The 8 Qualities You Need To Be An Elite Level PT

As long as you have a passion for fitness, health, and improving people’s lives, you can be a personal trainer.

However, the difference between the bog-standard, run-of-the-mill trainer and a next-level elite trainer are the personal qualities they possess.

In this article, I will be listing and explaining The 8 Qualities You Need To Be An Elite Level PT, so you can join the ranks.

Sound good?

Let’s go…

If you are looking to take your coaching to the next level, fill up your diary and even be able to charge premium rates for your services, you are going to need to have a good few of these qualities.

Bear in mind that not everyone has these traits naturally, but some of them can be learned, or at least improved upon.

An important point to make before you get started though….

Don’t Be Fake

Your clients will smell it a mile away!

Please don’t just read this list and use it as some sort of box-checking exercise. Research the qualities and decide for yourself (or research) how you can naturally improve these skills. You’re gonna look weird if you suddenly change your personality overnight, so don’t overdo it, introduce these qualities slowly.

What qualities should a personal trainer have?

Top Eight Qualities That Raise You To Elite Personal Trainer Status!


practise empathy as a personal trainer

Most people can walk into a gym and start making great progress on their own, others will struggle.

As a PT, you might love exercising every day and eating kale sandwiches, but a lot of people don’t.

If you want to be successful as a personal trainer, you need to be empathetic with your clients and understand that everyone is different. You cannot completely change a person so that they get results faster. You need to understand what problems your client has and how you can best work with them, not against them to reach their training goals.

Bear in mind that people aren’t dumb, you can’t fake empathy just by nodding your head whilst they are telling you about how difficult their life has been since they gained weight. You need to be able to put yourself in their shoes and feel how difficult it could be. It’s not easy for someone who is out of shape to tell these things to someone who has been training for years. Being able to show people you can relate to them and not be judgemental gives you a massive advantage over other trainers.


practise determination as a personal trainer

If you’ve read some of my articles, such as The Disadvantages Of Being A Personal Trainer, you will see that being a personal trainer, and especially, being a successful one is no easy feat.

You are going to get rejected, again and again, lose clients, have to work with difficult clients and all this whilst working 16 hour days.

These are some of the reasons that 90% of new trainers quit within the first year of qualifying.

It’s hard!

If you are going to succeed in this business, you are going to need to be made of stern stuff, and if you’re not, you are going to need to toughen up.

This is why setting daily, monthly and yearly goals can be really important. Having goals to work towards can really help you get through those tough days. A lot of people give up simply because the career can be too hard, the guys you see that are raking in tons of money and have full diaries have been plugging away at their business for years, it’s their grit and determination that has got them to where they are.

You will need the same if you want your business to survive!


practise patience as a personal trainer

Trainers dream of getting those perfect clients, the people that eat everything you tell them to, lift as hard as they can, workout when you are not around, and don’t eat tons of crap at the weekends.

These guys make incredible progress and not only help make you (and obviously them) feel fantastic about their accomplishments but work really well as billboard clients, the people that you can use in your marketing materials to show the world what a great trainer you are.

The sad truth is, that most people don’t do this. Most of your clients will give it everything they have in their sessions with you, but as soon as you are not there, they will be sneaking in bad foods, skipping workouts, and barely making any progress at all.

You can’t be with your clients 24 hours a day (or you could charge a whole lot more), so there is going to have to be a lot of trust between you and them. You have to make it clear that if they follow your guidance, they will make progress a lot faster, if they don’t, they may still make progress, it’ll just be at a snail’s pace.

The trick is to not get frustrated with these clients, not everyone wants to make a complete body transformation like you may want them to. It’s very rare that a client will do everything you ask them to, so get used to people’s progress being a lot slower than you might like it to be.

Positive mental attitude

practise a positive mental attitude as a personal trainer

It may seem obvious that having a positive attitude is one of the skills you need as a personal trainer because people aren’t going to train with a miserable one, but it’s not just for your clients, you need to be positive about yourself too.

Encouragement and motivation are massive factors when it comes to training people. As stated, some people hate doing it, so being encouraging and helping motivate your personal training clients through what might be a very difficult and unpleasant time for them is very important.

They are going to fail at some points and want to give up, this is where you need to step in and show them the incredible progress they have already made and what potentially lies just around the corner for them if they don’t lose heart and continue.

The exact same thing applies to you as a trainer.

You’re going to fail sometimes, you are going to have bad days, you are going to be tired and you’re going to get rejected by people and lose clients. This is all part of the journey, it happens to everyone, so there is no reason to feel down when it happens to you.

Maintaining your positive mental attitude whilst everything is going well in your career is easy, anyone can do that, but the people that succeed for the long term have learned to keep a positive mental attitude during the worst points so they can work through them and come out of it as stronger people.

Communication skills

practise your conversational skills as a personal trainer

I’ve been to restaurants and seen those cringe-fest dates where neither person can think of anything to say to each other, it’s awful.

