How to become a fitness trainer is one of the most frequently asked questions lately. The growth of the fitness industry, accompanied by the growing demand for good specialists, makes many fans of a healthy lifestyle look for entry points into such an actively growing market. This extremely relevant topic we will discuss right now.
This material is a logical continuation of the first part of a series of articles about what the profession of a fitness trainer really is. In the previous article “Who is a fitness trainer” we reviewed the very concept of a trainer, examined the career opportunities that are open to him, and also learned about the requirements and obligations made by the employer to a potential fitness trainer. Today, we will find out what knowledge, skills and abilities you need to have to get a job in a fitness club. We will discuss plenty of tips and tricks of this profession. Also get ready for busting popular myths that exists among uninitiated people.
Imagine that you wondered how to become a fitness trainer from scratch and set a goal for yourself to get a job at a sports club. The first question that will arise in your mind is “What do i need for this”? Under this general question lies a lot of smaller and more specific ones, such as: what kind of education you need to have, what kind of knowledge you need to obtain, what kind of experience you need to gain, what kind of diplomas or certificates are needed, and so on and so on. Well, let’s try to answer these questions in exact order.
Working out on your own
The first thing you need to have before you set a goal to look for a job is experience. And I mean not the experience of working as a fitness trainer, which you of course don’t have yet. I mean the experience of self-study in the gym, which gives you an opportunity to understand how the club works, what the staff does, how the training process goes, what kind of equipment are there, what does it need for and how does it works. Experience shows that it will be more than enough for you to work out on your own for about 4 to 6 months to master at least a basic understanding of how does this fitness club works and functioning. During this time, all you need to do is to keep an eye on the fitness trainers. How they look, how they dress, how they behave, how they communicate, how they train their clients and how they train themselves, if they train at all. For you, this will be a great help in striving to become a fitness trainer.
MYTH. The overwhelming majority of people believe that fitness trainer should look like an incredible Hulk. In fact, clients are often don’t care about how the trainer looks like (but at the same time, he shouldn’t look ugly). Why? Try to understand one simple thing. Clients come to get the desired result. Who will give them this result, practically doesn’t play a role for them. What really plays a role for them is your knowledge – how you will give the client what he wants from you. If a skinny coach owns this knowledge, and the big and pumped up guy doesn’t, be sure that client will choose not the form, but the content. And this is not a theory, but a real experience. Moreover, experience shows exactly the opposite – the stereotypical thinking of people makes them think that a huge bodybuilder will definitely make them as big, but! Not all men wants to become big, especially women. Therefore, it also happens that a massive appearance can push the client away from the trainer. And this is also real experience.
Working out with a trainer
The second thing that will play into your hands is at least a small working out experience with a skilled person in this craft, which could be your friend, relative or acquaintance, but it would be better if you would work out together with an already employed fitness trainer. You can get from him all the necessary information about the basic principles of building workouts, about the basics of proper nutrition, about various sports supplements and their application, however, not only. Such a person is also could give you lots of advices about how to become a fitness trainer. By training yourself and absorbing knowledge from an experienced trainer, you can understand main aspects of the training process, the features of working as a coach, and what’s the most important – is this profession really interesting for you or not.
TIP. Keep in mind that there is big difference between training yourself and training others. If you are doing it, you like it and it seems to you pretty simple and fascinating, think about the fact that you essentially train only one person that is yourself. In the profession of a fitness trainer, there will be dozens, hundreds and even thousands of clients of different ages, with different goals, different levels of physical development, different characters, with and without injuries, with and without training experience, with mental or physical disorders, violation of the vestibular, musculoskeletal system, etc. In each case you will have to find an individual approach. In each case you will have to write a personal training program with a personal nutrition plan. So, before taking any action, think very closely whether you need this headache at all.
How to obtain the knowledge
If you want to become a fitness trainer, you need to learn this craft properly. And at the initial stage you have two ways to make it happen: to learn from an experienced fitness trainer (what we just discussed above), or to complete a special training course for fitness trainers (or trainers of group classes, martial arts, dancing, swimming, etc.). When you will apply for a job, in the first case, it will be harder for you to prove your knowledge, because there will be no any supporting document. You were taught by a friend. Even if his knowledge is actual and relevant, you can’t expect that employer will believe you. Even if he will, it means only that he wants to give you a chance to prove yourself in the first months of work. In the second case, you are more likely to get a job, because the level of your qualification is confirmed by a specific document. However, experience shows that this document is not always an indicator of the appropriate qualification of the future specialist.
