“HOW DO I GET STARTED IN PERSONAL TRAINING?!?!?” My Definitive Answer To Starting A Career In Fitness ….

Posted on 05. Sep, 2008 by in Personal Trainer Marketing, Personal Trainer Sales Systems

That’s the number one question getting thrown around these days. Instead of skating around the subject, let’s get right to the heart of it.

It seems everyone wants to get started in Personal Training for some reason. It’s the question every guy and gal that’s ever gotten passionate about fitness has thought to themselves at some time. They know fitness is something that comes easy to them, and they know they’d be good at it.

So once and for all, here’s the answer – HOW TO GET STARTED IN PERSONAL TRAINING, all covered in one post! I hope you’re ready for this one, because it’s got a few parts and might get a little complicated (chuckle), but I’m going to guide you through it right now – please perform each step in order:

  1. wherever you are right now, stand up
  2. raise your right hand
  3. put it over your heart
  4. yell in a very loud voice “I AM NOW A PERSONAL TRAINER!”

Congratulations! You’re now officially a trainer! How did that feel? Do you feel any different? Well you should, because that’s all it takes. Unlike most other professions, there isn’t a national regulating body monitoring the standards and qualifications in Personal Training. Although we hear that a certification is a prerequisite, in most cases that’s not even true. You just have to decide and that’s it – that felt good didn’t it?!

Ok, that was the easy part, but part 2 is a little more difficult:

You’ve now got to TAKE ACTION!

Ahhhh, you didn’t like that part did you? it’s not as easy is it? Maybe you were expecting a job offer by now, a guaranteed check, sick days, dental insurance, and a nice retirement plan – no one told you you’d have take action did they? That wasn’t part of the rules!

That’s why training is different – you have to get off of your butt and do something. Nothing happens until you do. The trainers that do take action are shocked by how quickly things progress and the world that opens up to them. Some of these trainers even start writing blogs about it (some better than others).

The ones that can’t get committed and take action bitch and moan about how it sucks – they go for a “safe job”. They represent the majority of the population, unwilling to believe in themselves or take even the slightest amount of risk (btw, these are the people we as trainers are trying to help).

The decision is all you need to get started. From there, as any trainer will tell you, you’re always a work in progress. Personal Training is that vehicle for you to grow as a person – for you to find yourself – to challenge yourself. It’s a path to get you to a higher level as a person and a professional. Is that important? hmmm – let’s think about it:

* Are you planning to become a divorce statistic?
* Are you going to feed the credit debt and bankruptcy statistics?
* Are you planning to feed downsizing and unemployment numbers?

Training isn’t a cure all and I’m not trying to convince you to become a trainer. I’m actually telling you the opposite – make sure you find that career that’s right for YOU.

But if right now you spend 5-7 days a week at the gym; if staying in shape is something that’s always come very easy and naturally to you; if almost everyone you know is in outstanding shape; you get at least 2 fitness magazine delivered to your home; you love reading the journal articles that these magazines often reference for more information …. if any of that describes you, or that’s how you ideally want to describe yourself when it’s all said and done, then you’re probably on the right road.

You’re on the road to be a mentor to other people looking to achieve outstanding fitness. It’ll be easy for you to attract 12-15 high-level clients paying close to $100 per session. You’ll probably enjoy every minute of it and not ever feel like you’re working.

Don’t ask me how a career started allowing us to make very good money off of supervising complete novices on how to exercise. Sometimes it just seems too easy – could this really be a viable career?

If you’re afraid to make the jump into training, that’s probably the question going through your head – is it really a viable career? To explore the subject, you should take a walk.

Your first stop is the closest major chain health-club – you know, a Bally’s, 24Hour Fitness, Equinox – places like that. First find out what they’re charging for training there. Then find out how many trainers they have. Then take a look at the trainers that work there. Ask yourself “Could I do that? Maybe even a little better?”

Then take a walk to the major trainer’s gym in your city. If you don’t live in a major city, you might not have one of these – but if you do, take a look at how many trainers are training out of there during peak hours. Find out how much they’re charging. Ask yourself “Could I do that? Maybe even a little better?”

