Pete McCall by Pete McCall

People across the globe are becoming interested in careers that allow them to share their passion for health and fitness with others. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the fitness industry, this one’s for you!

Over the past decade of teaching people how to become personal trainers, I’ve noticed a significant shift in the types of people looking to start fitness careers. In the early 2000s most people entering the fitness industry were coming from other jobs or careers; however, over the past few years more and more people are earning undergraduate degrees in exercise science with the express intention of becoming personal trainers or group fitness instructors.

Here are a few facts about working full-time in the fitness industry:

  • It is possible to make a living as a personal trainer or group fitness instructor
  • You really can wear your workout clothes almost all of the time
  • It is immensely rewarding to help others change their lives

There are also a number of myths about working in the fitness industry. If you’ve ever considered turning your passion for fitness into a full-time career, it’s important to be aware of these five myths:

Myth 1: Personal trainers make a lot of money because they charge high hourly rates.

Myth 1: Personal trainers make a lot of money because they charge high hourly rates.

Reality: It is possible to make a six-figure income as a personal trainer; however, that requires working in certain urban markets and a large investment in education to give you the ability to charge a high hourly rate. Whether you’re a personal trainer in a health club or travel to clients’ homes you are responsible for building your own business. The harder (and smarter) you work, the more money you can make. In 2013 ACE released a survey showing the average salary for personal trainers in the U.S. is approximately $52,000 per year.

In most health clubs clients buy training sessions from the club, which pays approximately 50 to 60 percent of the session cost to the trainer. That may seem like a lot to leave on the table but once you factor in the cost of rent, equipment, marketing and management it is reasonable compensation. It is possible to charge a lot of money to visit clients in their homes but then you sacrifice a lot of time (and money) driving from client to client. Like any other occupation, the most successful personal trainers spent time and a tremendous amount of effort developing their businesses before earning big dollars.

Myth 2: Personal trainers have glamorous celebrities as clients.

Reality: The moniker “Celebrity Trainer” is often used as a sort of credential for a personal trainer. Celebrities are individuals who make a living off of their appearance; therefore, hiring a personal trainer is simply a cost of doing business. While some personal trainers may have the occasional client who works in the public eye, the fact is that most personal trainers make their living by helping average people live healthier lives.

Myth 3: Personal trainers have lean, muscular bodies that allow them to earn money as models in their spare time.

Myth 3: Personal trainers have lean, muscular bodies that allow them to earn money as models in their spare time.

Reality: Most personal trainers are people who love to exercise and value proper nutrition; as a result, they may have muscular bodies with low levels of body fat. However, a personal trainer does not need to be shredded or ripped to be able to dispense effective fitness advice. Personal trainers are people, too, and many of them struggle to make time for their own workouts because they hustle from gym to gym to help others. It is more important for a personal trainer to model healthy behaviors, like regular exercise and healthy nutritional choices, and to help others improve their health than to have a particular type of body.

Myth 4: Personal trainers love living in their workout clothes.

Reality: While it can be nice to wear comfortable workout gear all day long, if you ask any personal trainer about this, they’ll likely tell you they look forward to any opportunity to dress up and wear adult clothes. One thing that is true is that some clothing companies have programs that allow fitness professionals to purchase their clothes at a discount. Present proof of your certification or employment as a trainer and you can save money buying your workout gear.

Myth 5: Personal trainers can provide specific eating or meal plans and can recommend the right supplements for results.

Reality: FALSE! A personal training certification allows an individual to design exercise programs for adults; it does not provide a credential for providing specific nutrition information. A personal trainer can make recommendations on how many calories to eat to support an individual’s amount of physical activity but specific meal planning is outside the scope of practice. Likewise, a personal trainer should not make any specific recommendations on taking supplements. It is within a trainer’s scope of practice to educate a client about supplements and how they can influence change in the body, but if a client is interested in taking supplements, they should consult their doctor for specific advice.

If you’re interested in becoming a personal trainer, earning your ACE Personal Trainer Certification is a great place to start. There are many AWESOME REASONS to become a personal trainer. Just make sure to arm yourself with the most accurate information available so that you can start your journey with the appropriate expectations.