Inspiration Story: Jeremy Scott
Being a Good Personal Trainer is More than Passing a Test
Jeremy Scott is a self-described fitness nerd. He is the owner of Jeremy Scott Fitness in Scottsdale, Ariz., a fitness author, a former competitive bodybuilder, and a certified personal trainer and nutritionist. Through all this, he makes it a point to keep his finger on the pulse of the latest developments in fitness to keep clients happy and successful. He first hand knows what it takes to be a good personal trainer.
He agreed to share his thoughts on fitness and the personal training industry with ISSA. In particular, we wanted his take on the characteristics that make up a good personal trainer. And, as a business owner, how to cultivate young talent.
Scott recently spoke with contributing writer Dean Spiros. Here is an edited version of that interview.
What do you look for when hiring new fitness trainers?
We look at bachelor’s degrees and we look at the certifications, but more so in the sense that you had courses to complete over a certain time period, so you it shows that you are responsible enough to see things through. This type of dedication is the same thing clients go through when trying to carry out fitness and weight loss goals.
We also try to find out why they got into the field. Do they simply want to make money or are they really into fitness and helping others with exercise and nutrition?
Some fitness trainers have technical skills but are just awful when it comes to working with clients. So, a lot of it has to do with your qualities and characteristics. You don’t have to be an extrovert, and I would say that I am an introvert, but do you have an attention to detail? Are you coachable?
How important is relating to clients?
It’s huge. We have a kid now who has all the certs, but the bottom line is that he is a really good kid. He might not be able to directly relate to a 47-year-old mom who has three kids and is going through menopause, but he genuinely cares. And he enjoys fitness.
When we hire fitness professionals we have them work out with us because we want them to enjoy it. Oddly enough, there are more and more people who work in fitness and stop working out or don’t do it as much. But if they are willing to do what the clients are doing, they can better relate to others.
One of the biggest things in being a great trainer is to be personable. If the clients don’t like them it doesn’t really matter how much exercise science the trainers know.
What about the importance of commitment to learning and ongoing development?
You have to. Let’s say someone comes in with an ISSA certification in nutrition — which is comprehensive. We try to find out if they got it for their own benefit or with the idea of helping clients fuel their training programs. The most important things I read aren’t about my fitness goals, they’re about how I can help potential clients and existing clientele in their sessions.
People know what to do; they know to eat broccoli and not eat Pop-Tarts. They know they should be moving every day. But it’s important for the trainer to look at the behavior, to understand why [clients] aren’t necessarily following good nutrition or exercise programs.
How could the fitness industry better prepare new personal trainers?
There could be more emphasis on the importance of marketing your skills. It doesn’t matter how good you are if nobody knows who you are. You only scratch the surface if you can’t show the world through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, a website, a blog.
It would also help to drill down on the psychology, the habits of the individual you are working with. Maybe provide different scenarios for the [prospective trainer] and have them look at how issues in their clients’ lives are impacting sticking with a fitness program. It’s critical thinking.
What are common mistakes of new trainers?
I always say that for anyone who bought something from me 10-13 years ago I apologize, because I probably wasn’t very good. So, I tell the young trainers they’re going to say things wrong, they’re going to generalize, and that’s not going to help their clients. But the key is learning from the mistakes. It’s important for young trainers to be humble, to accept the fact that they don’t know everything. Recognizing and learning from mistakes is one of the first steps in becoming a great personal trainer.
How could certification companies better help new trainers be ready for hire?
I think we could take the same approach in personal training as the steps it takes to become a pilot. After completing your course work you need so many hours of training [co-piloting] before you are ready to go out on your own. For example, requiring some on-the-job practical training to understand the technical things, like basic movement patterns of older adults with mobility issues.
There’re so much practical skills needed to hear and listen to clients’ struggles with time, nutrition, work, and life that a book alone can’t always teach. Things like this could be addressed in some type of internship to help young coaches learn who they enjoy working with and enjoy serving. Experience and learning by doing has a huge place in our field and so important for anyone with a vision of being a great trainer.
A Note from the ISSA
Successful business owners and fitness professionals like Jeremy Scott prove the importance of developing their craft in helping clients achieve nutrition and fitness goals. Thank you, Jeremy for talking to us about the importance of relatability, genuine passion, and commitment to a life of health and fitness.
If you enjoyed this interview, get even more inspired by another successful ISSA fitness professional in this article. Keep learning from the best and making your own path in this rewarding industry. Become ISSA certified today.
Jason Vaught knows what it takes to make a change, and BE the change. Transforming his own body through research and practice, he pursued an ISSA education to learn the science behind his transformation and to start a business helping others. Jason found his real passion helping people discover the deeper meaning behind their desired transformation and now coaches clients in behavioral nutrition.