Getting Into Personal Training

When someone asks me what I do for a living, my answer will change based on who it is. If it is someone in social media or entertainment, I’ll say, “I am a full time health and fitness blogger who makes YouTube videos.”

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If they are older or in a position where little info is good like airport security or stranger chit chat, I’ll just say that I am a personal trainer to keep things easy and moving along. It’s an odd feeling not knowing what to say sometimes. I’ve gotten better at selling myself and my channel but self promotion does not come naturally to me.

Usually when I tell the full truth, the next question is how I got into the business or how do I make money. I’m going to focus on the first of the follow up questions today because after reaching out on Facebook for an intern/part time position with SarahFit.com this fall, I was overwhelmed with inquiries. I’m still sorting through those so if you responded – stay tuned! It sounds like a lot of you want some advice or help yourself on getting into the business.

Know What You’re Talking About If You Want To Blog About It

There are a ton of blogs out there today. To separate yourself, you need to know what you are talking about. Being a gym rat is no longer enough, but you need to have credentials behind you to land a brand sponsorship to potentially scale your business beyond a hobby, for this you need equipment as weights and amazon exercise balls which are great for training. If you don’t want to blog full time but just train, having a blog will help you build a following, get more clients and have better PR exposure!

Since my passion is fitness and I nearly majored in Nutrition/Exercise Physiology, I opted to get certified in personal training rather than go back to school to become a Dietitian. I will be the first to admit it was the easier and cheaper route. You do not need a college degree in exercise physiology to become a personal trainer. Yes, it helps but it is not required. I do have my bachelors degree in Communication where I studied broadcast journalism at The University of Delaware. I later enrolled and graduated from IIN, the Institution of Integrated Nutrition, as well.

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Why you should get into personal training

It’s one occupation that continues to grow due to demand. The number of jobs available are expected to grow 13% in the next 7 years. I know many people who have left office 9-5 jobs to go into training for self fulfillment reasons. They love fitness, want to workout at their convenience and want to help other people too. It sounds fun, doesn’t it? This personal training career guide from ACE, the American Council on Exercise, explains the average full time salary of a personal trainer and what the other job duties may include.


The guide also talks about the pros and cons of working for a large gym, in personal homes, in clinical facilities as well as online. There are many different paths and positions to take. I obviously ended up with the online path but dabbled with in home clients and working at a small gym first.

How To Get Certified

To get started down this path, I did a ton of research online! There are many different certifications and each one varies based on study materials, cost, continuing education requirements to maintain your certification, and credibility. The ACE personal training certification course is one of the most popular.

Once you’ve decided what certification to go with, you purchase a package and start studying. I signed up for a weekend review course in Boston which was super helpful but if don’t live near a city holding one, the ACE package offers an even more complete experience with video lectures, flash cards, study guide, practice tests and more at your convenience. Once I felt ready, I signed up to take the test at a testing facility in Cambridge.

How To Land Your First Job

With a lot of hard work, I passed on the first try! My next order of business was to start training clients in person ASAP. I watched my buddy Mike D train clients while I was studying because the books are nothing like the real thing. I highly recommend this if you can afford to do so time wise.

I was offered positions as a newly certified personal trainer at the Equinox Downtown and Revolution Fitness after applying. I chose Rev Fit due to it’s proximity to my apartment at the time, overall appearance of trainer happiness (at that time), and because I’ve always been a small business kind of gal. I’ve never really worked for a big company other than NESN for 6 months. I liked the small community feel of Revolution Fitness.

Personal Training vs Group Fitness

After realizing personal training was more selling than I expected, I started teaching group exercise. I immediately fell in love. Luckily, you can teach group ex with a personal training certification. A group exercise cert if much easier to get actually. I just enjoyed the energy when teaching a group much more but it is a lot harder to do this as a full time job. A personal trainer can be a bit like being a therapist. Some clients are eager to workout, while others act like they have a thousand other places they’d rather be which isn’t fun for anyone. At least with a group, the energy is infectious!

I of course continued to blog throughout my training and it only made my content that much better in my opinion. I didn’t know my YouTube channel would allow me to work online as a career at the time I got certified, but I knew with my fitness background, I would always (and still do) have a fall back position that could pay my rent.

ACE is actually world’s largest nonprofit fitness certification organization. They created the Personal Trainer Career Guide to help you guys understand the many professional opportunities there are in the fitness industry. I didn’t even mention all of them in this post. The best part about being a trainer is working with people to help them reach their goals. My clients are why I still teach. Their smiles and milestones keep me going. A troll on YouTube may derail my happiness but as soon as I see my clients, I’m excited once again because it’s truly a blessing to be able to share my passion for health and fitness for a living. I am certified through ACSM for personal training, but using ACE to study for my prenatal certification.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of American Council on Exercise. The opinions and text are all mine.

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