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View Full Version : So I was thinking about Personal Training...


Kevin Perry
08-01-2007, 03:55 PM
Well I have been pondering this for several months or perhaps a year or two but im starting to give it real serious though right now. Since starting CF a little over 2 years ago i've wanted to get certified and get a group together. Although there are no individuals here into CF that I know of or fitness in general. Now im young only 20, in college for something I enjoy ( Dbl major in Anthropology/History) but I also enjoy fitness and more than once a couple people have asked me that I should look into starting an affiliate out here. Im really interested in it although one thing bothers me. I have no idea where to start. My biggest problem is like all of you im not a fan of commercial gyms and my interests lye solely with Crossfit and Oly lifting ( and I admit my experience is only with what I have taught myself by reading CF and PM).

For the Personal Trainers out there, did you start in a similar boat? And if so can you give some of your own experiences with this? Fitness is probably the only other lifestyle that I have a passion for other than the above. Im looking into the different certification credentials out there but it is a bit much figuring out which is which.

Mike ODonnell
08-01-2007, 04:28 PM
Get a degree....get a day job....start PT on the side with income coming from somewhere else....

Otherwise be prepared to put in hours, time, sweat, blood, money, stress,.....etc....not to say it's not rewarding....just saying you can do it the hard way....or the Really hard way....

As for all the other business stuff....have a business plan on how you plan to make money including expenses, etc....just opening doors does not mean you will succeed....or may take a long while to turn a profit....so like I said, make it easier on yourself and keep a day job and do this on the side....and see where it takes you...the answers and markets to pursue usually just come to you....sometimes it's trial and error...or learn from those who already made mistakes and learned from them.....

In the end...if you do anything passionately...it will make you happy and with the right gameplan and not "winging it", it can make you money....just may not come in the timeframe you want it too....so have a backup plan for living expenses just in case...

Kevin Perry
08-02-2007, 04:50 AM
Has anyone here ever done personal training as a part time job while going through college? any success stories?

Allen Yeh
08-02-2007, 06:23 AM
I did, and it was great because of the flexibility the job allowed me to maintain with my class schedule but then there are the ups and downs of feast/famine i.e. more clients you can handle/barely enough clients to make rent.

Mike ODonnell
08-02-2007, 07:37 AM
Also keep in mind the bulk of your training will most likely be around work hours....from 5:30-7am and 5:30-7pm...

Garrett Smith
08-02-2007, 09:12 AM
I was a personal trainer during undergrad and medical school. I helped Ken start CrossFit SouthWest while I was in medical school and had some extra loan money to work with. It was all our own equipment.

After getting my medical practice off the ground, I'm now working with Noah Providence of www.providenceinstitute.com in an effort to get a Tucson CrossFit affiliate off the ground.

My suggestion, if you don't have deep pockets:
1. Secure a (relatively) steady income outside of training first. Learn how to save some money.
2. Get a basic trainer certification (NSCA, ACSM, NASM) and then get a basic training job. I worked at the Student Rec Center at the UA for around 3.5 years--weight room staff, group fitness (boxing and sports conditioning classes), personal trainer, and eventually head personal trainer.
2. Get your CF certification sometime in this whole process, after you get a basic training certification (you need that for insurance purposes).
3. Start obtaining basic equipment piece-by-piece at your house/garage. Train people as you can in that setting.
4. Make your dreams happen after that.

Hope that helps.

Robb Wolf
08-02-2007, 10:12 AM
All good information above. i helped to start CF North out of Dave Werners garage. We all paid ~$100 month into a gear fund since we all reasoned that was a reasonable amount to pay for a place to OL, train CF and have access to rings. We progressed from there to a mini-storage and then i went to Chico when Nick and Dave moved to Sand Point.

My point being that you can grow things very slowly, out of a garage or carport initially and decide if you are going to jump in with a lease etc.

