy physical activity and understand how certain exercises work specific muscles. An understanding of basic nutrition is also helpful to provide supplementary information to a client. A trainer should also be knowledgeable about the variety of exercise equipment being used in homes and health clubs, because this equipment is often used in personal training programs. Involvement with running and sporting associations can provide experience and contacts.

Trainers must demonstrate knowledge of health appraisal techniques and an understanding of motivation, counseling, and teaching in the health and fitness fields. To become certified as a personal trainer, a person may enter a certification program, ideally offered by an accredited organization, and pass practical and written exams. In addition, they need to be certified in adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Personal exercise trainers develop fitness programs and choose exercises that provide optimum results for their clients. (© C. Lyttle/zefa/Corbis.)

Getting the Job

Personal exercise trainers usually work for themselves, or they may be hired by a fitness center. They develop a clientele largely through personal recommendations, advertising, and contact with health clubs.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

The employment outlook for personal exercise trainers is excellent. As long as the public demand for sports and recreation and good health continues, personal trainers will have jobs. Opportunities will be best for those with extensive experience.

Personal trainers may start on a part-time basis with just a few private clients and progress to a steady flow of well-paying clients. As the demand for their services increases, personal trainers can open exercise studios and supervise other trainers.

Working Conditions

Trainers hold workouts in a variety of places, including health clubs, offices, hotels, and private homes. They may use various types of equipment, including treadmills, rowing machines, exercise bicycles, weight machines, free weights, and swimming pools. As business builds, a trainer must be able to schedule appointments efficiently and work under pressure. The one-on-one nature of the job calls for an understanding but firm approach to individual clients.

Where to Go for More Information

American Council on Exercise
4851 Paramount Dr.
San Diego, CA 92123
(800) 825-3636

National Strength and Conditioning Association
1885 Bob Johnson Dr.
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
(800) 815-6826

Earnings and Benefits

Personal trainers receive a median salary of $25,470 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fees increase with a trainer's reputation and experience. Personal trainers may also offer fitness packages for a set fee. These packages may include in-home consultations, a fitness evaluation, a nutrition program, and an initial training session. Because most trainers are self-employed, they must provide their own insurance and benefits.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesConsumer and Personal Services