Fitness Business 101: 3 Tips to Get Started as a Personal Trainer
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There are many paths to getting involved in the fitness industry and there are all types of different jobs within this industry to choose from. Personal Training is the most commonly considered job when people think of fitness.
Many people ask me, “Well how did you get started as a Personal Trainer?” and every year when I speak to the San Francisco State University Kinesiology Department I share a few of the key parts of my journey leading up to this point in my profession. I share my evolution from Trainer to Coach in hopes to inspire these students to be more.
So how did I get started?
My journey wasn’t a straight path. It involved many twists and turns which began as a pre med student in the UCLA Physiological Sciences department. Although many of my counterparts wanted to be in medicine, I wanted to work with the human body. I knew that much.
After graduating I tried numerous things; volunteering under an Athletic Trainers, working floor hours at a gym and working as a Physical Therapy Aide.
I got my big break in graduate school while getting my Masters of Sports Management at USF. I was offered a job at a boutique Personal Training facility and it was there that I learned the potential of this industry.
By the time I finished graduate school I was ready to step out on my own. I built my my first Personal Training business with just a few clients and expanded to over 15 before losing passion for it, closing it all down and moving overseas in search of more.
I was re-ignited while traveling and while working with people overseas I realized that I had a power to change the lives of other people. I started another company abroad and began training again; and when I met my wife who is also a fitness professional we decided that our business would do much better in the United States.
So here I am, having started my third fitness business and contracting my services locally in San Francisco.
Enough about me. How do you get started?
Here are my 3 Tips for getting started as a personal trainer.
1. Get some experience. I believe that ethics are important in this industry, and although many trainers will get a job with a company in order to get clients, I don’t ethically recommend this method. However, if you have no experience and zero network, then starting by working with a local gym will give you the experience you need and help you understand some of the workings of the business.
Asking clients to come with you is usually frowned upon, but the truth is that this business is about relationships, and if people have a relationship with you and you decide that it is time to move on and grown, it is likely that some people will follow you naturally.
2. Get educated. Taking the necessary collegiate courses and professional certifications is also important. There are many different certifying bodies out there and it can be difficult to choose from. At the end of the day you want a certification that sets you on the path you want to go along.
Research different certifications and see what they offer. Some of the most prominent certifications are with the NSCA, ACE, ACSM and NASM. There are also many other specialized certs for Sports like Kettlebell Sports (IKFF, RKC & AKC) and Weightlifting (USAW).
3. Take what is useful. Discard what is not. It’s important that you distinguish yourself as a fitness professional. You are uniquely yourself and that is what allows you to set yourself apart from others as trainers. Being like the next guy will not allow potential clients to make a distinction between you and the next.
So then it just comes down to price and the last thing you want is to get into a price war. In a price war, everyone loses.
Find ways to set yourself apart, whether it be through services offered, bonuses, education and certifications, personality or methodology. Do these things and you’ll be well on your way to setting a solid foundation for your Personal Training career.
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