Can a fat or obese person be an effective personal trainer? Having been a certified personal trainer (though lean), and having worked out at many a gym for many years, I have occasionally seen an obese personal trainer; or, to put it another way, a “fat” one.
The question shouldn’t be so much as CAN a fat person become a personal trainer. The question should be: How effective can an obese man or woman be as a personal trainer? After all, there are no weight requirements for passing a certifying exam. Order the study materials; study the material until you feel confident about taking the exam (which may include hands-on testing, depending on the certifying organization); and then sign up for the exam date. If you’ve studied well, you will pass.
The next step is getting a gym to hire you, and some outfits require a college degree related to fitness or exercise, so right off the bat, being obese may not be your biggest obstacle to becoming a personal trainer.
I used to work at Bally Total Fitness, and I know for a fact that BTF will not discriminate against fat personal trainers. BTF puts a high premium on communication and sales skills.
If you’re obese or fat or overweight, this will not necessarily keep you from getting hired as a personal trainer. I’ve also seen overweight personal trainers at 24-Hour Fitness and at recreational centers.
However, I’ve also noted that, in general, overweight personal trainers (and I don’t mean those with “a few extra” pounds, but ones who are clearly portly) tend to have very overweight clients, or elderly clients. But this is fine, as senior citizens often have money to spare (kids are long grown; house is paid for), and most clients tend to be hefty anyways.
Though thinner prospective clients may look at an obese personal trainer and think, “What does SHE know?” or “How can HE help me get rid of my gut when his is twice as big as mine?” realize that this fat personal trainer may actually be less “intimidating” to an obese client who’s very sensitive about his or her weight.
The prospective client who’s very large may feel more comfortable and less awkward with a very heavy personal trainer, and may gravitate towards the plus-size PT, figuring that this particular fitness instructor “has been there” and “knows what I’m going through.”
A fat personal trainer is not likely to attract normal-size clients who want ripped abs or who want to improve their speed or athletic performance, or who want a beach-ready body. However, a plus-size PT will attract other demographics: self-conscious overweight people; the morbidly obese; and elderly folks. There’s good money to be made with these demographics.
I’m not saying that an overweight personal trainer is necessarily an effective, highly qualified professional. They can turn out to be inept. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve also seen inept personal trainers with beach-ready bodies, too. Ineptness comes in all sizes. So before you assume that someone is automatically a great instructor based on their body (be they very large, skinny, curvy, muscular or ripped), observe how they instruct their clients and see if you like their style. Ask them questions about fitness and exercise and see how they respond.
If you’re obese and thinking of becoming a personal trainer, you’ll really catch a fitness director’s attention if you exude confidence and good communication skills, as well as a willingness to learn whatever “ropes” the gym requires of its employees. Learn your material; study hard; take the exam; pass; and don’t be afraid to prospect potential clients. Follow your dream and don’t let the naysayers yank it from you.