March 8, 2023

How to Get Personal Training Certification in Chicago

Fit Results Team
How to Get Personal Training Certification in Chicago

Ready to turn your passion for fitness into a career and make an impact on the lives of others? Becoming a certified personal trainer can be highly rewarding. As a Personal Trainer in Chicago, IL your financial future could be bright! Statistics show the typical salary for this profession is around $69k - though it can range from just under $50k to nearly $85K. Your potential earnings are highly dependent on factors such as level of education, certifications and extra skills you acquire throughout your career timeline.

In this article, we'll guide you through how to become a Personal Trainer in Chicago. We'll also explore certification programs available both locally in the Windy City and across America, as well as tips on finding clients along your journey. 

Step 1: Determine if Personal Training is Right for You 

The first step in becoming a personal trainer is determining if this career is even right for you. It's not an easy career by any means, and you should always do what you love. So, do you have a passion for fitness and helping others reach their fitness goals? Are you outgoing and enjoy working with people? Are you fascinated by the human body and how exercise science works? If you answered yes to these questions, then personal training may be right for you. 

Step 2: Get a High School Diploma or GED

To become a personal trainer you’ll need to obtain a high school diploma or GED. While it may not be necessary to have an advanced degree, having some basic education is essential in setting yourself up for success - arming you with the knowledge and skills required to support your clients on their fitness journey. It also demonstrates that you have the ability to learn and retain information, which is crucial for success as a personal trainer. Additionally, many certification programs require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED as a minimum educational requirement.

Step 3: Get Certified

Next, you’ll need to become certified which requires some planning and preparation. The effort will be worth it and it’s the difference from being a professional and an amateur. It also skyrockets the chances of you being hired by a gym or getting high paying clients. 

From NASM to ACE or NSCA – there are several reputable organizations that offer training certification programs for aspiring fitness professionals. Each program has its own distinct set of requirements including age eligibility and high school diploma/GED as well as CPR/AED certifications; so researching your options carefully should be priority number one in order to choose which best fit your long-term goals - whether they involve general physical health guidance or sports performance specializations.

Here's an overview of some of the most popular Certification Programs available in Chicago:

National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) is our recommended place as a starting point. Their Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES), sports performance specialist and nutrition certifications are tailored for diverse areas within this field. The CPT program focuses on helping clients build successful personalized exercise plans while CES is more focused on identifying muscle weaknesses or misalignments that need correction in order to achieve peak physical condition.

Certified Personal Trainer (CPT): $699

Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES): $539

American Council on Exercise (ACE)

The ACE is our runner up and they offer several certification programs, including the Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and the Group Fitness Instructor (GFI). The CPT certification also focuses on creating personalized fitness programs for clients, while the GFI certification focuses on leading group fitness classes, one of our specialties here at Fit Results. The ACE also offers additional certifications in health coaching and behavior change.

Certified Personal Trainer (CPT): $587

Group Fitness Instructor (GFI): $269

National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA): 

The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) provides specialized certifications for those in the fitness industry. The Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) focuses on helping athletes achieve peak performance, while the CPT equips trainers with strategies to create tailored plans according to individual client goals. For a more comprehensive career path, NSCA offers two additional specializations - Tactical Strength & Conditioning Certification™ and Special Populations Training – that demonstrate an understanding of working within specific populations or settings requiring unique training methodologies. NSCA also offers a membership, which gives discounts on certifications and special offers to its members. (Prices below are for non-members)

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS): $475

NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer (CPT): $435

Other certification programs available in Chicago include the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), the American Fitness Professionals and Associates (AFPA), and the National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA). It's important to research each program and compare their requirements, fees, and reputation before choosing the one that's right for you.

Step 4: Gain Experience

While certification is important, it's not the only factor that clients will consider when choosing a personal trainer. Experience is also crucial, as it demonstrates that you have the knowledge and skills to help clients achieve their goals.

One way to gain experience is to work at a gym or fitness studio as an assistant or intern. This will allow you to learn from experienced trainers and gain hands-on experience working with clients. Another method is to offer your services to friends and family members at a reduced rate (or even for free) in order to gain experience and build your client base. Before starting Fit Results, our fearless leader, Lou Centeno, started his personal training journey working at a big box gym before taking clients to train in Grant Park.

We’re always looking for more talented coaches so shoot your shot and apply to become a Fit Results Coach!

Step 5: Find Clients

Once you've obtained your certification and gained some experience, it's time to start finding clients. It seem like a challenging task, but there are several ways to do this, including:

Networking: Attend fitness-related events and conferences, and connect with other trainers and fitness professionals. You can also join online forums and social media groups for fitness professionals.

Referrals: Ask current clients to refer their friends and family members to you.

Advertising: Build a social media presence to build your personal brand as a trainer. While time intensive, it’s the best way to gain credibility, reach a wider audience, and gain new clients. 

Online directories: List your services on online directories such as Thumbtack or Yelp.

Partnerships: Partner with local gyms or fitness facilities to offer your services to their members. We do this at Fit Results! Contact us for more information.

Content Creation: Similar to building a social media presence, creating online content, such as blog posts or YouTube videos, can help further establish yourself as an expert in your field. Some personal trainers even make it a full time living by just doing that!

Step 6: Maintain Certification and Continue Education

As a certified personal trainer, continuing education is not only important for keeping your certification up-to-date--it's also critical to providing the best service and advice possible. Brush up on the latest research and trends in fitness through workshops, conferences or online courses while obtaining additional certifications; this will ensure that you're always well equipped with proper knowledge so your clients can get results they want!


With dedication and the right set of skills, becoming a personal trainer in Chicago or anywhere can be an incredibly rewarding career choice. Hopefully this article was able to get you started on the right path. However, to ensure all your hard work is successful it’s important do your research before taking on this role. There are numerous certification programs available so take the time to select one that fits with you and provide clients with excellent service by keeping up-to-date on new fitness trends through continuous education. 

Make a difference today by embarking upon this fulfilling journey! And who knows, you might just be our newest star trainer at Fit Results!

Fit Results Team

We're a group of fitness enthusiasts who believe everyone deserves a second chance in life and fitness. We pride ourselves on our community of experienced coaches, our incredibly supportive members, and all the people that we've helped and will help.