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Getting Started In Personal Fitness Training

July 11th, 2006 by Fitness Guardian

Most people drawn to personal training as a profession come from three types of backgrounds – an academic based background, experience based backgrounds or a combination of both.

Academic Focused Backgrounds
Typically have a collegiate physical education or sport science related degree.   

Experience Focused Backgrounds
Typically don’t have a collegiate fitness background (though they may or may not have bachelors or advanced college degrees in other areas) but have fitness related experience perhaps from athletics or their own workout and fitness regimen. 

Combination Backgrounds
They have some type of college degree in a fitness related field and direct experience in training for athletics or a high level of personal fitness. 

No Perfect Background
In my opinion, all of the above backgrounds are acceptable starting points for a successful personal training career.  Though, there may be some who disagree with me. (they usually cite attainment of a bachelors degree in a fitness related field as the minimum of acceptable personal training credential.)

I have hired all three backgrounds and found having a masters degree in exercise physiology does not necessarily translate into being a successful personal trainer.  I have also had exceptional trainers on my staff that did not posses college training in an exercise related field.

I advocate all aspiring trainers, no matter their background attain one of the nationally recognized certifications like American Council on Exercise , American College of Sports Medicine , National Strength and Conditioning Association and Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.  Other certifications are reputable as well.  I would research them based on their longevity, curriculum and testing requirements. 

Advice To New Trainers
Anyone getting started in a fresh endeavor is going to have a fundamental learning curve to master.  Beginning trainers need to build an experience base to apply the art and science of fitness development to the art and science of human relations.  Keep the following in mind as a beginning trainer:

Your Money is More Valuable than Your Time
At this point it’s important to invest your time as it’s not worth as much starting out.  Because you don’t have a full client base, you have plenty of extra time – therefore investing it to learn and gain experience is smart.  

Contrast this with an advanced personal trainer who is booked solid. They have a a different situation where time is more valuable than money.  Until that is you, remember investing your time is the way to make it more valuable.

It boggles my mind that people go into debt for years to attain a college degree where they pay the college for the privilege to develop and learn.  Yet, when they enter the work world in which they have no skills, they now expect to be paid to develop their skills, education and experience.  My advice – give many free sessions.  Save your money.  Invest your time.

Shorten Your Learning Curve
Find a personal training mentor.  Find a fitness professional who has achieved what you want and learn from them.  Knowing them personally is best, but if that’s not possible just study what they do from afar.  Breakdown every aspect of their success and start to apply what you learn.

Remember, the person or people you choose to emulate should have what you already want.  If you want to make $100,000.00 per year don’t take advice from someone who makes $50,000.00.  If you want to evolve to the next level of personal trainer, don’t study someone who is on your level.

Work in a Club
This helps you accelerate your learning process.  You want to be in an environment with access to plenty of people to give free training.  Obviously clubs have an ample supply of people all too happy to let you work with them for free.  A nice benefit is these free workouts have a way of evolving into paying clients pretty quickly as your skills develop.  You might also be hired as a personal trainer at a club right off the bat and get paid while you learn.

Be A Fitness Sponge
Learn everything you can about the physiology and psychology of fitness.  Create your own self-study program.  Hang out in the fitness section of book stores, research topics online, subscribe to magazines.

Set Goals
What do you want to achieve and when?  For new personal trainers this usually means how many clients you want to work with.  Create a plan to help you achieve your goals.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t have all the answers.  At this point in your development the key is to start asking smart questions.  Starting a written plan to achieve your goals puts you on the right path.

Being a new personal fitness trainer is an exciting time.  There’s nothing like the enjoyment and satisfaction you get from helping those first few clients achieve their goals.  Getting your first paying client is the stepping stone to everything else.

   

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