You have your certification in hand; you are excited to get started and train your first clients; you have been pounding the pavement and visiting all your local gyms; and yet you aren’t getting hired.
What have you done wrong?
Getting a job, even with the right certification, takes a little finesse.
Here are some guidelines to help you get out ahead of the crowd of trainers looking for a position, and land that job.
At ISSA we prepare our students to be professionals and excellent trainers, but sometimes we get feedback that new trainers went to job interviews or applied at gyms with a marked lack of professionalism. We have heard of new trainers going to interviews or dropping off resumes demonstrating a disrespectful attitude, arrogance, and condescension toward gym staff.
Do you think they got the job?
Approach every interaction you have with a potential employer as your most professional self. Be respectful and come prepared with your resume, a cover letter, references, proof of your certification, and even your transcripts to show the coursework you have done. Wear appropriate clothing and lean toward overdressing rather than being too casual. It’s also a good idea to be prepared to demonstrate your skills by leading a short class or giving a sample training demonstration.
Show That You Can Communicate
No gym will care anything about your certification or expertise in creating fun and effective training programs if you can’t talk to clients and make them feel comfortable, or if you can’t lead a group of people through a class without getting nervous or stumbling over your instructions.
The hiring team at the gym will be able to tell right away if you can communicate well or not, so try this trick: create and practice a short testimonial. Take some time to write a short essay, just a half page or one page, about why you became a trainer, why you love what you do, and who inspired you and helped you get this far.
Turn this into an introductory testimonial that can become your cover letter for a resume and your sales pitch for yourself when you apply for jobs. Practice saying it without memorizing it word-for-word, so it sounds natural and genuine. This short speech can prove to those who are hiring that you actually can communicate clearly.
Being an Expert Trainer Isn’t Enough; Gyms Want Trainers Who Can Sell
You learned to be a trainer because you are passionate about fitness and health, right? And you want to help people realize their goals. This is what being a trainer is all about. It’s what we love about this line of work.
Working as a trainer at a gym goes beyond this, though. You can be exceptional at fitness and help people train better, but if you can’t sell what the gym is offering to clients, you may not be a good candidate for a job.
Gyms are looking for great trainers who can sell classes, personal training sessions, and even gear and products. To be the best candidate for a gym job you need to demonstrate that you have the ability to sell.
On your resume and in interviews talk about any experiences you have had in sales, even if it is only that retail job you had years ago. If you can say you learned any sales strategies from that job, play it up. Include all past experiences in communications, marketing, psychology, even education or business in general. These will all demonstrate that you can sell as well as train.
Do Your Research and Know What Clients Need
Being prepared and knowing what gyms are looking for in a trainer will give you a head start in landing a position. For example, if you walk into a gym that caters to the over-55 age group and can demonstrate that you have worked with older clients before and know how to develop programs tailored to their needs, you will have a huge advantage over your competition.
Also keep this in mind as you look for new clients. Whether you work on a contract basis or as a gym employee, you will need to sell your services to get new clients to sign on. If you know what they want and need, you can better sell yourself. If you live near a golfing community, let people know that you have a fitness program designed specifically for golf.
It’s also important that you take the time to find out what individual prospective clients want. If you know that the woman you met the other day wants to lose ten pounds, make sure she knows why you are the best person for weight loss training. Ask what prospective clients want from training and then demonstrate how you can meet that need.
Strike out on Your Own
Maybe being an employee just isn’t for you. Trainers can work on a freelance or contract basis, but keep in mind that working this way means getting new clients is all on you. You won’t have a gym with its marketing department to send clients your way. You will have to hustle and sell to get paying clients and you may not always have a steady income.
With that warning in mind, it can be rewarding to go your own way and be your own boss. You get flexibility and freedom from the restrictions of a gym and its corporate rules. You will need to consider where to offer your services. Some gyms may rent out space to you, but if you have facilities within your home, that may work for you as well.
Being a trainer is not about being superhumanly strong or having a perfect education or even just training plus a little luck. Successful, working trainers got where they are through hard work and persistence. If you get rejected by the first, second, third, or even fourth gym, reflect on the possible reasons and get prepared for the next interview.
Persistence extends to getting clients too. Sell your services to just about everyone you meet. Use social media. Build a website to sell your programs. Do what it takes to get a job and build up a strong client base. Hard work is what it takes. You can’t just sit at the gym and expect clients to come to you. There are too many other trainers out there already working hard to get those clients.
Gyms that accept ISSA certification for new trainers
Most gyms will accept ISSA certification for new trainers because we offer educational programs that include high-quality course offerings with experienced instructors that focus on preparing students to become well-rounded, knowledgeable, and caring trainers. Our programs are accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), which ensures that we offer exactly what we promise students.
DEAC accreditation is recognized by the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association. Accreditation from the DEAC means that we meet the rigorous standards set by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. So when we contact gyms to find out if they recognize ISSA certification? The answer is almost always yes.
We want to make sure that your hard work in becoming certified trainer pays off, so please contact us anytime if you run into roadblocks regarding your certification. We have fielded requests from former students previously and have been able to sort out the issue of whether or not a gym will accept ISSA certification. Often, the answer is that, yes, the gym will take ISSA certification, but we just had to dig a little deeper with a particular gym to get to that answer.
Finally, if you find that a gym doesn’t have an interest in hiring you, the reason may not be your certification, no matter what the hiring staff tells you. This is a competitive field and gyms only want to hire the absolute best. To be considered, being certified is just the beginning. You also need to present yourself in a professional manner, have a great resume, give an excellent interview, prove that you can be a good salesperson and more.
Do not hesitate to contact us if there is anything we can do to help you land that job. We want our trainers to succeed and to go out into the fitness world and make a real difference.