What Is a Fitness Trainer?

Definition & Examples of a Fitness Trainer

Woman exercising in health club with trainer
John Lund/Marc/Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

Fitness trainers lead people in exercise and related activities. They may work with individuals or groups, providing both instruction and motivation.

Learn more about what being a fitness trainer involves.

What Is a Fitness Trainer?

Fitness trainers offer support and instruction to people as they exercise. They may specialize in one or more areas, including but not limited to aerobics, weight lifting, pilates, yoga, and dance. They may lead group classes, provide one-on-one training to clients, or a combination of both.

The median pay for fitness trainers in 2019 was $40,390 per year or $19.42 per hour in the U.S.

How a Fitness Trainer Works

Fitness trainers often work in gyms or health clubs. Some may own their own fitness studios, as well. Their work may include the following duties:

  • Customizing training programs for individuals and groups
  • Motivating clients
  • Monitoring clients' progress and offer feedback when needed
  • Demonstrating proper use of equipment and techniques
  • Maintaining clients' safety
  • Selling services and products to potential and existing customers
  • Stocking and maintaining supplies
  • Handling client complaints
  • Administering emergency first aid
  • Providing advice about nutrition
  • Enforcing a facility's rules and regulations

Requirements for Fitness Trainers

You are only required to have a high school diploma to work as a fitness trainer but many employers prefer to hire college graduates who have majored in a fitness or health-related field. This is especially true if you want to become a personal trainer who will work one-on-one with clients. Many employers also require CPR, first aid, and automated external defibrillator (AED) training and certification.

Whether you want to work as a personal trainer or instruct students in group classes, it is a good idea to get professional certification. It indicates that you have the skills needed to work in this occupation. Many, but not all employers require this credential, but you will be a more competitive job candidate if you have it.

In addition to your education and certification, you'll need certain soft skills, or personal qualities, to succeed as a fitness trainer. These are the most important ones:

  • Customer service skills: One of your goals as a fitness trainer is to understand your clients' needs and satisfy them.
  • Instructing skills: You will be responsible for making sure your customers know how to exercise and use equipment correctly. You will do this by carefully explaining and demonstrating proper techniques.
  • Ability to motivate others: Many people exercise, not because they love to, but because they need to. Your ability to motivate them will help make the experience more enjoyable.
  • Active listening skills: Being tuned in to what clients are telling you will help you understand and fulfill their needs.
  • Verbal communication skills: The ability to clearly convey information and instructions to your customers is crucial.

Disadvantages of Being a Fitness Trainer

Being a personal trainer can have some downsides. Since people often exercise before and after work and on the weekends, your schedule will likely include late evenings and weekends. In addition, you may have to spend a lot of time traveling from job to job because you may need to work in multiple gyms and even in people's homes. And lastly, you may have to exercise even when you don't feel like it to guide the client.

Key Takeaways

  • Fitness trainers provide instruction and motivation in exercise to individuals and groups.
  • They may choose to specialize in one or more area, such as cardiovascular activities or yoga.
  • Requirements to become a fitness trainer vary by employer, and many require professional certification.