Personal Trainer  What They Do

Just the Facts


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dotThere is much discussion these days about fitness and related health issues. From governments to schools, everyone is talking about how to improve people's physical health through exercise and better nutrition.

Given this concern, it is clear that personal trainers have an important role to play in keeping the nation healthy. They guide people in improving their fitness levels.

Properly educated personal trainers, "assess physical fitness, provide general lifestyle counseling, and act as a personal trainer in a health-related setting," explains Dr. Kirstin Lane, chair of a group promoting exercise physiology.

In short, personal trainers determine how fit (or unfit) their clients are. They then develop an appropriate exercise program and offer support to help the clients become more fit.

dotMost personal trainers work in a gym or fitness facility. Many make themselves available to work with their client at the client's home, workplace or other more convenient location. Because of the flexible options, trainers' working hours vary and can include days, evenings and weekends.

"You typically work when your clients don't. Early mornings and after regular working hours tend to be busy times," says Neal I. Pire, university-trained exercise physiologist and owner of his own personal training company in New Jersey.

The range of working hours and a casual working environment appeals to both men and women. Personal trainers can work full- or part-time, making it a good profession for those who have other interests, obligations or responsibilities.

dotThis is also a good profession for those with special needs. In fact, Lane believes that there is a growing need for these specialized trainers: "As [our understanding of] the benefits of exercise within special needs populations becomes more mainstream, those clients are seeking out knowledgeable role models who understand their unique situation."

dotOther trends affecting personal training include:

An aging population: Older people are concerned about aging and how it will affect their health. They want trainers to help them reduce their risk of chronic disease.

The rising rate of obesity and associated health problems: Personal trainers play an important role in the battle against obesity by motivating individuals to achieve fitness goals.

Increased focus on preventive medical alternatives: As diseases associated with obesity rise, the focus begins to turn to either preventing obesity or correcting the condition.

Greater support for personal trainers from the mainstream medical community: Better understanding of medical complications caused by inactivity and obesity means that more doctors are seeing the value of personal trainers for their patients who need more guidance to lose weight and/or improve their fitness level.

More funding from insurance companies: It may not be obvious, but even insurance companies are playing a role in the future of personal training. Some company benefit plans now accept fitness-oriented claims for things like gym memberships and personal training expenses.

At a Glance

Help clients set fitness goals and then help them reach those goals

  • Give clients both practical and theoretical advice
  • Many personal trainers work for athletic or fitness clubs
  • Proper certification will help you build your career