Do you have to have a college degree in order to become a personal trainer?

No, they are not required.  But, it is advised that you become a certified personal trainer.  Many of these programs can certify you within a few weeks.  But, understand that just because you receive certification does not mean that you can start out immediately as a personal trainer.  Also, this does not guarantee that you will be successful as a personal trainer.  You will need a little bit more.


A Bachelor Degree is Not a Necessity


The logic of this will seem somewhat confusing, but you do not need a personal training degree in order to practice as a personal trainer.  However, no one can deny that a personal trainer degree can be very beneficial.  Good colleges have 4 year degrees, Associate degree programs, certificates and even diplomas that can be beneficial for you.  Aside from the degrees, the other programs will only take a few months to complete.  This is makes them very popular for many people.


If you are still trying to determine which route you will take, then try to answer the following question.  If you had a choice, which type of personal trainer seems more appealing to you?  Which one would you hire as your personal trainer:


  • A trainer who went through a recognized program for four years and is knowledgeable about nutrition and anatomy.
  • A trainer who purchased a six week mail order course online.  Although he passed the final exam, it was open book and a proctor was not present.


Of course, most people would go with the second option.  Even though there are many different ways to become a personal trainer, you want to choose the path that that is credible.  Be willing to do the work and stop trying to find an easy alternative that won’t get you anywhere.


Do What the Others Do


But, it will amaze you to learn that most personal trainers do not have a personal trainer degree.  This might even upset some people, if they are in the market for a good personal trainer.


Browse through the site and pick out one of the personal trainer certifications that we review.  It is easy to find an entry level certification program. Once completed, you could be working in your local gym in only a couple of months.  You might not be making that much money, but you can learn as much as you can and earn consistent money in the process.


If you want a personal training career, you should consider getting a personal trainer degree or another type of advanced certification.  If you desire to open your own business, then you will also want to take a few business courses as well.

by Katie Donnelly

Personal Trainers: Avoid the Scams!

The renewed focus of the role of regular exercise and a good diet on health created a demand for the services of personal trainers. With more people looking for certification, there’s been a huge increase in the number of online schools ready fill the need. The schools often have a website that draws your attention, with not only the layout, but also the promise of great web-based training at your convenience and super reputable credentials. But it is hard to tell a reputable school or certification from the many personal training scams.

There are good personal training schools out there, ones who have served the needs of the community for ten years or more. However, many less than reputable schools call themselves non-profit schools. These schools are anything but, according to the information from the IRS and have no personal training accreditation.

Looking for a reputable school means identifying one known industry wide. The length of time in the business is one indication they are reputable and give you the preparation required to help clients.

Checking the type of certification offered to find the one with the best rating is another method. You can also rely on the reviews of popular certification programs on our site as well as reviews from the people who have already used them.

Remember, if the tests require little effort to pass, you probably landed on a less than reputable school. Those with the most grueling and difficult programs normally offer a certification that has high value.

If You’ve Made a Mistake in the Past, You’re Not Alone

It’s easy to fall prey to the scam artists online. A legitimate personal training course sounds difficult and often too intimidating to pass. The websites that offer easier courses take advantage of that intimidation, hoping to lure in students that are too afraid of the hard work required. The “less than useful” training and certifications may offer a very low price tag, which is another way of luring student into their web site of deceit. It’s easy to succumb to their advertising and logic if you’re a little overwhelmed or strapped for cash, but you’ll waste not only your money but also your time with a useless certificate after you completed their course.

 If It’s Too Good to Be True, It Probably Isn’t

You might find some websites offering extremely low prices that seem like a great bargain. Most of these courses are junk.  The biggest exception is the ACTION certification program which runs about $50.  With their pending NCCA Accreditation application, it is a true low cost/high quality provider.

