How to (Realistically) Change Careers and Become a Full-Time Personal Trainer


Transitioning to your new career in personal training from your current, full-time, bill-paying job doesn’t have to be as threatening as, say, walking a tightrope. But, there are some things that make tightrope-walking a proper metaphor for a career switch. In the move from one side the the other, both tasks need to be performed methodically, realistically, and with awareness.

When you’re building your business and client list from the ground up, it becomes even more important to set out with a realistic plan and mindset. Let’s talk about what that means.

Understanding the Time It Will Take to Get Where You Want to Be

The most common Wish-I’d-Known complaint I hear is that trainers didn’t consider the time it would take to find enough consistent, paying clients to replace their income. Don’t join that chorus. Allow yourself 6-12 months to build a solid clientele.

Now, 6-12 months is not just some magical time-frame after which everything just falls into place. Within that period, you need to work hard to spread the word about your business.

Be patient, consistent, and know that everyone goes through the phase of foundation building.


Consider Starting Part-Time at a Gym

Enthusiasm is great, and it might be hard to hold yourself back from jumping into your new career with both feet. But, working part-time at a gym could offer several benefits such as giving you experience while you hold on to your full-time job and income, and letting you shadow experienced trainers. Plus, depending on your gym’s policy, you might get a few clients of your own.

How’s that for a jump start?

Make a Business Plan

Business plans come in several different forms and with different makeups, but a few aspects are universally accepted as basic components. Those components are:

  1. A written description of your business and its mission statement and purpose
  2. A section on your finances/cash flow
  3. And then you’ll need a written plan/strategy on how you’ll market your services.


Don’t let the formal and severe sound of creating a business plan discourage you. You won’t have to publish it, after all. Right now, it’s just for you. It’s simply a way to force yourself to give careful thought to your approach, goals, and method of achievement. Also, it will show you when you’ve gotten off track, and how to get back on.

For more in-depth info on business plans and how to create one, check out this article from

Are you in the midst of a transition? Tell us how it’s going in our Facebook comments.

Also, don’t forget if you’re an NFPT trainer, join our Facebook community.


Tanisha Rule has a BA in English and is a former Mad Dogg-certified Spinning instructor. She taught indoor cycle and boot camp and has now combined her passions as a full-time writer for the health and fitness industries, check out her site at If she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found happily training for an endurance event, likely after having said, “This is my last one for a while,” because there is no finish line; there is only progress.