Becoming a Personal Trainer – What Skills Do You Need and What’s Involved?

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The fitness market in Australia has been blossoming in recent years. We’ve recently rediscovered the absolute importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and its effect upon our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

To reflect this, demand has increased hugely for personal trainers. We’ve been seeing a 7.5% annual growth rate for the last 5 years, with no signs of slowing down, and faster than gym memberships to boot. If that wasn’t enough, the Australian Bureau of Statistics puts PTs as, on average, a 20% increased career growth compared to other professions.

If you’ve been considering it as an option, there’s never been a better time to start your career as a Personal Trainer. Lets walk through the skills and accreditations you’re going to need.

Your Mindset

A Personal Trainer needs to cultivate a couple of core personal skills while they’re undergoing training. They’re obviously going to have to be fitness minded — it’s possible, but going to be hard to convince a client to take you on if you’re not looking in good shape yourself –  and need to be driven to help others succeed, but there’s also a list of personal and business skills that are necessary for the job:

  • You’re going to need to know how to work with people on a case-by-case basis. Each person has their own fitness goals and methods that suit them, and formulating specific plans will be your forte.
  • If you’re contracting, you’re going to need to be driven.  You won’t be able to sit around and let opportunities come to you until you firmly establish yourself as a practitioner.
  • You’ll need a little scientific acumen. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be required to do quantum physics, but there’ll be a practical  biology component to your training in order to understand the human body.
  • You’ll need to be firm. It’s your job to keep a client accountable for their own outcomes. It’s what they’re paying you to do!
  • You need to want to help people, and to drive them to be a better person. This is why a lot of fitness instructors start off overweight themselves! It’s about instilling the same drive in others.

Be a People Person

In order to be a successful Personal Trainer, you need to be both a people person and business-minded. You need to be able to manage attracting clients, working with them to achieve personal goals, hold them accountable to those goals, and still have the acumen to manage your finances as a contractor.

The vast majority of personal trainers work on a contractual basis. Some are employed by businesses, but the vast majority simply contract themselves to individuals or gyms and to set up clients. This fact alone means that you’re going to be dealing with people on a very common basis to get work and to maintain a healthy client-list — you want people to respect your professionalism, but like any contractor the ability to wow a prospective client and connect with long-term ones helps pay the bills.

On top of this, you’re going to be working one-on-one with clients. You need to know when to push people to work harder, when to hold off, and how to change any unhealthy mindsets they might have built up over the years in how they think about their body or fitness in general.
Last, and certainly not least, you need to be an inspiration. When people come to you, they’re looking to be the best they can be. Being not only in tip-top physical fitness, but also being approachable and charismatic, will inspire people a lot more than being a tough-looking grouch. All together, it’s extremely important to be constantly working on yourself as a people person in order to succeed in the field.

Your Accreditation

In order to be recognised by Fitness Australia — the largest not-for-profit fitness practitioner listing in Australia — as a personal trainer, you’ll need one of the following. Either a Certificate IV in Fitness (some places accept a Cert III),  a Diploma of Fitness, or an Exercise Science or Human Movement degree in specific subject areas.

The ICI Personal Trainer programme is a great supplement to these programs, and can serve as a bridging course towards getting your PT accreditation. You’ll be working with top fitness professionals and our own staff to get you the best outcomes possible, learning the fundamentals of exercise science, biomechanics and anatomy, and with the ability to learn via Distance Learning to your own time specifications.

At the end of it, you’ll receive an Certificate of Completion in Personal Training — great for anyone looking to specialise at the end of their Fitness Certificate, since it also covers specifics to the job title such as developing and delivering a Fitness Programme to others, and how to effectively communicate with clients.