Next go home and turn on your computer – search “Personal Training” in your neighborhood and look at the trainers and the websites that appear near the top. Look at most of their websites and what they’re offering – again, ask yourself if you think that you could do a little better than that.

The answer in every case should be yes, you can! Once I understood that part, things totally changed for me – that’ll happen to you too. Wherever you are now, just take action – the rest will take care of itself. Here’s the blueprint:

  • get training experience
  • develop a training style and a specialty
  • create an excellent website
  • make a few deals with local gyms
  • dominate your free classified advertising
  • place one local ad (could cost up to $1000)
  • dress well
  • show up on time
  • workout yourself
  • keep learning

Wash rinse and repeat – it’s so freaking easy. Then why doesn’t everyone do it? It’s because they just don’t believe it’s possible. They’re convinced you have to do things the hard way – that you have to go to college for the privilege to work at a shitty job, for a shitty boss, for shitty pay, drive a shitty car, watch yourself get fat, and desperately cling to the first person that can stand you for more than five minutes for the rest of your life (that’s until you get divorced).

That’s not for me and I hope it’s not for you either. Yeah, we’re not talking training anymore – we’re talking about life here. This training thing is so much bigger than that. That’s what our clients are coming to us for. They’re coming to you for life help – they want help to live richer and fuller lives – get yours straightened out first, and you’ll have too many clients to count.

Even though I specialize in training the elite population a lot of times they have the biggest problems:

“I’m a Harvard law grad that allowed my body to turn to shit while I was in school – no amount of money can help me with that. Kaiser teach me to respect my body again and show me what to do!”

“Kaiser – I’m a high level business exec and everywhere I go and everyone I interact with is in outstanding shape – what do they know that I don’t?”

“I’m a doctor and my hours are so crazy that I don’t have the time to stay in shape. And now my body’s a mess and it makes me miserable – help me!”

“Kaiser – I’m a top business exec but I’m getting older and I’m still single. That might be okay for other people but not for me – I demand to look amazing and be at my best so that I can bring the person I want into my life.”

“Kaiser – I’m taking massive action in my life right now to change everything I’m unhappy with, and my body is one of those things. This is my one and only life and I’m not willing to accept things as they’ve been until now.”

These are just some of the underlying messages of my current and recent clients. Of course no client every uses these exact words, but these are their problems. You’ve got to learn to listen to what’s being said under the surface, and then go hard and tackle THAT problem. Use your knowledge as leverage to make change in their lives. Once you know what button to push, it makes guiding and motivating your client much easier.

You know what they’re not saying? No one’s coming to me and saying “hey Kaiser, I’d like to pay you $89 an hour to walk around with me and do exercises at a level that I could do on my own, listen to my problems but not help me with them, and just remind me when it comes to pay you – oh, and I don’t really care if you give a shit or not.”

No one ever says that, but that’s what most trainers hear. You’ve got to learn to get the message behind the words, and get to the heart of what your clients are looking for.

Then you can really be a trainer. This is where most of the people giving and selling advice on fitness get it completely wrong. They encourage you to get out of Personal Training as fast as possible because it’s the worst job in the world. It sucked for them, and that’s why they left and instead went into the advice giving business. And it does suck for most health-club trainers. But instead of quitting, did you every think about trying to get it right? Did you ever think about what allows some people to do really well at it and try to do that yourself? If not, I’ve got news for you – you’re never going to be able to stick it out through the hard times in anything else you try either. There’s really not going to be anything else you’ll find that’s easier than Personal Training, so you might as well get this part right first. You’ll then have the knowledge, confidence, experience, and cash flow to try anything you want – the world is your oyster.

You might not end up a trainer at the end of your journey – but on the road to becoming a successful trainer, you’ll have learned a few lessons along the way. You might end up a gym owner, which really just makes you a business owner. So for that matter you might end up starting a successful business in some other totally different area. You might end up a marketer like so many trainers end up doing these days – and since marketing has almost nothing to do with fitness at all, you might end up marketing in a totally different area. There’s nothing wrong with that.You might chose to specialize even further in fitness and work with high-level athletes, or you might start the next great training facility or franchise, or invent the next fitness product that takes the world by storm.

