So, you want to become a personal trainer? Well, here are some key personal trainer tips to help you guide your clients on successful personal fitness journeys – and to have them recommending you to all their friends.
The beauty of being a personal trainer is that you stay fit while helping other people to stay fit. Plus, it’s the kind of job where you can work for yourself and take your job anywhere.
So, how do you get started? What are the skills needed? And, what could be the difference between a good personal trainer and a really great one?
What Skills Are Required To Become A Personal Trainer?
The Science (And Qualifications)
In order to become a qualified personal trainer, you’ll need training and a good understanding of the science of exercise. For example, a trainer needs to understand the anatomy of the body and how muscles move.
Here are some of the key skills you’ll need as a personal trainer.
You will need knowledge of:
- Safety techniques
- How to assess someone’s physical fitness
- The most effective exercises for personal fitness success
- How to design a training program for an array of fitness levels and health issues
- How to operate fitness equipment safely and effectively
- How to motivate clients
- Anatomy (the bones, muscles, etc.) and biomechanics (how the body moves)
- Basic nutrition principles1
You will also need to be a certified personal trainer. That is, you’ll need a training certificate in:
- CPR and AED (automatic external defibrillator)
- First aid
- An approved NCCA-certified program
It’s mandatory in the U.S. to have a fitness instructor certification. There are hundreds of certification programs available, but it should be one that’s recognized by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA).2,3
Like most jobs that require close person-to-person interaction, personality plays a huge role in your trainer skill set. In fact, your personality, and the way you treat your clients, may be the most essential part of becoming a successful personal trainer.
You should be:
- Able to motivate people of all fitness levels
- Able to nurture a client’s fitness journey with kindness, compassion, and patience
- Hyper-organized for every session
- Able to determine a client’s individual strengths and weaknesses
- A great listener
Personal Trainer Tips: Top Tips For New Personal Trainers
Now that you know some of the skills and traits that make a good personal fitness trainer, let’s dive a little deeper. Here are some personal trainer tips that can help make you a standout fitness professional.
Develop Your Skills
So, you’ve completed all the certifications, and you know you have enough skills to get a job. But personal training doesn’t stop there. Continuously developing your skills is key to becoming a successful personal trainer.
As with many jobs, time, experience, and career development can really help enhance your skills. This can lead to more positive feedback from clients and some truly wonderful word-of-mouth marketing.
Ask yourself: Why should a potential client choose you as their personal fitness trainer over someone else? If your skill set is above and beyond the next trainer, you will stand out.
Set Realistic Goals
It can take time to build up a client base, even at a busy gym. So practice patience, and set yourself some realistic goals within a reasonable time frame. Goals help give you a sense of direction (a kind of map) and purpose (your end goal or dream).
For example, you could set a short-term goal, like, “I want to gain 10 new clients in the next three months.”
If you do some research and find that the standard marketing conversion rate is around, say, 10%, then you’ll need to reach out to at least 100 people during these next three months in order to potentially secure those 10 new clients.
Though not necessary, a social media presence can be helpful. You don’t need to be an expert on Facebook or Twitter – just have a presence for your business and post some photos a few times per week.
Figure Out What Exercises Or Routines Work Best For Your Clients
When it comes down to actual training, it’s not about having a one-size-fits-all approach that you modify slightly for each client. A truly great trainer takes a full analysis of any new client – assessing their fitness level and fitness goals. Sometimes, these two things align well; other times, they won’t.
For example, two clients may wish to work on a weight-loss focused program. However, only one client may have the current health status and fitness level to start working out 5 days per week and include such activities as running or HIIT training.
The other client still needs to lose weight, but they may have health concerns that need to be taken into consideration when designing a personalized (and safe) workout schedule.
Good personal trainer/client relationships (as well as individual training sessions) are built on good communication. Clients come in different shapes and sizes, but they also come with different motivation levels, perceptions of their bodies, and temperaments.
A successful trainer needs to use good, clear communication to:
- Ensure they’re pushing a client within their own abilities
- Stand firm on cancellations or no-shows
- Douse out any blame (or self-blame) that can come with slow fitness gains
- Educate their client on essential workout gear (like good sturdy shoes)
- Kindly beat down any excuses that come with not sticking to their exercise routine
- Be patient with those who have never exercised and need more time to understand exercise concepts.
All in all, a successful trainer needs to be Positive, Patient, and Passionate.
Pick A Specialty
Once you’re a certified trainer, you can get a job with a gym and gain clients that way. That’s a terrific starting point for many. But today, many personal trainers are starting to narrow their skills into a specific niche. The fitness industry is very competitive, so why not become a fitness expert in a specific area?
To give you some ideas, you could specialize as a:
- Certified strength and conditioning specialist (for improving athletic performance)
- Fitness manager (overseeing a facility)
- Senior fitness specialist (healthier lifestyles for older adults)
- Youth fitness specialist (healthier lifestyles for young people)
- Weight loss transformation specialist
- Bodybuilding specialist
- Corrective exercise specialist (analyzing a client’s movement patterns and working to correct them)
- Health coach (safely steering clients toward healthier behaviors)
- Workout developer (i.e. crafting workouts you might see on an online program)
Keep Educating Yourself
Of course, specializations almost always come with a need for further training. As Tony Horton likes to say,
“How are you going to get better if you don’t get better?”
A successful personal trainer should always aim to “get better” for their clients. And that means actively working on getting better.
The world of physical exercise is always changing, and continuing education can help expand your knowledge base while also keeping you up to date with what’s new in the fitness world. This is a trait that people love in a personal trainer – knowing that they’re on the cutting edge of the industry, learning about new types of training and exercise equipment.
A sports medicine qualification can also be a great asset to a trainer looking to expand. Sports medicine focuses on helping people to improve their athletic performance (even if they’re not an athlete) and prevent and recover from injuries.
Personal Trainer Tips: Personal Fitness Is Personal
Sure, a personal trainer can get by simply doling out exercise routines to clients. But a successful trainer goes the extra mile. You’re someone people want to get out of bed and train with.
Even if they’re unmotivated, your clients come to you because they know you’re good, because you cheer them on, because you have a load of knowledge, because you know how to motivate them, and because you get results.
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