How to Become a Fitness Trainer

Brandi Ohlsen has been a fitness trainer for 20 years. She earned a Bachelor of Science in sports medicine, physical education, and health education, and she earned a Master of Science in exercise sport science. She also has NSCA-CSCS, ACE-CPT certifications, as well as experience teaching GRAVITY personal training, group fitness, Pilates, yoga, corrective exercise, R.I.P.P.E.D, kickboxing, and cycling. Brandi loves to meet the challenges of each individual client head on and loves helping clients to become their best possible selves.

What is a fitness trainer?

A fitness trainer is someone that will educate and guide you to your optimal well-being (it is different for everyone).

Why did you decide to become a fitness trainer?

My fifth grade PE/health teacher inspired me to help others in health and fitness. I saw how everyone admired and looked up to her.

Are there common misconceptions about your profession?

I would need to write a novel here… Yes. Many people that I have run across think we are uneducated and only know how to lift weights. That we are only there to look good and count reps.

What is a typical day like for you?

I get up at 4 a.m. every morning to be to work by 4:45 a.m., and I am there until 6-7 p.m. I am the fitness director, so I have many roles within the club. I am in charge of the trainers, administrative work, and make sure everything is running smooth. I am also a trainer and group exercise instructor. I teach Pilates, yoga, cycling, bootcamps, small group training, GRAVITY, kickboxing, and R.I.P.P.E.D. Tasks would consist of payroll, financial explanations, making sure machines are running correctly, staff reviews, hiring/firing of staff, organizing monthly fitness programs, community outreach programs, and making sure my trainers are keeping up with their certifications.

What are your favorite aspects of your job?

When you see in your clients’ faces that you made a difference and changed their lives for the better. That they reached their goal and are elated. It doesn’t get any better than that.

What are your least favorite aspects of your job?

When clients give me excuses why they can’t do something without even giving it a try.

Is there anything you would have done differently while studying to become a fitness trainer?

No. Studying never stops. If you do, you shouldn’t be in the industry.

What classes did you take in college that are the most relevant to your job?

Exercise physiology and human performance labs.

What personality traits do you think would help someone to be successful as a fitness trainer?

A fitness trainer should be empathetic, motivational, compassionate, strong, and outgoing.

What personality traits do you think might hinder someone’s success as a fitness trainer?

Someone who is closed-minded, stubborn, and self-absorbed will not be successful.

What advice, or words of caution, would you give to a student who is considering studying to become a fitness trainer?

It takes time to build a business and to have continued success. It will take long hours and dedication. If you are looking for a 9-5 job, this probably isn’t the industry for you.