If you can do a road trip to someone who has an established CF facility (or something similar) that will really help a lot. The recommendation to have a business plan, think about how deep you want to go with this is very important. I love what we are doing but we made many, many mistakes growing the business. People like Rutman, Andy Petranek and Craig Patterson were instrumental in helping us figure out a business structure that works.

keep us posted...ask loads of questions.

Mark Joseph Limbaga
08-02-2007, 10:28 AM
And most of all, produce results for your clients.

Certifications will mean nothing if you cannot produce results.

Never stop learning as well.

Kevin Perry
08-02-2007, 12:37 PM
Well once im finished with some things out here I plan on making regular trips up to a Crossfit affiliate in NC and spending some time down there. I may actually be able to get help from another fitness facility out here which was tinkering with the idea of a Cf certification and affiliation but it would'nt be for some time. Thanks for all the replies, I'll be sure to constantly bug the crap out of you guys with questions.

Mike ODonnell
08-02-2007, 12:56 PM
And most of all, produce results for your clients.

Certifications will mean nothing if you cannot produce results.


Bin-F'n-Go.....Well put and can't stress that enough....as your best advertising is someone walking around 30lbs lighter and when people ask what they did....well then you have people calling you day and night....Find your niche...whether it be sports performance....fat loss (huge enough market there) and become an expert at getting results. Forget all the fads and trends of core balance ball cone drills that all the junk certs and equipment company seminars are forcing on the average trainer...learn the effective ways to get results in your niche market and just do it.

Neal Winkler
08-03-2007, 08:06 AM
If you can do a road trip to someone who has an established CF facility (or something similar) that will really help a lot.

John Seiler, Catherine Imes, myself, and two other guys that havn't posted on this board went and seen how Rut ran his operation. 50 or so clients, low overhead, can't beat that...

Brian Shanks
08-03-2007, 01:42 PM
And sometimes a little luck helps.

I am not certified in anything at the moment, but I fell into a situation that is a dream come true. I have been designated as our Strength and conditioning coach for our new MMA team. We are in the process of moving into a new building and am really excited. I don't make any money-don't really care-but I do get free BJJ and MMA training and get to help our guys get ready for their fights.

I helped one of our guys drop 25 lbs and at 215 he was a conditioned machine. Wore his foe out after the first round and won in the second due to strikes from the mounted position. Of course, he was a very highly motivated individual and was a perfect athlete to work with. But you had to see him at the track. A 240 lb 5'10" guy running sprints. It was beautiful.

Cheers

Bri

Stephen Cooper
08-03-2007, 02:22 PM
Hey Kevin,
I've been a trainer for about 13 years, so here's my 2 cents.

Start with then end in mind. What are you hoping to accomplish? How much do you want to make? Who do you want to train? What hours and how many hours do you want to work? Group classes/one on one? Do you want to work for someone else, or for yourself?

Get the certification out of the way. You'll need this to get started, but the real learning comes from your passion and continual learning from sites like Per. Menu, and your time with clients, workshops, and experience.

I know for myself that the business and marketing has been the biggest challenge. It's one thing to get great results for your clients, but if they aren't spreading the word and you aren't filling your pipeline with new clients, you're going to have a hard time paying your bills. I've found that my clients who have successful businesses are very willing to help with business and marketing ideas.

One book that you may want to check out is "The E-Myth" by Michael Gerber.

Just as your performance and physique results came through calculated practice and implementation, so will your business.

When you get it right, this can be a great profession.

Go for it,
Coop

Steve Liberati
08-03-2007, 07:23 PM
Coach Glassman has a very good article in this month's CrossFit journal titled, "on being a trainer." Definately worth checking out.

Not much else to add other than 3 P's of Personal Training: 1.) passion 2.) personality and 3.) purple-ness

Passion - not much to say about this one other than if you don't love what you do your chances of success of very much lower.

