Becoming a personal trainer can be one of the most rewarding career choices out there. You get to help people physically and mentally transform their lives in a way they thought was never possible. The problem is there are a LOT of trainers out there. Some are good, some are bad. If you do decide to take the leap into becoming a trainer you should always strive to be the best. Here are some tips on what that looks like.
Get Experience Everywhere
If you are just starting out, your focus should be getting hands on experience with every variety of client you are able to. Try out different fields of being a trainer. You can work at a big box gym, intern at a university working with collegiate athletes, or try out private gyms. The more experience you get, the more you can find out where your skills fit best, while also rounding yourself out to gain both field experience and knowledge.
One issue I always pick up on with bad trainers is their lack of experience. Clients ask them questions they can’t answer, and they refuse too many clients because they don’t feel comfortable taking them. Do your due diligence to learn as much as you can.
Get A Mentor
While you are getting that experience, one of the best decisions you can make is finding a mentor. Find someone who is where you want to be, and ask if you can work under them. The knowledge and potential future job prospects you will gain from even just one year of that mentorship beats any master’s degree. The training industry is as much about networking and putting yourself in the best position to grow as it is knowing how to train someone.
A great mentor will take you under their wing and teach you how to avoid all the mistakes they made, and what strengths to focus on to truly shine.
Know When to Admit You Don’t Know Something
Just as important as learning as much as you can is, it’s as important to be able to tell a client when you don’t know something. Nothing is worse than lying to a client because you don’t want to seem incompetent. It is totally okay to acknowledge what you don’t know, and tell them what you will do is find the answer and get back to them. Client’s don’t need you to be a know-it-all. They just want to know that you care enough about their goals and how to get them where they want to be.
Lead The Session
It’s too easy for a client to start dictating where their sessions go. Don’t stray from your values. Clients will do everything from shortening their rest periods, to rushing the workouts, to wanting to ALWAYS do circuits. Remember, YOU are the trainer. Only you know what’s best for them. A bad trainer will ask “So what do you want to do today?” A great trainer will already have a plan laid out.
Be An Effective Communicator
While you should be leading the session, it’s also important to be able to explain the reasoning behind your programming. The focus here is keeping it simple. Your clients won’t care that you want to focus on their concentric explosiveness and then switch to 4 weeks of eccentric training. That means nothing to them. They just want to know how whatever plan you laid out for them relates to getting to their goals.
I’ve seen some of the smartest trainers lose their clients because they get too technical in their jargon and the client just feels unheard. Also keep in mind that most sessions turn into therapy for your clients. They will start to divulge what’s going on in their personal lives, work, etc. It’s your job to approach the mental aspect of empathizing with whatever they are going through, and having workouts they can achieve based on their mental state.
As you listen to your clients needs, properly assess their form, and go over prior injuries, be ready for change. Clients will cancel on you last minute, go away on vacations, or get injured. You may have written out a perfect 6 week plan, where they train 3 times a week, but they only end up coming in once a week. Have a contingency plan for this.
If they come in with imbalances, or injuries, be able to adjust their program to meet those needs. Maybe you need to take a step back from strength training, and focus on mobility. The best trainers out there know how to adapt to their clients needs on the fly. It may feel frustrating at first, but if you can master this skill, you will go very far in getting clients and retaining them.