Do you have to be fit to be a personal trainer?

There’s no rule that you have to be in shape to become a personal trainer. It comes down to what kind of clients you want to attract. 

Knowledge matters

A personal trainer is defined as “an individual certified to have a varying degree of knowledge of general fitness involved in exercise prescription and instruction.” Notice how this definition only takes into account knowledge. That’s because, as a personal trainer, your knowledge of fitness and nutrition are what is most important. Someone who understands the human body composition is more capable of training someone than those that are just “in-shape.”

Think about it this way: Football coaches are usually not the youngest, strongest, or most in-shape individuals. However, they’re still capable of managing a huge team and leading teams to Superbowl victories.

If you’re trying to decide whether or not to become a personal trainer, here’s what you should consider.

Physical appearance & limitations

Your personal training capabilities are not measured by the size of your clothes or your physical limitations. In reality, it’s measured by the level of knowledge you retain and share with your trainee. 

Being in shape is not a requirement, but it’s important that you serve as an example your clients can use for guidance. It will give them more incentive to keep fighting until they reach their goals. 

Additionally, it will provide the reassurance that one day— with hard work, determination, perseverance and consistency— they too meet their health and fitness goals.

Sharing Your Journey

Although it looks good to be in shape for such a physically demanding job, having a personal journey with weight loss could also serve the same purpose. Communicating this journey to your clients can be an effective way to inspire them to meet their own goals.

In fact, some people prefer a trainer who has struggled with their fitness journey.


Age is another factor that shouldn’t limit your desire to be a personal trainer. This often means they’ve had more time to become knowledgeable in fitness and nutrition. 

Professional sports players are a great example of this. Retired sport players have a ton of knowledge and experience that has been utilized successfully to train and guide the younger generation. These retirees still know what it takes to achieve health and body goals. 

Similar to my earlier example, traditional coaches are typically another great example. Most traditional coaches know exactly which muscles to train for peak performance when dealing with a familiar sport.

If your goal is to become a personal trainer, don’t let physical limitations keep you from meeting it.