Personality - this is perhaps the most overlooked skill a personal trainer can possess. When I worked out at Gold's Gym while in college, I cringed everytime I watched one of their miserable, doopey, muscle-bound trainers give a 60 min session with that look on their face like "I'm just too cool, tough and big for this job" as they walk between machines flexing their muscles in the mirror. Whatever you do, don't be one of these guys. Instead show you care, be personable, and get to know your clients on a personal level. If you have a good personality, love what you do and deliver results the marketing will take care of itself.

Purple-ness - This is a term coined by marketing guru Seth Godin describing
Cows, which after you've seen them for a while, are boring. They may be well-bred cows, Six Sigma cows, cows lit by a beautiful light, but they are still boring. A Purple Cow, though: Now, that would really stand out. The essence of the Purple Cow -- the reason it would shine among a crowd of perfectly competent, even undeniably excellent cows -- is that it would be remarkable. Something remarkable is worth talking about, worth paying attention to. Boring stuff quickly becomes invisible.

This goes along the same lines of what Mike suggested about finding a niche. Narrow down your speciality into a smaller market (say sports performance) and be as bold as possible. In other words, don't settle for the ordinary.

When you pour your heart into something you love doing, things will fall into place. Do it!

Mike ODonnell
08-03-2007, 08:08 PM
The 2 wisest things I ever heard....were from an old article by Alywn Cosgrove....he said:

1) The Fat loss market is reaching $1 Billion in revenue....if you are a personal trainer and not focusing on it you are a f***'ing idiot....

2) If you want to make alot of money in this industry you need to do 2 things:
a) Charge alot (dont try and be cheap on your rates)
b) Be a prick (dont try and be people's friends, get them results)


all soooooo true......

Kevin Perry
08-03-2007, 10:51 PM
The 2 wisest things I ever heard....were from an old article by Alywn Cosgrove....he said:

1) The Fat loss market is reaching $1 Billion in revenue....if you are a personal trainer and not focusing on it you are a f***'ing idiot....

2) If you want to make alot of money in this industry you need to do 2 things:
a) Charge alot (dont try and be cheap on your rates)
b) Be a prick (dont try and be people's friends, get them results)


all soooooo true......

I like those quotes.

Allen Yeh
08-04-2007, 03:49 AM
I like those quotes.

Sift through Alwyn Cosgrove's Blog there is a ton of information there.

Santos Reyes
08-13-2007, 11:56 PM
My advice would be if you want to be a trainer you need to train people. Certs and knowledge do you no good if you cant communicate properly to your client(s). For this reason I would say not to discount the experience of training out of a commercial gym chain (especially if this is all that is in you town). I will give you a few examples of why I think this is:


1. If you have a true passion for training people the quality training you provide will be evident to all...members, clients and especially other "big box" trainers. At my gym the trainers have started trying to teach kb moves, bb cleans etc. Their failure to teach such movements properly makes it clear to the client and everyone else that not all trainers are equal.

2. If you do a good job at #1 you could very quickly built a small army of devoted clients that will follow you anywhere...even a garage gym or a park!

3. Commercial gyms care only about money! If your clients are happy and stay around the gym will be happy, period. I have used rings,bumper plates, kb's, D-balls, med balls. I was even told by a "higher up" that I could have people, "hang from the rafters as long as you make your clients happy." Point being you can train quality movements anywhere, even a large commercial gym!

4. Lastly, the big box gym will challenge you in the area of articulation in regards to you own training philosophy. For example, people will ask you why you teach a kip rather than a pull-up or why you cheat on you shoulder press' .

Anyway, just some thoughts, hope this makes sense.

R. Alan Hester
08-16-2007, 07:37 PM
Well once im finished with some things out here I plan on making regular trips up to a Crossfit affiliate in NC and spending some time down there. I may actually be able to get help from another fitness facility out here which was tinkering with the idea of a Cf certification and affiliation but it would'nt be for some time. Thanks for all the replies, I'll be sure to constantly bug the crap out of you guys with questions.

Kevin,

Which gym are you referring to above? I live in Greenville, SC but have not heard of such a place. That may be because I am a hermit and workout in my garage.

