From the competitive Longhorn athletic teams to the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sport to the #8 nationally ranked College of Education, The University of Texas at Austin is a fantastic place to be a student. UT’s sports, coaching, and training environment is second to none.
Many students who study Kinesiology and Health at UT become personal trainers. Trainers can work in sports performance, youth development, competitive lifting, senior health, tactical fitness, and countless other specializations. It is an exciting field that can genuinely help people live better.
Becoming a trainer might seem simple, but becoming a competent trainer who improves people’s lives and health requires a lot of work. There are four essential steps to becoming this knowledgeable, successful trainer:
As you can see, this is an involved process, and the university setting is the best place to gain the knowledge and experience to start this career journey.
A good trainer must study many subjects, including chemistry, biology, anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, physics, psychology, and communication. It is in vogue to be self-taught, and educational materials are abundant online. However, to fully grasp the subject matter, hard sciences are better in person, in labs, and in the gym under the guidance of a coach, professor, or mentor. This is where studying at UT will set you up for success.
The UT College of Education offers a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Health degree. Within this degree are five majors:
The best majors for aspiring trainers are Applied Movement Science or Exercise Science. These degree paths teach the subjects required to go into fitness, strength & conditioning, training, and coaching. Students in these majors are well prepared for an academic career and go on to physical therapy, occupational therapy, and even dental and medical school.
The other three majors are also excellent career paths, but they primarily teach the health and sports industries’ social, cultural, and business side. For personal training, you’ll want to study more of the sciences offered by the first two majors.
Kelly Fetters graduated from UT in 2022 with a B.S. in Applied Movement Science. He is a personal trainer in Austin and owns Make a Statement Training. He says, “One of the best UT classes in my experience as a personal trainer was ‘Care and Prevention of Athletic Injuries.’ It helped so much with caring for my clients and preventing injuries.”
As you learn from these classes, applying the knowledge outside of the classroom is crucial. A student job is a great way to gain experience while still learning. The Fit Institute of Texas (FIT) on campus provides fitness assessments, research services, and nutrition and group exercise classes. Students can take a personal training class that gives credit while working with FIT. Students can also work as group instructors/personal trainers and observe the FIT lab. The Rec Center also employs student personal trainers. These are preferable to working at a chain gym where sales are the goal rather than education or quality of service.
Rachel Watson, Operations Director of FIT, encourages students who want to be trainers to hire their trainers. In addition, she recommends observing different workout classes and shadowing as many trainers as possible to see what type of trainer they want to be.
Your degree at UT should be the beginning of your education, as continuing education is crucial to being an effective trainer with integrity. This is a lot of work, given the education you just earned. It is, but this part also gets really fun!
Conferences, niche certifications, and workshops allow you to build on your experience, develop your methods, and learn how to help the populations you choose to serve. There are educational programs and certifications for every niche of senior fitness, pre-and post-natal training, corrective exercise, and sport-specific training for every sport.
Texas has many great clinics, including the annual UT Athletic Performance Clinic, which hosts top-of-the-game speakers and coaches every year.
Nationally, multi-day conferences dive deeper into topics of research and applied skills. It is worth seeking and attending one that fits your interests for learning and networking opportunities.
Finally, find a mentor to help with your continued learning and practice. No matter how experienced and educated you are, someone has learned more. Someone has done more. The ability to call and ask for guidance when you are stuck is priceless.
Go to conferences and ask questions that you have. Practice what you learn, and follow up with the people you learned from. Get to know your professors and their area of research. Volunteer to work in labs, be a research subject, and read papers. Not only will you become a better student for this, but you’ll also add value to your professors. All of these things will help you and those who are teaching you.
Fetters is continuously looking for ways to learn more and serve his clients better, so he is now returning to UT for his master’s degree in exercise physiology. He says, “I applied myself and tried to get to know the professors and teaching assistants, which really set us up for success in establishing rapport with them and allowing me to have strong references when applying for grad school.”
Best of luck if you are on the path to becoming a personal trainer! Austin is a great place to learn to be a personal trainer. The University of Texas is a great resource! If you work on these action items about education, practice, and mentoring, you will be on the right path!
UT College of Education:
UT Kinesiology and Health Programs:
Fitness Institute of Texas:
UT Athletic Performance Clinic website: