As the fitness industry continues to evolve, the demand for personal trainers continues to grow. Deployment methods – where and how personal trainers connect with clients – are constantly changing, and you might be surprised to find that the possibilities for personal trainers extend well beyond the four walls of the workout studio or large gym. Yes, more and more people are hiring personal trainers to guide them towards better health, fitness, and wellbeing. But how can personal trainers best get in touch with these potential clients?
The opportunities to find employment as a personal trainer can be loosely divided into the following broad categories.
Commercial clubs, often referred to as multi-purpose health clubs, have numerous amenities such as a cardio area, weight room, functional training area, several group gyms, child care facilities, and pools. Fees vary based on the number of amenities available. In your area, you may find local single-location clubs, national chains (e.g., 24-hour fitness and life-time fitness), and / or franchise establishments (e.g., Anytime Fitness, Snap Fitness, and Gold̵
Commercial clubs are a common employer for personal trainers. Large clubs generally have a wide variety of pieces of equipment and many clubs have areas dedicated solely to personal training. These clubs typically have a large membership base that can serve as a constant source of potential clients for personal trainers working in these facilities. Many large clubs also offer programs such as small-group training, sport-specific training (e.g. 3-mile training, bike races, and triathlons), or specialty programs (e.g. summer boot camps and body conversion challenges) that increase the opportunities for personal trainers can .
Personal training studios / fitness studios
A personal training studio or gym is a stand-alone facility where clients are trained either individually or in small groups. These studios, which can vary in size, may sell individual sessions or session packages, or offer a monthly fee for a certain number of sessions. Customers can be trained by staff based on the session day and time they choose (i.e. not by a specific personal trainer) or directly by a specific personal trainer based on mutual availability. You may find studios near you that are independently owned and operated, licensed, or franchised. Depending on the type of studio, you may have the autonomy to create your own programming while others may require you to deliver programs created by others and / or complete a specific certification to conduct their branding sessions.
Community Recreation Centers
A community leisure center is similar to a commercial club in terms of fitness facilities. Recreation centers tend to have a strong focus on children (e.g., childcare, activities, and sports) and are cheaper than most commercial clubs. A local government agency manages the facility.
Although experience requirements vary by center, rec centers are known to hire personal trainers with less experience and can be a great place to start a career! Aside from hiring trainers, these facilities often hire “ground staff” which can be an opportunity for newly certified personal trainers to get their foot in the door. The role includes monitoring equipment, assisting members with setting it up, and answering questions from members. Recreation centers attract a large number of members, exposing personal trainers to potential clients of different ages and with different goals and skills.
College leisure centers
Many colleges offer various recreational programs through an on-campus fitness center. Aside from the numerous sports and recreational activities they offer, college recreation centers sometimes have cardio areas, a weight room, functional training areas, group gyms, and pools, depending on the size and funding of the facility.
If the college has a sports science program or a related major, they can also help aspiring personal trainers get certified through coursework, exam preparation, and even certification exam discounts. Although college leisure centers often employ students, there may also be options for non-students. In some college leisure centers, personal trainers can work with faculty and students to obtain their certification, as required.
Non-profit fitness center
Non-profit fitness centers are similar to community leisure centers, but operate independently of the communities. The most common are the YMCA and Jewish Community Centers (JCCs). The amenities are similar to those of a commercial health club and typically reflect the robust focus of the children of a community recreation center. The price is usually similar to Community Rec Centers as well.
Similar to community leisure centers, personal training at a YMCA or JCC is a great way to gain experience as a personal trainer. These facilities often attract a wide variety of clients, which as personal trainers gain experience of working with clients with different needs, wants, and goals can help find their niche. Like Community Rec Centers, YMCAs and JCCs often hire ground personnel.
Hotels / Spas / Resorts
While you can expect hotels, spas, and resorts to focus on making equipment available to visitors for themselves to use, some also offer access to personal trainers or other exercise professionals. Some resorts and wellness spas (e.g. Canyon Ranch, Miraval, and Rancho La Puerta) offer robust wellness programs that include personal training, small group training, a variety of group fitness classes, and “ground staff”. A personal trainer may be hired to fill one or more of these roles. Other hotels may hire personal trainers to work with travelers on demand.
Because many companies have on-site fitness facilities, corporate wellness is another option for personal trainers, who can either be hired by the company or by a corporate wellness company that provides staff and programming. Working in corporate wellness is a little different from working in commercial clubs, recreation centers, or other establishments in that training hours often coincide with normal business hours, so personal trainers often don’t see clients early in the morning, in the evening, or on the weekend.
A note on specialization
It is important to note that personal trainers may specialize in working with a specific population or training clients with specific goals, which would expand the possibilities beyond those outlined above. For example, personal trainers can complete specific training courses for working with older adults, teenagers, or pregnant women, or specialize in sports-specific training or working with clients with diabetes, obesity, or other chronic conditions. There are tons of ways to help personal trainers find their niche in the fitness industry.