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Marsh column: Advice on becoming a personal trainer

By Ester Marsh
For the Salisbury Post
Q: I love to work out and would love to beome a personal trainer. What do I need to do?
A: I am so glad you are asking this question, especially before you spend money to become a personal trainer.
I find out that too many people think that when they get their Personal Trainer certificate people are going to pay them money for training. It is not that easy. However, to make your passion your job, whether it is part-time or full-time, is a true blessing. I know that is how I feel.
One of the things you can definitely expect when you are a personal trainer is that when you are working out, people will constantly interrupt you and ask you questions.
Let me first explain what a personal trainer is. A personal trainer is someone who, at an additional cost to your regular gym fees, will help get you to the goal you are trying to reach.
Personal training has a broad range of possibilities, but I am going to touch on the personal trainer who does weight training.
The majority of personal training at our YMCA include weightlifting. As a personal trainer, you have to have special education and pass tests to get your personal training certificate. Taking the course and and passing a test does not necessarily make you a successful personal trainer.
Being a personal trainer is like having your own business. You have to advertise, you have to be visible, and you have to be flexible enough to show up at 5 in the morning and motivate your client to give it his or her all. They pay you extra to get them in shape or to achieve the goal they set for themselves (with your help of course).
Clients are not going to make an appointment with you just because your name is on the list. You have to work lots of hours (mostly unpaid) to get your name out there and have people pay you money to train them. At our YMCAs you have to be a staff member to be able to do personal training.
We also require our personal trainers to have extra training and have a current certificate of personal training. The following groups provide accreditation:
– American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
– American Council on Exercise (ACE)
– Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)
– Interactive Fitness Trainers of America (IFTA)
– YMCA
Except for personal trainer through ACSM, most of the others are eight to sixteen hour courses which are mostly done over a weekend.
Does that mean that I am a skilled personal trainer when I’ve passed my course after one weekend? I don’t believe so. But with time and research and constantly educating yourself, you are on the right path.
One other extremely important talent you must have is people skills. I don’t care how good you look or how smart you are, if you can’t get your clients motivated AND make them want to come back (and spread the word around about how great you are) you will have a hard time building your clientele. But you doing the research before jumping in tells me you are definitely on the right path.
Contact Ester Marsh at 704-636-0111 or emarsh@rowanymca.com.

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