We asked current and veteran fitness professionals about the best advice they would give you, a new personal trainer. We wanted to know what they wished they had known as a new trainer and what they've learned through their experience in the real world of training clients.
They came back with loads of advice through social media, email, and interviews. Core topics appeared, repeated in varying forms, so we compiled these central ideas that the trainers had to offer. Here are the top tips for new and aspiring personal trainers as you find your focus to excel as a fitness professional.
As much as we wish it were so, there won't be an instantaneous line of people waiting for you to train them the moment you get your personal training certification or get hired at a gym. You're going to have to hustle. You are selling clients on the idea that YOU can help them meet their health and fitness goals. And they're not going to make the sale come easy.
Clients will walk in the gym doors wanting to get healthy but they'll still have every excuse in the book as to why they don't need a personal trainer. So, learn how to pitch your knowledge and skills to their benefit and how to overcome those objections. The better you get at overcoming objections, the easier it will be for you to build a full schedule of clients.
Ask questions and listen to the answers.
Tap into their emotions.
Be confident in your knowledge and abilities.
Ask for the sale.
When you're starting out, find a seasoned trainer who knows their way around the gym or health club and is willing to show you're the ropes. As you get going, don't be afraid to have more than one mentor or to change mentors throughout your career. A mentor excels in an area where you feel weak, which means as you progress you will likely need someone with a different knowledge base or set of skills.
A mentoring relationship can take a variety of forms, such as a shadowing experience, regular check-in conversations, or occasional advice when a problem presents itself. Good mentors will offer encouragement and motivation to help you build your skills as a personal trainer.
You're building a business in transforming lives. While your personal training clients may do okay with their fitness in the gym, poor nutrition can be a key factor holding them back from achieving their goals. Understanding nutrition and imparting that knowledge to help clients build a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle will help you succeed even more than before.
With a certification in fitness nutrition, you can have a deeper understanding of nutrition than the average personal trainer. This sets you apart from the pack and gives you more benefits to offer a client. Help clients build healthy habits within the gym and outside it.
Don't be a victim of burnout. Take time off, whether it's to pursue interests outside the gym or to fit in your own workout. Many trainers mentioned losing track of their own health and fitness because they were too busy helping clients. How does that look to clients if you can't practice what you preach? Finding balance keeps you happy and healthy, and it can inspire clients to find balance in their lives.
Don't try to fake a personality type just because it works for another trainer. Clients will see through that fakeness right away and won't trust you to help them achieve their goals. A no-nonsense approach might work for Trainer Jane and her clients who just want to show up, achieve their numbers, and go home. But there will also be clients who seek out the cheerful, positive attitude of Trainer Bob because they want to have fun during their workout.
There isn't one workout that works for everyone, nor is there one specific trainer personality that all clients seek out. Maintain a professional attitude while still allowing your own personality to shine through. You'll attract clients who keep coming back and look forward to their sessions with you.
This applies not only when you're trying to make a sale but also when you're working with your client. Your clients stick with you because they feel you understand them and know what it'll take to get them to achieve their goals. Pay attention to how they're feeling when they arrive, which new exercises they're excited to try, or if there are any new sources of stress in their lives. Your clients will feel valued in being heard, and you may also notice subtle changes that necessitate an alteration in the workout.
You're always working to improve your physical fitness and your mental fitness should be no different. The moment we stop learning, we become stagnant. And there is always something new to learn.
At the minimum, you'll need to acquire continuing education credits to meet the requirements of your certification. But to stay relevant and on top of your game, seek additional learning opportunities as you're able.
Discuss training methods with other trainers (in person or online).
Take online classes for additional specializations.
Read health journals.
Attend health and fitness conferences.
The more you know, the more you can help your clients as they work to achieve their goals.
If you're not already certified as a personal trainer but are ready to help people build healthier lives, sign up for the ISSA's personal trainer certification course online.