What Do Personal Trainers Do?

Learn more about what personal trainers do (and don't do) by reading this article.

Personal Trainer Spotting Woman, Bench Pressing with Dumbbells

What Do Personal Trainers Do?

Personal Trainers are certified fitness professionals that help guide you towards your goals.

When you think about fitness, you might feel a little intimidated;

  • What sort of routine should you follow?
  • How do you perform the exercises, safely?
  • How often should you come to the gym?
  • Is 30 minutes enough?

Learning the answers to these questions is part of why you might hire a trainer. Your trainer can help you develop your motivation and reach your goals.

Below, you'll find the answers to questions you may have about personal training including;

  • Where Do Personal Trainers Work?
  • Who Uses Personal Trainers?
  • What Services Do Personal Trainers Offer?
  • What Do Personal Trainers Specialize In?
  • What Certification Do You Need to Be a Personal Trainer?
  • What is The Most Respected Personal Trainer Certification?
  • What Does a Personal Trainer Do on a Daily Basis?
  • What are the Hours for a Personal Trainer?
  • Can Personal Trainers Stretch Their Clients?
  • Can Personal Trainers Give Massages?
  • Are Personal Trainers Flirty?

Where Do Personal Trainers Work?

Are you intimidated by a big, loud open gym? Outside of gyms with personal trainers, there are many settings to get your sweat on.

You can find a personal trainer about everywhere you look these days;

  • Large commercial gyms
  • Small group personal training
  • Private training studios
  • In-Home gyms
  • Parks
  • School and university gyms
  • Via Skype or similar means
  • Some travel to your location

Some clients want that big, open, loud environment with all the equipment. You might want something more private. You can get through your insecurities and build up the confidence to go to that sort of gym.

Some remote personal trainers work remotely (this is how I got started in Columbia). They will travel to your home gym or bring equipment with them.

In your research process, you’ll want to check out locations (if you want to train in person). Reach out.

Most gym websites will have contact forms for you to fill out or numbers to call. Hopefully, they will get back to you in a reasonable amount of time.

Who Uses Personal Trainers?

A wide range of people use personal trainers for several reasons.

For example, you might seek out a personal trainer for help with:

  • Weight loss
  • Muscle or strength gain
  • Continuing exercise following a bout of physical therapy
  • Preparation for a wedding
  • Sport performance

If you feel like you missed that part where everyone learned to lift - a personal trainer might be up your alley.

Most of the clients that come into SSF are women. In my experience, women tend to hire a personal trainer more often than men.

What Services Do Personal Trainers Offer?

Personal trainers provide a couple of services. You can boil most down to fitness and general nutrition offerings.

There are four different types of exercise offerings:

  1. One-on-one training
  2. Semi-private or partner training (2-5 people)
  3. Small group training (6-10 people exercising in a class)
  4. Large group training (11+ people in a class)

Each setting has its pros and cons. If you have no idea what you’re doing, you might want more one on one or small group instruction. If you don’t feel like you need as much attention, larger groups offer social benefits and they’re often cheaper.

Larger groups often limit exercises to work around equipment availability.

Do Personal Trainers Help with Diet?

Trainers are not allowed to give you a specific diet. For general nutrition advice, your trainer should be able to provide you with some help.

As far as nutrition offerings go, this depends on how the trainer likes to do business. A habits based nutrition approach might be unlike anything you may have tried before. Some of us are more comfortable with a more macronutrient-based diet.

Like exercise, a gym or trainer may provide group or individual nutrition coaching.

What Do Personal Trainers Specialize In?

Personal trainers can specialize in working with a wide variety of clients.

For example, in my google search I found “personal trainers for”;

  • Seniors
  • Women
  • Women over 50
  • Women over 60
  • Kids
  • Cyclists
  • Beginners
  • Athletes
  • Back pain
  • Weight loss
  • Injured runners
  • Nurses
  • Distance runners
  • Glutes

While it seems appealing to specialize, it helps to have a wide general level of knowledge.

A personal trainer's job is not to specialize.

A qualified healthcare professional is a smart referral:

  • Registered dietitians specialize in working with clients that have more intense nutritional needs.
  • Physical therapists work with clients who have movement dysfunctions.
  • Psychologists may work with clients on life stressors.

How do you become a personal trainer for older adults? You work alongside a health professional who works with older adults.

Trainers may grow to develop a specialty, this is likely something you’re more likely to see in a large market.

What Certification Do You Need to Be a Personal Trainer?

There is not a sole certification that you need to become a certified personal trainer.

The most common, credible certifications include:

  1. American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer (ACE-CPT)
  2. American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (ACSM-CPT)
  3. National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT)
  4. National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT)

All the above have achieved NCCA accreditation, a third party.

What is The Most Respected Personal Trainer Certification?

A Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA-CSCS) is the industry gold standard.

Not exactly “personal trainer certification”, the CSCS has a higher degree of difficulty. Candidates need a Bachelor's degree or higher degree from an accredited institution.

Some gyms have a preference when determining certifications that they’ll accept. I haven’t heard of a gym turning down a trainer for having a CSCS.

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If you came to this page looking to learn more about Personal Training in Columbia MO, you're in the right place. Let's chat, establish goals, and build a sustainable plan for your fitness.

What Does a Personal Trainer Do on a Daily Basis?

In some gyms, personal trainers carry out many roles.

What my day looks like at SSF:

Somewhere during the day, I exercise and attempt to connect with friends and family.

Because gyms, CrossFit boxes, and private studios come in so many shapes and sizes, so do trainer job responsibilities.

What are the Hours for a Personal Trainer?

Personal trainers have very busy, non-traditional schedules. Depending on the clientele, a trainer may find themselves working with clients:

  • Before the workday (9-5 pm)
  • During the day or over lunch
  • After the workday ends

That sort of schedule favors work-life integration more than "balance". That might be why your favorite trainer has nothing to talk to you about outside the gym.

Can Personal Trainers Stretch Their Clients?

Yes, Personal Trainers can perform assisted static, dynamic and PNF stretches.

Manual therapy and soft tissue manipulation require expertise and are not legally allowed.

Trainers aim to stay within their scope of practice. Many are uncomfortable with stretching clients.

For those who choose to, caution should be taken in two scenarios:

  1. Lack of expected improvement.
  2. Experiencing any pain or discomfort.

If either of these arises, a referral should be made to a physical therapist or qualified health professional.

Can Personal Trainers Give Massages?

No, a personal trainer cannot give you a massage. A licensed massage therapist or person licensed in manual therapy can.

A massage is way outside the scope of training and might cross some boundaries.

Are Personal Trainers Flirty?

Your trainer might be friendly but should never cross your boundaries.

Your trainer should communicate what they are willing to do and not do in your relationship.

  • Can you send your trainer a text message? Email? Call them on weekends?
  • How are conflict and confidentiality handled?
  • Is there a client handbook or written contract?

If you become uncomfortable working with your trainer, address it immediately.

These ideas from Crucial Conversations come to mind:

  • Communicate your facts.
  • Ask questions with curiosity, and empathy.
  • Give your trainer room to correct any potential misunderstandings.

If you’re a trainer or would like more information on setting boundaries, I’d recommend checking out this article from Krista Scott-Dixon, Ph.D.