July 24

By Ralph

July 24, 2019


Personal training is a very unregulated industry. To become a personal trainer, all you need is some exercise space and a client, and you’re good to go.

But as easy as it may sound, starting a personal training career can be a bit more complicated.

Getting a certification is a requirement for some gym establishments.

For me, I chose to go with NASM which was recommended to me by two of my friends who happened to also be trainers.

When researching the NASM program, I decided to go with at the time, their 3rd highest package at about $1100.

This included things like a live workshop exam retest, and all the other necessary study materials.

They offered a payment plan which made it easy for me to afford it. So as you can see, the cost of becoming a trainer will depend on if you decide to get certified or not.

Now there are many different places and programs in which you can go about your certification.

But do keep in mind that if you plan on working at a gym, they do require you to be certified at an accredited program.

I plan on providing you with a list of these programs shortly. But first let’s talk about getting certified.

Getting Certified

There are a few factors that can decide how much you will spend to become a personal trainer.

One of those factors is the decision to be an employee at a gym or go independent.


I started off as an independent trainer because I wanted more control over how much I charged clients.

I could have easily just started training clients, but I lacked the experience and confidence to train people so I wanted to get educated the right way.

So when deciding how much it will cost to become a personal trainer...

It Depends On If You’re Getting Certified Or Not

Most gyms require you to have a certification. And not just any certification, but it has to be a cert from an accredited program.

There are instances where a gym will pay for you to get certified, but it depends on the gym you plan on working for.

As an independent trainer, you could easily choose not to get certified, but I found the education to be really helpful as I got started.

Learning about how the muscles work gave me a better understanding on what types of exercises I should have my clients perform to get better results.

Becoming an independent trainer doesn’t require that you get certified unless you’re looking to get insured.

Also, the fact that many clients don’t care if you’re certified as long as you can get them results, can make getting a cert less motivating.

But if you plan on delivering awesome service to your clients, and unless you have a ton of experience, going for your cert can provide you without a lot of knowledge.

Getting certified also requires that you get CPR/AED certified. Most programs will not allow you to complete your certification without one.

There are places like the Red Cross that will offer classes for a fee. Not sure how much they charge, but I was able to get mine at a police station and it cost me $50.

So the cost of the class depends on where you live and where you go.

Which Certification Is The Best?

To be honest, deciding on which cert is best for you will depend on you.

Programs like NASM have gained a lot of popularity and would probably get most of the recommendations from trainers you speak to.

Not only that, but they do a great job at preparing you to pass their exam.

They do tend to be a bit pricey, but definitely worth it if you plan on taking your career as a personal trainer serious.

However, the success you have as a personal trainer will not be determined on the type of cert you have, but on the level of effort you give to always improve yourself.

No amount of certifications can develop within you the experience that is necessary to become a successful trainer.

You will also have to learn how to think outside the box if you plan on making real money in the fitness industry.

But if I were to recommend which certification to go with, I would go with NASM.

Can You Make Good Money As A Personal Trainer?

The type of money you make will depend a lot on your location and the type of clientele you have.

As you know, personal training is expensive and not everyone can afford to have one. So it’s important to understand where the trend is going when it comes to the fitness industry.

Many people are looking to group training's because it can be a more affordable option for them.

So it makes sense to maybe develop your skill in group training. This could be a great income source for those starting out as trainers.

Because instead of charging one person let say $50/hr, you can charge 5 people $20 and make a lot more in that same hour.

Also, the more people you train, the more money you could potentially make.

Another factor that will determine how much money you make as a trainer is if you decide to go independent or work for a gym.

With a gym, your income will be dependent on what that gym is willing to pay you per session.

But if you decide to go independent, you can dictate how much you charge each client.

Not only that, but as an independent trainer, you have the power to make a business out of your personal training career.

Thus giving you ultimate power to market and sell you business however you please. Becoming independent provides you a lot of flexibility.

Whereas, working for a gym provides you little control over how you build your name as a trainer.

But Is It Worth It?

To determine if a career as a personal trainer is worth it or not, you have to first ask yourself, “what am I trying to accomplish?”

Would you happy with working at a gym the rest of your life doing something you love? Or are you looking to make a business out of this?

For me, being the business person I was, I wanted total control over how I trained my clients, and how much I charge them.

 I’ve learned that working at a gym doesn’t pay much.

And to really make good money, you have to work very long hours and have very little control over how you choose to grow your clientele.

But as an independent, I could be as creative as I wanted to be when it came to building my personal training business.

If i choose to conduct a group session, I could do it without having to wait for permission. The hardest part however, was finding space to train clients.

Because if you think gyms will allow an independent trainer to workout clients in their building, think again.

Unless you have a personal relationship with the owner of a big box gym, they will not allow it.

There is one way you could possibly get away with it, and that is to act like you’re working out with your client.

If you can do that, more than likely you won't have a problem.

Why I Let My Certification Expire

As much as I liked helping people get into shape, I liked the idea of creating financial freedom much more.

And within the first year of being a trainer, I quickly learned that being a personal trainer wasn’t something I could sustain long term.

A big reason for this was the fact that your income is dependent solely on you training clients. If you’re not training clients, then you’re not getting paid.

Also, the only way to increase my income was to either raise my rates, or train more clients.

So I could either exclude those that really needed my help by raising my rates, or I could risk burning myself out training more people.

Both options didn’t seem all that encouraging.

So I had to find a way to still help people when it came to their health, but also create more income for myself to gain the financial freedom I was looking for.

So I did a lot of researching looking for ways to make money, not knowing the solution was right under my nose.

The Internet!

The internet has billions of people online searching for answers to their problems. And being the health professional that I was.

I thought it would be a good idea to leverage this platform as a way to spread my message.

I eventually started a health and fitness blog, and was able to generate 5 figures a month helping people.

I eventually found no reason to continue the life of a personal trainer, and decided to build an online business that could give me the freedom I was looking for.

So My Advice To You

If you really want to pursue a career as a personal trainer, just make sure not to rely on it as your only source of income.

Because you will find that it can cause a lot of inconsistency when it comes to your monthly income.

So I would recommend that you continue with the personal training, but also think about building a website to help you generate other sources of income.

You may find yourself building a business that generates income for you regardless if you’re training clients or not.

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