Survey of Personal Trainers

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-26-2004
Survey of Personal Trainers
9
Sun, 09-27-2009 - 4:28pm

Hello Everyone,


I hope you don't mind me dropping by your board. I used to lurk here a lot. I learned quite a bit doing that.


I just began the Exercise Science program at my local community college.


As part of my Introduction to Exercise Science class, I have to do a "Career Project." We needed to decide on 3 possible career paths. I chose personal training, which is the most likely or me at this point, physical therapy and a cardiovascular technician, possibly continuing on to cardiac rehab, paths.


As part of this project we need to do some interviews. I will interview a trainer at the county rec center where I am a member, but I would like more input if I can obtain more. As I said, becoming a personal trainer who works with women around my age (36) and older is my goal at this time.


If you are interested, these are some of the more pertinent questions:


What are the duties of your position?

lorie6-26-09.png Lorie 6-26-09 picture by runningwomen

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Mon, 09-28-2009 - 7:36am

Hi Lorie--I barely work part time but I'll answer what's relevant for me.

What are the duties of your position?

Find clients and train

How would you describe the demands of your position with regard to time involved, pressure, job complexity and people problems?

If you work with a healthy population, the biggest constraint is compliance--you get them one, usually, hour a week and the rest of the time they need to buy into the fact that they need to do more. For me, there's a liability fear. As time involved goes, if you get people back to back during the day, it's ideal but doesn't happen that often. There's enough down time, or odd periods, like I trained someone from 3-4 and then had to go back from 6-7. You get paid for two hours but really five hours are used.

What is a typical day like?

Variable

What is your lifestyle like?

Excellent but it's because I don't work/choose not to work that much.

What kind of training is involved in order to obtain a job in this field?

I have an ACE certificate. Honestly, it's who you know that's important in getting your first job. No one, other than employer, asks your background. Generally, people see you on the floor and decide that way. It can also be superficial--I know people who found trainers because they liked the way they look.

What kind of personal characteristics are required to be successful in this job?

Postive. All the time. Even if you're having a bad day. You have to be on.

What do you like best about your job?

Love working with people. It's like being paid to socialize and do what I enjoy which is showing people how to work out. You set your own hours (although, if you want to make a living out of it, you work around clients and have no choice).

What causes you the most frustration about your job?

I can't do sales. That's the biggest. I'm picky about clients but compliance as I said before is a big part. You can have them work out for that hour but if they make no other changes, they won't see changes. Too many people think they just pay and they'll lose weight.

What are the advancement opportunities like?

None. The next step might be director of fitness but that's a low pay, high stress job and there's only one per gym. If you want to do more, possibly starting on your own would be it.

What advice would you give to a student planning to enter this career area...

Shadow, shadow, shadow.

While in school

Get your name out there.

When entering into the career field

Be on the floor as much as possible, even if it's free or initiations. I'm still starting my career, but I'm not a good one to ask because this is the part I'm worst at--generating clients. And, don't feel bad about charging. I do. When people have approached me, I tell them I'll show them some things and not charge them.

Is there anything else you would like to mention about this field/career path?

If you're an introvert (which I get the feeling you might be), it's hard to be social all the time and "on". If I work too much, and that includes teaching, I REALLY need quiet down time where I can be alone and not talk. I regenerate from that. People who are extroverts seem to build off of that. I love talking to people, don't get me wrong, but I also need quiet me time. I've had to explain to my family that if I'm working a lot (lol, more than 5 hours a week), I don't want to talk at home.











iVillage Member
Registered: 10-26-2004
Mon, 09-28-2009 - 3:40pm

Thank you so much for your input, Jean. This is quite helpful. I'm hoping to get the most input on the trainer career path.


I am not a natural talker like my DH is; that's why he's good at what he does at the bank. I'm better than I used to be though, especially when talking about something I know and/or believe in strongly. I too dislike selling so that will be one of the major frustrations for me. Still, I'm pretty sure training is the path I'll pursue initially.


Career option 2 is physical therapist, but Ive come to discover, through my volunteer experience, that PT may not be for me.


Career option 3 was cardiac rehabilitation, soemthing I just read was a possible path for people in the Exercise Science field. After looking into it

lorie6-26-09.png Lorie 6-26-09 picture by runningwomen

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Mon, 09-28-2009 - 3:50pm

Would you consider being a physical therapist assistant? It's something I'd consider if I wanted to go back to school? You won't have to do sales, like with personal training, either, and it's a quickly growing field, especially with again baby boomers. Being a physical therapist would be great and I have looked into it but it's far more school than I want to do at this point in my life (and more money than I'd want to spend). I've never heard of cardiac rehab but it does sound like there's a lot of potential there, too.

I don't know when you'd start training but right now, clients are dropping because of the economy. Obviously, when times are tough, it's the first thing to go. But, if you're looking for a few years down the road, it'll hopefully be a different situation. This is still a great time to get your foot in the door and start learning.

Also, if you ask fewer questions, you might get more answers from people here. I think it might be overwhelming with all those questions! Good luck, and it sounds like all those fields have some overlap so changing between them, if you decide wouldn't be a complete career change and you'd still have your network in place.











iVillage Member
Registered: 03-15-2004
Mon, 09-28-2009 - 4:30pm

**Note: I work for myself and do in-home training so my job differs quite a bit from that of a gym trainer.

What are the duties of your position?

