Personal Trainer Portfolios and Testimonials
As you begin your career as a certified personal trainer, it is important to track your progress, just as you would your clients’. Looking back on what you’ve accomplished gives you a good idea of what you could accomplish in the coming year, allowing you to set goals for your business.
What Should a Personal Trainer’s Portfolio Look Like?
Getting started is often the hardest part of any endeavor. Anyone who has ever completed an intensive course will tell you it’s true. Your clients will tell you it’s true about their fitness journey. It will also be true for you and starting your business. But tracking progress is a great way to keep yourself motivated and to set a course for future progress.
In essence, a portfolio is a brag book. It is a compilation of all the things you have done or accomplished since you began your work as a personal trainer. Here are some ideas of what could be in your portfolio:
As an ISSA certified personal trainer, you set yourself above the rest and distinguish yourself among colleagues. Christina Estrada’s first job out of the ISSA Associate’s degree program was as the Master Trainer at a local big box gym. Why? Because they recognized the depth and scope of her knowledge compared to the trainers they already had on staff. Your certificate(s) will show potential employers and clients that you are knowledgeable and prepared to work with them to improve their diet, achieve their fitness goals, and make healthier lifestyle choices.
ISSA certifications expire every two years. Keep track of those dates so you can plan to complete your continuing education units (CEUs) before your certificate expires. Record each of the CEUs you complete and add those to your portfolio as well.
Awards may include earning distinction in an educational program, community awards (for example, “Best of…” awards), peer recognition awards, or appreciation awards. Awards are social proof that you are an expert in your field and actively striving towards excellence.
They show that others have trusted you with their health and feel like the experience was worth their vote. Maybe your expertise is helping people lose weight. Strive after the “Best Place to Lose Weight” award and let your clients know that one of your goals is to help even more people lose weight and that their vote will help you achieve that goal.
Once you earn your award(s), scan them to share digitally, print one for a physical copy portfolio, and frame the original to hang in your fitness facility or gym.
Being a sponsored athlete demonstrates your commitment to fitness and is a great way to attract clients. If you are sponsored, share your personal testimonial about the company’s products and promote their brand in your own marketing. Small sponsorships lead to big opportunities, so commit to being a bold advocate for the companies that sponsor you!
If you are a writer and have work published in print or on the internet, share it! Meaningful contribution to the industry shows you are committed to the fitness industry and continuing education. You don’t have to be published on a huge platform. Local newspaper and magazine platforms are a springboard to larger opportunities and get you known in your community. For example, this article by Jessica Franklin, a family-focused personal training professional in Alaska who used this piece to promote her services. Print the articles to share in your office, share the links on social media and your website.
If you’ve always wanted to get published, but haven’t yet, consider reaching out to the ISSA Online blog to get started. We’re always looking for valuable content to help our students and readers.
Conferences and Expos Attended
Every time you attend a professional conference or go to a large fitness exposition, you should put that experience in your portfolio. Who did you meet? What speakers did you listen to? What did you learn?
Attending industry events is important to your overall business success. There is almost always a new workout, cardio machine, diet book, or fitness fad that debuts at these events. You can show that you’ve been on the cutting edge of the industry if you track your attendance at these events.
Sometimes, the best marketing is to contribute to the health of your community without expectation of compensation. Volunteering at charity events, helping organize the local health fair, getting your team out to clean up a neighborhood park or garden, or establishing an afterschool fitness program for at-risk youth are all inspiring ways to show you care.
Sporting Event Participation
Whether you’re on a co-ed softball team, play ultimate frisbee, or compete in recreation races like 5ks or obstacle courses, put all of this in your portfolio. Clients will feel much more comfortable working with you if they feel you have something in common. Time spent playing on a team or competing in your favorite sport shows that you’re not just talking the talk but are indeed walking out the principles you teach in your training sessions and preach in your gym.
Personal Training Client Testimonials
Gathering testimonials from clients should be part of your client care process. When you first meet a new client, you learn about their pain points, the health issues they want to resolve and how motivated and committed they are to those goals. A testimonial doesn’t have to be the end…in fact, testimonials that talk about the process are more powerful than “look what I’ve done” statements.
The clients who are still working towards their weight loss goals, following your diet, hitting the gym every morning, committing to their cardio routine, etc. can give you active testimonials which will inspire others to join the process and get active!
How and when should you collect testimonials? Well, sometimes the best testimonials come out of your end-of-session chats. For example, Estrada’s favorite testimonial came when she asked a client, “What is your favorite thing about your workouts?” Her reply, (speaking about her, ahem, glutes), “I’ve gone from pancake to little tiny apple!”
What to ask…
There’s no specific question that will elicit a great testimonial but here are some suggestions:
- What were some of your goals when you started?
- What are your goals now?
- How would you summarize your experience as a whole?
- How have your relationships changed?
- What kind of compliments have you received since you started your fitness transformation?
- What were the things that made the biggest impact?
- What was the biggest obstacle you faced in your journey to become healthy?
- What is the problem you needed to solve?
- How did we solve your problem?
Where to share…
Sharing great testimonials is important for growing your business. You should share them on your website and social media, as we’ve previously discussed in our article, 7 Tips to Keep the Clients Coming Back. But don’t stop there. Platforms like Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, Thumbtack, etc. are valuable places to share testimonials and engage with clients who have taken the time to review you and your business.
ALWAYS engage with your reviewers. If the review is positive, thank them, praise their efforts and finish with a statement like, “it’s my pleasure” or “I look forward to helping others overcome this obstacle as well.” If the review is negative, use the opportunity to publicly address the concern and restate your dedication to that person’s goals.
In addition to gathering client testimonials, consider other people you’ve worked with and ask them for testimonials. For example, ask your boss to give a testimonial about your sales skills, conflict resolution, professionalism, etc. Ask other trainers or peers what they think about the work you do. Ask editors to talk about your work, ability to meet deadlines, and whether you’re easy to work with. You should also get testimonials from corporate partners or people you’ve worked within the community.
Again, social proof is key to business growth. Your portfolio and testimonials demonstrate that you know how to help others achieve their fitness goals, improve their physical fitness and mindset, and become healthier.
It isn’t too late to put together a portfolio! Review your calendar to see what you’ve done over the past year and start putting your portfolio together today. Once you get started, it will be much easier to maintain it throughout the year.
Ready to add more education and experience to your portfolio? Check out the ISSA’s continuing education offerings—from Strength and Conditioning to Fitness Nutrition, there’s bound to be an area that piques your interest.