Friday, August 19, 2016

How to get a job as a personal trainer

Once upon a time I was a college student attempting to pay for school without taking out a student loan.

I was already working at the university library doing one of the most mind-numbing jobs on the planet: I had to scan the spines of books to check and see if their call numbers, either the Library of Congress system, or the really old fashioned Dewy Decimal system, were in the right order.

By scan, I mean I had to use my eyeballs to look. We didn't actually have scanners from the future or anything.

So I had to run my finger down endless miles of books and check to see if the books were mis-shelved or missing.

Not surprisingly, they often were and it was a regular occurrence to pull a book out and put it two books down or even on other shelves entirely.

Now you'd think that college students and professors wouldn't put books back in the wrong place, but  since they were humans like everyone else, they did. It's just human nature to not care and take something out and then put it right back in the wrong place.

This is normally where I say something like, "That makes for great job security!"

...But that would be completely naive, since even in 1997 I knew it was only a matter of time before people wouldn't even be reading books anymore. Bummer. I still prefer books.

So it was officially a terribly boring job that made your eyes cross... And now I have to wear glasses to see anything. I think the trips to the optometrist and the glasses cost more than I ever made combined working in the University of Washington library system.

By the way, there's a lesson about change in there somewhere, which I'm sure we'll get back to sooner or later and tie in nicely.

Lesson 1:

All jobs and businesses will eventually be obsolete. It doesn't mean you don't take a job that you fear will be going out of style, but it does mean you have to start becoming an innovator and building an exit strategy.

My second job I was doing concurrently with the library job, along with a full class schedule of 20 credits, was working as the janitor for the building I lived in.

My neighbor was a part of the condo association where I rented a unit. He saw me one day and said that the janitor had quit and I made the mistake of saying I wanted to do it. The pay was lousy and the work was tedious, but I did get good at doing my laundry while mopping myself into a corner.

Looking back, I think I would have been fine just getting a stupid student loan, but I guess I was trying to teach myself a lesson.

I had read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, along with a bunch of other financial self-help brainwashing books, and somewhere along the line I got the idea that I needed to earn my keep and stay out of debt and invest while going to school.

So I opened up a Charles Schwab account and socked a little money away over he course of five years or so.

Incidentally, most of the money that I saved in that account came from my Professional theater days that began near the end of college and continued through about 2005. I later cashed out most of it to have a big reception at my wedding, which after the fact, I wish I never did.

Lesson 2:

Most of the time, we spend all our time doing things we hate, to make money to buy stuff we don't really want, to impress people we can't stand (and who are likely talking about us behind our back as I am writing this.)

I needed another job, and since I was studying excise, anatomy, and dance (among other things) in college, I decided to try to get work at a local gym near the college.

I was already lifting weights, and was also taking gymnastics at the time and dancing several hours a day, so I was actually pretty ripped.

How I got my first personal training job

I remember like it was yesterday.

I was a "Walk-by" as was the term written in the guest register to track leads.

A lean gentleman with sandy hair and a hawk-like face greeted me pleasantly enough. It turned out to be the owner.

Interestingly, even though I was right up front about wanting a job, the owner had me fill out the guest register, as if I was a potential clients. I guess it was just really ingrained as a habit.

I submitted a resume, listing my various non-related work experience, and he hired me one the spot.

Perhaps he saw something special in me, and he could smell greatness all over me...

...Nah, he just smelled of B.O., and was desperate to pick up some more front desk help.

Seriously though, I know that I had worked on many skills and was very personable by the time I got to this gym and he probably sent that. Many of the skills and about to outline in this article or things that I had worked on for years and or naturally was able to do without much trouble.

After several months of long hours and learning the front desk bar-tender-like atmosphere, I was watching a trainer who often talked of his days working as a personal trainer in New York City.

In fact, he always talked about it like some long lost fable that he longed to return to on his quest for meaning.

I wonder if he ever did.

I digress... He probably didn't. The only thing he did consistently was sell personal training sessions like a boss, drink big coffees, and hit on Asian women.

He had big muscles too!

I asked him how he got big. He said he never worked out and it was all genetics. I believed him. Later he said he did work out, but he had to do it at a Golds Gym, since he would be interrupted too much in our gym.

