How Becoming a Part-Time Personal Trainer Can Give You A Fresh Start

Angie Miller, MS
Angie Miller, MS
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Personal trainers are individuals who inspire, motivate, and guide others to achieve their fitness goals. It is a rewarding, highly-ranked career with immense job satisfaction (CNN Money, 2012).

 If you are ready to become more involved in the fitness industry but apprehensive about quitting your day job, consider part-time personal training. You can become a NASM CPT part time and still get the benefits of a fulltime position. 

Why Become a Personal Trainer?

The need for personal trainers is growing rapidly by approximately 13% each year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019). Health club companies are also experiencing significant growth, with 21 of the top 100 companies reporting revenue growth of 10% or higher in 2018, and select franchised brands reporting increases of over 30% (Club Industry, 2019). As health club companies continue to grow, so does the need for qualified trainers.

Our society is making a slow shift to a more health-conscious culture.  With organic food purchases increasing by 5.9% in 2018 (Food Business News, 2019) and gains in wearable fitness technology, the time is ripe to help others move from the intention to the implementation stage of their fitness journey.

Personal training may appeal to you for a number of reasons. Perhaps you are working full-time but are looking for a way to explore your passion for fitness and helping others. Or maybe you’re working in a related field, as a group fitness instructor, nutritionist, or health coach, and it would benefit your clients and your bottom line to gain more expertise.

The most sought-after trainers are typically those who are motivated to help others achieve their fitness goals, and who are educated, passionate, and possess strong communication skills that enable them to develop relationships with clients. Whatever your reasons for becoming a personal trainer, consider professional autonomy, a flexible schedule, the ability to make a meaningful difference, compensation, and endless growth opportunities among them.

Flexible Schedule

Part-time personal training allows for a flexible schedule. This is particularly beneficial if you are working full time in another field. Personal trainers generally work for a health club as an employee or independent contractor, or they own their own training business.

If you are employed at a health club, you will work out your schedule with your employer and likely have other job responsibilities. Being hired through a club allows you to collaborate with other trainers, have access to the latest gym equipment, and potentially gain more clients. Often your gym membership fee is waived as part of your compensation package, and benefits may be an option.

On the other hand, if you own your own training business, you arrange a schedule with your clients and meet them at a home, or at a space you rent or own. Working independently may require more work initially when trying to build a strong client base, but it allows for greater flexibility with your schedule and more professional autonomy. Online training is another option for trainers. Some trainers train exclusively online, and others have a more hybrid approach, training clients in person and online.


As a personal trainer, you have professional independence. If you have your own training business, you have the freedom to determine your hourly rate, navigate your schedule, maintain flexibility when necessary, and determine what type of clientele you will serve. You also have the freedom to design your training programs and to tailor them to meet the needs of your clients individually. When you work for a health club, professional autonomy may be more limited. Still, overall, personal training is a field that is designed for those who value decision making, independence, and a flexible work environment. 

Make a Difference

Personal training is an excellent way to make a lasting impact on the health and well-being of others. As a trainer, you inspire your clients on their journey to better health and guide them as they make meaningful change. Many people are eager to become stronger, gain endurance, lose weight, and make healthier choices. Still, they need a personal trainer to help them identify realistic goals and to create a comprehensive exercise plan that will help them reach those goals.

Additionally, they need a connection with a trained expert who will motivate them and keep them on track. The greatest reward in personal training is to witness the growth and success of your clients and to realize the impact that exercise and healthy lifestyle choices can have on a person’s psychological and physical well-being.

Part-Time PErsonal Trainer Salary

Compensation for personal trainers is based on a variety of factors, one of which is geographic location. Salaries often align with the local cost of living vs. the national average. It is also based on the level of education, including degrees and certifications.

Those who have earned degrees in areas such as kinesiology and exercise science will likely make more. Those who have earned fitness industry certifications that are nationally accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), such as the NASM Personal Trainer Certification, will also likely earn more.

