What Is a Personal Trainer?

Do you have a passion for health and fitness? You may want to consider turning this passion into a full time career in personal training.

Personal training jobs involve leading, teaching and motivating people in exercises, such as cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and stretching. They may work with individuals or groups of all ages and skill levels. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a projected growth of 13 percent can be expected from 2012 to 2022 for fitness trainers and instructors. This growth can be attributed to the fact that many businesses and organizations now acknowledge the benefits provided by health and fitness programs for employees; thus, many of them are providing incentives to join gyms and other health clubs. Baby boomers are also remaining active in order to prevent illnesses and injuries, while younger generations are prioritizing exercise to combat obesity and maintain healthier lifestyles.

What Personal Trainers Do

The National Federation of Professional Trainers describes a personal fitness trainer as being a “fitness professional possessing the knowledge, skills and abilities for safe and effective exercise and fitness program design, instruction and assistance for the purpose of reaching personal health and fitness goals.”

Personal fitness trainers and instructors are expected to:

  • Demonstrate how different exercises and routines are carried out
  • Observe clients as they do exercises and routines, correcting their techniques in order to minimize injury and maximize fitness potential
  • Assess client fitness and skill levels and personal goals and give appropriate, alternative exercises during their workouts
  • Examine clients’ progress and adjust fitness programs as needed
  • Explain and implement safety rules and regulations on sports, recreational and exercise activities, and exercise equipment use
  • Provide information or resources about nutrition, weight control and lifestyle issues
  • Provide emergency first aid as needed

Fitness instructor jobs involve planning and/or choreographing their classes. Some instructors choose to teach pre-choreographed routines. They choose the appropriate music for their exercise classes and create routines for their clients to follow.
Those working for small facilities may be tasked with a variety of duties, including manning the front desk, signing up new members or giving tours of the fitness center or gym. While fitness centers, gyms and health clubs offer a variety of activities, personal trainers and instructors often specialize in only a few fitness areas.

Different Types of Fitness Trainers and Instructors

Personal Fitness Trainers – These professionals work with an individual or a small group of clients. It is the job of a personal trainer to assess their clients’ physical fitness and skill levels, and to help them identify and reach their fitness goals. They can work in fitness centers, gyms, or their clients’ homes.

Group Fitness Instructors – These instructors organize and lead exercise sessions for groups in a fitness center, gym or health club. Activities can include aerobics, stretching, muscle conditioning or meditation. Instructors usually set their classes to music they have selected and choreographed.

Specialized Fitness Instructors – Such professionals teach popular methods, such as yoga or Pilates. They demonstrate how the different moves and positions are done, and observe their clients in order to correct any improper executions of movements and positions.
Fitness Directors – These directors oversee gyms, fitness centers or health clubs, performing administrative duties that include, but are not limited to, scheduling training sessions for clients and forming workout incentive programs. They also choose and purchase fitness equipment to be used in their facility.