Trainer Tip Tuesday


I am beyond thrilled to kick off a brand new series called Trainer Tip Tuesday. This series of posts will address personal trainers, coaches and even those who are thinking of joining this wonderful profession.

The goal is to embed knowledge and wisdom while helping trainers and coaches make the most of their education and passion.

Today’s pots is from my dear friend and fellow trainer, Pamela Hernandez, who owns Thrive Personal Fitness.

Read on as she tackles some questions that new and old trainers may not have thought about before signing the bottom line :)

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What They Don’t Teach You about Being a Personal Trainer:


Congratulations! You’ve passed your personal trainer exam! You’re excited and anxious to get started. Maybe a gym has offered you a place to work or perhaps you’re striking out on your own. Either way, you can’t wait to get your first client.

The problem is they forgot to tell you how to set your prices, find your niche and market yourself. Unfortunately that’s not all your certification program left out.

Your certification leaves you woefully unprepared for the real world of personal training. I compare getting your certification to kindergarten. In kindergarten you learn your letters and some basic vocabulary. You learn to count. But putting together a proper sentence or multiplication is still out of reach.

During your certification program you get your basics of anatomy, physiology and movement. You learn to count reps. You learn about what exercises work what muscles, but no one really shows you how to translate a workout to a program to meet you clients goals. No one prepares you for the unhealthy bodies you will encounter and the behavioral coaching they are going to need. Preparation for the BUSINESS of personal training is completely absent.

Here is the hard reality. If you want to make personal training your full time job, only 20-25% of your time will be spent in the gym with clients. The rest of the time is spent prepping programs, taking continuing education classes, marketing yourself, balancing the books and all the other things it takes to run a successful business.  Your education has only just begun. Here are the important lessons about the business of personal training you need to start with.

  •  Whether you know it or not you have started a small business

You need to set up a separate account for business expenses, set a budget and a separate mailing address. Keep your business finances separate from your personal ones, including credit. While your chances for audit are small, only about 1% according to WalletHub, audits for small businesses are UP 17% since 2009. Keep detailed and organized records and you will be prepared, plus it will help you in the event you decide to seek an SBA loan or other financing.  Also find an accountant you trust. A good accountant is not just someone who puts your numbers into a piece of software to do your taxes. A good accountant will advise you on how to maximize your income while avoiding unpleasant surprises at tax time.

  • Know your value

When I first started training I was told by a gym manager no one would pay my personal training rates. I firmly stood my ground because I had done my research. I compared rates for other trainers in my local area with similar services and priced accordingly. I also knew the personal service I provide ranked higher than the cookie cutter programs at big box gyms. It’s for this reason I also don’t offer discounts. I value what I do and I want my clients to do the same. If I discount my services, I have also discounted myself. For this and many other reasons, stay away from Groupon, Living Social and other discount programs. You might get a short-term burst of clients but they rarely stick around.

  • Find a mentor

My ACSM CPT certification gave me a basic vocabulary. I learned program design and about the business of personal training from other trainers. A good mentor can provide you with the missing pieces of your personal trainer education. They can offer you hands on experience and a sympathetic ear when you have a difficult client or situation. This can be a formal arrangement via an internship or an informal friendship. Online mentor programs, continuing education programs and fitness conferences can offer huge opportunities to learn from experts in your field and expand your professional network.

  •  Read books outside of your field

I used to try to read every new diet book on the market but I couldn’t keep up. I stopped trying when I realized they are all virtually saying the same thing. A better use of my time is reading books on business, marketing, behavior change and nutrition. If you haven’t read Switch by Chip and Dan Heath or The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuck do so NOW.

  • Rest

I started training part time while I worked a full time desk job. I offered myself for training appointments 6 days a week at any time the client could meet. On Sundays I prepped workouts for the week and wrote for my blog. The consequences verged on exhaustion and what I believe was the beginning of adrenal fatigue. I had to slow down or else. I implemented a set schedule for training and started taking Sundays off – including taking a Social Media Sabbath. It made a huge difference! I got my health and my sanity back. I also could give every client the energetic training session she deserves. It’s important to set boundaries and make time for OUR workouts, to rest and recharge. You have to take care of yourself so you can take care of others.

If you are serious about your personal training career then you have to be smart and passionate both in and out of the gym. If you want to be in this business for the long haul always remember it is a business and never stop learning.


Pamela Hernandez is a fitness maven, author and motivational speaker. Her goal is to empower women with fitness and to help women take control of their health and their lives! She has been on her own fitness journey since 1999 and she started her entrepreneurial journey in 2009 when she founded her personal training company, Thrive Personal Fitness. As a former fat girl and natural introvert, her goal is to take her personal lessons learned, from building her own fitness and building a successful small business, and use them to help other women live their dreams.

Pamela Headshot 2014