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Ten tips every personal trainer should know

Created by Jamie Spoor


9 minute read

Being a good personal trainer has its perks perhaps more than any other job in the fitness industry — perhaps indeed more than any other job full stop: it's rewarding, it's potentially lucrative, you're making a difference to people's lives, you can become whoever you want to be and there's unlimited potential.

But how do you stand out in a crowded market? Here, we'll explain how you can push your head above the parapet and become a PT your client will want to stay with. Here is Train In Blocks' ten pieces of "must-know" advice to get you there.

Table of contents

  1. Find your niche and own it
  2. Set your schedule
  3. Never stop learning
  4. Empower your clients
  5. Learn from others
  6. Use social media, but be wary
  7. Understand your audience
  8. Flexibility is key
  9. Expand your knowledge
  10. Network as often as you can

Find your niche and 'own it'

Your first port of call should be to start building your business and develop your brand which will set you apart from the competition.

It's too simplistic just to say you specialise in 'everything': decide what you want to focus on specifically and stay with it, whether it be as a weight loss expert, a strength and conditioning coach or training those at the peak of their physical fitness.

If you don't give people a specific reason to work with you, they won't come up with one of your own. Stay true to what you want to achieve, your 'uniqueness' is what makes your niche 'you'.

Set your schedule

By keeping an efficient and well-maintained schedule, you immediately appear much more professional and focused on your clients. You will come across as someone who's passionate about what they do, as well as someone who won't let them down by turning up late, unprepared or even not at all — all of which are, of course, significant red flags.

By being organised to a high level, it will also allow you as a personal trainer to maintain a strong work/life balance, in turn preventing the risk of fatigue/burnout and preserving your career. This is perhaps the most essential piece of advice we can give you — to always stay organised and structured in your approach.

Never stop learning

This is true in any job — indeed, it's a modern-day mantra we can apply in all walks of life. Even after you've gone through your own training journey and are well on the way to becoming a fully-fledged PT, be sure to continue learning and expanding your knowledge.

The health and fitness industry is always shifting, so it's important to keep up to speed with the latest developments and the winds of change. Not only is there an ever-growing raft of books, magazines and journals but we live in the age of the Internet — with tools like YouTube and Instagram, clients and consumers are now more "up to date" than ever.

We would definitely recommend incorporating different sources into your everyday working routine. We have some other top tips here.

Empower your clients

Successful personal trainers should be so much more than simply someone who shapes your body. They have the potential to shape and transform lives too! They build confidence and self-esteem, and embody the mantra that the sky's the limit with dedication and hard work. Bear this in mind when working closely with your clients and consider it's not only WHAT you do, but how you do it. Work on finding out exactly why they want to work with you and use this to encourage and motivate.

Set milestones, help them achieve their goals, communicate the whole way through and rejoice every time that they hit their mark. Communication = motivation and you can also consider getting your clients' friends on board too — perhaps set up group sessions with their family and expand to a wider support circle.

Running group

Learn from others

This one is perhaps better suited to those just starting out, but the best place to start is to have a look at those with years in the industry. There's nothing wrong with asking others, to bounce ideas off and to gain a stronger identity as a personal trainer. Consider things like how and where they like to train, any specific target market, plans for future growth as a PT and marketing techniques. This will allow you to effectively 'scout' your opposition and, armed with this knowledge you can tailor and adapt your services and fitness packages to be different from the rest and exploit gaps in the market. You can become both sustainable and progressive. Maybe even consider working out with another personal trainer to set a good example and to strengthen your learning experience.

Use social media, but be wary

Building and maintaining an online presence is a vital weapon in your armoury if you want to succeed as a personal trainer. Like it or loathe it, social media can be used to your advantage — whilst it shouldn't consume all your energy and take away your focus from the job at hand, it can help you to develop an online community and reach out to clients. For example, you could create a Facebook group where your clients can ask questions, share ideas, discuss techniques and fitness tips.

You could use Instagram to build the aesthetic of your brand and put together a 'teaser' video or a photo reel of your expertise for your followers. Creating and managing an online presence also allows you to keep your clients updated — for example, if you're on holiday or in absentia, a simple click of a button or a message will let everyone know at once and saves you a lot of time and effort.

Understand your audience

This might sound obvious but it's one of our most important tips. Your clients have their own needs, aspirations and ideas of why they're using a personal trainer and where they want to get to. Think about it like this if you have interests, a life, and hobbies outside of your work in the gym, so do your clients, and it’s vital that you take those into consideration when planning your sessions.

Always be prepared to go the extra mile, be flexible, adapt, and get to know them on a personal level. Strike up chat to help build up that rapport, and don't forget: clients aren't only paying for you as a PT, they're also investing in your personality and enthusiasm. Be sure to laugh, converse and exchange banter with your clients during your workouts.

Flexibility is key

The fitness industry has grown beyond all recognition and will continue to do so. Demand for personal trainers is on the rise with clients investing more time and money than ever before in a bid to smash through the ceiling. Personal trainers can benefit from being flexible with their scheduling. Many clients work traditional nine-to-five jobs, so a personal trainer needs to be available before or after these times, during a client's lunch break or on weekends.

Clients may use inconvenient scheduling as one reason they can't exercise. It's up to the personal trainer to work around their schedule and help them make health and fitness an important part of their routine. Sitting around for an hour because your client let you down isn't going to help anyone.

Man stretching on a running track

Expand your knowledge

Successful personal trainers have a balanced combination of physical and mental skills. Knowledge of anatomy, physiology and sports science is essential. Boost your abilities by learning more about nutrition, diet, healthy weight loss, and other related areas. If you're just starting out as a personal trainer, you can earn entry-level income as an apprentice and gain the skills you need to become a higher-ranking trainer.

Completing a PT course is not only an essential prerequisite for most jobs, but it equips you with all the necessary knowledge to be a good personal trainer. You will gain extensive knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, nutrition principles, how to deliver training sessions and more. For example: if you’re interested in rehabilitation and recovery, why not explore a sports massage qualification?

Network as often as you can

No matter how confident you are in your own ability, you simply cannot do it alone. We've mentioned how, without proper communication and scheduling, you won't be able to pass on your expertise or progress effectively as a personal trainer. Stay close to other trainers or entrepreneurs who inspire you. Your inner circle will be your greatest motivation, so make sure you’re surrounded by successful, trustworthy people. Attend network events regularly, introduce yourself to the people you don’t know at the certifications you attend, and be friendly to people you encounter in your day-to-day life. As the old adage said, it's not what you know, it's who you know. You can also consider, as we said earlier, connecting to social media groups and talking to other PTs.

So there you have it — our "top ten" advice reel for personal trainers — whether you're just starting out on your journey or a seasoned veteran, it's never too late to learn something new. We hope you will find this useful and that Train in Blocks has helped you, even if in just a small way, to become more polished at your craft.

If you're just starting out on your journey, you can find some more fail-safe advice here.

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