Other factors that determine compensation include continuing education, such as live workshops, conventions, or online learning opportunities. Additionally, advanced certifications and specializations, such as corrective exercise, give trainers an edge and allow them to charge more for their services.

Personal training is a unique career that lends itself to both part-time and full-time opportunities. Whether you're just launching into the job market or already established in a different career, part-time personal training can be an ideal entry point into the fitness industry.

Challenges and Rewards of Part Time Training

After you've completed your certification, or even while you are preparing for the exam, it's important to evaluate what path you want to start your personal trainer journey on. Are you ready to jump into working full time or should you start with a slower transition as a part-time trainer?

For many trainers, the more practical approach is through part-time personal training. This route boasts flexibility and a quick opportunity to grow, especially for professionals looking for a side job or an ideal opportunity for stay-at-home parents.

Before you choose, consider these challenges and rewards of part-time personal training.


Perhaps the biggest challenge of part-time training is the schedule. Consider that a majority of your potential clients are out in the working world between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. So where does this leave you as a trainer? Previously a part-time trainer, Kyle Stull says many trainers work split shifts to accommodate clients who have normal work schedules. "One of the staples of being a personal trainer is that we work when others don't," he explains. For instance, when Stull began training, his first client of the day was at 4:30 a.m. This can be a big wake up call for some night owl trainers, literally.

REWARD: If personal trainers aren't constantly booked with clients, they have the opportunity to grow more as an educated fitness professional. "Working part time allows a trainer to take time to study and grow their knowledge," says part-time trainer Jonathon Schetzsle. Before, he says he studied, took the NASM test, and then trained 20 clients a week in a full-time gym position. “The time not spent training many clients really allows the trainer to grasp how detailed the needs of each individual are - especially when following the NASM OPT model. Details and execution must be well studied and understood in order to ensure injury-free results."


Trainers working only part time may also have difficulty finding clients in the beginning, especially if they do not work in a health club atmosphere, where people already seek their services. Instead, those working for themselves must put in the extra effort to gain a steady clientele to meet their needs.


REWARD: Personal training is an excellent source of supplemental income while pursuing other personal and professional duties. Stull says that the benefits of being a trainer are "almost unlimited," and he cites the income as a favorable reward of working part-time. Having the ability to set your own wages allows you to adjust your working hours accordingly, which is especially important for those juggling life's other responsibilities.


Part-time trainers must learn to balance their other roles in life. Whether it’s sharing childcare duties, other job requirements, or other pursuits and personal responsibilities.

REWARD: The flexibility personal trainers have is huge, making this an alluring and satisfying field. With the ability to create your own schedule and set your wages, personal trainers can be in complete control of their career. Often times, part-time personal trainers will transition into full-time careers. With the help of experience, expertise and education, personal trainers will build a loyal client base necessary to be successful at the full-time level.

All Things Considered: Your Part-Time Business

While some trainers want to work part-time in a health club setting, others will be drawn to the allure of going solo. Doesn’t everyone dream about being their own boss? Here are some considerations to keep in mind if you are considering your own part-time training venture.

1. Liability insurance: This insurance protects you from pricey lawsuits if a client claims injury. Think of liability insurance as protecting you from trainer "malpractice." Liability insurance costs around $200 per year and is essential for any personal trainer on his or her own.

2. Health insurance: If you don't receive insurance through another job or your spouse, you'll need to look into independent health insurance plans. Web sites like www.ehealthinsurance.com or https://www.getinsured.com/hix aggregate quotes from many insurance providers and provide you with a comparative listing.

3. Overhead costs: Many trainers are moving toward being a mobile fitness guru, working with clients in their homes or outdoors in public parks. Luckily not much space is needed for an effective workout. However, if you decide to occupy your own space, the overhead costs like rent, insurance, and utilities can be quite high and it may be difficult to break even if you choose to only work part time.

4. Business basics: Any trainer starting out should invest some time in learning basic sales techniques, marketing strategies and budget management. Check with your local small business association or community college for free and low-cost classes for new business owners on how to be successful.

5. Time management: A part-time job may turn into a full-time position if you are making the most of your time. Stull recommends keeping socializing to a minimum. Instead, use work hours to train and then update files, records and measurements. By employing time management strategies like keeping focused, prioritizing and creating deadlines, you will be sure to use your time wisely.

6. Drive and creativity: Most importantly, trainers working part time will have to show a tenacious desire to succeed. Be creative in how you market your services and share your passion in your role as a fitness professional.

Part-Time PErsonal Trainer Careers

A journey into part-time personal training doesn't have to end there. You may find that you are ready to leap into training full-time, or maybe you have different goals in the fitness industry. Take some time to tap into your strengths and areas of interest.

There is likely a way to combine this with your experience and passion for fitness. Some personal trainers go on to gain additional certifications and specializations in the field. As the personal training industry is growing and becoming increasingly competitive, this is a way to provide more knowledge to your clients and allow your services to be more attractive. Here are some certifications and specializations to consider:

Group Fitness Instructor:

With an AFAA Group Fitness Instructor Certification, you’ll be exposed to larger groups of people and have the opportunity to build trust and rapport, which will help you attract more clients. With group strength, hybrid formats, and equipment-based classes on the rise, having the skills to lead large groups gives you a competitive edge.

Nutrition Coach:

As an NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, you’ll be able to provide individualized nutrition coaching for your clients. You’ll understand how clients get stuck in dietary cycles, and you’ll learn strategies to help them overcome negative eating habits. You’ll have the expertise to help them make sound nutritional choices and to build healthy habits that last a lifetime.

Weight Loss Specialist:

The NASM Weight Loss Specialization allows you to help clients identify and overcome the physical and psychological challenges of losing and/or maintaining weight. Additionally, you'll know to design weight loss programs and to identify the most up-to-date weight-loss guidelines and training methodologies. 

Behavior Change Specialization:

With the NASM Behavior Change Specialization, you learn life coaching skills. This includes strategies to help clients set realistic goals, overcome obstacles, and transform their thinking, giving them the tools to make positive, lasting change. 

Corrective Exercise Specialist:

Becoming an NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist will elevate your skills and expertise, making you more marketable and increasing your value as a trainer. This specialization will give you the tools to assess your clients, determine their movement compensations, and use that knowledge to develop effective programs that reduce their injury risk and help them to move more efficiently.

There are unlimited opportunities in the health and fitness industry. Earning a personal training certification is just a start. From there, you can expand your expertise with additional training and education. If you are ready to delve into the world of personal training, check out NASM’s Personal Training Certification programs. NASM is a leader in the health and fitness industry with some of the most respected training programs among fitness professionals.


Club Industry. (2019, August). Club Industry’s Top 100 Health Clubs of 2019. Retrieved from “https://www.clubindustry.com/awards-rankings/club-industrys-top-100-health-clubs-2019

CNN Money. (2012, October).
Best Jobs in America. Retrieved from “https://money.cnn.com/pf/best-jobs/2012/snapshots/18.html

Food Business News. (2019,
May). U.S. Annual Organic Food Sales Near $48 Billion. Retrieved from “https://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/13805-us-organic-food-sales-near-48-billion

U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics. (2019, September). Occupational Outlook Handbook, Fitness Trainers
and Instructors. Retrieved from “https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/fitness-trainers-and-instructors.htm

The Author

Angie Miller, MS

Angie Miller, MS

Angie Miller, M.S., is a health and fitness educator, speaker, and licensed counselor. She teaches at Northern Illinois University in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education and presents at mental health and fitness conferences worldwide. Angie owns her own fitness company, Angie Miller Fitness, and she is a Master Instructor for NASM, AFAA, and Kettlebell Concepts. She writes for fitness journals and digital communities and publishes a weekly blog where she covers fitness and lifestyle topics. You can learn more about Angie on her website, http://www.angiemillerfitness.com


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