Provide personal training in the homes of my clients.

How would you describe the demands of your position with regard to time involved, pressure, job complexity and people problems?

It's not terribly demanding. I write new programs for each client every 6 weeks or so. I train between 5 and 8 clients. The job itself is not too complex although the scheduling issue can be a bear sometimes. People can definitely be annoying but the beauty of this job is that I don't have to work with anyone I don't like.

What is a typical day like?

No day is really typical... I usually work between 1-4 hours a day. Plenty of time for working out, grocery shopping, personal time, etc. After having this type of job, I cannot imagine working somewhere 8-5.

What is your lifestyle like?

I try to keep it as laidback as possible (mostly because I'm not).

What kind of training is involved in order to obtain a job in this field?

I have a bachelor's in psych and am certified through ACE. I also did 15 hours of coursework at a local community college.

What kind of personal characteristics are required to be successful in this job?

Like Jean said, you have to be "on" a lot. And being on that much gets more exhausting than you think. It took me a while to realize that although my job isn't too physically demanding, I get awfully tired and that's because I expend a lot of energy motivating clients.

What do you like best about your job?

I like the flexibility of the hours. I like working with most my clients. I enjoy educating people about their bodies and fitness.

What causes you the most frustration about your job?

Probably the lack of respect for my personal time. People don't realize that canceling can make things inconvenient. I do my best to work around them, but it's a give-and-take system. I also have some clients who do treat me like "the help". Granted, those are usually rich people with very little sense of reality and that is just one of the facets of this job. There are also days I feel depressed and I wonder if I can truly pull off Chipper Cheerleader. Although oddly enough, I often find that I feel better after working... must be something to the fake-it-til-you-make it thing. :)

What are the advancement opportunities like?

Ha! None. :) I can raise my rates or take more clients but that's about it. Unless I go back to a gym. There's management of personal trainers but I have already done that. I worked at a gym earlier in my career as both a trainer and as Head Trainer. I found that I liked the responsibility that went along with Head Trainer but it left me not as much time for training. :( I had to cut my client load when I did that and was why I eventually resigned.

What advice would you give to a student planning to enter this career area...
While in school
When entering into the career field

Hmmm. If you have a program for PT at a local community college, I would do it. I would NOT recommend getting any AFAA certifications nor would I recommend doing one of those boot-camp weekend certifications. The trainers I knew with those types of educations were always the weakest as I think it's nearly impossible to get career-ready in a weekend. A BA in Exercise Science would be a great asset but it'll probably take you a very long to make that up income-wise.

Is there anything else you would like to mention about this...

Training is tough to get started in... anyone that tells you different is lying. If this is your sole source of income, I would NOT recommend it. It takes a while to get started and there are ebbs and flows... some months you're rich and some months you starve. Ideally, treat it as supplemental income only (which becomes problematic if you're working in a gym as one of the best ways to get clients is just simply be around - this is hard to do if you have a "real job".)

Hope this helps! :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-26-2004
Mon, 09-28-2009 - 7:37pm

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer the questions. I like, and need, this feedback as I'm considering a few career paths - we have to for this project, but I've learned some things I hadn't thought about previous to the project.


I really would enjoy not having the standard 8 to 5 job, but I can see that building and maintaining a clientelle would be hard. It wouldn't be our sole source of income, unless something were to happen to DH' s job, which we both know is possible in this world. I wonder if I should consider something more stable. Lots to think about.


Thanks again...

lorie6-26-09.png Lorie 6-26-09 picture by runningwomen


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lorie6-26-09.png Lorie 6-26-09 picture by runningwomen

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-26-2004
Mon, 09-28-2009 - 7:42pm

I have thought about being a PTA maybe. The hours would be pretty normal. Even the inpatient physical therapy department at the hospital where I volunteered works from 8 to 5 weekdays. Then the therapists have about one weekend a month on where they do PT on the floors rather than up in the PT gym. That might be the more "stable" path I wonder if I should take. And I do not want to, nor want to pay to, be in school forever.


We were complaining before class one morning, before our Prof had arrived, about the interview part of this assignment. Although it has given me some interesting info, people are busy and don't necessarily have the time to write a book. This is his list of questions with a few combined. I could just ask the big ones though: Best/worst things about the job, etc.


lorie6-26-09.png Lorie 6-26-09 picture by runningwomen

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Mon, 09-28-2009 - 8:43pm
Aah, I wrote a whole post and it disappeared.





iVillage Member
Registered: 03-15-2004
Mon, 09-28-2009 - 10:08pm

Just to add to that... as a former gym employee, I make a LOT more money on my own. If I recall, folks at my gym paid $55 to $60ish per hour session and I made $20. I can charge more because I travel and I get to keep all of it. I don't have a lot of overhead but I do have equipment expenses, certifications to maintain, and liability insurance.

I do much prefer to work for myself although I admit to occasionally missing being at a gym with other trainers.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Tue, 09-29-2009 - 7:40am
Yes, it's so much more profitable working for yourself. I know many trainer who've gone that route. I'd only recommend it after working in a gym and establishing yourself, though. It's even harder to get clients that way. Once you have a base, word of mouth is the best way to get new clients.