Stop and think before you sign on the dotted line. Does the price seem too good to be true? If so, do research first because your instincts may be telling you something. You can find all types of dirt-cheap certificates online from Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees to those in personal training. Just because it’s printed on a piece of paper and mailed to you, doesn’t mean you have the knowledge backing the degree. Would you want a doctor to operate on you if he had an online degree from the “Computer School of Medicine?” Your clients won’t want your help if you don’t have the proper training and you could be opening yourself up for serious legal ramifications if you cause injury.

by Katie Donnelly


We Just Updated our Personal Trainer Salary Forecast for 2014

With the economy on the rebound in parts of the U.S. and the world, we have updated our salary forecast for 2014.  Use our salary calculator to find the average salaries for your area.

Check it out here:


Personal Training: It’s Not Just For Building Muscle

Personal trainers generally aim toward the improvement of people’s health by formulating workout routines and dietary plans custom-made for specific clients. People who undergo personal training want to receive the best service: they expect their trainers to provide them everything that they need, and answer every question that they ask.

While most personal trainers are knowledgeable in terms of physical fitness and skilled when it comes to training their clients, it is important to have a well-rounded approach to their profession. At this day and age, people generally think of personal training as tiring, outdated and too focused on building muscle. People should realize that personal trainers are not merely bodybuilders, and trainers should avoid this stereotype at all costs.

If I were you, I would look beyond what is necessary, and instead look out for the welfare of the clients even outside the personal training schedule. After all, personal fitness should not be confined to the gym or to training sessions. I believe it is imperative for any personal trainer in this generation to offer services other than what people expect from you.

If you plan to become a personal trainer that defies the cookie-cutter mold, then here are some services that I recommend you offer to your clients on top of your basic customer plans:

1.       Offer Healthy Eating Principles. Apart from designing a workout regimen for your clients, why not complete their new healthy lifestyle with general nutritional guidance? You can follow the guidelines as to make sure your clients are eating well.  Have your client track their meals.  But be careful, building a customized set of meal recipes is outside the scope of a personal trainer.  Only a licensed dietician can make specific meal plan recommendations.

An easy way to add these extra services without crossing the line is to use our Complete Training System software.  It tracks your clients workouts, eating and progress from a convenient portal.  You can give your client access to all these tools.  Give it them free or charge them a few dollars a month.  Either way, the value added services will set you apart from other trainers.  You can learn more about it here:

2.       Write your own personal fitness book. You know the basics of personal fitness, and you’ve probably devised exercise routines that are unique to you. It’s the perfect time to write a fitness book! This will not only improve your reputation as a competent trainer, but also increase your customer reach even if you cannot be physically present in other people’s training routines. It’s also an automatic marketing strategy especially when your book gets displayed in store fronts.

3.       Make a fitness blog. Another alternative to writing a book is creating your own fitness blog. It’s practically an online equivalent of a book, except that you get to update it more often. Unlike a book where you need a publisher, a fitness blog is easy to setup just by signing up to free services like Blogger and WordPress. Your blog will also provide you with much-needed online presence, perfect for the social media-savvy population.

4.       Give life coaching & stress management inputs. As you spend more time with your clients, they become more comfortable in your presence and even confide in you for personal advice. Try to equip yourself with knowledge about life coaching and stress management, because some people tend to use exercise as a means to satisfying their desires in life and solving their personal problems.

These value-adding services will ensure your growth in the business, and make you the preferred personal trainer for future clients.

by Katie Donnelly


Celebrating our Six Years with Giveaways!

We are celebrating 6 years since we launched! In that time we have helped over a million people become certified personal trainers!

But we realize now that Social Media is changing the way people share information and it is time for us to adapt.

So we are launching new tools for personal trainers and bringing them to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ so you can stay informed without having to visit our site.

Facebook: Like our Facebook page and you’ll receive free practice exam questions, trainer tips, and important industry news.

Google+: I’m  incredibly excited about the launch of this page. Google+ allows users to connect with each other using the Hangouts feature, something I hope will help as you prepare for your exam! Add SAPTB to your circle and stay updated on future hangout news.

