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Quick Tips for Starting Out as a Personal Trainer

author image Laura Williams
Laura Williams has worked in recreation management since 2004. She holds a master's degree in exercise and sport science education from Texas State University, as well as a B.A. in exercise and sport science from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Quick Tips for Starting Out as a Personal Trainer
Personal trainers help clients meet their fitness goals. Photo Credit monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images


Personal training can be lucrative and rewarding, but unless you're properly prepared, you might burn out quickly. The reality and the impression of personal training can be two very different things. It's important that new trainers fully understand the personal training business before getting started.

The Papers to Prove It

Selling yourself as a personal trainer won't be as difficult if you can prove to clients that you are certified. Certification says a lot about you; that you're motivated and know your stuff. Choose a reliable program; even one that is nationally recognized like ACE or the AFPA. Also, look for one that emphasizes a code of ethics. Learning how to treat your clients with respect will take you far in your profession.

Prepare to Sell Yourself

Personal training is all about sales. Amy Loomis, a sports and fitness coordinator in Salem, Oregon verifies that her personal trainers don't get paid as high a rate unless they are actually training, and some trainers are paid on straight commission. When you're just starting out, you have to mentally prepare yourself to sell your services every day, even to those who have already turned you down. You will see the same same people working out day-in and day-out, and it can be really tough to continue putting yourself out there. When you hear the word "no," try to think of it as a "not yet." Build relationships with potential clients, learn about their activities and goals, and always emphasize how you can help them meet those goals. You won't turn every potential client into an actual client, but unless you keep putting yourself out there, you'll never succeed in bringing home the big bucks.

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Value Your Time

If you're a trainer who entered the field because you want to help people, you might have to help them with a little tough love. Williams tells the story, "When I was first starting out, clients would always call with one excuse or another and ask to reschedule their appointment at the last minute. I would agree and not charge them for the time. I finally realized: 'hey, when they don't show, I don't get paid' that's when I put a strict 24-hour policy into place. If they didn't call 24-hours in advance, I would charge them for the session." Even though clients are paying for your services, they'll still try to avoid exercise like the plague. Make them respect your time and charge them for a session if they don't show up or they cancel last minute. Just make sure you've communicated your policy clearly before they start their sessions.

Schedule Personal Time

Personal trainers often work early mornings, late nights and weekends to work around their clients' schedules. When you're just starting out, make sure you continue to schedule time for yourself. You may be tempted to work on a Sunday night because you have a client who can only meet on that day, but if Sunday nights are usually your family night, don't compromise. Refer the client to a trainer who is available at that time. You might think, "wait, that was my sale and that's money I won't get to pocket," and you'd be right, but it's so easy to spread yourself too thin. Before you know it you'll be working all hours of the day, seven days a week. Block out time on your schedule for yourself, and don't compromise that time.

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