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How To Be a Successful Personal Trainer: Leaders in the Fitness Industry

Any fitness professional wants to learn or is constantly learning how to be a successful personal trainer. There is no better way to learn how to climb the latter of success than understanding how others did it before you. So let’s take a look at some of the biggest names in fitness now and then to gain a better understanding of how to impact the lives of more people than you could ever imagine, much less make a six-figure income.

Donna Richardson

From an aerobics instructor to ESPN Fitness Pro’s Show co-host to sitting on The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition under President Bush and President Obama, Richardson has seen plenty of success in her time. So how did she make it all the way to being an advisor for the presidents? Not to mention becoming Michelle Obama’s ambassador for the “Let’s Move Initiative” to influence a healthier America?

It started with her desire to overcome and shed light on the disparity in health and fitness between races. History of chronic heart disease ran rampant in her family. Therefore, she became determined to overcome that and change the way African American people in the US approach health and fitness. One day, her friend prompted her to join an aerobics class and in just a few months she began instructing. One thing led to another, and then she was hosting ‘Donnaerobics’ classes and leasing her own studio where she worked 7 days a week for many years.

In fact, before she had her own studio, she taught around 25 classes a week anywhere she could. She moved her career forward by knocking down the doors of television studios like ESPN to take her education and training up a few notches. This sweat and elbow grease is how she shot her career in fitness instruction and education to the level she is revered for today.

Uniquely, Richardson’s supplemented some of her wildly popular workout videos with motivational gospel. She tailored her content to a unique audience of African American women who wanted to lose weight and stay motivated through faith that they will see results. Throughout her career, she produced over 25 award winning aerobic workout videos.

Kayla Itsines

Kayla Itsines - How to be a successful personal trainer

Itsines has impacted the lives of millions of women around the world so she makes for a good example of how to be a successful personal trainer.. Her goal is to empower women through health conciousness and overall confidence. She has written several books and guides for exercise and meal planning. More recently she has co-founded an app called Sweat with Kayla that acts as a platform where women can subscribe monthly and choose from various training programs designed by Itsines and her team.

Virtual fitness is growing at a rate of 33.1% between 2020 and 2027. Because of its convenience and affordability compared to gym or studio memberships, it’s an innovation that the most successful leaders in the fitness industry have taken full advantage of.

She proves a great example for rapidly growing her fitness business ultimately by staying on top of trends. Her personal training career began with training at a women’s gym and helping her friends and family. Taking note from her 12-year-old cousin, she started posting progress photos from her clients to an Instagram page. She generated a large following very quickly and then branched out into developing ebooks and downloadable material that people could purchase and share about.

The ebooks have been purchased and referenced millions of times by people all over the globe. Moreover, they released the app Sweat with Kayla.

So what about all of this information made her so successful?

She listened and continues to listen to the needs of the people she trains. Her target market is specific to middle-aged women looking to lose weight and tone their bodies. Her business continues to stay on top of trends. She complements this using the latest research and innovation in her programs and workout routines.

She curated events around her training bootcamps, making her training exclusive, thus increasing value. These events and online forums associated with Sweat by Kayla organized a sense of community around her training. Community is the number one most influential factor in health and wellness. Systems that promote support and camaraderie

Melissa Wood

Rise & Shine: The Simple Morning Routine That Transformed Melissa Wood's  Life - HeyMama

Melissa wood is a health coaching graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and former model from New York. Everybody knows the taxing mental state that often comes with the modeling industry – insecurity and eating disorders. Melissa Wood was no exception to this. That’s why she focuses her training on approaching the mind with love and care first, then the body.

Her unique selling proposition is her carefully constructed MWH Method. This method of exercise combines yoga, pilates, and meditation to provide gentler workouts on the body. Melissa believes that exercising should not have to feel like a burden, but a boost to your mental and your physical state each time.

She has carefully narrowed down her target market to middle-aged and young adult women looking to tone their bodies and develop a mentally sound method for staying fit and healthy. Her focus lies mostly in the mindfulness practices that improve routine, eating habits, exercise habits, and most of all confidence.

She shows us how to be a successful personal trainer through her compassion and her method. Often, working out can. be stressful on the body and having a personal trainer does not always make it easier to muster up the energy to exercise. Her method makes working out more enlightening for women, and her easily accessible fitness app can reach them anywhere. People want to feel wholly understand when they seek personal training. Sharing her story makes her relatable and helped her create a more valuable training experience for her clients. Not to mention her MWH method constructs a fitness niche that helps her to better target her ideal clients.

Shaun T (Blokker)

Shaun T Tips & Advice - The Beachbody Blog

How to be a successful personal trainer

Throughout his life, Shaun struggled with identity and self-confidence as a victim of sexual abuse at a young age. While working in his college’s rec center and growing in distaste for his level of fitness, he made exercise a consistent part of his routine. After seeing results, he decided that his calling was to help impact others’ lives in the same way. So he promptly changed his college major to exercise science and thus started the fitness journey for Shaun. Now lets look at him as an inspiration for how to be a successful personal trainer.

He began instructing aerobics classes in college and worked as a personal trainer at different health clubs like Equinox. In fact, it was at Equinox where he was approached by Beachbody to develop his claim to fame. With a background in dance, he also focused his career after graduating on choreography and training for celebrities in L.A.

Now everybody remembers the Insanity craze, and just about every other Beachbody series he instructed. Blokker instructed this ultimately rough set of workout videos. You undoubtedly get the results you want. However, to get there you had to be almost driven to insanity by the level of difficulty. Regardless, they were successful. That success and insanely hard work pushed him to continue developing resources for people to get inspiration from to turn their lives around.

The takeaway from his success is using his own struggles to motivate him to reach his goals. It’s the sense of being humbled by his life and the willingness to use his own experience to help people make necessary changes in their own lives. He is also just an absolute monster for his workouts! The level of difficulty and variance in his routines makes them extremely popular and exciting. He also did not fear when opportunity came knocking on his door with Beachbody and training/choreographing for celebrities.


Jump on the opportunities that will take you farther than you ever imagined. However, do not let those opportunities come to you. Stay aware of doors that are constantly opening and closing to a more successful personal training career path. It’s always going to take some sweat and elbow grease to move up in the industry like Donna Richardson did!

In terms of business, consistency is key. Stay consistent with producing new content in different forms like fitness eBooks, podcasts, workout videos, and more. Also, stay on top of the trends at the time. Each one of these fitness professionals recognized a need in their community and answered it with innovative methods for accessing fitness programs. Not to mention the importance of targeting a certain group that you can identify with and best help.

None of the people in this article settled in the position they were at in their careers. They used their own tribulations to empower themselves and empower their communities. Recognize the problems that people face when you look outward from your own. From there, develop ideas and ways you can help others find the solutions to pitfalls in life that they face.

Leave us your feedback on how to be a successful personal trainer in the comments below. Who are your sources of inspiration for developing your personal training career?

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