Twitter: Who doesn’t love receiving daily tweets that help motivate and inform you on fitness-related news? By following the SAPTB Twitter, you’ll receive just that! Follow us on Twitter today

Pinterest: I post fun and informative pins, ranging from obscure workout techniques to healthy living suggestions! Follow us on Pinterest!



What do I get?

If you follow us on all four social networks above, we will give you a free copy of our Exam Prep Course ($32.95 value) -OR-

We will give you access to discounted liability insurance. Save $75 every year!


How do I get it?

1. Follow us on all four social networks above (it must be all of them)

2. Choose if you want the exam prep course or the discounted insurance.

3. Email us at

4. Include the name you go by on each social network so we can verify that you are following on all four.


There are 30,000 of you and only one of me… so please allow at least a week for me to process all these requests.



And While You are at it… Get a Free CEU Class from ACTION Certification

We copied this social media contest from one of our sponsors. ACTION Certification are giving away a free CEU class (Starting a Boot camp Business or Marketng for Personal Trainers) to people who follow them on all the social networks.

So you can follow us and them at the same time and get a CEU class too.

We have nothing to do with their contest so don’t ask me about it. You can get the details here:



Group Study Sessions


We are using the Google+ Hangouts feature to help you prepare for the exam. This is a great way to study with other people who are taking the same exam. Check out the schedule below and join the circle on Google+ for the exam you are interested in.

Date Certification Time (Pacific)
9/4/2013 ISSA 5:30-6:00
9/11/2013 NASM 5:30-6:00
9/18/2013 ACTION 5:30-6:00
9/25/2013 NSCA 5:30-6:00
10/2/2013 ACSM 5:30-6:00
10/9/2013 ACE 5:30-6:00

Each of these are just starting points for each group. Groups may decide to meet more often.


Save 10% on NASM Products

Thanks to NASM for all their support of our site. They are giving our readers 10% off all of their products. Just use coupon code SAPTB10 when checking out. You can access the NASM store here.



Understanding Liability Insurance Coverage

As a personal trainer, one thing to consider purchasing is liability insurance. With the potential for physical injury, personal training can be risky business for both the trainer and their clients. Rather than minimize the need and hope nothing bad ever happens, it is best business practice to consider finding coverage. That way, you can go about your everyday business without worry taking over.

Professional liability coverage, also known as errors and omissions insurance (E&O) is written for business owners who provide clients with professional and personal services. E&O covers:
• Negligence – any advice or mistakes you or your employees make through the services or products provided.
• Defense costs – regardless of fault, all suits filed against you, your company, or your employees.
• Past, present, and future services – up to an agreed upon time, your company is covered completely for previous, current, and future work.

Generally speaking, liability coverage falls into five categories for personal trainers:
• General/Professional Liability
• Sexual Abuse Liability
• Products Liability
• Medical Payments
• Damage to Premises

The most common claims in the field include those involving bodily injury, slander, libel, and wrongful invasion of privacy.

The level or amount of insurance depends greatly on the situation at hand. If most of the interactions with clients are outside your own home or environment, then less liability insurance is needed because there would not be a great concern about damages to the premises. Fitness training can occur through the use of video tutorials, making it meaningless to buy comprehensive insurance.

One important factor personal trainers cannot assume is that if they are working for a gym, that their policy will provide appropriate coverage. Most of the time, trainers are working as individual contractors and simply renting out the spaces, in which case, there is no umbrella coverage from the facility. Personal trainers have to find their own liability insurance, as they are still liable for anything that may happen while their clients are under their care.

Whether or not you are negligent, there is always a chance clients can name you as the cause of an injury. They can call you out even if you had nothing to do with the injury. The truth will come out in a court of law; however, liability insurance can help cover the costs until you are proven innocent.

Professional liability insurance is typically written using “claims made” or “occurrence” bases. Claims made basis coverage refers to claims made while the policy is enforced, regardless of when the incident occurred. Occurrence basis coverage is for bodily injury or property damage cases while the policy is enforced, regardless of when the claim is made.

