Skip to Main Content

Personal Trainers

The Job

Remember the first time you ever went to the gym? The weight machines may have resembled medieval forms of torture. So, to avoid the weight training, you stuck to the treadmill. Or maybe you called on the services of a personal trainer. Personal trainers help their clients achieve health and fitness goals. They instruct on the proper use of exercise equipment and weight machines and may suggest diet and nutrition tips.

Fitness trainers devote time every day to their own weight training, jogging, and other activities. They work with clients in a gym, health club, or other workout facility, or sometimes train clients in their homes. They work one-on-one with a client or with small groups, targeting each workout to meet their clients' individual needs. When meeting with a client for the first time, trainers often take a quick history of their physical problems and medical conditions so they can design a safe workout.

In addition to working directly with clients, some trainers promote their own line of fitness products, such as audio recordings, videos, and books based on their experience and workout routines.

Successful personal trainers may choose to specialize in certain areas of personal training. Yoga, dance, martial arts, indoor cycling, boxing, and water fitness have all become aspects of special training programs. Some personal trainers may specialize in helping with the rehabilitation treatment of people with injuries and other physical problems. People call on personal trainers to help them quit smoking, to assist with healthy pregnancies, and to maintain mental and emotional stability. With additional education, personal trainers can become athletic trainers, helping amateur and professional athletes prevent injuries, giving first aid when an injury occurs during a practice or event, and managing the rehabilitation programs and routines of injured athletes. Whatever the problem, whether mental or physical, people are turning to exercise and nutrition to help them deal with it.

Many personal trainers have their own studios or home gyms where they train their clients; others go into the homes of their clients. Because of the demands of the workplace, many personal trainers also work in offices and corporate fitness centers. Though most health clubs hire their own trainers to assist with club members, some hire freelance trainers as independent contractors. These independent contractors are not considered staff members and do not receive employee benefits. The Department of Labor reports that 11 percent of fitness trainers and instructors are self-employed.