AFAA Group Fitness Instructor / Behavior Change Specialist / Certified Personal Trainer / Corrective Exercise Specialist / Group Personal Trainer / NASM / NASM Certified Nutrition Coach / Weight Loss Specialist


By Angie Miller

Personal trainers are individuals who inspire, motivate, and guide others to achieve their fitness goals. It is a rewarding, highly-ranked career with immense job satisfaction (CNN Money, 2012). If you are ready to become more involved in the fitness industry but apprehensive about quitting your day job, consider part-time personal training.


The need for personal trainers is growing rapidly by approximately 13% each year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019). Health club companies are also experiencing significant growth, with 21 of the top 100 companies reporting revenue growth of 10% or higher in 2018, and select franchised brands reporting increases of over 30% (Club Industry, 2019). As health club companies continue to grow, so does the need for qualified trainers.

Our society is making a slow shift to a more health-conscious culture.  With organic food purchases increasing by 5.9% in 2018 (Food Business News, 2019) and gains in wearable fitness technology, the time is ripe to help others move from the intention to the implementation stage of their fitness journey.

Personal training may appeal to you for a number of reasons. Perhaps you are working full-time but are looking for a way to explore your passion for fitness and helping others. Or maybe you’re working in a related field, as a group fitness instructor, nutritionist, or health coach, and it would benefit your clients and your bottom line to gain more expertise. The most sought-after trainers are typically those who are motivated to help others achieve their fitness goals, and who are educated, passionate, and possess strong communication skills that enable them to develop relationships with clients. Whatever your reasons for becoming a personal trainer, consider professional autonomy, a flexible schedule, the ability to make a meaningful difference, compensation, and endless growth opportunities among them.


Part-time personal training allows for a flexible schedule. This is particularly beneficial if you are working full time in another field. Personal trainers generally work for a health club as an employee or independent contractor, or they own their own training business.

If you are employed at a health club, you will work out your schedule with your employer and likely have other job responsibilities. Being hired through a club allows you to collaborate with other trainers, have access to the latest gym equipment, and potentially gain more clients. Often your gym membership fee is waived as part of your compensation package, and benefits may be an option.

On the other hand, if you own your own training business, you arrange a schedule with your clients and meet them at a home, or at a space you rent or own. Working independently may require more work initially when trying to build a strong client base, but it allows for greater flexibility with your schedule and more professional autonomy. Online training is another option for trainers. Some trainers train exclusively online, and others have a more hybrid approach, training clients in person and online.


As a personal trainer, you have professional independence. If you have your own training business, you have the freedom to determine your hourly rate, navigate your schedule, maintain flexibility when necessary, and determine what type of clientele you will serve. You also have the freedom to design your training programs and to tailor them to meet the needs of your clients individually. When you work for a health club, professional autonomy may be more limited. Still, overall, personal training is a field that is designed for those who value decision making, independence, and a flexible work environment.


Personal training is an excellent way to make a lasting impact on the health and well-being of others. As a trainer, you inspire your clients on their journey to better health and guide them as they make meaningful change. Many people are eager to become stronger, gain endurance, lose weight, and make healthier choices. Still, they need a personal trainer to help them identify realistic goals and to create a comprehensive exercise plan that will help them reach those goals.

Additionally, they need a connection with a trained expert who will motivate them and keep them on track. The greatest reward in personal training is to witness the growth and success of your clients and to realize the impact that exercise and healthy lifestyle choices can have on a person’s psychological and physical well-being.


Compensation for personal trainers is based on a variety of factors, one of which is geographic location. Salaries often align with the local cost of living vs. the national average. It is also based on the level of education, including degrees and certifications. Those who have earned degrees in areas such as kinesiology and exercise science will likely make more. Those who have earned fitness industry certifications that are nationally accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), such as the NASM Personal Trainer Certification, will also likely earn more.

Other factors that determine compensation include continuing education, such as live workshops, conventions, or online learning opportunities. Additionally, advanced certifications and specializations, such as corrective exercise, give trainers an edge and allow them to charge more for their services.


A journey into part-time personal training doesn’t have to end there. You may find that you are ready to leap into training full-time, or maybe you have different goals in the fitness industry. Take some time to tap into your strengths and areas of interest. There is likely a way to combine this with your experience and passion for fitness. Some personal trainers go on to gain additional certifications and specializations in the field. As the personal training industry is growing and becoming increasingly competitive, this is a way to provide more knowledge to your clients and allow your services to be more attractive. Here are some certifications and specializations to consider:


With an AFAA Group Fitness Instructor Certification, you’ll be exposed to larger groups of people and have the opportunity to build trust and rapport, which will help you attract more clients. With group strength, hybrid formats, and equipment-based classes on the rise, having the skills to lead large groups gives you a competitive edge.


As an NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, you’ll be able to provide individualized nutrition coaching for your clients. You’ll understand how clients get stuck in dietary cycles, and you’ll learn strategies to help them overcome negative eating habits. You’ll have the expertise to help them make sound nutritional choices and to build healthy habits that last a lifetime.


The NASM Weight Loss Specialization allows you to help clients identify and overcome the physical and psychological challenges of losing and/or maintaining weight. Additionally, you’ll know to design weight loss programs and to identify the most up-to-date weight-loss guidelines and training methodologies.


With the NASM Behavior Change Specialization, you learn life coaching skills. This includes strategies to help clients set realistic goals, overcome obstacles, and transform their thinking, giving them the tools to make positive, lasting change.


Becoming an NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist will elevate your skills and expertise, making you more marketable and increasing your value as a trainer. This specialization will give you the tools to assess your clients, determine their movement compensations, and use that knowledge to develop effective programs that reduce their injury risk and help them to move more efficiently.

There are unlimited opportunities in the health and fitness industry. Earning a personal training certification is just a start. From there, you can expand your expertise with additional training and education. If you are ready to delve into the world of personal training, check out NASM’s Personal Training Certification programs. NASM is a leader in the health and fitness industry with some of the most respected training programs among fitness professionals.

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