As you begin to explore professional liability insurance coverage for your new business, make sure you are considering customizing the policy to fit your unique situation. Consider what triggers coverage in what you do with clients. Determine how much deductible you can afford. Assure that all defense costs are covered regardless of the final verdict. It is always better to be safe than sorry when managing your own personal training business.

You should expect to pay around $200 per year for a multi-million dollar policy. The best deal I have seen is offered by ACTION Certification ( which includes $2 million in coverage for $105 per year with options to increase coverage to $5 million.


by Katie Donnelly


Are You Sure You Want to be a Personal Trainer?

Become a Personal Trainer

Before jumping right in and investing time and money into a certification program, I would recommend that you take some time to reflect on why you really want to be a personal trainer.  Of course, I always welcome new trainers and get very excited when people find their passions in the field.  I know, however, how committed and dedicated you must be to find success in this rewarding industry.


I would like to share some of the things I wish I knew when I first started my career as a personal trainer.


  1. This is not a nine-to-five job.  Most people who hire personal trainers have those typical, set hours, but not those doing the training.  Personal trainers usually work outside those hours to accommodate for available time on the clients’ parts.  This means that it is not out of the ordinary to meet clients at the gym at 5:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m., as they tend to exercise before or after work.


The beauty of this flexible schedule is the amount of things you actually get done between those early morning and early evening workout hours.  I found that I was able to actually run errands and take my time to get to the post office and visit the bank without running around during my restricted lunch hour like a chicken with my head cut off.


  1. You have to love being with and having fun with people.  I definitely love being with people, but I didn’t realize how much I would interact with them, despite the fact that my business was online.  You have to possess the right personality to go out and recruit clients, interact with them and engage them during the workouts, and support them afterwards.  It is vital to stay in constant contact with clients to keep them coming back for more.


One thing I have enjoyed most about working as a personal trainer is the diversity I have learned to appreciate in the various clients I serve.  The stories they tell are interesting, constantly inspiring me to be a better person.  The best feeling is hearing their stories and some of the reasons why they are instituting a personal training regimen, and then, watching them reach their goals and succeed in the end.  For some, their personal training is helping them through a rough patch in life.


  1. There’s more to running a business than just the personal training part.  If you are considering managing your own online personal training business, one thing you need to consider is that you need to know and be able to do it all.  What I mean by that is not only are you the personal trainer for your business, you are also the marketing director, the bookkeeper, and the attorney.  There is an entire business aspect that needs to be considered.


One thing that makes owning your own business special, despite having to wear many hats, is you don’t have to answer to anyone else but yourself.  If you are aware of the different aspects of your business and you know how it is run, even if you hired someone to help manage the day-to-day, routine “stuff”, you would still understand what is going on.  As a business owner, it is very important to keep a pulse on what is going on at all levels of the business.


  1. Specialize in a niche market.  Rather than competing with general personal trainers out there, which there are plenty of, it might be wise to specialize in a niche.  This will allow you to focus your marketing efforts to a certain population, which will help you grow loyal followers at a much faster rate.  Niches can be based on age, gender, or purpose.


For instance, catering to thirty-something women who want to lose their pregnancy fat is a great niche, as the concern is always there after childbirth.  Another group that is attracted to physical training is middle-aged women who are starting to notice their aging bulges.  Working with a certain niche would allow you to really get to know the people in them, making it lots of fun to compare stories and talk about specific issues and solutions to them that surround a certain niche group.


These four major kernels of knowledge or pieces of advice helped me get through some of my early struggles when I started my own online personal training business.  Although I thought I was aware of each point, it wasn’t until I actually sat down and thought about them mindfully that I came to the conclusions I shared.


Owning your own personal training business can end up being one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do in life.  To see the smiles on faces of those who succeed and listen to their stories of how they made it is second-to-none.  Knowing that you were a huge part of helping a person find the right path or get back on track with their physical health, is one of the best feelings on earth.


I wish you the best of luck as you pursue your dreams of being a personal trainer.


by Katie Donnelly