Fact Checked

What does a Personal Fitness Trainer do?

Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen

A personal fitness trainer helps people improve their physical conditioning. This will generally involve a mix of motivational work and providing people with expertise about physical exercise. In some cases, a personal fitness trainer may also have significant knowledge regarding diet, and he may advise his clients about proper nutrition. Fitness trainers often work with people who are recovering from injuries or other medical problems, and they may be employed by hospitals for this purpose.

Usually, a fitness trainer needs a solid understanding of every aspect of physical fitness. Those in this role should generally be able to tell clients exactly how to achieve their fitness goals. One client may be focused on losing a few pounds, while another may wish to improve his musculature. In either case, the personal fitness trainer needs enough knowledge to build a training program that is suited to that client. Sometimes a personal fitness trainer may be more of a specialist and may only work with people trying to achieve certain kinds of goals.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

It is generally very important that a personal fitness trainer be in excellent physical shape. This is partly for the sake of image, and partly for practical reasons. If a trainer needs to show clients how to perform a workout routine, the trainer generally needs to be in good enough shape to showcase proper form for the various exercises.

Sometimes people are able to become a personal fitness trainer without receiving a formal education. This is especially true of people who are self-employed and work with clients on an individual basis. Others go through various certification programs, and some may even attend college.

The kind of knowledge needed will vary depending on where the trainer wishes to work. Those who wish to work in hospitals or similar jobs will generally need some kind of college background. Trainers who want jobs in gyms may only need to attend some kind of certification program. The quality of certification programs varies significantly, and some gyms many not accept certifications that don’t have enough legitimacy.

Becoming a trainer without a college background generally involves some kind of specialized credentials. Some people have a professional background in athletics, for example. People choosing this route may need to build a reputation working with clients and rely on word of mouth to increase their incomes. For this reason, many people choose to get some kind of certification even if they come from a fitness-related profession.

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Discussion Comments


@Drentel makes a good point. Getting a personal fitness trainer's certificate is not that hard. I know of several online personal trainer courses that take a few hours to complete. At the end of the courses, the companies send out a certificate, which basically says the person with the certificate completed the course work and is certified by that particular company as a physical fitness trainer. There's not really very much to the whole process.


This article does a good job of pointing out that not all personal fitness trainers are the same. Simply because someone calls himself or herself a personal trainer doesn't mean this is someone you want to give money to for helping you get into shape.

Someone who simply goes to a few classes to get a certificate is probably not going to have the same knowledge as someone who has a physical training background or someone who has gone through more training than a couple of classes.

Before I hire a physical trainer I want to make sure he or she has the necessary credentials, and I also want to get references so I can talk with people the personal trainer has worked with. The opinion of someone who has worked with him or her goes a long way in helping me make a decision about hiring a particular trainer. Also, I want to see just how fit his or her previous clients are.


I would like to hire a personal physical fitness trainer. I see some of the people at the gym where I go working out with one-on-one instruction from a trainer. Having someone there to make sure I am doing what I need to do and encouraging me to get it done is something that appeals to me a lot. However, I am concerned about how much I might have to pay for someone to do this for me.

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