As a personal trainer, you may feel like you are largely in this career alone. You are the one responsible for creating a fitness plan for each client. There’s no team of people there to say, “What about this?” or “Have you ever tried that?” You’re also solely responsible for your fitness business—including its failure or success.
The thing is, choosing to become a personal trainer doesn’t mean that you are completely on your own. And you won’t be if you find yourself a personal training mentor.
A mentor is essentially a coach. They provide you with guidance and direction. In the fitness world, this person might help you decide who your ideal client is or how to best reach them with your marketing efforts. They might also offer advice about how to tweak your fitness program to improve its results.
A personal training mentor can also help you find solutions to some of the challenges you face. Maybe you have a client who isn’t able to reach their fitness goal and you’re unsure why. Your mentor can help brainstorm potential reasons. They’re also a good sounding board when working to find solutions.
One of the top benefits of working with a mentor is that you get the benefit of their experience. This person can share with you what does and doesn’t work based on what they’ve seen. This makes your learning curve shorter. You have less of a trial-and-error process because you can avoid making the same mistakes as your mentor.
Another benefit of working with a personal training mentor is that it gives you someone to go to when you have questions. You have a direct line to a person who understands the fitness industry. This can save you hours of research. It also helps you avoid reaching out to another personal trainer for advice just to get no response.
If you’re feeling discouraged, a mentor can encourage you to keep going. It’s not uncommon for a fitness entrepreneur to have times when they want to give up. The challenges of building your brand or growing your client list can feel like too much. Your mentor will remind you why you are a personal trainer. Then they’ll use your ‘why’ to help you push through the difficult times. The end result is a stronger, more resilient fitness business.
Even if you recognize the value of a personal training mentor, you may not know how to find one. Here are a few places to start your search:
Consider the trainers at your gym. The great thing about starting at your gym is that you may already know this person. This can make it easier to approach them about mentorship. (Even if you don’t know them personally, they’ve likely seen you around. This creates a level of familiarity.) It also gives you the opportunity to watch how they conduct a training session. This can help you decide whether it is someone you want as a mentor. It also provides insight into how they may interact with you based on how they interact with their client.
Find a reputable trainer online. While online personal training existed before COVID-19, the pandemic turned virtual workouts into more of a norm. That makes this a good option for finding a mentor—particularly if you also want to build your business as an online personal trainer. Look for online trainers who have been virtual for a while and offer services similar to you. Check out a few of their workouts and read their reviews to make sure they are reputable in the field.
Look for a personal trainer who already shares their knowledge. Some trainers are natural mentors. They may already offer services as a fitness business coach. Or they might have written a book about health coaching or how to build your personal training business. Even if they aren’t specifically a fitness business mentor, someone involved in these other areas has proven that they are willing to share what they know. That makes them a good person to consider for mentorship.
Use a mentorship platform. There are some online platforms designed to connect mentors and mentees. And some are made specifically for a personal trainer or other fitness professional. For instance, Fitness Mentors is a platform that offers personal trainer mentorship. Online Fitness Business Mentorship and Fitness Revolution also provide mentorship for coaching and training professionals.
The last thing you want to do is find a mentor who is not a good fit for you. This would be a waste of your time and theirs. It can also leave you frustrated, creating more challenges and stress than you already face. What does a good mentor look like?
First, it’s important that they are at a place in their fitness journey that you want to be. The whole goal of mentorship is to learn what the other person knows. And they can have the best information in the world, but if it doesn’t help you reach your career goals, it isn’t going to matter. So, think about your specific goal for working in fitness. Then, find someone who has already attained that goal.
You also want a mentor who specializes in your area of fitness. You wouldn’t want a doctor as a mentor if you plan to become a police officer. While this is a dramatic difference, it outlines the importance of picking a mentor within your desired specialty. The more your specialty aligns with theirs, the more you’ll get from their advice.
Another factor to consider is their level of experience and education. With both comes knowledge. Education provides foundational knowledge. Experience fills in the gaps by supplying what can’t be learned in books.
When looking at their education, think beyond a diploma or degree in exercise science or a similar field. Do they have any type of certification? A certified personal trainer has met the standards required for this designation.
Look also at any other certification courses they may have completed. Maybe they are a conditioning specialist or nutrition specialist in addition to being a personal trainer. Each certification they have provides you access to another area of knowledge or expertise.
Now that you know who you’d like as a mentor, the next step is to ask them if they’d be willing to take on this role. When approaching the person, get straight to the point.
You might say, “I’ve been watching you train and was wondering if you’d be willing to be my mentor.” If you’ve never seen them in person, you might start by saying, “I’ve looked over your fitness career and have similar goals. I’m looking for someone to help coach me along the way. Would you be interested in being my mentor?”
It can also help to follow immediately with what being your mentor means. Are you looking for someone who has time to meet in person or online once a week or less frequently? Tell them what they can expect as a potential mentor. Let them know what they’re signing up for if they say yes.
Also, spell out why you chose them. Do they specialize in strength training and that’s where you want to specialize too? Are they an in-demand group exercise instructor and you’d like to reach that same level of demand yourself? Tell them exactly why you selected them for mentorship.
Not only does this show that you did your research, but it also gives them a better idea of how they can help. (It may even appeal to their ego since it serves as a compliment of the status they’ve attained on their own personal training journey.)
If you are an experienced personal trainer, you can share your knowledge and experience with newer trainers by becoming a mentor yourself. Don’t wait for a potential mentee to approach you. Instead, you can approach them. Let them know that you’re open to mentorship if they’d be interested.
You can also better position yourself as a mentor by earning your Master Trainer certification. This higher-level ISSA designation includes both personal training and nutrition certifications. You also get to choose between three different specialization tracks: strength, health, and advanced. This enables you to focus on (and mentor within) the areas of fitness that you enjoy most.
Take your career to the top of the fitness industry. Help more people. Make more money. Be the Go-To Expert. As a Master Trainer, you will demonstrate a balanced knowledge of fitness and nutrition, and a depth of expertise across many areas of fitness. Open your career path up to new possibilities as you establish yourself among the best.
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