Kevin Perry
08-16-2007, 09:20 PM
Well there are no CF affiliates out here in Greenville or the entire state for that matter but I know people who may try to affiliate in the future. Focused Fitness off Washington street is looking to affiliate. They are also an MAA training center. In NC there are actually 3 or 4 affiliates and 3 or 4 in Georgia. Crossfit Charlotte and Crossfit Atlanta are the two I have spoken too a couple times, but it's impossible to make it out there when you gotta work friday nights and sunday nights.

But im a hermit as well right now. Only train out of the garage. Actually dumped CF for a few months.

Mark Joseph Limbaga
09-06-2007, 09:24 AM
Bin-F'n-Go.....Well put and can't stress that enough....as your best advertising is someone walking around 30lbs lighter and when people ask what they did....well then you have people calling you day and night....Find your niche...whether it be sports performance....fat loss (huge enough market there) and become an expert at getting results. Forget all the fads and trends of core balance ball cone drills that all the junk certs and equipment company seminars are forcing on the average trainer...learn the effective ways to get results in your niche market and just do it.

Its funny since I have a lot of peers in the industry down here who haven't produced results for clients and others have several certifications yet they don't even look like they workout.

For the coaches out there and those aspiring to be coaches, remember these words: GETTING RESULTS, ISN'T EVERYTHING, ITS THE ONLY THING!!!

1) The Fat loss market is reaching $1 Billion in revenue....if you are a personal trainer and not focusing on it you are a f***'ing idiot....

2) If you want to make alot of money in this industry you need to do 2 things:
a) Charge alot (dont try and be cheap on your rates)
b) Be a prick (dont try and be people's friends, get them results)


1) definitely true. The number o out of shape individuals are increasing in the number daily

2
a) though I agree with this, charge fair, if you know yourself and are confident of your capabilities, charge as much as you can.... Always state more than your going rate since some clients will negotiate at times
b) Stop trying to be Mary Poppins.. Be a coach for crying out loud! (sadly others forget this and spoil their clients)

Mike ODonnell
09-06-2007, 09:30 AM
Its funny since I have a lot of peers in the industry down here who haven't produced results for clients and others have several certifications yet they don't even look like they workout.
unfortunately I know exactly what you mean....personally I have no issues if the trainer actually knows what he is doing and can still get results for his clients....unfortunately the training industry as a whole is a sham.....more business orientated for profit and less on getting people the truth and results. Personally I am sick of it and now soon will be calling out everyone in the industry for their blantant lies and lack of professional responsibility to the public.....should be fun!

My next book will be "Get your Fat Client off the Bosu ball....as their Core is not the issue!!"

a) though I agree with this, charge fair, if you know yourself and are confident of your capabilities, charge as much as you can.... Always state more than your going rate since some clients will negotiate at times
It's funny....I see trainers whoring themselves out for $20/hour....but then again many are worth less than that. If a person tries and price shop me I laugh....and tell them to go ahead and try the other trainer for a month, and then try me....if I don't get them better results they get a full refund. Also I have found the more I charge (while still affordable but not average), the more people value my time and will listen to me. I'm moving more into coaching full time anyways and not going to sit there and count reps....that's the job for a $15/hr trainer.

Mark Joseph Limbaga
09-06-2007, 12:02 PM
Mike,

If there's one thing I do envy you guys out there is that with my level right no, our head coach says I can charge 100$ an hour easily, yet sadly I can't do it here.

The only thing I'm proud of is here in our gym, I've so far produced the best results among all of us here. The funny thing is, I don't charge that high, but my clients are now realizing that my worth is more than what they pay for.

A client of mine jokingly said that i have "Turned a 28 year old trapped in a 40 year old body into a his real age"

My newest projects are a 30 year old yuppie who is badly out of shape and wants to get fit as he is getting maried soon and wants to start a family, two Chinese brothers who want to improve their sports performance.

How are your clients so far?

Mike ODonnell
09-06-2007, 12:25 PM
Mike,

If there's one thing I do envy you guys out there is that with my level right no, our head coach says I can charge 100$ an hour easily, yet sadly I can't do it here.

