The Joy of Being a Personal Trainer

The Joy Of Being a Personal Trainer

Now I’m not gonna feed you a load and tell you that being a personal trainer is for everyone and it will fill your heart with happiness and your wallet with cash no matter what.  What I will tell you is that if you love taking care of your body and staying in shape and you find people around you asking your opinion on this exercise or that food you made then you might consider becoming a personal trainer.  And by staying in shape I mean being healthy. And by being healthy I mean strong.  That’s me personally because I DETEST running.  I simply think some bodies are built for running and others, like mine, are not.  Like really not.  I do ride my stationary bike first thing in the morning and that’s all the cardio I do.  Personally I like lifting the weights.  And as I have gotten older I’ve come to realize that the best way to treat your body is to make it strong and healthy.  Lose the need to look like a magazine model.  Shape your body to do the things we need it to do whether it’s pick up our kids and play horsey, or move a couch for a buddy, or play tennis with our spouse, or rake leaves without clutching at our lower backs, and so on.  As the wisdom of middle age hits you realize having good functional strength and maintaining a good yet not horrifyingly strict diet is the best route.  Many people are better than me at calorie counting and living to work out.  Me, I’m all about creating a healthy all around lifestyle with the ability to eat Mexican when I want and hoist a few IPA’s on the weekend.  I do enjoy talking to people about what they are doing for their health and that’s the reason why I became an ACE certified personal trainer a while back.  It taught me the joys of being a personal trainer.  I still get excited hearing what people are doing to either jump start or maintain a healthy lifestyle.   Here’s what I learned when I became a personal trainer.

Share Your Passion And Knowledge

First and foremost the biggest benefit to being personal trainer certified is you get to share your wisdom with folks who are interested in your knowledge of getting in shape or bettering the shape they are in.  If you have decided to become a certified personal trainer you obviously enjoy working out and being in shape.  As such you typically become your own guinea pig trying out new workout routines, diets, lifting techniques, etc.  You learn what works on your body, and what doesn’t.  As you go through this process your own body becomes more and more healthy and typically to the external eye, more in shape.  More appealing.  And when that happens people approach you asking about what you do to get in shape.  Which is all nice and satisfying because hey, someone is noticing your hard work right?!  After you get personal training certified you can share the book knowledge paired with the real world knowledge.  And that feels really good.  It’s nice to be able to tell or show someone something that you know can have a positive impact on their lives.  You know it because not only have you studied it, you’ve lived it.  And that makes what you are saying REAL.  And people can feel that and take notice of it – you care about what you are talking about.  You enjoy sharing positive information with people and being part of helping them work towards a place of better health.  And that is rewarding in and of itself.

Helps You Stay Healthy And Up To Date

One of the cool things about being a personal trainer was it helped me to stay healthy and in shape.  For one thing I had to simply stay in shape since I was going to have people paying me money to help them get in shape.  Second of all I had to stay up on what was the latest news and trends.  Besides reading the monthly newsletter I received from the American Council on Exercise I would also subscribe to a few magazines such as Mens Fitness and a few others.  This gave me a variety of information that could range from the more clinical news and updates of the ACE newsletter to the “real world” applications and what the East and West coast were showing as new trends.  Remember Parkour?  Well, it’s still around.  I would feel a sense of duty to try out a lot of the new exercises and trends.  I did this for myself to see what I thought but also so I could share it with my clients should I decide it was worthwhile working into a new routine.  Plus since you will probably be working with people from a variety of backgrounds and stages of health you get to learn about what is good for different body types, not just yours.  At that time I was most interested in early middle age mens fitness since I was 38 at the time I got my certification.  I worked with men and women, ages 25 – 60, thin to not-so-thin, people who had worked out before and people who didn’t know how to spell the word “weight”.  This forced me to stay abreast of a large data pool of information in fitness.

Turn Your Passion Into Coin

Now a really cool thing about becoming a certified personal trainer is you can actually earn money after you are certified.  You can do this in a variety of ways.  You can work at a gym, either something large scale like a golds or a smaller chain like Anytime Fitness.  There are also many individually owned gyms in Every City, USA.  If you choose to work in a gym this local type is my personal favorite.  After I got certified I checked into a Gold’s Gym and while I don’t remember the specifics it was definitely not for me.  It was a lot of pushing product as well and I was more into the helping other people part.  To be fair I had a full time day gig too and this was my side job at the time so I had a steady source of income, this was more of my passion side project.  I did work one night a week at an independently owned gym and liked that.  After I got off work during the day I went to work training one person from 6-7 and another one from 7-8, one night a week.  I loved it.  You can also open your own gym but that takes some capital money.  You can also simply drum up some clients on your own.  This is what I mostly did and I liked it quite a bit.  This way I got to do as much or as little as I wanted to.  I got some business cards printed up, passed out flyers around my neighborhood, and told friends what I was doing.  After a while I got people asking me and getting referred to me.  I would typically train between 2-4 people at a time, usually 1-2 times a week which I did for several years.  The only challenge was where you would train them.  For me by default we did it at my house because I have a gym set up in my sub-basement with a lot of good equipment and people could just come to my house.  Sometimes I went to other folks houses and brought some of my own training equipment.

