Role of a Personal Trainer

This section of our web site is devoted to personal and professional trainers. Because professional trainers have a significant role as well as personal liability in the fitness industry we believe it worthwhile to publish articles that will help each of us who serve in this role to become better at it and to better serve individual clients.

The basic job of being a personal trainer is to exhort, teach and help people to exercise correctly. In this regard you have the responsibility to educate, motivate, plan and coach your client to help them get the best from their workouts and exercise programs. Whether you design the program or someone else, it is essential that you perform you duties in a professional manner. And not only do you have the above responsibilities to your client, you must also be charged with constantly educating and motivating yourself so the client can have the best there is to offer.

As a rule of thumb, a personal trainer usually has hourly sessions during which clients are helped with their workouts, whether using weights, machines or performing aerobics, walking or flexibility training. During the workout, trainers should monitor and record each client’s progress using methods such as body fat testing, resistance loading, and heart rate levels. This will empower you to give advice about lifestyle changes and more general information about health and nutrition.

Typical job prospects as a trainer range from working in health clubs for chains such as 24-Hour Fitness and others, to corporate clients, spas, resorts, cruise ships, and individuals to name a few. Corporate fitness and well being is a large part of the fitness training industry and many trainers work for corporate firms providing workplace health and wellness programs.

Perhaps the most appealing job as a trainer is to set up your own business as a personal fitness trainer. MyHealthandFitness will be offering you valuable advice in these areas with future articles.

Let’s look at a typical position description and the general responsibilities for a professional trainer:



PURPOSE: To provide a comprehensive one-on-one educational fitness program for members to assist them in achieving individual fitness goals.


As a personal trainer with XYZ health, it is your responsibility to provide a comprehensive one-on-one educational fitness program that promotes health and fitness through realistic goal setting and education. You will strive to produce independent fitness practitioners by providing each with in-depth information on equipment usage, lifestyle management, fitness concepts, general health, nutrition, and ultimately, how to design their own personal fitness program.


All trainers must possess valid certification in a personal training program from a recognized provider or at least a bachelor’s degree in a sport, exercise physiology, or fitness-related field. Trainers without either of these requirements must acquire a certification within six months of hire date. Dependent upon experience, some candidates may also need to successfully complete a practical exam. It would be wise to already have this certification before applying for such jobs since there are so many who already do have these requirements.


  • Each trainer is responsible for tracking client paperwork.
  • Attend all in-service training meetings/seminars/courses.
  • Accurately record client training sessions for payment purposes.
  • Communicate client program progress and/or problems with the appropriate manager.
  • Take pride in each and every client, assisting him or her in every way possible.
  • Conduct personal training sessions within the policies and guidelines established by XYZ health.
  • Be punctual and conduct yourself in a professional manner.
  • Successfully complete and update CPR and first aid training.
  • Maintain personal training certification through continuing education.
  • Maintain personal training insurance.
  • Always go the extra mile. Think about what your client wants and give them basic information in the form of articles and other materials to keep them informed, motivated, and knowing that you care about their well being and progress


  1. Review risk management and emergency procedures established by XYZ health.
  2. Participate in supervisory training sessions and seminars.
  3. Represent the XYZ program on an as needed basis.

Perform other duties as assigned by managerial staff as needed.

As you can see, the role of a personal trainer is considerably more than watching a client exercise. You must be ever vigilant to ensure proper technique, always being the coach, maintain a positive attitude, and a host of other factors.

Do you have what it takes?

Personal trainers must have a multitude of skills. You should be analytical, self motivated, patient, nurturing, persistent, organized, an effective motivator and most importantly a good listener.

You must enjoy working with different kinds of people. While it’s not required to look like a body builder to be a trainer, you should be the example in leading a healthy lifestyle to be a good role model for your clients. If you think you want to go this route or if you are already here read the following:

Choose a Certification – There are many choices of association for getting certified. If you already have an employment location in mind, call and ask them what certifications they require. If you don’t know where you’ll work, take some time to research the web sites of major organizations to find out, how much the certification costs, what the pre-requisites are, if they offer a workshop/exam in your area or a home study program. The most popular certification organizations are: ACE, ACSM, NCSF, NFPT, and ISSA

Obtaining Employment – You should use every resource at your disposal to seek the employment you desire. Examples include networking with friends, clubs and other trainers and using your local phone book. Phone some fitness and health clubs in your area and ask them if they employ personal trainers, what they charge, the typical type of training given and so forth. Ask about availability of jobs and the procedure for filling out an application. Use the Internet, newspapers, fitness magazines and other resources.

Setting Up Your Own Business – If you have never done this please do your homework. It’s not easy and requires lots of research and study. For example setting up your home business requires: choosing a business entity (i.e., sole proprietorship, partnership, etc.), choosing a business name, registering your company, getting liability insurance, setting up your gym (if you’re training from your own home), targeting potential clients, marketing and many other skills. You may wish to go to your local library and read topics about setting up your own business. These can be a big help.

Market Yourself – Once you get things going it’s time to get your name out to the public. This means placing ads, making flyers, developing newsletters, business cards, creating an informational web site or giving seminars to bring in the business. As with any business venture you’ll need to spend a lot of time at your local copy center or have access to a computer, printer, word processing software, papers, pens and other office supplies. You must be prepared to present or discuss your qualifications anywhere you can. As a rule of thumb the more professional you wish to be the greater will be the price you pay. Offering free consultations and seminars is a great way to get people in the door.

Improve Your Skills and Education – Continue your education. If you want to keep your certification and be a great trainer you’ll have to continue to educate yourself. Always seek out and separate fact from hype, you owe it to your client. Don’t believe everything you read because many times it may not be totally accurate. Most organizations require a certain number of hours to complete during a 1- or 2-year period. There are some companies whose sole job is to offer you continuing education courses. These include Body Basics, Desert Southwest Fitness and others.

Become Indispensable to Your Clients – Being successful at this or any job requires work, talent, skill and experience. Obtaining a certification is no guarantee that you’ll either get clients or more importantly be able to keep those clients. To improve upon your skills, consider joining national organizations and attending personal trainer summits, workshops and seminars. Always network with others in the industry so you can know what’s new and to exchange ideas. Find out what others are doing to keep their clients interested in exercise.

Other Options – You don’t have to work in a gym or even work for yourself. Personal trainers work in all kinds of different areas such as corporate fitness, cruises, resorts, spas, online training and more.

Becoming a Professional Trainer – Dr. Tindall feels that you don’t progress from personal to professional status until you have had at least 7-10 years experience in the training profession. Only experience can teach you what books and classes cannot. Being a professional trainer means you have mastered the art and science of training and greater expertise than simply teaching or educating a client about a particular piece of equipment or exercise. It means you can discuss at any level details about nutrition, physiology, the effects of weight load on joints, stability training, all muscle groups, muscle types and what makes each perform and a host of other factors. It means you are as comfortable training a professional bodybuilder as you would be a professional speed athlete and that you know the purpose of every lifting and training technique to get the best performance from each individual.

Ask yourself, “Can I train a bodybuilder, a field and track athlete, a football player and a martial artist equally well for his or her chosen event?” If your answer is no, you are still a personal trainer and you should keep reading this site and pursuing your studies, education, and experience. So, once you’re an established personal trainer there are even more opportunities available to you. You can consider consulting, fitness writing, athletic coaching (with the proper education), group fitness instruction or even opening your own gym. Whatever you choose, you’ll find that being a professional trainer provides everything you love in a job. It gives you flexibility with your schedule, the ability to help others reach their goals, and the satisfaction that you get when you help others achieve what they didn’t know they could. Are you ready for that?

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