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What does a Fitness Trainer do?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Feb 18, 2024
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A fitness trainer is one who provides safe exercise instruction to an individual or group. This exercise instruction might vary based on the individual receiving it, as well as his or her current body type and current physical fitness abilities. A fitness trainer often works for a gym or fitness center, though he or she may be able to be hired privately by individual clients. Others may work in places such as cruise ships, vacation resorts, or even large corporate environments as a benefit to the other employees.

Certification will almost always be needed to find a job as a fitness trainer, either working independently or as an employee at a gym. Each gym may have different requirements, so it is a good idea to research these ahead of time before signing up for a specific certification program. A certification program will typically require different classes and exams that must be passed in order to receive the certification; some fitness trainers will also choose to specialize in a certain area of exercise, which can make it easier for them to find a job once they pass their certification exams.

On a day to day basis, a fitness trainer will typically work with individuals to develop exercise programs based on their needs. For instance, someone might come to a fitness trainer because they want to lose weight and get in shape; others will want to learn exercises specific to treating a health problem like diabetes or high blood pressure; some might want to develop strength and endurance specific to a certain sport. A fitness trainer will need to be able to work with all these people to teach them, encourage and motivate them, and help them to learn how to exercise effectively and safely. He or she might also teach techniques such as monitoring heart rate to determine the level of exertion that one reaches during a workout.

Working with individual clients may only be part of a fitness trainer's job. Many fitness trainers also teach group classes, if they have received certification to teach those classes. For example, Spinning® classes taught on stationary bicycles are very popular, as well as classes such as kickboxing or dance aerobics. The more skills and certifications a fitness trainer receives, the easier it will be for him or her to find employment, as well as to find different clients to work with. It is important for a trainer to develop positive relationships with clients, otherwise they will simply find a different trainer to work with.

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Discussion Comments
By Fitlady28 — On Dec 08, 2014

I can't wait to have my personal training and nutrition certification this April!

By browncoat — On Aug 02, 2012

I watch a few reality TV shows where the contestants are overweight and they are given a physical fitness trainer to help them to lose it over the course of the show. I really envy them since I think it would really help my motivation to have someone to be accountable to when I'm doing my exercise.

It's all too easy to decide that you've done enough for the day when you get a little bit tired. And, after working all day at my job, I get tired really quickly when it comes to exercise.

It kind of sucks in a way that the people who can least afford to take time off in order to exercise, are also the ones who can't afford to pay for extra help when they are exercising.

By bythewell — On Aug 01, 2012

@Iluviaporos - Yeah, they are really good for helping you when you're start out as well. When I joined my current gym I was given a few free sessions with a certified fitness trainer and she showed me how to use all the equipment and advised me on what kind of program I should be following to achieve my goals.

It was great because when you're new at a gym all the equipment seems completely intimidating and you might feel like a bit of an idiot trying to figure it out. Being shown how to use it beforehand is a really great way to get your confidence up.

By lluviaporos — On Jul 31, 2012

I always thought that hiring a fitness trainer was something very extravagant that only rich people would do. And I guess that is still true if you're hiring a personal trainer to come over to your house several times a week.

But, if you are training for something like a marathon, it can really help to hire a personal fitness trainer to help you out with your routine. Even if they just work with you once per month, they can give you tips and advice with what you're doing and how you can do it better.

My sister does a lot of competitions like marathons and she hired a swimming coach for a few sessions to give her some pointers. She said that he showed her how go through the water much more smoothly and was very encouraging as well.

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