If you’re just starting out and find it hard to get a better paying job or higher paying clients due to lack of experience in personal training – here are some tips that work.
Survey Every Gym in Your City and Talk to Personal Trainers
If your city has 200 personal trainers (a small city), then you should talk to at least 20 of them. Show them you’re determined to learn the trade, offer to buy them lunch for their time.
Ask them about the gym they work at, if they are hiring, how they got hired, whether they are independent or they work for the gym, how long they’ve been doing it, what their certifications are, how many hours they work in a day, how many clients they take at one time in an hour and anything else you want to ask them.
You may feel odd asking someone all of these questions, but HOW ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO KNOW?
Personal trainers are very outgoing people. It’s not because we were born that way. The job turns you into a nonstop machine gun social butterfly. You’ll have to raise your voice over the noise of the gym, learn to talk to groups in terms that they can understand and at a volume where every single person hears you clearly. Get over any fears you have of asking someone a list of questions.
And to be honest, if I EVER had someone come up to me with this much of a drive to be a personal fitness trainer, I would have hired him on the spot. Any good personal trainer can take you under their wing and teach you the trade. Be a dedicated and willing student and you’ll have more job offers than you know what to do with.
How I Started Working at the Nicest Gym in Town
Actually, one gym that I worked at had been hiring for a long time. They picked me because I said “I am studying exercise science and I want a place where I can learn. I will learn how to do any of your group fitness classes in addition to training clients.”
They hired me because I wasn’t bringing my own brand or culture to the gym. They wanted a blank slate and they wanted me to be able to absorb and then forward their brand. I didn’t hear from for a while and I guessed that they weren’t interested.
It was a long shot because it was the most exclusive and expensive gym in town. My application had somehow been lost, but one of the owners called several fitness centers until he found the one I was currently working at and asked me to come back for an interview.
They had more “qualified” applicants. I definitely wasn’t bulging with muscles or some walking Adonis. I said the magic words, “I am here to learn.”
Offering Your Services As More Than Just a Personal Trainer
A very effective way of getting clients on the training floor is by offering to take on multiple roles in the gym. I started out as a janitor.
At my first gyms, even when I was training clients regularly, I always had other duties. I held front desk reception when it was slow on the weekends, I helped with cleaning, we were constantly keeping the floor cleaned up of weights and arranging things, I took on the online training side of our facility, I ran our social media marketing, wrote blogs, took photos, etc.
And this is all amazing experience!
If I’m hiring someone, I don’t want them to look at a spill on the floor and think that it has nothing to do with them. A client or coworker could slip and seriously get hurt. The kind of person I want to hire is someone who immediately remedies the situation and then checks everywhere else to make sure that there are no other spills.
That is a responsible employee. If you’re applying to work for a gym, then know that you are becoming a member of the team. Good personal trainers are worth their weight in gold. Once you prove yourself as a personal trainer, they will quickly hire other people to take over your easier duties so that you can take on more clients.
That is the route.
Train People for Free
If you want to work as an independent trainer, or if there’s not a gym around that really clicks with you, start by training people for free.
You can get a lot of experience as a personal trainer by just spending an hour with someone and teaching them a handful of exercises. It is hard at first finding words to describe each exercise. We just know the movements and get good at performing them, but when it comes time to coach it, we start stammering. I know because I’ve done this.
Get through this phase with the comfort of someone you know by training your sibling or a friend.
Or you can just throw yourself in and offer to train the next person you meet. If you’ve got experience with exercising in a gym, a CPR/First Aid certification and pretty much any personal training certification out there, you’ll know enough not to hurt the person you’re training and can give them a decent workout.
Follow through with them to see how sore they are, notice whether or not they are excited to come back or if they are making themselves do it, watch to see if they are achieving their fitness goals and are becoming more proficient at the movements you are teaching them.
And watch your own communication skills increase. Your observation skills will also increase. The more familiar you are with taking on a role of an instructor, the less effort will be involved. The job literally gets easier with time.
Do This To Get a Job as a Personal Trainer
Here’s a nearly guaranteed way to get a job as a personal trainer:
1. Make a list of every gym or fitness studio in the city.
2. Based on what you can find out from the first gym’s website, see how many fitness trainers work there and see what their qualifications/experience are. Make a list of all of the specific names and contact information you can find.
3. Do this for each remaining gym.
4. Start reaching out to the list of personal trainers, whether by email, phone or in person. In person is usually best.
5. Write out a list of questions to ask each personal trainer. Tell them you’re very interested in taking on an introductory position so that you can learn the trade and that you are gathering information on how to best go about it.
Before you’re even done going through the list of trainers, you’ll have a job offer.
Every Gym Needs Another Trainer
Don’t let an idea sink in that the market in your area is too saturated with personal fitness trainers. There are so many people not exercising that you can drum up new business just by pitching a different angle to new people. Just work a little harder.
In addition, personal trainers are usually overworked and are often strapped for quality trainers to jump in and substitute when things come up. Sometimes a trainer wants to take off for a week with his family. What does he do, leave his clients to roam free for a week?
I have always had work for additional trainers, if even to give the regular trainers a bit of a break now and then.
Keep a Log
When you do start to get experience – keep a log.
The more detailed, the better. Key information to have: how many clients you trained, what type of program they were on, specific disabilities they had, and/or any sport specific training.
Think of what a future employer would want to see on your resumé. You’re going to be able to look back and pull from this information and write your resumé appropriately. A career as a fitness trainer could lead you to being an athletic coach, exercise physiologist or a physical therapist. Who knows where you’ll end up and what you’ll apply to.
So, start writing down notable points on your experience gained and put it in a file. It would help to do this with every job because you’ll be writing more than one resumé and having the raw information like this is immensely valuable.
Conclusion – Don’t Give Up
Look, it’s easy to get intimidated by people with huge muscles, perfect figures and expensive cars.
Being a personal trainer isn’t about that – you’re here to learn a trade. If someone isn’t willing to teach you for any reason, just go to the next one. If you get an offer to clean 75% of your time and train 25% of your time, take it. If you’re there a month and the deal ends up being different than the original agreement, quit and move on.
Gym owners are looking for good trainers. Gym owners are looking for new employees who are team members, regardless of their experience in personal training.