The Strengths of Becoming a Personal Trainer


The Mission Society is hosting a virtual Career Fair this October to highlight the variety of opportunities available to students after high school and college graduation - connecting young people with professionals and sharing their invaluable advice. In this article, Corey Smithson shares how he discovered his career path, and advice on staying true to yourself as you explore your options.

Corey has always been a hard worker and quick study. He graduated high school and enrolled in college hoping to find the next step in his journey. He was passionate about stand up comedy–with a natural gift for timing and a confident stage presence–and loves interacting and making connections with people. He was also constantly working to better himself, through both fitness and learning.


Eventually, Corey determined that college was not the best step towards discovering his professional path, but still wasn’t sure where his journey would take him. Despite this uncertainty, he pushed himself every day to make incremental moves towards what he loved. He performed at events all over New York to hone his craft, worked long hours at factories to support himself, and still pursued his passion for fitness.


Years later, Corey moved to New Jersey. He was looking for a career that would bring him fulfillment and happiness, but also wanted a flexible schedule, stable financial support, and a chance for eventual upward mobility. One day, while working at the front desk of a prominent gym chain, he learned there was an opening for a personal trainer. He advocated for himself and got the necessary online certification, was hired, and ultimately was able to use this momentum to land the job he has today – working as a strength and conditioning coach at an independently-owned studio.


This is the perfect job for Corey, not only for the culmination of experience he’s obtained, but for his personality as well. He utilizes his ability to command a room with confidence and his vast knowledge of exercise and the body to deliver specialized workouts, keeping his clients engaged and motivated. He is also able to listen to and connect with people. He demonstrates to clients that he truly cares about their progress and safety, and that he is excited to be part of their fitness journey.


"What makes me particularly good at my job is my ability to listen to people. I ask myself, are my clients benefiting from this exercise? Because not every exercise helps every body. We always have to be on the lookout for any injury that pops up or if people have trouble with machines. We have to be diligent about keeping people safe, so listening is one of the main skills to take into account for this job."


As a strength and conditioning coach, Corey works primarily with private clients, one-on-one, or in small groups. He focuses on developing programming based on people's individual needs and goals, including building strength, recovering from injury, and increasing mobility.


For Corey, there are several rewarding aspects of his career in fitness. He has the freedom to run classes in his own style, appreciates the accessibility of the field as a whole, and enjoys the opportunity to foster healthy relationships with himself and with others. He loves helping people see the physical and emotional benefits that hard work and dedication can bring, and strives to help them push through to become the best version of themselves.


“The tough part is trying to get people to realize that there is no shortcut. It is just what you think it is– hard work, exercise, consistent schedules, and sleeping well. But if I can get people to try for long enough, they see that first little improvement and I think it sparks something in them. Suddenly they're a bit more nimble, a bit more powerful and capable. And I don't think that there's anything more valuable that I could help someone find than that new control and ownership over their space and body.”


Corey's journey was not direct, but he didn’t fight the twists and turns. He maintained his sense of self and commitment to his interests, needs, and passions, and that led him to a blossoming and successful career in fitness. He believes anyone who shares his passion can become a personal trainer, and said that once you identify the area you want to specialize in, you just need to work towards being the best version of yourself. Then, you will have the space and energy to be there for the people you work with every day.


Thank you to Corey Smithson for taking the time to speak with us for the Mission Society Career Fair! To join us for more job highlights, advice, and interviews throughout the month, check out our blog or follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.


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