Wherever this takes you, there’s definitely room for you in this business. Fitness and training isn’t going anywhere – if anything it’s getting bigger and becoming more a part of our culture.

You’ll learn to do what you want, and not be afraid to do it at a high level. You’ll learn to think for yourself and chose a course in life because it’s what you want to do, not because it’s what your parent’s told you to do or that it was the safe choice.

  • You’ll have learned to respect yourself over any other employer
  • You’ll have learned to interact with high level people
  • You’ll understand how successful people think and operate, and what got them to where they are
  • You’ll learn to be part of a real profession and part of a tremendous industry
  • You’ll learn to be responsible and manage and motivate yourself
  • You’ll learn personal marketing skills
  • You’ll learn how to direct others and be a leader

That’s what being a trainer at a high level teaches you. Anyone that’s successful learned these skills somewhere – despite what you think, the people on top aren’t born like this.

Some learned it from their parents – most learned it from their social circle. Others learned it from the demands placed on them – a tough job with a good boss, a good university with good professors, the military, a challenging sport with a good coach, or a mentor.

Wherever they learned it, they learned it somewhere. I didn’t gain this knowledge and these skills until I was well into my twenties. Until then I was working shitty jobs in shitty careers and studying boring, go-nowhere subjects in school. I never pushed out of my comfort zone. I was one of the sheep.

Then on a whim I got into Personal Training. It forced me to talk to people. And because I loved it, I got good at it. And because I cared about my clients, I looked for answers to their problems and learned more. I realized I could do this on my own without the help of a gym. Because I viewed myself as my own boss and as a professional, I sought to make deals with other gyms and businesses, and eventually found my “sweet spot” and established my training practice. I continued to refine the process and raise my rates. And through every phase, I learned to make friends, become a better person, and end up in the situation I’m in now, where I have an amazing lifestyle and never really have to work anymore. I then started a fancy blog to brag about how cool I am (that last part is optional).

So that was my progression. I realize that most of you are starting from a higher position than I was in. A lot of you already have friends which I didn’t. You’re probably already responsible, which I wasn’t. A lot of you are probably already computer savvy, which I wasn’t. You’ve probably know how to interact with other people, which I didn’t. You’re probably already in good shape, which I wasn’t. You probably already have self-respect, which I didn’t.

So things will probably be much easier for you. I’ve seen trainers start HUGE businesses in the same number of years that I’ve been a trainer. Most likely, they were already quality people, got into Personal Training, and were shocked to find “wow, people are really paying big money for this shit!” And boom, in a few years you see them on top earning hundreds of thousands dollars. I’ve interviewed several of these trainers on Super-Trainer and it’s just a tiny sampling of the large number of people making it in fitness.

So that’s how you get started in Personal Training. You get your mind right first, then you take action, and you keep going. You stayed focused no matter how many bad days, bad experiences, or bad people you come across. Because you’re now a part of something – you’re part of something with every other trainer out there. You’re part of the 500 billion dollar health and wellness industry. Where you chose to go from here is up to you.

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06. Sep, 2008

The story about your progression sounds very much like mine. i’ve spent the last few years figuring this stuff out on my own. i’ve watched others make out like a bandit while i struggled. i finally feel like i figured it out and am pumped to really MAKE THINGS HAPPEN now.

you are right, it’s all about deciding and TAKING ACTION. everyone knows what they should/shouldn’t eat, everyone can read a fitness magazine, everyone knows life is more than working 12 days. the ones that DO are the ones that truely become sucessful.

Doug Groce

06. Sep, 2008

Great post, Kaiser.

In most cases in life, it seems like that whole “action” thing is what separates those who make it and those who don’t–not smarts, education, upbringing, etc.


06. Sep, 2008

Another golden post Kaiser.

Nothing and I mean nothing is more powerful than FOCUS. Once you have that AND love what you do, then it is just a matter of time until you acheive whatever you aim for.

