There are a ton of characteristics I could list that a trainer needs to be successful. Go to any gym and you’ll see a wide variety of what makes each trainer successful. There are however, some staple attributes that I see the top trainers all utilizing and the newer, less experienced not exuding and potentially holding their business back.
This is the most important characteristic that a successful trainer could have. You are working with people every single day of your career. Your entire job is based on effective communication. You can have all the knowledge in the world, but are you able to translate it in a way that the client understands? Can you maximize the time you have with clients so they understand why you are providing the program you’ve designed in a way that keeps them coming back? Your clients will all have different needs and personality types. A trainer's job is just as much being able to manage personalities and being more of a therapist as it is just putting them through exercises. You have to enjoy being around people and knowing how to navigate relationships.
Another trait successful trainers have is the constant interest in learning. If you are a trainer, you’ll meet clients with different questions and issues. Even if you don’t know the answer, there needs to be a curiosity to want to find out the answer to best serve your client. Also, to be the best at your area of expertise requires constant education, and knowing what’s out there. The fitness field is constantly changing. Trends come and go, and you need to be aware of what works and what doesn’t so that you don’t succumb to those trends, let alone have your client trying bogus advice.
You may have the expertise, you may have the body, but do people like you? In the personal training industry, YOU are the brand. You are constantly selling yourself whether you realize it or not. Whether that’s other members at the gym watching you, or your own client’s seeing your behavior that day. Client retention is more important than generating clients. You can get as many new clients as you want, but if you don’t have the personality to keep them with you to create a sustainable business you will never last. Whether you are with them for 30 minute or an hour, you are basically hanging out with another person. No one wants to spend that time being told what to do by someone they can’t stand. Having a good personality for training people means being influential and having charisma. Knowing how to talk to your clients and meet them where they are at is the key to getting any long lasting behavior change from them to see long term results.
How are you when things don’t go according to plan? What if a client doesn’t want to listen or comes in with an injury? Having the interest in always learning to hone your skills will allow you to be adaptive on the fly. You may have clients who come in having totally ignored your advice all weekend. You need the patience to keep a steady mind and be able to go with whatever comes your way. If you are too rigid in your methods you may find it too frustrating to do what it takes to be the top trainer in your area.
You shouldn’t be in this business because you want to make tons of money. That may be a side effect, but your default should be wanting to help each and every client out. The only way to do that is to take the time to be invested into each client. No cookie cutter programs, but an actual curiosity to getting to know each client. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find out about their previous training experience, any injuries they might have had, mental roadblocks that are preventing them from getting to where they want to go. A client wants to feel understood. I see too many trainers at gyms with a glaze over their eyes just waiting for each session to finish. Others will pick up on this looking on. Invest in your clients beyond the hour you are with them. Have tips for when they go on a trip, or if they’ve had a bad day.