TIP. The active growth of the fitness industry is provoking the growth of demand for specialists. Growth of demand for specialists also provokes the growth of all kinds of schools, colleges and fitness trainers training courses. Nowadays almost every fitness club or every network of clubs offers such preparatory fitness courses. And this is without mentioning the private schools that are educating people, without reference to a specific fitness club. Most of these courses aim to make money quickly in an actively growing market, while completely not taking care about the quality of provided knowledge, what for the graduates in the end equals to a money thrown to the wind. So what’s the solution? The solution for you is to search for proven and reputable schools and associations that have existed for many years, and study there. It also plays into your hands that technical progress allows you to study remotely, for example via Skype, and the diploma will be sent to you by mail.
Specific university education
The considerable part of the future fitness trainers, in search of an answer to the question – how to get into the fitness industry, also think that working as a fitness trainer requires higher education in the field of physical culture. In practice, if you already have such an education, it will be a plus for you in the employment process. Otherwise, the absence of such is not the determining factor in finding a job. The employer, after all, doesn’t know whether you really studied all five years at the university or slept at lectures, skipped them, bribed the exams and somehow got a diploma of higher education. The employer understands this, and therefore doesn’t consider the presence or absence of special higher education as something necessary. It is only a “nice bonus”. For the employer it is important to see not a specific university education, but only the fact that you have it. This shows to him that you are socially adapted and adequate person.
MYTH. Many people also think that employment opportunity is somehow limited by the age. In fact, if you want to officially work as a fitness trainer, all that limits you in this case is the age limits described in the labor laws of your country. In different countries, 16 or 18 years old is the age from which you can officially be employed. It is quite natural that at this age you do not have a higher education. So, how to become a fitness trainer in this case? There is a way out: to complete fitness trainers training courses as I described it previously.
Experience in sports
The fourth factor that plays into your hands is the experience in sports. Why? Well, this is very simple. A person involved or engaged in sports, objectively knows more than others about training process and how it should be built. What is daily regimen and proper nutrition. What is motivation, goal setting and hard work to achieve it. In other words, even a cyclist, skier or swimmer who wants to become a fitness trainer will have a higher chance of finding a job than someone who has never been involved in sports. Even if you are 30, 40 or 50 years old, the very knowledge and experience that you have already took from sports will definitely increase your chances.
MYTH. Often you can hear such a question: should a potential fitness trainer have experience in performing at bodybuilding competitions (including men’s physique, fitness bikini, etc.)? It is absolutely not necessary. Once again, the client comes to the club to get the result. Who will give him this result for him almost doesn’t matter. Having such an experience and medals will certainly raise your credibility, but in practice it is not a determining factor either when applying for a job or when a client chooses a trainer with or without competitive experience.
The fifth factor is the experience of working with people. It is even better for you if it will be experience in sales. In the work of a fitness trainer, a large role is played by communication. The potential trainer should be sociable and communicative and definitely shouldn’t hesitate and be shy. Also in the work of a fitness trainer it is very important to be able to advertise and promote yourself. Every day you will have to constantly convince people that you are the person who will lead them to the result in the shortest terms. That you are better than other trainers, that you know more, have more experience in dietology for example, or you are the only one who have an experience in working with back injuries, or you have successfully prepared athletes for competitions, etc. etc. Communication is the greatest art, which can be learned and mastered only in practice.
So, here is a preliminary conclusion on how to become a fitness trainer. When applying for a job, next five factors will increase your chances: 1) University diploma or certificate of completion of fitness trainers training courses; 2) Experience in visiting gym, understanding how it works and training on your own; 3) Experience in training with a skilled and employed fitness trainer; 4) Experience in any kind of sports; 5) Experience in sales. This is already quite a lot in order to apply for the position of a fitness trainer.
Summarizing this material, it is worth saying that the intention to become a fitness trainer must be supported not only by desire, but also by action to evolve constantly. Read, learn, participate in professional events, thus increasing your level of knowledge and skills. As we have already found out, you will have to work with hundreds of different clients with different goals and different state of health, and only those who constantly devote their time to self-development can cope with such a difficult task. Working as a fitness trainer is more about teaching than about sports. For this very reason, knowledge and the ability to work with people are more valuable here than muscular bodies and experience in performing at competitions.
MYTH. A performing athlete is more effective employee than a non-performing trainer with a physique typical for an ordinary person. Well, we have already spoken about this, but let’s try to look at this question from a different point of view. If a performing athlete cannot connect two words, and not able to transfer his thoughts and ideas to the client, even if his knowledge was great, then both for employer and the client this trainer is useless. He will not earn money and will not be valued by supervisor. At the same time, the same performing athlete with highly developed communication skills will easily attract lots of clients and will earn lots of money. In other words, as you already understood, and as I said before, the work of a fitness trainer is specific by fact that communication skills, knowledge and the ability to sell plays a lot more significant role than the titles and medals.
That’s all for today, folks. In the following article I will tell you about how to get a job of a fitness trainer.
Author – Felix Palmer