Name: Sharleen Jones
Job Title: Exercise Physiologist/Wellness Consultant
Where: Moose Jaw, Canada
Years of Experience: 10
Education: University of Regina, Bachelor of Physical Activity Studies; Certified Personal Trainer; Professional Fitness and Lifestyle Consultant; Certified Exercise Physiologist.
Annual Salary: See PayScale's Research Center to find the average salary of a personal trainer and exercise physiologist salaries.
As more and more people look to "tone-up," fitness gurus are "tuning-in" to learn how to become a personal trainer, get certified as an exercise physiologist, or pursue other careers related to health and fitness. The fitness industry is a booming, multi-billion dollar industry. This means a positive outlook for the job growth rate of an exercise physiologist. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fitness workers can expect a 27 percent growth in employment opportunities over the next 10 years. And while one career choice is to work at a club like 24 Hour Fitness, a wide range of career options exist outside of the corporate fitness world. Sharleen Jones is a certified personal trainer who is actually her own boss. Read on for her inside scoop on how to become a personal trainer, and check out PayScale's exercise physiologist and personal trainer salary data for more information on the average salary of a personal trainer and salary for exercise physiologist.
How would you describe your job as a certified personal trainer?
Sharleen: I provide clients with extensive lifestyle management programs based on their own genetic profile. Once they have enrolled in my program I coach and support them through their lifestyle changes. An initial consultation involves a thorough needs analysis, which gages a client's genetic dominances, past and present lifestyle habits, health challenges, goals and other special considerations.
Based on the analysis, I then recommend a "lifestyle plan" that will best meet their needs. A "lifestyle plan" will include elements of personal coaching, group support, teleconference support, web support, personalized exercise programs, personalized supplementation packages, restorative skincare programs, hydration programs, biofeedback stress management, comprehensive lifestyle education, goal achievement rewards like manicures, pedicures, facials, massages, etc.
Once a "lifestyle plan" has been decided upon, the next step is to provide the client with a customized nutrition, exercise, and supplementation program. I'll also have a thorough orientation appointment with them to get them started off on the right foot. Over the ensuing six months I have regular contact with the client on a predetermined schedule through email, telephone or in-person communication. We'll review the previous program period, and create an action-plan for the upcoming week/month. I also offer in-person group services and group teleconference support, on a weekly basis, and I daily monitor an online forum for 24 hour client support.
As I am self-employed, my paycheck is dependent on how much business I generate. So, I do daily activities to generate business by putting up posters in my community, emailing specials to existing and potential clients, and offering free wellness newsletters and seminars. Local joint venture partnerships are a critical part of my business for referrals, so I also spend time developing and maintaining those types of business partnerships.
PayScale: How did you get started as a certified personal trainer?
Sharleen: I have always loved anything to do with health and wellness so it was a no-brainer to go into an activity-related field. I have always known that this is the area I wanted to work in. I am absolutely passionate about improving the health and lives of the people around me. After working in several related jobs I came to a few conclusions: I like to be independent with my work, I like to work with clients who are proactive and self-motivated, and I want to have a large sphere of influence. I want to be able to reach people all over the world, not limit it to my own little community.
By working in various jobs in my industry, I also learned first-hand some of the limitations of our line of work, and I wanted to be able to offer other health and wellness professionals an opportunity to work independently. So, last year I made the decision to work on my own and created a brand new fat loss and athletic performance program called The Balanced Body System. Not only are we helping change the lives of clients but we also offer an incredible opportunity for anyone with a passion for health and wellness to have a viable and thriving independent business that isn't dependent on fee-for-service, which can be full of hassles.
PayScale: What do you like best about being a certified personal trainer?
Sharleen: I LOVE watching people transform their lives. It is such a powerful thing to be a part of someone's life as they learn how to make it better, and begin to feel better, healthier and happier. In many ways, we live in such an "asleep" mode that most people don't realize how detrimental their lifestyle habits are because it's how they're raised and how their friends live. When you can provide the education about how our bodies work, how the food and medical industries work, how all that influences our behavior, and that we have a choice in all that, people begin to be very proactive and make huge changes in their lives. People suddenly have more energy, a stronger body, and feel empowered to do anything they set their minds to. It starts with the body and it translates into all areas of your life; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. One of my first clients has completely transformed her body and is slimmer and fitter than ever. She is making tremendous gains and changes in her personal life. Nothing is better than knowing you've been a vehicle for delivering information that changes a person's whole life for the better.
PayScale: What are the biggest challenges you face as a certified personal trainer?
Sharleen: Helping people see the potential that you see in them. People are so mired in their old habits that they are often their own biggest obstacles. Helping people see an alternative to how they have lived for decades is very challenging. People don't necessarily understand enough about themselves to make the right choices and then they get easily frustrated and give up. Working with people who give up easily and don't make the effort to plan and be proactive is very frustrating because you can see what they could be if they would just put the effort into themselves.
PayScale: What advice do you have on how to become a certified personal trainer?
Sharleen: Give from the heart. You need to have a true desire to help people. You will know if this is the right field for you if you love information around health and wellness, and want to share what you know with others. It's critically important to have experience in lifestyle counseling and a good understanding of human nature. Ninety-percent of what makes people get well or improve their physical fitness is how you treat them. You can be the smartest person in the world, but with bad bedside manners you will not get results out of your clients. You need to be able to listen and develop rapport and trust. This is best done through respecting the client, acting collaboratively with their impressions and wishes, and providing helpful but firm advice. You also must be confident in your own knowledge and abilities, because if people sense very intuitively that you are not confident, they will not respect or follow your advice.
PayScale: What's the most rewarding thing that's happened to you while working as a certified personal trainer?
Sharleen: To have a client's health conditions reverse or disappear. To watch them almost become a different person as you know them, in a positive way.