I completely understand how you may not be able to get that kind of money depending on location. I would look into what kind of program you can do for a small group of 3-4 maybe. So if you are only able to charge $30/session....then figure a way to charge $20/session and have a group of 4-5....that way you can maximize you potential revenue per hour to $100/hr. Remember you can make the rules, so tell people that you only do small groups....and it's one flat rate, and then as your results start to show....people will be lining up at the door to train with you! For the average weight loss client (which most are for me) the training is really easy....it's the nutritional adherence you have to make sure they stick to. Best part is...you still get all the credit even though weight loss is 85%+ diet!! Just get a system in place that yields results while also maximizing your revenue per hour (or session).

Mark Joseph Limbaga
09-08-2007, 10:08 AM
I completely understand how you may not be able to get that kind of money depending on location. I would look into what kind of program you can do for a small group of 3-4 maybe. So if you are only able to charge $30/session....then figure a way to charge $20/session and have a group of 4-5....that way you can maximize you potential revenue per hour to $100/hr. Remember you can make the rules, so tell people that you only do small groups....and it's one flat rate, and then as your results start to show....people will be lining up at the door to train with you! For the average weight loss client (which most are for me) the training is really easy....it's the nutritional adherence you have to make sure they stick to. Best part is...you still get all the credit even though weight loss is 85%+ diet!! Just get a system in place that yields results while also maximizing your revenue per hour (or session).


I actually figured out how to train groups with less effort. I give them a package rate and I get an assistant from one of our assistant coaches/apprentices and just give him a small cut from my fee just to have him be the one to demonstrate, load/strip weights, help me stretch while i oversee the training, update programs.

Did this with two brothers who train at the same time, I'll keep doing this so in the future, I'll br atraining more people yet I won't be as tired as I don't want to have my work up to my neck as i still work 55 hours a week in the gym, excluding my consultancy work fr market research, i gotta have a life too :P

Anton Emery
09-20-2007, 10:46 PM
Good thread. I am kind in the same boat as well, i realize training is something i have a passion for and i enjoy trying to help others. I am working towards giving it a shot as a career. I have worked in IT for the past five years since i have been out of college, and while i am grateful that i have been to make a living and save up some money, i am pretty tired of it.

My plan is to get a nationally recognized cert first, and start trying to get some experience, hopefully working a gym on the side so i can keep my day job for a bit. I would try to get my Crossfit cert not long after this, and then see from there. I do Brazillian Juijitsu, and one of the main reasons i got so excited about CF style training was that it helped me so much on the mat. If i could somehow eventually train some Jits guys or wrestlers that would be pretty cool.

I live in Portland, OR, and Scott Hagnas of Crossfit Portland has been really generous with his time, getting together with me on occasion to talk about training, how to get started, etc. I would not be adverse to just getting some experience in a box gym if i felt i would learn something and not just have to use their pre formatted workout templates.

I am curious how much trainers at the box gyms make on avg. One place i called said you can expect to make low $30K's when starting.



Anton

Mike ODonnell
09-21-2007, 09:09 AM
I am curious how much trainers at the box gyms make on avg. One place i called said you can expect to make low $30K's when starting.

Try $15-$20/hr if you are lucky. As most big gyms now subcontract out PT services to PT companies....who will take 40-60% of the revenue or pay you a flat fee based on experience. Remember you make money per hour...and unless your gym is just feeding you tons of clients...you may only be working a couple hours a day and need to go bug members to try and sign up. I'm not a fan of that style of selling, but do what you need to do to get the experience. Keep your day job....do PT on the side (as your prime hours are before and after work anyways)....as it is a tough business to keep full time for a long time....lots of peaks and valleys.

Anton Emery
09-21-2007, 10:32 AM
Yea, that is kind of what i figured. I went and interviewed at 24 HR fitness a while ago, just to get a better idea of what a trainer at that type of gym does. With a cert you get $15/hr while training the clients, minimum wage if you are not training. I think the most you can make per hour is $22, and that is with three or four certifications. Doesnt really sound like the ideal place to work, i dont know how i would like going around trying to sell personal training packages to gym members.

