Personal Trainer Resume Tips

Ok you’re a certified personal trainer.  Now what?  How do you get a job?  Even before that, how do you present yourself to your future employers in a way that helps you get head of all the other personal trainers?  One of the easiest ways to jump ahead of the pack is to have a good personal trainer resume.  This is actually one of my pet peeves about most fitness certifications; they spend way too much time on the “Albert Einstein” science stuff (the stuff you’ll never use!) and they neglect the real life “this is what you need to know to make a living” information.  That’s what I want to discuss here.  Thanks for Lyn Reebenaker for suggesting this topic :)

 

The first thing you need to know is that the managers at most of the big chain gyms – Bally’s LA Fitness, ect. – probably are not expecting you to have a personal trainer resume.  I say this because many big chain health clubs hire trainers because of their looks and secondly, their perceived ability to sell gym memberships.  Also, most of the people who walk in the door of a gym looking for a job will probably say “Are you hiring personal trainers?” without having a resume.

That said, when you enter a gym with a resume, you automatically go to the font of the line – at least in the eyes of anyone who knows anything.

 

What to put in your resume?

A personal trainer resume won’t be really different than a resume in any other field.  It will have areas for your name, address phone number, email and website (if you have a website. Tip. Eventually you should! Here is how I made my websites. It’s easy!).

The resume will also contain sections for you to place your:

  • Work experience (if you have any)
  • Education (HS, college etc.)
  • Certifications (list any fitness certs you have)
  • CPR/AED certs.  In this section, say “CRP and AED certified” Tip: You need to have a CPR and AED cert if you are serious about being a personal trainer. Some gyms will not hire you if you don’t have these. Click here to find CPR/AED classes in your area.
  •  Fitness organization affiliations (IDEA, ACSM, etc). If you are not a member of any fitness organization (besides the organization you are certified by) leave this part out.
  • Special skills you have (computer skills, sports training skills etc). If you graduated high school with perfect attendance, list that. If you have completed the Iron Man Triathlon list that too.

As for work experience, list any work experience you have – even if it is not related to fitness or personal training. Smart gym owners/managers recognize that being a good personal trainer takes more than just a certification. Having real world experience in almost any field can be an asset to you.

Serious personal trainers should also have a website. Just follow these steps to make your website and it will be set up in about an hour.

 Tip. You do not need to list your gender, age, birthday or marital status on your resume. It’s illegal for employers to ask these questions. Women, do not have to tell employers if they are pregnant when they apply for a job. Employers are not allowed to ask about this either.

Also, don’t worry if you are are over 40 and want to be a personal trainer. As you will see in the post I linked to, being older can actually work in your favor.

 

Tip. it’s good to list multiple items in bullets form. This makes for easy reading. for example, you might list:

  • Completed Iron Man Triathlon in Hawaii 2011
  • Graduated high school with a GPA of 4.0
  • Made it to finals of Ultimate Ninja Warrior

In addition when you describe accomplishments keep it short and to the point.

 

Where can I get a resume?

I you are a Windows user, a great place to find templates for resumes is Microsoft.com. The resume templates you’ll find there are all formatted for you. All you have to do is fill in your information. Find a template that you like and download it to your desktop and save the file as “my resume” or something like that.

 

Another option is to Google phrases like “good resume” or “fitness resume” or something like that and see what comes up. Then, when you find a resume that you like, copy the way it looks into your word processor (Word, etc.) and add in your information.

If you are making your own resume, make sure the font size is 11-12.  Times New Roman is also a good font for resumes.  Remember, larger fonts and font sizes make your resume more pages. Ideally, your resume should only be 1-2 pages long.

 

 Tip. After you have your resume made save it as a PDF file. That way, if you ever have to email your personal trainer resume to an employer, it will look exactly the same on their computer as it looks on your computer. Both windows PCs and Macs let you save files as PDFs.

 

What if you have no experience?

We all have to start somewhere and its possible that you may have no personal trainer work experience – or, no work experience at all.  This is not a problem for your resume.  Just remove the “work experience” section of the resume and focus on the other areas. The person interviewing you will see that the work experience is not there and may ask you if you have any experience.

If they do ask, be honest and say you don’t yet have any. If it were me, being asked that question I might turn it into a joke and say something like like ” I’m basically Tabula Rasa right now, so you can train me the right way”. (Tabula Rasa means “blank slate.”)

Showing off your good and friendly personality is actually just as important – or  more so – than the resume.  This is because personal training is a people business.

If the job is between a smart guy who’s a dud personality-wise and a someone with a good personality who may have less experience, many big box gyms will probably chose personality over education.

 

Bottom line. don’t be afraid to say to a gym manager “I have no experience”. If you have a good background, they will train you. If they say “sorry your under qualified“, forget them and move on. Eventually somebody will hire you and you will get that experience.

Check out my ebook on personal trainer questions and answers as this will give you real world experience on the questions your clients will ask you.

Tip. When you do get hired, don’t let them give you clients without experience. Make sure you receive training first. Ask to “shadow” their smartest trainer for a few weeks (the smartest is not always the person who has the most clients).

Read this horror story of a persons first day as a personal trainer to see the stupid stuff that some gyms do to new personal trainers.

Business resources

For those who are seeking more insights into  the business of fitness and how it relates to personal training, see:

I think these resources will help personal trainers whether they are working in a gym or starting their own personal trainer business.

