Ultimate You Change Centre

Kick-Start Your Career As A Personal Trainer

A career in the fitness industry is becoming increasingly important as society deals with health concerns such as an ageing population, the obesity epidemic and a time-poor population. Although TV programs like The Biggest Loser and Excess Baggage have turned personal trainers into big name celebrities, personal training is no fad. Our society’s focus on health is here to stay.


Fitness industry qualifications in Australia

In Australia, personal training is a nationally recognised career. To get started along the path to become a personal trainer, you must possess a Certificate III and IV in Fitness. You can work while you qualify for a Certificate IV, as long as your employer has a Certificate IV. There are a number of institutions around Australia that offer the chance to study the Certificate III and IV, such as the Australian Institute of Fitness.

The Australian Institute of Fitness is the only Australian tertiary education provider to offer the prestigious Master Trainer program. In the Master Trainer course you learn theoretical and practical skills such as how to apply anatomy and physiology principles in a fitness environment, how to deliver exercise outcomes to specific populations segments and how to plan for a small business, with leading fitness experts providing crucial input.

Studying a fitness degree can be made flexible so that it can be organised around the rest of your life. Many institutions offering fitness certificates allow online and distance courses so that you can simultaneously take on your qualification while meeting work, training or family commitments.

Do you have what it takes to be a personal trainer?

The Certificate III and IV in Fitness is designed so that by the end of it you’re ready for a personal training career that is rewarding not just financially, but emotionally as well. Not everybody has a job where they do something they love, stay fit, and best of all, help other people become the best they can be!

In fact, having compassion for your clients is the key ingredient to success as a personal trainer. A good trainer needs to have a deep understanding of how the body works, but they are not out to just help their clients look good. Good personal trainers need to fundamentally believe they have the power to transform their client’s lives. What makes a good trainer stand out is their ability to both push and inspire their clients, at the right time, in the right way.

A good trainer also respects that every individual body is different. What works for one client might cause injury to another, especially in demanding programs that use heavy equipment.

A great way to get some experience is to hire a personal trainer yourself. Analyse your relationship with your trainer. Is he or she a boot-camp leader? An encouraging ‘leader from behind’? If you examine what works and does not work for you as a client, you can develop a meaningful leadership style that works best for both you and your future clients.

As you study your fitness course, it can help to work in a gym yourself, in roles that need no certification. That will give you invaluable experience in client interaction if you decide to branch out to your own business later on.


Michelle Bridges – a personal trainer success story

michelle-bridgesWith an online client base that has lost a collective weight of hundreds of thousands of kilos, a string of best-selling fitness and cookbooks, and a star role as the red team trainer on Channel 10’s The Biggest Loser, Michelle Bridges is one of Australia’s biggest personal training celebrities. She is a great example of what a successful personal trainer can achieve.

Bridges also puts marketing to good use by appearing not just in publicity campaigns for The Biggest Loser, but as a spokesperson for health in multiple magazines and newspapers such as Women’s Weekly, Woman’s Day, Sunday Life, as well as appearing on radio shows like 2DayFM, Nova, Triple M and WSFM. She also fronts advertising campaigns for Nature’s Way vitamin supplements, Triumph’s Triaction bras, and  the Australian Institute of Fitness. She is in demand as a public speaker at a huge range of events from gym openings to industry meetings to fitness expo’s that draw crowds of thousands and even has her own clothing and workout equipment range, OneActive, in Big W stores.

Bridges’ stellar career is proof there is no limit to the ways you can succeed as a personal trainer.

So what is her advice to trainers-in-training?


  • Have passion, Bridges said. Caring about your clients is where you find the common ground that their success grows from. Your clients need to see you as positive, friendly and professional.
  • Stay motivated. You can’t motivate your clients if you can’t motivate yourself.
  • Strive to improve. Keep learning from mentors and be open to advice. Keep up with the latest fitness trends.
  • Build your reputation. Network at industry events, contribute articles to local newspapers, and maintain an online presence through Twitter, LinkedIn or blogging.

It’s never too late to start

If you are considering switching into a career in personal training, it is never too late. Lois McMahon used to be a Hansard court reporter in South Australia. When she told friends she was turning her lifelong interest in fitness into an Australian Institute of Fitness course, no one believed her.

“Twelve months down the track, here I am living the dream,” she said. McMahon took the Australian Institute of Fitness’s Master Training Advantage program which has an additional massage strand. She is now a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and massage therapist with Adelaide Fitness Solutions.

McMahon said her Australian Institute of Fitness course was a stepping stone into a career she wished she had known about years ago. So many jobs come with a negative or stressful atmosphere, she said, but in a gym, “People are so friendly and it’s such a motivating industry to work in.”

McMahon credits the Australian Institute of Fitness with giving her the encouragement and skills to succeed. On the last day of her course, she had two job offers to choose from. The Australian Institute of Fitness’  one-of-a-kind Career Partners Program has dedicated career scouts who put graduates in touch with career partners.

Whether you work in a gym, start your own business training a group or individuals, become an aqua instructor, or branch out into the resort, sports and leisure industries with an extra massage qualification, your career as a personal trainer knows no limits!

Do you have what it takes?


About The Author

helen-o-neillHelen O’Neill is the National Communications Manager for the Australian Institute of Fitness. She has over eight years of experience in editorial and communications work in the fitness industry. Helen connects the Australian Institute of Fitness to its audience through fitness articles, blogs, social media and PR.