I’ve also seen the exact same thing happening between a trainer and their client, and I can tell you it’s just as awkward to watch.

Being able to communicate with your clients is really important to not only effectively teach them, but to establish and maintain rapport. The training providers that give out PT certifications place a lot of emphasis on making sure you are training professionally, but something that is often missed out is how to build the rapport that is required between two people in order for them to carry on training together.

People don’t listen to or take advice from people they don’t like and trust, so as a trainer, you need to be able to establish the rapport needed to make sure your client not only listens to your advice but also acts on it.

The same is true for buying and selling, if your prospect doesn’t like you, they won’t buy, plain and simple. You build rapport by learning how to effectively communicate with people from all walks of life, and then practicing that skill over and over.

Even a single minute of rest between exercises can seem like an eternity when you have nothing to say to your client, so building on your communication skills would be worth it if not just to stop that awful awkwardness.


personal trainers should be experts

The main reason you are being hired as a trainer is down to the knowledge that you have.

You know how to train efficiently, what foods to eat, what to avoid and tons of tips and tricks to maximize your client’s potential to reach their goals.

If you’re ok with being one of the “run-of-the-mill” trainers that never has a full diary, but gets by, then, by all means, stick with the knowledge you gained on your training courses and don’t worry about learning anything else. Being 100% honest, I know of trainers that got by ok with this level of knowledge.

However, this post is about how to get to the elite level, so you’ll need to put in a little extra effort.

If you want to be able to charge top-tier prices, you will need to be consistently learning about the body, attending training courses, and keeping watch on forums for any new training developments.

You aren’t learning this information so you can show off and bamboozle people, you are learning it so that you can give the highest quality sessions possible, and be able to confidently answer questions thrown at you.


be approachable as a personal trainer

In every gym I have worked in (and by my count, it’s about 5) there are always one or two PTs that look miserable, all the time!

Unsurprisingly, these guys never had that many clients, but they always found time to complain about how rubbish the gym was. Remember that I said that for people to feel ok with buying from you, they need to like and trust you? Well, looking like you have just had the worst day in your life isn’t likely to make people want to come up to you and talk about training.

Whilst you don’t want to come across as miserable, you certainly don’t want to take things too far and be over the top and become “annoying”. It’s pretty easy to do, so make sure you keep things in check and stay calm.

The main point is to be genuine, if you try to be seen as approachable by talking and acting as you’ve just taken a bunch of drugs, you’re just going to freak people out, not impress them. Stay calm, but remember to smile, make eye contact (but don’t stare), and don’t have your face buried in your phone the entire time you are on the gym floor.

Trust me, gym members notice things, if they see another gym-goer walking up to you, asking questions, and having a nice conversation with you, they are far more likely to do the same thing.

This is a good thing, you want this!


Be honest with your personal training clients

I’ve left this skill last because I think it’s one of the most important that you can master to be a truly elite personal trainer.

Telling people what they want to hear all day is easy, telling people what they need to hear is something completely different. As a trainer, you need to be realistic with your clients if they aren’t making the progress they expect.

You will hear time and time again from your clients that they are doing everything you have told them to, but they still aren’t making any progress. Clearly, they aren’t doing something right, as if your training programs and nutritional advice are on point, they almost have to make progress.

Now you could go down the thought path of “so what if they don’t make progress, as long as they pay me why should I care?”. You should care because if they make no progress, they leave you, and if you are honest with them and tell them what they are doing wrong, they will get the results they are paying for, which really is what your job is all about.

I’ve sat down and told off (delicately of course) my clients because I found out that they weren’t doing what I have suggested to them. And whilst you might think that they would leave me for confronting them, they actually thanked me.

People aren’t paying you to be their best friend or their cheerleader, they are paying for a trainer, and sometimes a little honesty goes a very long way.


So there you have it, by now you should have a pretty good idea of personal trainer qualities you need to either acquire or enhance to raise yourself to an elite level personal trainer.

This is not something that you can expect to happen overnight after reading a few blog posts, you will need to put these skills into practice, but please do try to make them come off as naturally as possible.

Start by looking at what you can improve first, and work your way to learning new skills.

I’m confident that you will see your diary filling up quicker, and hopefully, your bank account too, as remember, personal training is a business, not just a hobby.

Go get ’em!

If you enjoyed this article and feel it might help others, please feel free to share it or link back to it.

Related articles
The 10 Vital Services You Can Offer As A Personal Trainer
10 Tips To Stand Out And Be A Unique Personal Trainer
Personal Trainer Specialties: The Complete Guide
The Value Of Reflective Practice In Personal Training Fully Explained
Personal Training Niches, Do You Really Need One?

Chris Walker

Chris Walker worked in the City of London as a fully qualified REP's level three personal trainer for just under ten years. He built and maintained a client base of 40 individuals and worked with several high profile clients, including actors, actresses, comedians and politicians.

Recent Posts