I do believe he had a membership elsewhere, but I don't believe he worked out. He was growing a belly, and I think he just wanted the other membership to have access to more Asian women.

...And then one day I learned about the process of selling personal training and how much he made.

$30 per hour?! Wow!

That was way more than I ever made. I was at like eight bucks.

I asked the boss and decided to become a certified personal trainer. There is a little detail here that I need to explain to you because it is rarely discussed.

I didn't even understand it at the time.

When I asked my boss about it, he said "Get certified and let me know." I asked him which one to get. He said it didn't matter to him! He was more concerned with whether or not I had insurance or not.

Looking back, I can totally understand this point of view.

As a trainer, most of us are widely emotional about the topic of certifications. We have strong opinions and are proud of our education and affiliations. We pass judgment on each other and use them as a method of determining a pecking order.

However, to the rest of the world, it is meaningless. The clients don't really care.

For my boss, he was more concerned with the only two things that should matter to a good business owner, namely:

  1. Can this kid make me money (which means can he serve the clients well)?
  2. Will this kid get me sued (which means he is a liability and better have insurance)?

So I got the certification and the liability insurance and I was in business...

Or so I thought.

I quickly realized that being a personal trainer and being an employed personal trainer are two different things, and the main difference is that only one of them makes any money.

I started with the typical strategy of doing floor time and giving free sessions. That produced the occasional paid session, but nothing steady and it was starting to seriously tire me out.

So I started watching he successful trainers, especially the big time New York trainer, and I noticed some patterns.

The first thing that I noticed was that the successful readings were always...

Talkin' and Smilin'

They were always connecting with the clients and greeting everyone in the gym with a great attitude and enthusiasm.

The second thing I noticed was that they all had 


They really listened to their clients and they ended up being more like psychiatrists and less like rep counters.

Another key was that they focused on...

Eliciting desire in the mind and heart of their prospects.

Don't get confused by the big words there. It just means that the well-paid personal trainers also asked them good questions that got their potential customers to start thinking about their health and fitness goals. So they stoked the fire, so-to-speak.

Agitate their discontent!

Once they found out about what the client wanted, they also knew what the client didn't want. The funny thing about human nature, in addition to the strong desire to mis-shelve library books, is that humans are often more motivated by pain than pleasure.

The trainers would use gentle reminders about how bad behavior (I.e. Not training with their trainer) would lead to pain.

Show them the solution!

These successful trainers that not only got a personal training job, but also kept that job and made money were very good at confidently laying out a success plan for the client. They backed it up with testimonials from other clients.

Make offers and ask!

The star trainers always and continually made offers and asked for what they wanted. They had to ask for someone to train with them, and they asked for the sale, and they asked for the money.

Follow through / Deliver

After getting a sale, the successful personal trainers always delivered the goods. They did what they said they would do, even if they had to do it for free. That is how they developed a good reputation and got more clients.

Follow up

Now this is something that only to start trainers did. Most trainers never bother to follow up at all. But the great trainers know that the fortune is in the follow up. The great trainers will make those follow-up phone calls find out how that client is doing, pump them up on Sunday, and follow up with the ones that didn't say yes right away. To the great trainers, "no" meant "not right now." It didn't mean never. Because of that attitude shift, they would follow up and get a yes down the road.

Ask for referrals

The final key that I observed a great personal trainers doing was that they asked for referrals. For the new trainers this was always difficult and uncomfortable simply because they didn't have the confidence to do it. But the great trainers always asked and received referrals.

OK, now you've had to stick with me prattle on about all of these sales and social skills that a trainer needs and yet, I can hear you say:

"I thought this was just going to be about how to get a job as a personal trainer? I mean how can someone expect do all these things and master these things if they haven't even got the job in the first place?"

Well, here's the truth:

You need to begin thinking this way and learning these skills BEFORE day one, so you can even get a job in the first place!

Show you can get clients and everyone will want to hire you!

Remember what I said earlier in the article about change and innovation in regard to the library job I had?

Well, here's where we go full-circle.

Gone are the days when the gym is going to hire a rep counter. Peoples expectations are so high now and everybody has an app to do everything that you can't just stand there with a clipboard and expect to get clients.

You need to be a cut above and that starts with your mental attitude and your willingness to learn new skills.

