It's 4:30PM, and like a child waiting on thelast schoolbellbefore summer break, youare waiting for 5:00so that you can bustout of the officeand head to the gym. You'rejazzed to meetyour friend there who askedyou, with yourknowledge of and passion forfitness, to begintraining her.

Ifyou are like me, this scenario is familiar. Even though you're workingsomewhereelse, your love for fitness first helps a family member loseweight.Before you know it, you are training a few people after school orworkto make a little extra cash to feed your "got to have those shoes"â❠habit.Eventually,you begin to wonder, "Can I make this into a full-time job?"

TheNeed Is Clear
TheCenter for Disease Control and Preventionstatedthat in 2008, 49 states had obesity rates that surpassed 20%. As disparagingasthat seems, it also proves that there is a growing need for fulltimetrainers.Many desperate people are finally taking responsibility fortheirhealth and are looking for guidance to reach their goals. So if you are apart-timetrainer ready to make your passion your career, the following aresomethings to consider as you make the switch.

Whereto Work
Thereare three main categories you can work in as apersonaltrainer: large gym chain, personal training studio and independenttraining.Each of these has their pros and cons.

Largegyms are generally sales-driven and require their trainers to becomeveryadept at converting members into clients. Some trainers thriveinthe sales environment, while others despise it. However, big gyms offermoregym members, which equals more potential clients. With that volume,youcan gain great experience with different types of clients while nothavingthe worries that come with owning your own business.

Apersonal training studio usually consists of appointment-only training.Youmake money here by splitting a percentage of your training with thestudio.The downsides are that personal training sometimes costs more per session thana large gym, but when you eliminate the cost of a membership,itoften evens out. Personal training studios usually cover the cost ofmarketingand advertising to drive potential clients through the door. Theseleadsare usually ready to buy personal training, so any sales done here ismorein the form of helping the client make the right buying decision fortheirlifestyle, budget and goals. In both large gyms and training studios, youaregenerally not responsible for the cost of advertising.

Independenttrainers rent space to train their clients at a gym or studio.Someindependent trainers work in clients' homes. As an independent trainer,youare responsible for insurance, taxes and advertising yourself, whichareall costs that must be deducted out of your hourly training revenue. Younolonger have a pool of leads to depend on, as you do in a gym or trainingstudio.Also, as an independent trainer working in clients' homes, you mustalsofigure your gas and travel time, which often transforms an hour-longsessioninto a two-hour commitment on your part. The key benefit of being independentis being able to work when and where you want.

EveryRespected Trainer Is Certified
Youcan't be a professional without investing in your education. In fact, acertification is one of the firstthingsthat separates those who are serious about personal training frommerehobbyists. Here are a few NCCA (National Commission for CertifyingAgencies)accredited certifications with high industry recognition:ACE(American Council on Exercise); NASM (National Academy of SportsMedicine);ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine); and NSCA (NationalStrengthand Conditioning Association).

Thesecertifications require you to be at least 18 years old with a highschooldiploma and have an adult CPR and AED certificate. The certifyingentitiesmentioned above also have two- to three-day workshops to help youwithyour practical application skills and proper client assessment techniques.

Additionally,each certification requires you to be recertified every two orthreeyears by partaking in continuing education courses (CECs). The continuingeducationrequirement is designed to make sure you are continually acquiringnewknowledge about the personal training profession, furthering your skillsas apersonal trainer as well staying on top of the new trends in the industry.

Thesecourses can add to your resume, as many of them deal with a specific area of fitness(i.e. cardio training for athletes; strength and stability forgolfers;etc.). Specializations give you a leg up on the competition and helpyoureach a wider client base.

Buildinga Clientele in Any Setting
Clientsare your lifeblood.Withoutthem, you are just an unpaid workout junkie. The more clients you get, the moremoney you make and the closer you are to your goal of becomingafull-time trainer. Unfortunately, you can't just wait on clients tocomeknocking on your door, begging for your services; that just doesn'thappen.Here are some solid clientele-building tips:

  • Work the floor. The gym floor is the most dreaded place for most trainers to find new clients. That being said, this is a great method you can use to show clients that you care about them. Keep the place clean, give free body fat assessments or a free seminars on fitness topics. You don't have to come off like a car salesman. Simply spot someone who needs a towel or help switching weights out and strike up a conversation. You might as well do something besides work out in your free time.
  • Utilize the power of the Internet. With social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, there is no excuse to lose contact with people. Many businesses have seized this opportunity to promote their company or services and stay in touch with current clients. You should as well, whether you are an independent trainer or an employee. Websites are pretty cheap and easy to get going. Having one running and up to date is important when promoting yourself or your business.
  • Ask for referrals. Client referrals from past and present clients are by far the best way to get new clients as a personal trainer. This is where becoming a personal trainer feels the best as you can see your hard work and knowledge pay off as your clients happily recommend you to others. It may seem obvious, but the key to getting client referrals is to ask for them. Once you build up a reputation with a client and get to know about their family and friends, it is okay to ask clients to recommend your services to those in their immediate circle who are in need.
  • Be über-professional. If you are a diligent trainer, on time to appointments, organized with client files, knowledgeable and a good listener, clients will be more likely to stick with you and refer their friends.
  • Become a familiar face. It is critical to spend time in the gym or studio and become that familiar face, whether you're getting paid to be there or not. The more you look busy, the more you will be busy. I call it the "tip jar effect." Restaurants put initial money in the tip jar so that you will tip them based on the assumption that others have.

Thereshould be a difference in your appearancewhenyou train as compared to when you are just working out.Remember:This is your client's workout, not yours. Yourclothes should bewrinkle-free,and you should groom your face and hair, even when you justwokeup to meet a 5:30 AM appointment.

Ifyou want to make this a profession, show up looking like a professional, thesameas you would in any other business setting. You will be more respected whenyoulook well-groomed and professional, rather than looking like a gym rat.

Ifyou are thinking "I'm pretty good at this; I think I could do this full-time,"ââhopefullyyou can use some of this information to get started. Beingpreparedwill make the switch to full-time enjoyable as you get started inyournew, rewarding career. Good luck!

JessicaGibson, NASM-CPT, recently made theswitchfrom a part-time to full-time trainer at EmpowerPersonalFitness Studio in Texas while workingonher bachelor's degree in fitness management. Sherecentlycreated her own strength and stability programforgolfers.