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Your First Interview: Get Your Ideal job as a Personal Fitness Trainer

How to Prepare for Your First Interview and Land Your Perfect job as a Health and Fitness Professional


While we love helping our students take the leap and start their own trianing or coaching business, whether that is online or IRL, we also recognize the benefits of operating as an employee at an established facility. Coaching or training in a gym, studio or another facility could mean the burden of finding clients ends. Plus, the job may come with health benefits and a retirement plan — both of which you have to provide for yourself as a business owner.

You might have just become certified and are eager to start working, or you may have years of experience in your field but are looking for a new and exciting challenge. Whatever your situation, here are our top interview tips.

Look the Part! Keep it Casual but Professional

Depending on the specific role you are interviewing for, wearing a suit and tie for an interview probably won’t be necessary. Dressing up in workout clothes or something super casual, however, is probably also not the move. Instead, opt for wearing neat casual clothes that present a professional flair. No need to wear extra tight shorts or clothes to show you are fit. They can tell, and trying too hard will only look tacky.

Remember, being friendly is more important than being extra muscular and smiling is far more important than being extra athletic. When dressing for the interview, men could wear Khaki pants and women may go with dress pants or a skirt. A nice, solid-color shirt would be safe.

Know the Focus of the Gym, Club, or Studio

Do your homework. Knowing what type of workouts the studio promotes, you can be prepared to answer questions about how you would devise a workout for particular clients. Keep in mind that having solutions for this location’s challenges is more important than showing your arm muscles. Try and find out as much as you can about the values and culture of the company you’ll potentially be working for and consider how they relate to you. Where do you fit in terms of the workplace culture? Are they flexible in terms of shift patterns? How do they treat their staff? Job sites like Indeed will give you a good steer on this.

Know a Little Bit about Sales, Marketing, and Industry Trends

No matter how long a gym or studio has been in business or how successful the business is, if marketing stops or plateaus, you will very quickly see the effects of lost profits and sales. In virtually every area of business, there will be pitfalls along the way.  Marketing is no exception. By knowing how to market, you will save energy and disappointment. Don’t Forget! Understanding sales and marketing (as you learn in the NESTA NCCA-Accredited Personal Fitness Trainer Certification, is very appealing (and likely required) by your future employer.

The health and fitness industry remains one that is rooted heavily in trends and oftentimes, fitness fads. Whether cardio kickboxing or boot camp training is the hot thing, gyms and studios need to meet client requests or they likely go elsewhere. Expect to be asked about your familiarity and experience with old and new classes, techniques and current industry trends. If you lack experience, read up on things so at least you can discuss the topic.

Check out online resources, like Personal Trainer Magazine so you positively know what hot trends are emerging. You don’t want to be caught by surprise by a question and lack a strong answer.

Be Able to Promote Your Certification

A Personal trainer certification, group fitness, nutrition, or biomechanics may be needed for your job of choice. A basic certificate isn’t the same level as an advanced one. Strength and conditioning aren’t the same as general personal training. NCAA accredited personal training certifications, like NESTA, carry a lot of weight. You may want to explain why your certifications make you more than qualified to perform the duties of the job. Articulating your background and experience in relation to the business’ wants helps with this goal. Be prepared to sell the strong points about your certifications and the issuing authority as well as yourself.

Research and Practice Questions and Practice

One great thing about the Internet is discovering the frequently-asked questions in an interview is not too tough. Many fit questions are common sense ones.

You may be asked:

  • “How long did it take you to get your certification?”
  • “Why did you decide to become a personal trainer?”
  • “Do you have any plans to acquire any new certifications?”
  • “How do you plan on addressing client questions about diet fads or supplements?”

Go through mock interviews with people you know asking the questions. Work on delivering solid answers. This could help the cause of being more impressive when the real interview rolls around. Record a mock interview with one of your comrades. Don’t make a strictly audio recording. You want a video so you can see yourself and view the interview performance to check for areas of improvement. Do you look nervous or confident in the interview? How does your attire appear? What are the overlooked areas that clearly need sprucing up? A video could reveal all the answers and give you a chance to improve where needed.

Have a Few Questions of Your Own

Your approach to a job interview should mirror how you would approach clients you were training with. If someone joined a gym, one of the first things you would ask them is what their goals are and how you can help them achieve these goals. Think of a potential employer in the same way. You might want to ask what facilities and equipment they have. Is it the right equipment to help you implement your training plans effectively? You could also ask whether they have plans to hire more trainers and instructors and what kind of clients and customers they typically have, depending on your specialisms. Asking the right questions not only allows you to assess the company culture and work out whether it’s the right fit, it shows that you’re proactive in wanting to progress your career.

Refamiliarize Yourself With Your Resume

You likely already know the importance of your resume, especially if coaching or training is not your first career. Your training resume is your first opportunity to market yourself, your accomplishments as a trainer or coach, as well as any special skills or training knowledge that sets you apart from the competition. List any relevant training experience and qualifications first. Keep in mind that your most relevant experience may not be direct employment history, especially if training is your first career. If your volunteer work is more relevant to the training industry, you may consider including that information first. Also, keep in mind that you will want to move around the content of your training resume as you apply for different gyms or seek out clients. Tailor your resume so that it functions best for a gym position or for when you are networking and introducing yourself to potential clients.

Have Your References Ready

fitness trainers, coaches and instructors who embody professionalism and come with good recommendations from gym or fitness center employers shine brightly in the eyes of an interviewer. If you are a new instructor or trainer without previous experience at a gym or fitness center, you may consider including client testimonials in lieu in addition to references from your other previous employment. Be sure to get permission from those clients before quoting them. Have detailed contact information printed out on paper so you can hand over the references when asked? Hand them at the end of the interview even if not requested. Doing so could give the potential employer a confidence boost about your abilities.

Getting Started

Check out what it takes to start a career in personal fitness training. This is your most affordable and fastest way to become a highly qualified personal trainer.

Is your recertification coming up? Learn more about earning your CEU credits. You can find the full list of CEU courses here.

If you are ready to start your online personal training or coaching business, don’t forget to learn more about our online coaching course.

There is always something exciting about earning a new training or coaching certification and applying that new knowledge of how you train your clients. This also helps you hit the reset button.

NESTA and Spencer Institute coaching programs are open to anyone with a desire to learn and help others. There are no prerequisites.

That’s it for now.

Take action!

NESTA | Spencer Institute

PS: Click here to see many helpful business/career resources

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