I've given you the basic skills necessary to get the job. Now you just have to begin working on them and go out there and get started as a personal trainer.

Still not satisfied?


I am going to go even deeper and give you...

17 keys to getting a job as a personal trainer.

And I'm going to do it right now!!!!


  1. Show up. Every day. Early. Most people won't. Enough said.
  2. Already be certified (but maybe find out if they want a specific certification first) when you walk in the door to apply for a job.
  3. Name drop! Find out about the employer first and get to know who they know, as well as what they are interested in.
  4. DON'T be a "Me Monster". Quit talking about yourself and start showing an interest in other people. A sincere interest by the way. Will you do that is by asking a lot of good questions and paying attention to their answers so that you can ask deeper questions. It's not rocket science.
  5. Get a recommendation. Try to get anyone especially someone close to your target prospect i.e. the boss to give your recommendation. If you don't know anybody that they know then get any kind of recommendation. Having someone else tell them that you are great is much more powerful than you telling them that you are great.
  6. Already be training for free. This might make you cringe… But think about any hobby that you've ever had that you turned into something you were great at. You didn't do it for the money in the beginning, you did it for the love of it. There has to be some part of you that enjoys fitness enough that you're willing to do some freebies until you can turn them into paying gigs. If you show a potential employer that you're already doing this for people that makes you look a lot more successful and less of a risk.
  7. Be in shape. This one never ceases to amaze me. There are still people out there that are terribly out of shape trying to tell other people how to be in shape. Just doesn't work.
  8. Be enthusiastic. Enthusiasm makes the world go around. If you can't be enthusiastic, nobody wants to hire you.
  9. Bring energy. Lots of it. The dumping over the top cheerleader. It just means that your positive energy is going to rub off on people including your potential employer. Bosses are so tired of hiring lethargic careless employees that they will jump at the opportunity to get somebody that doesn't have the energy of a dead rock. Trust me I've been an employer and there's so many low lives out there that just want money for nothing that you will stick out like a sore thumb. Well a golden sore thumb.
  10. Be a giver. The Universe is rigged so that you given then you receive. Not the other way around. Potential employers of personal trainers can tell if you're all about the money. And even if they say they're all about the money and they claim that they like that, they probably deep down inside don't want it in their employee. After all they wouldn't want to be taken advantage of. Either way you're better off being a giver.
  11. Have a heart to serve. Show it on day one or even before day one. Find a way to help out before you're even employed.
  12. Help them and contribute before you even get a job.
  13. Prove value beyond a reasonable doubt. This is not just the key to moving up in the world as an employee, it's also the key to starting your own business, the key to a successful career, and the key to successful life. In the back of everyone's minds there wondering if you are a good risk. There's doubts that people have an of mine, but if you prove that you can bring value beyond a reasonable doubt you'll never have a problem making money again.
  14. Follow up. Call text email the boss after the fact and see if you can keep trying even if they say no. Obviously don't to harass them, but ask if you can follow up in six months to see if anything is changed if you don't get the job. By the way, then you actually do need to follow up. Again most people won't do this and therefore you will be at a huge advantage if you do.
  15. Play the numbers game. If you don't get the job hurry up and move onto the next one. You're bound to find one eventually.
  16. Wash, rinse, and repeat. Repeat all of the steps as well as all of the mindset tips I gave you before the steps on a regular basis. Even after you get a job continue the steps to find better jobs in the move up in the world. It's actually a simple and very effective formula.
  17. Don't give up!

Here's the cool thing… Once you've mastered the steps you'll actually be that much closer to being a boss rather than just being able to get a boss. And trust me being the boss has a lot more freedom associated with it so as a bonus step, step number 18…

Next, start your own business

If you liked my lesson here today I think you're gonna like something else even more. I've got a few free resources that are quite valuable and will answer all your questions about how to get a job as a personal trainer. Not only will they help you get a job but they will help you get a better job than you ever imagine. They'll help you to make more money as a personal trainer. Don't help you to start your own personal training business on the side even while you still have a job. And they can even help you to start a six-figure and multiple six-figure income producing personal training business with or without the steroids.

...and get more information today. You'll be glad that you did and I always keep your information private and I promise not to send you 1 billion emails in a day.

No comments:

Post a Comment