Today I’m going to break down and simplify how you can become a personal trainer in Ontario.
Over 11 years ago, before I opened Placemade personal training studio, I was struggling to learn how to get started as a personal trainer. I’d spend hours researching things like how to start a personal training business, where to find the best personal training studio and what are the steps I can take to make sure my clients get the most rewarding experience.
It wasn’t easy and got super frustrating at times. I had a lot of what the f*** moments! This guide cuts out all that noise and dives right into all my tips and tricks to help you get started today.
The best place to start is the basics. What is a personal trainer?
A personal trainer is a certified professional who assesses their clients strengths and weaknesses to create a customized workout routine that meets their goals. A good personal trainer will tell their clients what they should do, push them to be motivated and provide the necessary tools to get the job done. But what about a great personal trainer? They ask their clients what they’ve done in the past, what they expect from this current experience and then support their journey towards an attainable goal.
How to becomE a personal trainer in Ontario
1. Get Certified as a Personal Trainer
The first thing to understand about the personal training industry in Ontario is that it’s unregulated. This means that unlike other professions such as teaching or nursing, anyone can call themselves a personal trainer.
At first, this sounds great. Theoretically you could launch your business today. You’ve been working out for years and understand fitness so why not get started right now?
Here are 3 key reasons to invest in a personal training certification:
Yes, insurance. To get personal training insurance you must show proof of owning a recognized certification. Why bother with insurance? Well, you can still pop over to your clients home for a quick cardio session, or meet them at a park to get things started. But what happens on the off chance your client gets injured? We hope they are the type of client that is understanding, but no one wants to be at risk of being personally liable for a lawsuit that could arise. Cue personal training insurance.
If you operate as an independent personal trainer (not for a gym or fitness organization) the chances of a client asking to see your credentials are low. Most of the time they’ll be judging your services based on your physical appearance and other client reviews. But then there are those times when there is a client who asks for your credentials, what do you? Or if you’re really great at what you do and you get asked to write an article for a magazine or come on a talk show to spread your knowledge, how do you show proof of your experience? We live in a world where proof of experience still matters.
I’m going to be real with you. Getting a certification won’t magically make you a better personal trainer overnight. In fact, your past knowledge and own experience might be the thing that sets you apart from the crowd. However, what a certification will do is open up windows and doors of opportunity for your career. As you grow and carve out your own niche, you’ll want to try new things. You’ll want to learn. Maybe you’ll want to open your own personal training studio like I did. When those moments come, you’ll want that security of having a certification. Don’t limit your ability to become a true authority and leader in your field just because you don’t have proof of your credentials.
Bonus: getting a certification will expose you to irreplaceable networking opportunities, exciting joint ventures and valuable referrals to help your business thrive.
These are a few of my top recommended personal training certification programs that are recognized in Ontario:
- Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology (CSEP-CPT)
- The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
- National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
2. Find the Right Job
Once you’ve got your certification the next step is figuring out where you want to work. Make this decision easy by looking at your strongest skill set.
It’s important to consider that you cannot be the personal trainer that does it all. You have to have a clear direction and understanding of your target market in order to properly reach them.
For example, if you’re a personal trainer who excels at bodybuilding, working at a Fit4Less probably won’t help you reach the clients you want to work with.
Figure out your niche, then choose the place you can reach your clients best.
Now that you have your niche in mind, should you work for yourself as a self-employed trainer? Should you work for a gym as an employee? Let’s help you weigh your options by taking a look at the advantages and disadvantages of working as a self employed personal trainer vs an employee.
Self-Employed Personal Trainer
- You are your own boss, you work on obtaining clients, and you choose the style of workout sessions
- Fees are decided by you, and YOU earn 100% of the money
- You pick your working schedule and you can decide how much work to put into your business
- Client pool increases as you are not membership dependent
- You may be eligible for small business tax benefits
- You work alone, which means less free time and less external support (unless you share a personal training studio with other trainers)
- The added amenities of working at a gym are not at your disposal like a pool, sauna, massage tables etc.
- You have a limit on equipment selection
- Working in client’s preferred locations, you will spend a lot of time traveling which means less time in your day to train clients, less clients = less money
- You will be solely responsible for full liability insurance, start-up capital and any ongoing business expenditures
Employee at a Fitness Facility
- You can gain experience from other personal trainers you work with
- You get access to a wide array of equipment and amenities
- There is a unique opportunity to market yourself and get new clients without having the added travel time
- Employers at a fitness center may cover your liability insurance saving you money
- You do not earn 100% of the money meaning you could need to work more to make more
- Clients are not yours, and you don’t get to choose who to work with
- You don’t get as much flexibility because you don’t pick your own working schedule
Choosing where you want to work will at the end of the day be a personal decision. What helped me decide was making my own pros and cons list based on who I wanted to work with.
3. Build Your Client List
Once you’ve decided your niche and are set up as an independent personal trainer or an employee, it’s time to build your client list.
Building a list of clients in the personal training industry boils down one key ingredient: networking. Your network is your net worth.
No matter if you are an independent contractor or employee, you are in control of establishing a good relationship with your clients in order to bring in more.
Your list of existing and potential customers all comes back to asking your current clients for referrals, finding ways to promote your services and turning leads into customers.
Networking in our industry is like squeezing the ripest orange in order to get the best juice. It is THE skill that will grow your client roster.
Take advantage of continued learning programs with like minded people, don’t be scared to attend health and fitness events, and keep exploring new avenues of networking/promotion like social media.
And now with your flourishing network and amazing experience, you’ve got all these clients succeeding, great! However this is not the stage to forget about your clients journey. Yes, they came to you with a goal and yes you may have helped them get there, but what’s next?
Ask for referrals, get social media testimonials and use their feedback to become better.
Grow Your Network Today
Now you have three simplified steps to jump start your personal training career!
To start as a personal trainer can be challenging. The raw truth is, until you create a solid client base, the time you spend on your business can be unpredictable and lonely at times. Your income may not be consistent and frustration is part of the process.
But, hard work pays off and thanks to this guide you don’t need to spend hours having anymore what the f*** moments like I did.
Still feeling overwhelmed? It’s ok, I get it. I’m here to support your journey and make the process a little less lonely.
At our personal training studio, we help personal trainers like you elevate their businesses by:
- networking with like minded professionals,
- leaning on our powerful community for business support, and
- getting access to our top quality equipment and shared co-working space.
Boost your network today and get in touch with me. I’m happy to help you on your new adventure… or even grab a quick smoothie!
Good-luck, you got this.