The short answer is not necessarily.
While yes, it does help to look the part, and you should be doing your best to be the healthiest you and in the best shape of your life, that isn’t the ONLY requirement to be a personal trainer.
I’ve had a lot of former coworkers of all shapes and sizes absolutely crushing it as a trainer. On the flip side, I’ve seen some of the most jacked, fit looking guys do horrible as trainers. What it really comes down to is personality. Speaking only from my own experience, the trainers I’ve seen do the best all had great personalities. Their clients lit up when they came to their sessions. I’ve even gone as far to ask what makes them stay with their trainers. Here’s some of what they had to say.
A lot of clients said they LOVED working with their trainer because of how much that trainer cared about them. Even when it was beyond their session, they mentioned how the trainer would still reach out and check in to make sure they were held accountable. During the sessions, I would also notice a lot of engagement. As a trainer, you can’t just be a robot counting reps. Your clients are people with personalities themselves. Maybe they’ve had a rough day and just want someone to talk to. A good trainer is almost like a therapist who is there to lend their ear while helping the client achieve their goals.
Another attribute clients like about their trainers is that they can trust them. They feel confident in the knowledge that the trainer has provided that they will successfully get them to their goals. You don’t have to overwhelm them with science. Just explain why you have the routine you’ve set out and how it will benefit them. I have definitely seen the opposite. Trainers who were not confident in their skills even though they knew a lot, or were a little too data driven and confused the client. Keep it simple, and trust your skillset.
Having a Niche
This can come in many forms. When you are working with the general population, you will get all age ranges, and prior history. I have found that as trainers gain more experience they start to carve a little niche out for themselves. We had a much older trainer in his 70’s who exclusively trained people around his age. They have their own set of needs, and usually want someone closer to their age who they feel understands their needs. I’ve seen other trainers work exclusively with pregnant women, athletes, high school kids, high level executives, the list is endless. Don’t feel like you have to try and take on every client you have. Sometimes, you just need to find your demographic you know how to train the best based on your life experience.
At the end of the day don’t be too fixated on body type. There are far too many personalities and people in the world who are seeking help, and they don’t all want the jacked bodybuilder. In fact, in most cases, newer clients are very intimidated by trainers who are a little TOO in shape. Just make sure you are personable, care about the client, and know how to work towards their goals to help them get where they want and you will do just fine.