Patrick Vernon shares his top tips for starting a personal training career.
Fitness fanatics who enjoy nothing more than talking about their passion and advising friends and family on how to eat and exercise well might want to launch a career in personal training. It’s a varied and rewarding career, and one that will bring you into contact with many different people.
To start the journey firstly you have to have some innate skills, but perhaps even more importantly an understanding attitude towards people. Recognise that if you become a personal trainer you will meet individuals of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. There is no point pushing a 60-year-old woman as if she is Usain Bolt, nor is there merit in treating an 18 year old triathlete too cautiously. There will be people who take six months to complete their first press up. There will be those who could achieve far faster results if they gave up chocolate or smoking.
Patience and appreciating realistic boundaries is paramount. That said, don’t ride roughshod over people’s dreams. Athletes such as these incredible disabled sportsmen were probably told on numerous occasions that their ambitions were near impossible, and proved doubters wrong.
Of course, you have to be in good shape yourself. That doesn’t necessarily mean a ripped six-pack and a near record-breaking marathon time, but it does mean a good knowledge of technique, nutrition, physiology and injuries. You must believe in what you preach and live the life, eating correctly, training diligently and perhaps taking nutritional products from a company such as www.fysiqalnutrition.com
Another good idea is to hire your own personal trainer. See how he or she treats you, and how sessions are structured. You might disagree on certain ideas, but you’ll gain that knowledge of being on the ‘other side’ of the relationship.
It’s then time to find a course and/or a gym to set you on the right path. The usual requirements for a personal trainer might include the possession of a recognised qualification in fitness, such as a Level 2 certificate in Fitness Instructing. From there you might choose to move up through the further training tiers, to Level 3 and beyond.
Joining a professional body such as the Register of Exercise Professionals will provide access to advice and specific courses, as well as an introduction to Continuous Professional Development (CPD), a points-based system that rewards continuous training and qualifications and proves you are continuing to progress and follow the latest industry-thinking.
If you intend to set up base or teach from a local gym you may be able to get partial funding. Alternatively, fund the training yourself and search for a job or leisure centre to work at; this might not be the long-term goal but will give you kudos in the initial stages of your career. You should hope to build up a steady client base and people skills.
Soon enough you’ll have decisions to make; do I stick with the gym or go alone, or into a partnership with a like-minded trainer? Do I set up my own gym? Will you carry out lessons at home, or travel to clients’ homes? Do you need to take business skill courses?
The final tip: don’t give up your learning. Talk to experts, attend seminars and classes, read the literature, and add new exercises and techniques to your repertoire. You may wish to specialise, and take extra courses; for example, if you have an interest in a particular sport. Perhaps you would like to work with children, the elderly or disabled, or people recovering from injuries. It’s an exciting career choice and you’ll feel better for it – financially, spiritually and physically.
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