Very elegantly stated Kaiser. Yes, I agree with 100% of the value of education vs. doing whatever you, and giving it your best. Working for yourself is always the best choice with or without a degree. Either way, you control your work hours, salary and success and fame. The Personal Fitness industry is a marginally tapped industry, and God only knows there are NOT enough trainers to go around to take care of the fat, unhealthy and infirmed. Be an excellent trainer and market the shit out of your business. I am a firm believer in heavy marketing and public exposure. Never give up and look for the positive no matter what.

I had learned how to become an entrepreneur at age 10, and that hard work and persistence always pays off. I had my own lawn and rotatiller and dog walking service, My 3 biggest customers where William Macy Jr. President of Macy Department Store and May, Jerry Bic, the owners of Bic Pen company and the Chancellor for SUNY Stoneybrook. My hard work and perfectionistic qualities paid off as I acquired numerous VIP referrals from within their social circles. By the time I graduated high school I had a new car, and 40 K to contribute to my college education.

BTW my career as a Physician Assistant for 15 years paid me CRAP compared to the lucrative salary I make now as a fitness trainer.

Kaiser,reading and feeling your passion is very inspirational. I believe you are on a very important crusade, which will handsomely reward you in the long run. Keep pumping out these killer words of wisdom. I really appreciate the time you put into this… Your #1 fan Rivak


10. Sep, 2008

Thanks – I wrote this in a stream of consciousness last week and it just flowed naturally straight from the heart – deep down this is how I feel about Personal Training and what it means to me. It’s done a lot for me. So has this blog, in opening my mind up to new things in this industry. In my attempt to put out quality info and share my knowledge, new things are opening up for me – funny how that works, huh?

bill moore

11. Sep, 2008

Nice job Kaiser, this post sums up the some HARD facts about the “job” and lifestyle needed to be committed to this field. Discipline, motivation and energy are words I live by and preach about everyday !!!

Christina Evangeline

31. Oct, 2008

I have read your ebooks and a few articles on your site and I have a couple questions:
What hours do you work? I have been told that you have to work in the early morning and afternoons.

1) I am not an early morning person, never have been and am just miserable no matter what I do if I have to wake up before 7 or 8. I would much prefer the hours of 8-11 and/or 2-5. I like to workout in the afternoons. How would I make this work?

2) Are you suggesting that new trainers start out independent or do you agree with others that every trainer should start as an employee in a gym, to get that initial experience?

I currently have expirience as an aerobic instructor, but none as a personal trainer. I have had 3 trainers myself, and 2 of them were good. My goal is to train women in weight loss and physique transformation, and as I get expirience, possibly figure competition as well.

Thanks for your help!

Michael D

31. Oct, 2008

This was truly an amazing post. Thank you for writing this, because I am grateful for having read it. You have the exact attitude I have adopted – although Kaiser is talking about personal training in particular here, parts of this article could even be about how to be successful in life. I’m sure every nearly every person who has achieved their own success and fortune in life has the same attitude as this man here, and he’s right; the ones that do average are the ones who play it safe all their lives.


01. Nov, 2008

Hey Christine – yeah, good questions about schedules – personally, I’m like you – working early mornings is not a possibility for me, no-matter what the money – I usually train at mornings between 10-1 and evenings between 6-10, and I work 3-4 hours on weekend mornings to early afternoons – I’m working a lot of hours these days, but I end up with 2 and occasionally 3 days off a week –

How do you make it work? You just say these are your hours, and that’s that – take it or leave it – you can’t accept every client, and you can’t accept hours that don’t work for you – if you set boundaries on who you accept and what hours you train, they’ll respect you more for it –

Easier said than done right? It comes to having choice – that’s from having your marketing handled – working to get your name out there and get leads coming into your pipeline, which you’ll see described in the web-report (in the services section) and in a new post I’m working on – remember you only need about 12-15 clients for a thriving practice – the referrals and spontaneous new leads you develop will actually leave you over-booked if you’re doing your job right –

