Keeping fit has become a major concern for many Australians, young or not so young, and gyms all over the country are seeing a steady increase in membership applications. Personal trainers are in high demand, which makes many fitness enthusiasts wonder what it takes to become one. Can you become a personal trainer if I have a criminal record? From a legal point of view, yes, you can. However, it might not be that easy.
Let’s have a look at the practical issues in this particular situation.
How do you become a personal trainer?
Just being good at sports and having a passion for fitness won’t be enough. You’ll need some sort of formal training to be a personal trainer in Australia.
The good news is that it doesn’t take long to obtain a Certificate IV in Fitness, which allows you to work as a personal trainer. There are many institutions in Australia that offer this kind of certification, and you can complete your training in 3 – 6 months.
Once you have your Certificate IV in Fitness, you should register with a professional organisation. This is very important as most gyms and fitness centres will ask you about that.
Being registered with an organisation such as Fitness Australia or Physical Activity Australia will help you get you job indemnity and insurance.
Can an employer ask me for a background check?
For this type of job, police checks are not mandatory. However, many employers ask prospective employees to submit to a background check as a precaution. They are allowed to do that seeing that there are various offences that might indicate you as a potential threat to their staff, their customers and their reputation.
According to Australian law, an employer cannot turn you down simply because you have a record, if the offences you committed in the past are in no way relevant to your job.
For instance, an old traffic offence has no impact on your ability to run fitness classes. On the other hand, any offence of a sexual nature will look very bad and they might turn down your application. It would be too risky to have you around female customers.
Do I need to disclose my criminal record?
Generally, yes, it would be a good idea. You don’t want them to discover you were convicted of a certain offence when they run a background check.
Another good idea is to run a police check on yourself, before applying for a position as personal trainer. You can use online services such as a character check agency e.g. the website for australiannationalcharactercheck.com.au which will send you the results back in a couple of days.
You need to see for yourself what it says on your criminal record, as this is what your future employer will see. Also, if you committed a minor offence many years ago, the offence may have been spent in the meantime. If that is the case, that offence will no longer be disclosed during a routine background check. If your criminal record comes back clean, then you are under no obligation to mention it to your future employer.
So, can I be a personal trainer with a criminal record?
Technically, it’s up to the employer to decide if they’re willing to give you a shot. That will depend very much on the general impression you make at the job interview. Use the opportunity to address your past mistake, offer mitigating circumstances, make it clear that part of your life is well in the past and you have a chance of getting the job you want.
Or you can go into business on your own, find customers, organize boot camps, and if you’re the boss no one will ask you about your record.
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