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Personal training

Becoming a Successful Personal Trainer in 3 Steps

By Joe Talarico on Mar 11, 2021 2:00:00 PM
4 Minutes Reading Time


Create A Plan

If you want to be a successful trainer, then you have to have a plan. It’s kind of weird and unfortunate to admit, but a lot of trainers I’ve seen at commercial gyms don’t really have a plan. Every workout is different, they don’t write anything down, and there is no overarching goal.

You need to be able to help get your clients to where they want to be. They need to KNOW that you have an actual plan. I’ve seen a lot of clients leave their trainers simply because they felt like that trainer never explained anything to them or asked about their goals. 

Be inquisitive! You should be asking a TON of questions in the beginning to figure out their past history, injuries, food intolerances, familiarity with lifting, if they’ve dieted before, etc. Map out how you are going to address the different issues they want to fix with week to week approaches. Have bi-weekly check-in’s to take their measurements, body fat, pictures and any other information you think will help show progress over time. 

Small Attainable Behavior Goals

Everyone wants to create outcome based goals. “I want to lose weight”. What every good trainer knows is that the clients who not only hit their goals, but are able to keep it off long term do so, because they change their habits and behaviors, not chase a goal.  

Instead of “I want to lose 5lbs”, focus and steer them towards long lasting behaviors. “I will eat protein with each meal” or “I will go for a 10 minute walk after each meal”. This sets them up for success, and allows them to embrace the process better. The key to successful weight loss or putting on muscle is preparation. A client whose trainer teaches them to prep their food, gives them quality programming with progression, and an accountability system that keeps them on track will get them to their goals way quicker.  

Learn to make each goal smaller if need be, to help make it easier to adhere to. If they can’t workout 3 times a week, start with 2. Maybe even just 1. That’s okay! Not everyone is as obsessed with being in the gym as you are.

Embrace The Journey

This applies both to you as a trainer and the clients. Being a trainer gives you the autonomy to make your own schedule, pick your own clients, and do things how you want (mostly). But this isn’t a get rich quick career. A lot of naive trainers get into personal training because they think clients will just come rushing in and they’ll be in high demand. It’s a LOT of upfront work generating leads, designing individualized programs for EACH client, keeping a detailed log of their progress, and being available 24/7. Your job doesn’t end when they leave their session with you.

You need to love the process of helping people better themselves. It has to be more than just about the money or you won’t last long or be a good trainer. When it comes to client’s, it is more of a therapy session than it is working out. They will come with problems and issues that go beyond their goals. You have to be willing to be adaptable and be attentive to their needs. They might miss a couple sessions due to stress or travel. They may lose motivation and want to quit. A great trainer can go with the ebb and flows that comes with each client.

As a trainer you are their guide throughout their life and yours. Enjoy it! If you can learn to love the process with all the ups and downs, being a personal trainer is one of the most fulfilling jobs there is out there. Not many people get the chance to interact with such a wide variety of people in such an unfiltered way.

How to Become a Successful Personal Trainer

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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