If you are on the journey to become a personal trainer, there are a number of things you should keep in mind.
Chances are you are started in the career because you are passionate about fitness and health. You’re patient, well educated and professional and want to help others achieve their goals.
Personal training empowers you to empower others. The desire to do so motivates you.
You have the power to change somebody’s life by helping them to lose 30 lbs. before their wedding.
You have the power to improve somebody’s confidence by helping them become bigger and stronger.
You have the power to educate someone on how to reduce pain and improve performance.
You have the power to help educate someone on how to exercise in order to live a longer, healthier life.
However, while these are all essential qualities of a personal trainer, you should also understand that it takes much more to be a truly great and successful fitness professional.
1. Motivating Clients Can Be A Challenge
Starting out, you will quickly learn that not all of your clients will be as motivated or as disciplined to maintain their own health and fitness as you are.
Demonstrating an exercise and teaching someone proper movement technique isn’t always enough to get them to actually stick with an exercise program.
For many clients, working with you will be their first introduction to fitness, a gym, or even regular movement. If the individual hasn’t worked out after being a couch potato for months or years, imagine trying to get them to workout 3-4 times each week.
Probably not the easiest of tasks.
You’ll need to come up with creative ways to engage your clients. Some ideas include implementing fitness challenges, setting realistic goals and building a community of like-minded clients that they can relate to.
Personal training is an exciting field, but knowledge of fitness and exercise is only one small component of the job.
2. Personal Trainers Need Excellent Communication And People Skills
You could have the most up-to-date, scientific knowledge when it comes to exercise and nutrition but at the end of the day, if you cannot properly transfer this information to your clients, you’ll struggle to see results.
If you have a client who is not motivated to exercise or change their diet, how would you get them to initiate change?
You’ll have to discover new ways of connecting with your client to really understand what it takes to make them tick. Ask lots of questions and dig deep to figure out why they hired you as a trainer in the first place.
Would giving them facts about the benefits of exercising and losing weight be enough?
For some individuals, yes, but for others, perhaps not.
You will need to figure out how to best communicate in order to motivate each and every one of your clients.
A key part of communication is listening. Each client has a different story and you’ll often notice that personal training feels a lot like being a therapist, psychologist and athletic coach all rolled into one.
Be mindful of their purpose and your mission. After all, each client has a different reason why they seek personal training.
Some clients view a personal trainer as someone to:
- Work out with
- Hold them accountable
- Teach them how to exercise/lose weight
- Give them the push they need
Each client requires a different approach and the only way to push them forward is by being able to communicate and listen effectively.
3. No Matter What You Do, You Can’t Please Everyone
As a personal trainer, you will encounter good clients and some not so good clients.
Good clients are those who consistently show up on time, are motivated to exercise, and ultimately follow your movement cues and nutritional advice.
The not so good clients are the ones who come into the session complaining, ignore your nutritional advice, make excuses, fail to maintain their program on their own time and those with unrealistic expectations. Some clients just don’t plain show up.
It’s not uncommon for clients to look to place the blame on the trainer after not seeing results in one month’s time, which we all know is not enough to see drastic change.
This ties in a bit with the earlier section on communication skills as sometimes all it takes is a different approach to reach them.
On the other hand, unfortunately, there may be some individuals who you just cannot seem to connect with. When two individuals do not have a strong working relationship, it is tough to make progress.
Regardless of the client’s attitude towards training, your goal should still be to try your best and view these difficult clients as challenges and opportunities.
Be careful not to place too much emphasis on pleasing each individual client’s personality, but rather focus on continually providing a quality training experience and making consistent progress towards their goals.
Customer satisfaction should always take priority and your success relies upon it.
4. Expect to Keep Your Schedule Open But Don’t Be Afraid To Say ‘No’
Personal training is a client service-based business and you’ll need to accommodate your clients. They are the ones paying you, after all.
Because your career is client-centric, you will most likely be working the hours when the general population is looking to work out. Think of the peak gym times – mornings, evenings and weekends.
You’re likely to get some clients who prefer working out in the early morning and some who can only work out at night.
Although most clients will come in around their 9-5, you’ll need to maintain a somewhat flexible schedule in order to suit their needs. Some clients have a variable schedule, which can make it difficult for you to plan your own social or family life.
As you gain more experience and bring on more clients, you can be a bit more selective when it comes to the hours you work. However, early in your career you should expect that you may find yourself working at the gym working for 12 or more hours, six or even seven days each week.
With this in mind, be prepared to compromise with some clients when it comes to schedule as it’s important to maintain your own sanity through a healthy work-life balance. Don’t simply take every single appointment if it leaves you feeling burnt out.
When starting out as a personal trainer, you’ll quickly realize that there are many skills that you need to learn and refine.
Having a realistic expectation of what personal training entails will help you better prepare yourself and build the right skills in order to become a great personal trainer.
The hard work you put in pays off as you help others to achieve their goals and see their smiles light up with accomplishment. This can be one of the most satisfying feelings in life.
There will always be ups and downs in any career, but the fulfillment from being a personal trainer career is what makes all the struggle worth it.
Be sure to check out our Top Tips for Personal Trainers here for more ideas.