Speaking of which, you’re own personal credibility plays a big part in that – that’s one of the major purposes of this site – how much do you believe in your services and their value? How do you come across to others? Are you a professional on par with, or better yet, ABOVE the other professionals these individuals deal with day to day? Pay attention to these things – these are the personality points that once you’ve mastered, you make your own rules –

Yeah, that experience you already have helps – you have to get it somewhere – a gym environment is a structured, quick and dirty way to get it, but if you’re motivated it’s not mandatory – no matter what, you’re going to have to learn to sell expensive training to clients, and get comfortable with training them – a gym environment kind of FORCES you to do it, but it’s not like playing with house money – the client still pays the same amount, even though you keep less – so if you have it in you, in my opinion you can bypass this step, although I know few trainers who have –

Hey Michael, thanks for the positive feedback – I know I go overboard with the LIFE talk sometimes, but that’s one of the main lessons I’ve learned from this job – I was in a really low place personally, and this profession was the vehicle that pulled me out – I owe it all to Personal Training – everything I’ve learned, responsibility I’ve learned, and people I’ve met are all directly related to this work – and unlike other professions, these are all peak experiences – this is more than just a career – for those that are lacking it, it’s an entire life and lifestyle –


15. Nov, 2008

Another excellent post from you, Kaiser.



15. Feb, 2009

“BTW my career as a Physician Assistant for 15 years paid me CRAP compared to the lucrative salary I make now as a fitness trainer”. – I feel you a 100% on this one soma. I myself am majoring to become a clinical laboratory science nd then I was going to become a physician assistant but I’m so glad I found out about this now!

I like this post because it tells the truth. Of coarse you’re going to have to put in work because it’s your business. How much you makes depends on you only.


02. Aug, 2011

Thank you for this article! It really got me pumped. I have been working in corporate business and almost done with my MBA. I just realized that I don’t want to be doing this for the rest of my life and that I really want to get into personal training! I had some people support me and a lot telling me not to do it, even people who did it for a living. They said they didn’t make any money and the competition is hard, well I feel they didn’t try hard enough and I know I can make it. The classes for certification start in October and it will take about a year to be done. I am so impatiens and I want to start now! Is there anything I can do now to get into fitness world while I get the certification and possible quit my office job? Any advice is welcomed! Thanks!

Sherrie Grennell

08. May, 2012

I’m glad I ran across this article. I have been looking at getting a personal training education and have just become overwhelmed and confused by all of the different schools and certifications. I have pretty much taught myself and designed and implemented my own training over the years after quitting smoking 8 1/2 years ago. I got into the best shape of my life within about 2 years of reading, and implementing my own program from books and articles I have read. I have hit some obstacles…a few injuries, illness and surgeries, over the years, but I keep bouncing back. I’m not in as good a shape as I was a few years ago after a major surgery, but I don’t give up and I am very passionate about wanting to help others transform their lives, bodies, health and fitness. I’m 53 years old and was pretty set on enrolling in the NPTI (National Personal Training Institue), but after doing some research, I got cold feet. (My 1st day of school would have been today)! $5900.00 isn’t a lot of money, but it is a chunk of change for me. I visited Heritage College last night and the cost of their program is almost 15,000.00. I’m not knocking education, but I’m just not ready for that expense right now. Maybe, instead, I can just jump right in and start working on getting an ACE or NASM certification and then work on getting a specialty cert. I agree that you can never stop learning. I have been dragging my feet on this for a few years. Seems I start researching, get confused, and give up. I don’t want to give up on my dream and I’m not getting any younger. There are better things for me than working for corporate America, sitting at a desk in front of a computer terminal. I’m not happy there. I believe that helping others to help themselves is my passion and I know that I can do this. I transformed my own body by reading and implementing, and I know that I can teach and motivate others to do the same. Thank you so much for your article. It has helped me to realize that I need to ‘get a move on’. Thanks again!

T Jones

08. Jan, 2013

This is a fantastic post! I appreciate the wisdom and inspiration…it all boils down to taking action. I’m on it!


23. Mar, 2013

I recently got certified and came across your article when I was jobhunting and looking for tips upon getting starting in this industry… I enjoyed reading this–thanks!


23. Mar, 2013


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