Should You Become a Personal Trainer?

Andrew Props | 28 Mar 2017

So, you’ve been going to the gym for a few years and you’ve been seeing great results.

You’ve read all the forums and articles you can get your hands on.

All your friends come to you asking you to help them put programs together, what they should eat and when or asking you if they really need to do cardio.

You start thinking to yourself, I already do this for free for my friends now, I should just become a personal trainer and actually make money doing this, this will be easy.

That brings up two questions, should you really become a personal trainer and will it really be easy?

Reality Check

Personal training is more than just spending all day in the gym and working out whenever you want; it’s a lot harder than that. At first, it’s all great, you’re living in the gym working out all day and helping people get healthy. Then reality starts to set in. As your client base grows, so do your hours. Below is a picture of my alarms for a typical week.

I’m a personal trainer at one gym and a strength and conditioning coach at another facility. Below is a picture of my alarms for a typical week.

As you can see, I wake up at 3:59 AM (this is my second alarm, my first alarm is set on my iPad across the room for 3:55). I grab a big cup of coffee, a quick breakfast and head out the door by 4:15 AM to be at work by 4:40 AM.

Most of Monday morning is spent programming for all my clients while I am working floor hours in the gym. Depending on the day, I am either working on the gym floor or training clients from 5:00 AM until around 11 AM. Then I head home for a bite to eat and to relax for a little while before my next alarm gets me up in the afternoon to go back at work at my other facility by 3:50 PM, where I train groups of athletes until 8:30 PM. Afterward I head home, grab some dinner and a shower and head to bed, hoping to get 6 hours of sleep before doing it all again the next morning.

You will change with a schedule like this. When I first started this schedule I wasn’t a big fan of coffee, then I started drinking coffee with lots of sugar and creamer and now I drink my coffee black as soon as it’s ready. You make the most out of your time to train because you don’t want to spend any more time than you have to in the gym. Now, I train four days a week and they are extremely efficient workouts so I can get in and out as soon as I can.

Honestly, it’s a little bit easier to do this if you truly enjoy doing this type of work; if you don’t enjoy it, you will not last long.

Turning a Profit

After seeing this you must ask yourself, “do I really want to have a schedule like this? Or am I just trying to make some extra money?”

Turning this into a money-making career isn’t easy because if you’re not in the gym, you’re not making any money; a client goes on vacation, so does your paycheck. Building a consistent client base is the hardest part. If a client wants to train at 5:00 AM then you need to be there, at least at first, to help build that client base and get moving in the right direction. Once you have a client base and a reputation, you have a little more leeway to pick and choose who you want to train and when you want to train them.

Next Steps

You’ve decided this is what you want to do, so what next? Getting certified is the next step in the process. You should go with one of the bigger name certifications; NASM, ACSM, NSCA, PTA Global, etc., because they will help you land a job at a reputable gym. Once you have a job, the clients could really care less who you are certified by; they just want results and they want them yesterday.

You will need to often tell people that what they are asking for is impossible, that they can’t lose 30 pounds by this weekend for their trip to the beach, and once you tell them this, they act like it’s a reflection on you as a trainer. You must be good with people but, at the same time, you have to let them know the (sometimes) harsh truth. For example, they probably can’t lose 30 pounds by the end of the month or bench 3 plates at 60 years old, but you will train them to the best of their abilities. You have to help them realize that having a trainer doesn’t mean they will get all the results they ever wanted, they will just be put in a better position to maximize their results based on their physical capabilities.

The bottom line is, if you don’t like dealing with people you will not do well in this business because dealing with people and making them happy is what pays the bills.

I really enjoy what I do and that’s the only reason I can work the hours I do, day in and day out. It’s a demanding job, but it’s also extremely rewarding.

If you’re just a gym rat, then this job isn’t for you; but if you enjoy working out, helping people and constantly learning, then this job might work for you.

When you enjoy what you do, the clients will come and then, later, the money will come. Don’t choose this job for the money; choose it for what you get to do and then the money will follow.

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Andrew Props

About the author: Andrew Props

I graduated from Lynchburg College in 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Management. I have my Personal Training Certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and have had this credential for over three years. I am also a Level 1 Sports Performance Coach through USA Weightlifting. I played baseball at Lynchburg for two years before injury forced me to ‘retire,’ which is when I found my passion for health and fitness.

While at Lynchburg I completed my internship with the Strength and Conditioning Coach where I worked with numerous sports teams. I worked with men’s and women’s lacrosse, softball, baseball and field hockey. The men’s lacrosse team played in the Division III National Championship Game and the field hockey team won their ninth straight Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) championship.

I have been working at the YMCA for three and a half years as a wellness coach and as a personal trainer for the past two years. Recently I started a group personal training class called, ‘Own The Gym,’ where I actually teach the class how to train.

I am a Sports Performance Coach at Elkin Sports Performance where I work with people in elementary school through college, as well as some adult groups. We do speed and agility training as well as weight training, starting them with the basics and progressing them to Olympic lifts.

I also plan on taking my Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association in the coming months.

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