Learning how to become a personal trainer takes more than just enjoying exercise. Like any vocation, it has a business element – it’s not just about helping others get fit.

There are many things to consider if you’re looking into becoming a personal trainer in Canada, including the different types of trainers, what accreditations and certifications you may need, and what the benefits are, including how much income you can expect to make.

One of the most important considerations if you are looking to become a personal trainer is whether you’ll work for someone else or go into business for yourself, as that can influence your risk and liability, as well as the insurance coverage you will need.

A personal trainer working with a client.

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What Is a Personal Trainer?

A personal trainer understands physical fitness and applies that knowledge to help people achieve specific fitness goals.

Your schedule as a personal trainer will fill up by working with clients one-on-one or in small groups, identifying and tracking their fitness goals, and overseeing their exercise routines to increase their flexibility, strengthen their cardiovascular capabilities, and improve their muscular endurance. A personal trainer may also provide guidance on health and nutrition plans, maintain a food journal and connect them with a nutritionist.

What Types of Personal Trainers Are There?

When thinking about how to become a personal trainer, consider the types of exercise that interest you and who you would like to help. 

Is it people already in shape who want to get to take their fitness to the next level? Is it seniors who wish to maintain their mobility? Would you like to teach a class? If so, do you want to teach yoga? Or pilates?

The most common type of personal trainer is an on-site trainer at a commercial gym, which means you’ll be working for someone else with the potential perk of getting a free membership. Your job will be to sit down with new clients to discuss their goals, evaluate their fitness level and outline a plan to meet their goals using the available equipment.

Not all personal trainers spend their time in a gym. Many outdoor classes are taught in public parks that offer a variety of workout routines to groups at different levels. You could also be a mobile personal trainer who goes wherever the client is, including their home or office, or even connect virtually with them. This type of training is likely to be more personalized but can also be limited by the equipment made available to you by the client.

Most clients seek a personal trainer to help them lose weight or become more active. But more tailored personal training might include physique trainers who focus on physical toning and appearance or performance personal trainers who help competitive and endurance athletes such as cyclists and swimmers.

Many clients need help making changes to their lifestyle, which goes beyond just exercise, but that requires additional certification so you can provide diet advice as a trained nutritionist or dietician.

How Much Does a Personal Trainer Make?

According to Salary Expert, the average personal trainer’s gross salary in Canada is $58,332 or an equivalent hourly rate of $28 with an average bonus of $892. Personal trainers with up to three years of experience can expect to make $42,964. With experience of eight years or more, you can expect to earn an average salary of $71,151.

If you decide to go into business for yourself, there’s potential to make a lot more per hour, but there’s also a lot more risk and liability. You’ll need to figure out where you’ll do your training, whether at a commercial gym, in a client’s home or through virtual delivery. 

You’ll also need to figure out who your target customers are, how to reach them, and how to price your services. Your pricing structure will need to be based on your costs to train the client, including travel expenses and payments to a private gym.

Whether you become a personal trainer to work for someone else or start your own business, you’ll need to understand what certifications you need and insurance.

What Licences and Certifications Do Personal Trainers Need?

If you’re looking at how to become a personal fitness trainer in Canada, you might be surprised to learn that it’s an unregulated field. However, there are benefits to having some formal training, as most commercial gyms and fitness centres will want their trainers to be certified.

In some cases, the gym may have a program you can complete as part of being onboarded as an employee. Otherwise, you can seek out options from the Canadian Fitness Education Services (CFES), Canadian Fitness Professionals (CANFITPRO), Certified Professional Trainers Network (CPTN), and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP).

There are also provincial options – Fitness Alberta partners with the National Council on Strength and Fitness to offer an online personal training course, which provides applied knowledge and skills in kinesiology, physiology, and exercise prescription. It will prepare you to complete your qualifications for Fitness Alberta Certified Personal Fitness Trainer accreditation.

If you want to achieve accreditation in Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Fitness Association provides guidance on the necessary prerequisites for certification. In British Columbia, getting your British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA) certification is mandatory if you plan on offering any personal training services through city, municipality, or community fitness programs in the province.

Because the personal fitness industry is largely unregulated, regional accreditation and certification options vary widely depending on where you live.

Aside from personal training certification, it’s wise to get first aid training, including current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training and automated external defibrillator (AED) certification.

What Are the Benefits of Being a Personal Trainer?

Being a personal trainer is a great gig if you enjoy helping others improve their lives through better fitness and you enjoy working with people in general – you’ll be helping people in a way that directly impacts their mood and condition, which is highly fulfilling. 

It’s also a great job if you want a flexible schedule, as clients will want to work with you at different times to accommodate their lifestyles and work obligations.

Whether you work for someone else or go into business for yourself, the health and wellness industry is a growing market. Even with the gym closures due to the pandemic, the fitness industry in Canada is expected to grow by 171% by 2028.

What Insurance Do Personal Trainers in Canada Need?

Whether they work for a commercial gym or own a fitness business, professional fitness instructors, trainers, and fitness studio owners, need comprehensive insurance coverage to safeguard against allegations of wrongdoing, damage, or loss resulting from accidents.

As a personal trainer, you’ll work with a wide range of people of different ages with varying health and fitness levels. Given the hands-on nature of your work, you could be liable for injuries or damage that occur under your instruction. That is where the risk and liability come into the picture and why you need personal trainer insurance

Regardless of the services you offer as a personal trainer – pilates, outdoor yoga classes, or going as far as opening a gym – it’s vital to protect your reputation and assets with a customized insurance policy. We can get the protection you need at a price that might surprise you. 

Fill out our online application to get a free quote. Let us work up a sweat finding you the protection you need while you grow your clientele.

– Reviewed by Shelly Petrie, Team Lead, Digital Solutions, Zensurance.

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About the Author: Gary Hilson

Gary Hilson has more than 20 years of experience writing about B2B enterprise technology. He has been published by EE Times, Network Computing, EBN Online, Computing Canada, Channel Daily News, and others. A Zensurance customer, when he’s not tapping on the keyboard, Gary collects comic books, attends live theatre, constructs Lego, and buys books he always intends to read.