Choose Your Path to Reach Your Desired Personal Training Career

Personal trainers have many audiences they can work with. We’re here to help you find the best personal training certification for you desired clientele.

Author: Rike Aprea, MA, CPT, CES, BCS

A rapidly growing fitness industry and increased focus on healthy living are creating a substantial market for personal trainers. Despite the popularity of group classes, many people seek individualized programs developed by fitness professionals to optimize their fitness journey.

This especially holds true for clients with special needs and demands such as athletes, seniors, or clients with previous or current injuries. This is an area where personal trainers have a competitive edge by focusing in on these specific audiences.

In this article we will share insights on the potential target groups for personal trainers, and their individual needs. We will also share specific tips for identifying your ideal target market.

Choose Your Path to Reach Your Desired Personal Training Career

Why is it helpful for personal trainers to focus on specific target groups?

The beauty of personal training is the emphasis on “personal,” which allows fitness professionals to develop individualized programs for the needs of the specific client. Of course, personal trainers can try to serve as many different populations as possible, but specializing in a defined demographic can help you for a variety of reasons:

  • Working with a specific population makes it easier to create a distinctive brand for your business and set you apart from your competition.
  • Profound knowledge in a specific field can differentiate you from other fitness offerings such as group classes or small group training.
  • Specialization can make it easier to get referrals and justify higher price points
  • Focusing on a target group will enable you to choose an education that fits the requirements of your audience best and can help you to become an expert in that field.
  • You can match your interests and experiences with the requirements of your target customers.

What are some of the more prominent target audiences for personal trainers?

  • The largest and most common type of groups are average fitness and weight loss clients. This market segment is promising as it is growing rapidly, but it is a crowded space with many group classes catering to this audience. If you’re interested in serving this population, it’s crucial to stand out from the competition by obtaining a certification from a well-respected and well-known certification body such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) or the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
  • A growing target group with great potential for specialization and education are people that struggle with sports injuries or want to prevent them. One reason for the growth of this segment is an increase in muscular skeleton (musculoskeletal) injuries such as low back and neck pain caused by a sedentary lifestyle and the increased usage of phones and tablets. Apart from that, many people seek guidance after being discharged from physical therapy to ensure a safe return to their fitness routine. A specialization in this field, such as attaining the NSCA CSCS certification, will also allow you to offer injury prevention programs for specific sports such as skiing, running, golf, etc.
  • Elderly clients form another fast-growing target group. They are also referred to as “active aging clients” or “senior clients.” The desire to stay fit and active, paired with a need for injury and fall prevention makes this a promising market segment. Clients in this group also often prefer working with a personal trainer compared to joining a group class or working out by themselves. Working with older clients and helping them to maintain a healthy lifestyle can be quite a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor.
  • Athletes are an audience with niche demands that help them to complement and optimize their athletic training. Knowledge and understanding about programming that supports them to enhance the performance of their specific sport is crucial to succeeding in this segment. A deep understanding of how to assess performance and design programs according to the assessment outcomes is of utmost importance. Trainers typically design training plans that help the athlete to deliver peak performance on the days of their tournaments. Thus, this segment is one of the hardest to break into and requires specific education and focus. However, it can also help to develop a strong brand, especially if you have an athletic background.
  • Another niche audience with specific requirements is clients with chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or cancer. To work with this population, personal trainers must know the specific exercise guidelines for each condition. As with elderly clients, it is a gratifying task to work with these people and help them to regain a greater quality of life.
  • Pregnant women and new moms is another target group with unique needs that requires in-depth knowledge. Personal trainers in this segment must understand the exercise guidelines per trimester to decrease any exercise-related risks during their pregnancy or after giving birth. They also must cater to each woman’s individual needs during pregnancies, from health challenges to specific goals during the term.

How do I identify my “perfect match” for a personal training certification?

“You can do anything as long as you have the passion, the drive, the focus, and the support.” – Sabrina Bryan

First and foremost, you must establish your interest areas and passion areas. Throughout my athletic career, I suffered from various sports injuries. From these experiences, I realized I wanted to specialize in injury prevention, and I was motivated to take the NASM CES (Corrective Exercise Specialist) certification.

Questions to ask yourself include: Do you have an athletic background? Do you have a passion for helping people to live a long and healthy life? Do you want to help people to get back to doing what they love after suffering from an injury? Take some time to write down what you’re passionate about and create a persona of your “perfect client” (client avatar).

Once you understand what general audience segment you want to serve, identify the certification that would be the best match. For example, if you want to work with athletes, it might be a good idea to “go the extra mile” and opt for a certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). If you love to work with older clients or clients with specific health conditions, you might want to look into the Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certification from the ACSM. There is also the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certification body that has a significant focus on sports injuries and injury prevention in general.

Getting certified from a well-respected certification body is not easy, but it is essential in pursuing a long-lasting, rewarding, and successful career in the fitness industry.

At Pocket Prep, we provide exam preparations for certifications spanning the ACSM, NASM and the NSCA. We’ve got you covered in all things fitness. To take a look at the specific certification preparation we offer, visit our Exams page.


Author Bio: Rike Aprea, MA, CPT, CES, BCS has lived and worked in Europe, Asia, and the United States helping clients and athletes recover from injuries, get their athletic performance to the next level, or simply to live a happy and healthy life.

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