Being a personal trainer may sound simple, but the profession requires much more than a pair of beefy biceps and knowing how to string together a few exercises.
What does a personal trainer do?
A personal trainer is a fitness professional that works with clients to help them achieve their health and fitness goals, whether that be weight loss, building strength, adding muscle or maintaining general health. This is done by working closely with clients to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes through diet and exercise programs and instruction.
Personal trainers assess each client’s strengths and weaknesses to develop a personalized program. Using their exercise and physiology knowledge, trainers aim to provide a safe and effective journey for their clients on the road to fitness.
Trainers motivate their clients by setting achievable goals. They ensure that clients push themselves, but do not injure themselves. Personal trainers constantly monitor the progress of their clients and provide feedback to help clients attain their fitness objectives.
Not surprisingly, one of the fundamental qualities of a personal trainer is a passion for health and fitness, but an equally important quality is being a “people person”.
If you are considering becoming a personal trainer, being fit and active and healthy eating should be second nature to you, but you also need to get along well with people and be genuinely interested in them to effectively encourage and motivate them.
Traits Of A Good Personal Trainer
Personal training is a good career choice for someone who:
- is passionate about fitness and helping others live a healthy life
- wants to build their own healthy lifestyle into a career, doing what they love
- wants to share their knowledge about fitness and nutrition
- takes great pride from the accomplishments of others while under their guidance
- has the ability to be warm, friendly and kind to people from all walks of life
- can work well with many different personalities
- has a customer-service oriented personality
Here are some essential obligations and personality traits for every good personal trainer:
- It is the duty of a personal trainer to be knowledgeable about most components of fitness including human anatomy, body mechanics (kinesiology), weightlifting techniques, exercise physiology, training procedures, and the physics of exercise including cardiovascular, flexibility, and strength training. A good personal trainer is a master of safety, technique and knows that even the smallest of adjustments can make a world of difference. The foundation of personal training lies in the fact that exercising incorrectly could actually be worse than not exercising at all.
- Personal trainers must have their finger on the pulse of new trends and stay up-to-date with whatever is new in the fitness industry. It is important to renew and maintain all professional certifications in an “active” status, and to participate in continuing education in order to keep all credentials up to date.
- It goes without saying that successful trainers lead by example. You don’t have to look like you won the Mr. Olympia contest or just completed an Ironman Triathlon, but you cannot afford to let up on dedication to maintaining your own fitness and appearance. While clients won’t be focused on looks alone, it is incredibly unlikely that they would want to train with someone who is less fit than they are.
- Trainers must be able to design individual and group exercise programs, taking into consideration each client’s limitations, injuries, and preferences. It is important to perform an initial assessment with each new client in order to set attainable goals and to customize a fitness plan, which must be reevaluated and adjusted from time to time to ensure it’s effectiveness.
- Some clients may not have done a single push-up or sit-up in their lives and will need to slowly ease into an exercise routine, while others may already be fairly athletic and you can be more aggressive with their routines. When it comes to personal training, one size does not fit all.
- It is also part of a personal trainer’s job to be an empathetic listener and to support their clients’ lives outside the gym. Many personal trainers say that a big component of the job is acting somewhat like a psychiatrist. While you may not have the personality of a cheerleader, you cannot afford to be an introvert either. Social skills like a cheerful disposition and a friendly, outgoing personality help to put clients at ease. Nobody looks forward to a workout session with a distant and disinterested trainer who is just going through the motions.
- Many obese and out-of-shape people feel isolated and ridiculed. As a personal trainer, you are privy to their biggest flaws and insecurities, and clients will look to you for support, encouragement and confidentiality.
- Personal trainers may need to drill a movement repeatedly until a client gets it right and it becomes a force of habit for them, so patience is an essential trait. Enthusiasm, creativity, leadership, discipline, professionalism, and a personality that is easy to warm up to are qualities that all successful personal trainers have in common.
- Any personal trainer who does not offer a well-rounded holistic approach to fitness will find it difficult to succeed in a competitive market. This means that you must instruct your clients on more than just exercise. To help clients achieve overall well being and good health, nutrition and mental health are key. It is not outside the realm of a trainer’s responsibilities to teach healthy eating habits and give clients information on good and bad food choices. Exercising to exhaustion can never be enough to attain or sustain fitness goals. If a trainer feels they don’t know enough about nutrition to be able to offer advice to clients, they should attend a short course on the essentials of nutritional coaching. Changing the way clients eat will be the one factor that will redefine your role, set you apart from competitors, and help you survive and succeed in the business.
- Personal trainers must always be thoroughly professional. Clients will in all likelihood trust you and confide in you, but maintaining a client-trainer relationship without romance or intimacy is an absolute must. It can get tempting at times, but don’t risk putting your career and livelihood on the line.
A good personal trainer makes working out safe, effective, fun, and keeps it interesting. Personal trainers should motivate clients to conquer progressively bigger challenges, improve their technique, introduce them to the latest and most effective fitness programs, encourage them when they hit a plateau, lend a sympathetic ear, provide nutritional advice, all while being enthusiastic and supportive in improving a client’s overall health and wellness.
Personal Trainers Change Lives
You can toss the textbook definition of a personal trainer out the window, because these days, a personal trainer is an athlete, agony aunt, cheerleader, counselor, nutritionist, confidant, friend, fitness expert, and coach all rolled into one, slowly but surely transforming a client’s life.
Not only does a personal trainer work with clients in the gym, but he or she shows clients how to live healthier and make lifestyle changes that will have lasting results. Personal trainers are life changers.