I am going to keep my day job at least for the short term future, but i am going to try my best at making the personal training thing work. There quite a few mom and pop gyms and personal training studios here in Portland, perhaps some of them might be a better place to get experience. I think at the smaller places if you are working as a contractor the split is more your favor. One gym i talked to it was 80/20, which seems pretty good. But then there is still the aspect of getting clients unless the gym feeds them to you.

I think the Crossfit path is probably the most satisfying one, though perhaps a bit slower to start. Plus there are already two affiliates here in town, i dont know that trying to start a third one would make much sense.

I guess the bottom line is i need to find a good way to get some experience, and then see where it takes me.


anton

Mike ODonnell
09-21-2007, 10:38 AM
The smaller owned gyms are the way to go...as you either do a 70/30...80/20 or if you get enough clients pay a flat monthly rent. It's still up to you on how to get clients....my personal opinion is that there are 10000000 personal trainers out there....don't try and be one of them, find a niche and be the expert then people will come to you....whether it is fat loss....sports specific training....fitness for golfers....etc..etc..etc. The general fitness trainer is a dime a dozen and will keep you making little money....while a specialty trainer can charge a higher premium. All in all.....it's a learning experience and the only way to learn is to just get out there and do it. Best of luck!

Frank Needham
05-21-2010, 04:20 PM
Yep, this thread is ancient but my question to those who responded to the OP is directly related to the thread. To those of you who answered with advice to the OP:
1) Assuming that you chose to become professionals in the fitness industry because you enjoy the field of fitness: Do you still enjoy it now that you've had some time to find that, after all, it is work and something you have to work at every day if you want to succeed?
2) If you answered positively to #1, what in particular do you find satisfying and worthwhile about what you do each day?
Thanks in advance for any particular examples you could provide...

Chuck Kechter
05-26-2010, 02:11 PM
I do it because I can make money doing something I care about, as opposed to working a job that I can't get into emotionally. No emotion= no commitment (for me).

Also it helps satisfy my "need" to be of service to others (whether volunteering, or whatever), by helping my clients reach their goals. I have done this job for free (and still would), but it is even better get paid for it... :)

Frank Needham
05-26-2010, 03:37 PM
Yah, that's how it would seem to be, it you like being healthy and living an active life then it would be a logical step from there to saying "If I enjoy this just for the sake of it, why not get paid for it." :) The part about having no emotional connection to what you do is spot on also. As an engineer, I have concerns about the projects I work on but not any that get my juices flowin', if you know what I mean....thanks for the reply.

Michael Korczowski
08-14-2011, 10:30 AM
What about the original question re: certification??

Is there anything people would recommend over the NSCA-CPT for the kind of PT described in this thread?

Do any of the certs actually confer more knowledge on the test-taker than others? OR, alternatively, which of the accrediting bodies have the most intelligent curriculum/approach?

Donald Lee
08-14-2011, 07:59 PM
They all suck.

The NSCA supports research more than the others, as they have their own journal. This is reflected in their textbooks. NASM sounds good with their corrective exercise focus, but their reading material is soft on content.

If you're interested in corrective exercise, you may want to get NASM, as some specialty courses that are actually good will give CE credit for NASM. I am certified through the NSCA, and besides courses taught by Stuart McGill, I haven't found any of their CE courses appealing.

They basically all suck in different ways.

There are other threads somewhere that also talk about the different certifications and talk about becoming a Personal Trainer.

Michael Korczowski
08-14-2011, 11:05 PM
blehhh dinosaurs

i sorta just had an epiphany that if i power thru a nice big reading list and shadow my current trainers, i might do well for people as a PT.

guess NSCA CPT is a foot in the door as it's 1/2 the price of crossfit

maybe some day i'll have the experience and cash for OPT CCP