I wrote an article on the rewarding aspects of personal training (see here). Today, I’m going to take the flip side approach and talk about why a personal training career may not be for you.
Sales and Marketing
If there was one tough rule I had to learn my first year as a trainer, it was that it didn’t matter how knowledgeable you were. I knew more than any of the other trainers at the gym I worked at. But I was selling the LEAST. Why? Because I had no clue how to market myself. All I knew was how to spew knowledge in detail (which no client cares about by the way).
On the other hand, I had a coworker who knew EXACTLY how to market herself. She was selling training packages left and right while I was scared of “taking my clients money.” It was painful. But it’s a truth worth mentioning. I’ve seen many other trainers fall into the same trap as me. They think just because they had success with their own body, and some friends, that now they’re ready to be a success. Being able to sell yourself I would argue is what separates the trainers who make it from those who don’t.
Let’s say you got the marketing down. You’re just rolling in clients. How are you IN the session? I’ve seen trainers just be a dull rock when with their clients. A lot of them are busy on their phone texting, one was even eating! If you’re ultimately trying to create an influx of clientele, you better make damn sure you're treating your current clients like gold. Most new clients will probably come from referrals, so make sure your client is getting VIP treatment.
Explain to them how the workout you built is catered to their needs. Track their progress with photos and measurements so they can see how far they’ve come working with you. All these little things matter to build up your worth.
I’ve said this multiple times in previous articles. You have to be constantly learning! I hate it when I see trainers doing the same cookie cutter programs for all their clients. I’m talking, the same workout they give their 25 year old client, I see them implementing it with their 60 year old client as well. This doesn’t make sense! Don’t be in the business of helping people if you aren’t going to put forth the effort to care enough to be on top of your game.
Would you rather have the doctor up to date on the latest techniques and methods? Or the doctor who hasn’t bothered to learn anything since they were in med school?
Lastly of course is money. Everyone wants the quick dollar. Personal training has this allure of making “insane amounts of money bro” while having “ultimate flexibility”. Sure, at some point that MAY happen. However, look at most trainers. The most successful ones are putting in HOURS. They also aren’t doing it for the money. You signed up to help people get better. That should be your priority! Money is just a bonus!
The ACTUAL Work Required
A lot of trainers think you can just get hired at a gym, and start rolling in the clients. Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that most chain gyms will focus on filling your schedule up. But it’s up to YOU to maintain those clients. And that’s IF the gym assists you. Other gyms don’t hand you a single client, and it’s your job to spend 60-80 hours a week (yes, 80), walking the floor and picking up clients. There is nothing glorious about having to walk up to person after to person half of which don’t want to be interrupted. But this is what gets you good as a trainer.
You learn how to approach people, and provide advice without being overbearing. You realize quickly, it’s not about selling but establishing relationships so people can come to trust you as a source of help (and eventually training should you provide enough value).