A Few Things To Consider

It isn’t all sunshine and roses as you might guess.  Here’s is what I found to be a few of the con’s to becoming a personal trainer:

  • Money ain’t great – don’t do it for a pure cash play because you’ll be disappointed.  Do it to earn some additional cash or you can live off it if you don’t need a lot of income to support yourself.
  • People need you……for a while – what is very typical is people want a jump start to start getting in shape.  They will leverage a trainer to get them pointed in the right direction and many times fall off after that.  Kinda like seeing a therapist when your life is in the toilet.
  • It Ebbs and Flows – similar to people need you, then don’t, it can be quite up and down.  Sometimes it’s very steady but a lot of the time it can be really busy for a while then really slow for a while.
  • You have to be flexible – the very nature of it means you have to be flexible with your schedule.  This is fine if you are single and have no responsibilities, more of challenge when you worked a full time job and are married with 2 little kids like I was.

My Recommendation – ACE – American Council On Exercise

I got certified by ACE or the American Council on Exercise.  After a lot of research I came to the conclusion that this was the best overall option.  Here’s why:

  • Gold Standard – The ACE, along with the NASM, ISSA, ACSM, and the NSCA are the top 5 certifications that will get you a personal trainer job just about anywhere.
  • Cost – Their packages cost from $599 – $899 and that can vary from time to time because they tend to run a lot of specials.  The most popular one is $699 and it’s a bundle of printed and online materials and includes the cost of taking the certification exam.  I’ve included several links here to their webpage where they are offering some great specials.
  • Ease of Use – Most people generally need between 80 – 100 hours of self study to prepare for the exam.  This is typically spread over 3-4 months of study but if so motivated you can cram it in to a shorter period.  When you feel ready, you take the test.  Simple.
  • Resources – besides getting you prepped with great easy to use study materials you get great support during and after.  They have links to places you can advertise your services, liability insurance partners, discount providers, and awesome support on the website and on the phone.

Finish Line

In summary if you have a passion for fitness and health and enjoy sharing your knowledge with others I’d suggest exploring the idea of becoming a personal trainer.  The process is relatively painless and cost effective, you learn a ton, and you can turn your passion into not only helping others but bringing in some additional income.  Like I mentioned previously, it’s not going to make you rich.  But what it will do in addition to putting money in your wallet is it will put some warmth in your heart knowing you are helping others discover the joy and love of fitness and treating their body right.  Remember, working towards being a complete man means working on the two components – the mental and the physical.  And it’s always nice to share your knowledge with others.  Check out the American Council on Exercise ACE certification for personal training – it’s a great way to get into becoming a personal trainer.

All my best,

Mat A.  




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  1. Hey Mat,

    Read the entire article.

    There was a time when I thought about becoming a trainer. At that time I was a gym rat and enjoyed everything about bodybuilding. Particularly the Goal Setting.

    You say things in a way that makes people feel comfortable which is a very good thing.

    Like you the only reason I would consider this is to help people. Most need guidance and it would be gratifying to be part of their progress.

    How long have you been training?

    1. Hi Robert,

      Appreciate you taking the time to read my post and share your thoughts.  I myself still can be a little too structured with my goals but I guess that’s a good thing.  I try to mix up my workouts every 3 months or so.

      I got certified ACE certified 12 years ago and trained folks in one fashion or another for about 6 years.  I don’t train anyone formally now but still find myself offering advice when asked – the love of fitness doesn’t go away!

      Mat A.  

  2. I really love your passion, Mat. And I can totally relate to you. I do something similar. I am a weight loss counselor. I don’t do it for the money. I do it because I know I’m helping others to live longer. It really is about following your passion.

    If someone is passionate about health and exercise then they really should consider becoming a personal trainer like you.

    1. HI Wendy!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I really appreciate it.  It must be really rewarding to be a weight loss counselor.  So many people struggle with weight issues, being able to support them and offer help is a very cool thing.  I think any of us who are passionate about being healthy should share our experiences when asked!  Thanks!

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