Dear potential personal trainer,
One of the very first things we try to impart on all our personal trainers internally in our personal training gyms, as well as students who have enrolled in our Cert 3 and Cert 4 in Fitness programs is the importance of becoming a good coach instead of simply being just a stereotypical personal trainer.
A personal trainer in my opinion, is paid to give information and that’s pretty much where their role ends. What happens when the client already knows what they need to be doing but they are not following through? Client compliance is the most important factor for getting results, if a trainer cannot influence their clients to act and follow through with their plan, then they are doomed to fail no matter how great the actual program is.
This is where the role of being a coach comes into play. A coach guides their client to take the necessary action steps and overcome obstacles to reach their goals. After all we are training people here, not just robots and what often gets in the way is life in general, which you cannot plan for. As Tony Robbins says, expect the unexpected and when the unexpected happens you will not be surprised or stressed out about it!
In my opinion, the era of being just a rep counting, boot camp yelling personal trainer is now dead. It is no longer enough to only know what training methods to use to achieve specific goals and hope that your clients are going to stick to the plan 100% outside of their personal training appointments with you.
If you want to make it in the fitness industry today, you are going to need to evolve from the stereotypical mold of being a personal trainer. Our industry is extremely competitive so you need to have a point of difference and offer a complete service.
In analyzing and working with some of the best coaches around the world in the fitness industry and within the realm of personal development there, I have identified three primary traits that are imperative for becoming an industry leading personal trainer. They are the following…
- Desire to help others
First and foremost, should be your genuine desire to want to work with and help people. This should come before anything else such as the financial rewards or recognition you may receive as trainer.
This not only makes the experience a lot more rewarding for the client but for yourself also since our most fulfilling needs as human beings are to connect, contribute, and grow. This is achieved by focusing on serving the client to the best of your ability. This means putting the needs of clients before your own and making your goals their goals! There are going to be times when you will need to make recommendations to your clients that are not aligned with your best financial interests, they will however help them.
There have been occasions where I have had to refer clients to specialists and they have had to reallocate their budgets accordingly. There have been other times where clients that were overly eager wanted me to train them more often than what was appropriate for their fitness level, and I have had to decline.
At the end of the day the result is what counts and you must be committed to that before anything else. It has always benefited me in the long run because when people see you are more committed to their cause above anything else they will stay with you for a long time and refer you clients.
Also for your longevity as personal trainer there will hopefully come a time after years of applying your craft where the financial rewards or recognition will no longer make you jump out of bed. The only thing that will keep you fulfilled in the long run is the desire to help people, connect, and grow in the process.
Therefore, it is very important to never lose sight of the true purpose of why you are doing this, that way you can enjoy a long and prosperous career and help more people along the way!
- Empathy and Adaptability
A great personal trainer needs to be empathetic towards their client’s needs and be adaptable in their approach. A one-size fits all drill sergeant approach will not work in the long run. For long-term success one needs to be intrinsically motivated!
The drill sergeant approach reduces intrinsic motivation for most populations you will deal with. These instructors usually blame the client for their lack of compliance when it is due to their shortcomings as a coach. People are much more likely to stick with something and be successful at it if they want to do it instead of being forced to do it.
A good example is something that most of us can probably relate to, which is forcing a child to study when they don’t want to. As a result, many will hate it because they are being made to do it in an area they are not passionate about.
For me, learning is one of my absolute favorite things in the world. That is because it is on my terms and not someone else, the desire and motivation must come from within, so intrinsically motivated.
This is a common trait that I have observed repeatedly amongst all clients who achieve long-term success is that they all really enjoy the process rather than simply focusing on the outcome. As a result, they achieve happily instead of stressing to achieve.
A great personal trainer is one who can make their clients enjoy the process and the journey towards attaining their goal. They do this by asking the right questions and being adaptable in their approach by developing a plan that’s best suited to their client’s needs, lifestyle, and preferences.
This is where it becomes important for you as a personal trainer to have a big tool box and know when it’s time to pull out the right tool for the job. You should be able to fit their plan to their client instead of the other way around.
- Learn more to earn more
Once you have applied the above two points, you can then begin to work on the final step which is learning more so that not only the above two steps become easier, but so that you also become more financially rewarded in the process!
The ‘Learn more to earn more’ concept was taught to me by legendary Strength Coach Charles Poliquin in 2008 and is something that I still apply to this day. Many of my colleagues whom I met from further developing myself over the years at industry based courses are some of the most successful personal trainers in their respective countries.
Personal trainers such as Nick Mitchell of UP Fitness, Wolfgang Unsold of My Strength Institute Stuttgart, Marty Williams and Kelly Martinovich from the Shredded Strength Institute in Perth are all now industry leaders whom have applied the learn more to earn more philosophy.
To become an expert, I recommend as a personal trainer you invest no less than 10% of your total income into better developing yourself. The very best invest around 20%, I myself invested 25% for around 5 years when I was creating the Clean Health Fitness Institute, as I wanted to ensure our knowledge far exceeded our competitors in the industry.
You should also ensure that you not only learn about industry related matter such as hormones, nutrition, training systems, technique etc. But also, business advice in sales, marketing, legal, accounting. A good business person ensures they know enough about all of them, that way you will always be able to stay on top of your business as it grows.
My desire for development and education lead to the Clean Health Fitness Institute going from being a personal training based business to an RTO and fitness college, as raising the bar of the fitness industry is what I am passionate about and ensuring the next breed of personal trainers are set up for success and do not make the same mistakes I have made.
In closing, remember why you are looking at getting into the industry and I can promise you that if you apply these three key traits, your pathway to success will be a speedy one and long lasting!
Yours in success,
Founder / Clean Health Fitness Institute
Editors Note: To find out more about our education programs, check out the following links below:
- Cert 3 & 4 in Fitness (Online & Intensive)
- Performance Nutrition Coach Certification
- Performance PT Certification