If you exercise regularly, then congratulations: You’re already doing better than the majority of Americans. One study found that less than one-fourth of us are moving around enough. If you’re already leading an active lifestyle, then there’s a good chance that you’ve at least thought about working as a personal trainer.
If you like to exercise, it’s tempting to think that’s all you need. After all, if you’re good at working out, maybe you should use your talents to help other people become fitness experts. It’s a nice idea, but it’s usually not that simple. Here are three questions you should answer when deciding whether or not being a personal trainer is the right call.
Do you like people?
This is a big one. You can’t be a personal trainer unless you’re also a people person. That doesn’t mean you have to be the world’s biggest extrovert, but you should prefer working with people rather than going it alone.
It’s not a typical coworker relationship, either. In a standard office, you might collaborate occasionally with the person in the next cubicle over. But personal training is one big collaboration. You’ll be working at a variety of possible locations, including gyms, exercise studios, and even country clubs. All of those locations are places with a lot of people.
You can’t get overwhelmed in a crowd. You also can’t feel like everyone is looking at you and judging you. Chances are, they’re not. If they are, they’re probably admiring your technique rather than judging you or criticizing you. You need to be confident enough to perform your job in front of an audience. Sure, sometimes you may have personal sessions with someone, but there’s an equally likely chance you’ll have to show them the ropes in a building that’s full of other people who are also trying to fit in a workout.
Can you commit to research?
If you’re going to get certified as a personal trainer, then potential clients expect you to bring some level of expertise along with you. If they wanted a random opinion about exercise and nutrition, then they could talk to literally anyone else. There’s no shortage of people with baffling views about how other people should “get healthy.” If you want to teach people how to truly be healthy, then you have to understand what phrase really means.
That means you should look at actual science instead of pseudoscience. Not all ideas are the same, and you can’t look someone in the eye and say that, yes, actually, they should switch to a diet where they can only eat bread crusts and gummy bears. You have to be trustworthy. For instance, if someone asks you about vitamins, you should be able to recommend solid private label supplements that will get the job done without breaking your client’s budget.
If you have some gaps in your knowledge and aren’t sure how to fill, don’t worry. You may be able to take online classes on topics like nutrition. Look for an online learning self-assessment that can tell you if non-traditional classes are right for you.
Are you peppy and optimistic?
There’s no rule that says you have to be as peppy as, say, a cheerleader during the playoffs. But you should have a generally pleasant demeanor. Your presence should inspire people rather than make them feel upset or frustrated.
That’s because trying to change your fitness level can be hard enough without a personal trainer who acts like a drill sergeant. There are some people who prefer that kind of motivation, and most of them can be found in exercises programs that use the phrase “boot camp” liberally. But someone who is paying for you to train them probably wants to be pushed without being degraded. It’s a fine line to walk, but the best trainers figure out how to do early on in their careers.