Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Personal Trainer

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Looking for the perfect occupation for one of your characters? Get ideas from our Occupation Thesaurus, starting with this entry on Personal Trainers.Occupation: Personal Trainer

Overview: A personal trainer works one-on-one and with small groups of clients to help them achieve their physical fitness goals. This usually involves leading them in an exercise regimen meant to help them reach their goals and advising them in regard to nutrition. Trainers may specialize in certain areas, such as yoga, aerobics, or strength training. While they typically work in public venues, many large-scale organizations now have their own fitness centers and personal trainers for their employees to utilize. Wealthier clients may pay for a trainer to come to their home.

Necessary Training: While there is no secondary education required for most personal training jobs, some employers would rather hire someone with a degree in the the fitness or health fields. It also helps to achieve certifications in the areas one would like to specialize in. And some additional training, such as in basic CPR and first aid, is required. The one universal requirement for this career is that the person be personally fit themselves.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Basic first aid, high pain tolerance, parkour, strong breath control, super strength

Helpful Character Traits: Bold, confident, cooperative, courteous, disciplined, empathetic, enthusiastic, inspirational, observant, optimistic, persistent, persuasive, supportive

Sources of Friction: A client being hurt during one’s session, being unable to afford the necessary equipment or materials, wanting to strike out on one’s own but being stuck working for someone else, obtaining an injury or developing an illness that makes it difficult for one to stay physically fit, being unable to help a client achieve their goals, dishonest clients who make it difficult for them to achieve their fitness goals, becoming romantically attracted to a client, unhealthy competition with other trainers at one’s workplace, sexual harassment, being accused of maintaining one’s physique through unethical means (doping, abusing diuretics, getting surgical implants, etc.), having no time to pursue one’s true passions (becoming a professional bodybuilder or weight lifter, etc.)

People They Might Interact With: clients, gym rats, other personal trainers, gym managers and owners, administrative personnel, people they would run into during their own personal fitness training (spin class attendees, a yoga instructor, runners at the local track, etc.)

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: People in this field are enthusiastic about fitness and very often have their own fitness goals. Someone many have taken this job as a way to finance their own fitness goal of becoming a competitive athlete. If the job becomes too time-consuming, the character’s need to pursue their passion might cause a void in this area.
  • Esteem and Recognition: It’s natural for people in this field to notice peoples’ bodies; if in comparing themselves to others they find themselves lacking, this can lead to a self-esteem problem.
  • Love and Belonging: A person in this field might struggle making true connections with others if they feel that potential romantic partners are only interested in them for their looks, or their interest will only remain as long as they maintain a certain physique.
  • Physiological Needs: As with any healthy desire, wanting to be physically fit can be taken to an unhealthy extreme—even to the point of a character’s health or very life being threatened.

Common Work-Related Settings: Backyard, fitness center, gymnasium, mansion, rec center, spa

Twisting the Stereotype: The hard-nosed, borderline-abusive personal trainer yelling and spitting into the client’s face has been done to death. Likewise, the sex kitten bombshell female trainer. Consider a different angle.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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4 Responses to Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Personal Trainer

  1. :Donna says:

    This one holds a special place ’cause my son is a personal trainer (well, he’s other things, too!) 🙂

  2. Pingback: Writing Links…4/23/18 – Where Genres Collide

  3. JOHN T. SHEA says:

    “The hard-nosed, borderline-abusive personal trainer yelling and spitting into the client’s face has been done to death.”
    Particularly since R. Lee Ermey recently died! Who else could play that role in the movie version?

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