Resume vs CV

If you have a college or other background, instead of a resume, you may want to create your Curriculum Vitae (or “CV”). This is basically an smarty pants resume that’s used in the education world and other professional fields. The CV lists not only your experience but your accomplishments. Again you can check the Microsoft website for templates on CVs.

If your just starting out, forget the CV and focus on the resume.

Again, don’t worry about not having a lot – or any -personal training experience. The fact that you enter the gym with a resume will speak volumes about your professionalism and it will help you stand out from all the others who do not have a resume. If you have any questions about what I wrote or topics I may have missed, feel free to leave a comment below and I will be glad to help you. Also see my post on how to be a personal trainer for more insights.

What do you think?

Comments

    • Joe Cannon says

      Thanks and I agree. The old saying in the business is its easier to make a salesman into a personal trainer, than a personal trainer into a salesman…

  1. Judy says

    Joe, I don’t recommend using a Microsoft template to create a resume. For my day job, I am a career adviser and working with those templates is a pain, not to you’re stuck with their format. I’d be happy to provide resume guidance to anyone who has questions. It’s not hard to create your own.

    • Joe Cannon says

      Judy, I agree the resume can be created from scratch. I mentioned the Microsoft Templates because I felt they were pretty easy to use and since most trainers probably won’t bring a resume to the interview, its a quick way to stand out from the pack

  2. Brankica says

    Joe, been going through your site for hours now :) Love the stuff but this is definitely my favorite post. Great tips and I am going to start preparing mine following them!

  3. Danielle says

    This was great! I just recently became certified and I have an interview on Monday. I am preparing my resume as we speak. I have taught a class or 2 so i have little experience but one of one training none. Thank you for the information.

  4. Breanna says

    If I want to work with athletes later down the road but know that I won’t get hired right out of college to work with them, would it be better to just get a certification for personal training like through NASM so that I get some experience first and then later on get CSCS certified?

    • Joe Cannon says

      Breanna, when I took the CSCS cert they required a college degree be close to graduating before they let you take the test (and they would not tell the score until after you graduated). Call the NSCA and ask them if this is still their policy. Im not sure if it is. I would point you to the CSCS if you can take it.
      If you do take the CSCS, Id say you only need their textbook and the pack of practice tests. That is all I used to prep for both the CSCS and NSCA-CPT cert. I dont feel you need all the other resources they have. The NSCA-CPT does not require a college degree so you can take it anytime if they do have stipulations on the CSCS that prevent you from taking that right now.

      People tell me odd things about NASM like they make concepts harder to understand than needed and their textbook is difficult to read. I’ve never read it but you might want to buy it and take a look at it before you commit to NASM if you opt to do that cert.
      Read the comments in my NSCA vs NASM post.

      If want to take NASM, here is a review of the NASM test that might help.

      If you have any other questions, just ask.

      • Breanna says

        Well I really appreciate your help and all your information about this stuff has been great. I am going to be graduating soon with an exercise science degree so having a college degree isn’t a problem. Because I am wanting to personal train after I get done with college but I know I would like to coach later on so I want this certification to look good on my resume and be helpful in that career. There are other certifications through ACE like sports performance certifications that look promising. So all these different ones are confusing. I just don’t want to choose one that will not be helpful later…

        • Joe Cannon says

          Breanna, you can do personal training with the CSCS cert as well as with the NSCA-CPT cert as well. Both of those will look good on your resume and serve you well in to the future. ACE is fine also and you can opt to get their sports performance cert later. I say that because Im not familiar with their sports performance cert and how valued it is to employers if you want to work with athletes. Im sure it has good information though. Id get the CSCS first and then the others later if you like.

  5. Gina says

    Thank you for your help regarding writing personal training resumes. I just completed my NASM certification studies and passed my exam, so my next step is to prepare my resume. I came across your article and I appreciate the tips!

    My question that I thought you may be able to answer is, I am a piano teacher as well and have been teaching for the past five years. I did personal train in the past but it’s been a few years. So my question is, with this gap in training experience, would it be advantageous to include my teaching experience in way that would convey related experience? I do run my own studio, market myself and recruit new students as well as plan lessons etc. There are related skills that I hope could bridge the work experience gap.

    Your comments and thoughts are very appreciated!

    Thanks.
    Gina

    • Joe Cannon says

      Gina, yes do include your piano experience. Much of personal training is dealing with people and you have been doing that for 5 years as a piano teacher. That puts you a head of others with no such interpersonal experience. Since you run your own studio, you also have sales and marketing experience. Word your resume so that these assets are highlighted on your resume.

      Congrats on getting certified :)

  6. Steve Nebus says

    Today my fiancé went to a job interview at a local corporate gym. She just received her ISSA Cert and has no experience at all. Her interview was a working interview and she was asked to instruct another trainer in a workout. She was completely unprepared says she bombed the interview.

    She did get a second interview for tomorrow and was wondering what she would need to do to be prepared for this to happen again. Any thoughts?

    • Joe Cannon says

      Steve, Id guess that the 2nd interview will be similar to the first interview where she puts somebody through a workout. Im a fan of putting the person through a circuit training routine as its will be most efficient. She should demo each exercise before having the “client” do the exercise.

      Tell her to ask if the personal has already completed all the paperwork prior to training – par q, health history form etc. That may be a technical issue they might want her to ask about before the workout starts.

      let me know how it turns out.

Leave a Reply