It’s human nature to want to excel at the task put in front of us, especially when it comes to our jobs. You’re starting your first job as a personal trainer soon and you’re eager to make a positive difference in people’s lives. So, what makes a good personal trainer? What separates the good from the bad to the outright terrible?
Here is a smattering of traits that good personal trainers possess:
- High energy
We have plenty more tips and traits of good personal trainers to share ahead. We’ll also discuss which traits are less-than-desirable in PTs so you can take special care not to display any of those characteristics. There’s lots of great information to come, so keep reading!
How to be a good personal trainer
Given the nature of the job, personal trainers are on their feet nearly all day and interact with sometimes dozens of clients and prospective clients. They must possess certain personality traits to excel in this role and retain clients and earn referrals.
Per the intro, here are 17 such traits that make a good personal trainer.
How to be a good personal trainer?
- High energy
- Going above and beyond
You know the proper form when using a leg-press machine, and at this point in your fitness career, you could use equipment such as a cable biceps bar and a lat pull-down bar with your eyes closed.
However, you have no idea where your clients are in their health and exercise journeys. They might have hired your services because they’ve never been to a gym before and they’re nervous or intimidated about using the equipment.
That’s why one of the many skills of a personal trainer is patience.
A good personal trainer knows that every client will work at their own pace and that at the beginning, that pace might be very slow.
Rather than discouraging the client or telling them to go faster or do more reps, a good personal trainer encourages progress in a way that works for the client. This puts the client’s mind at ease.
If you’ve told your client the proper way to use exercise equipment a time or two already but they still display improper form, you don’t lose your temper and raise your voice. You gently remind them of what they’re doing incorrectly so they can hopefully remember for next time.
You’re an infinite well of patience!
If you’re wondering how to be a great personal trainer, sharpen your communication skills.
From the moment a client walks into the gym or exercise facility, you should be the one to greet them, not the other way around. You’ll have to break the ice most of the time, especially when you’re first getting to know a client.
This means having the awareness to know which topics are okay to talk and joke about and which should stay strictly off-limits.
You might follow pop culture so you always have topics to cover or so you can carry on a conversation when your client begins talking about the latest hit show or movie.
Beyond your ability to have lighthearted conversations with your clients, as a personal trainer, you must be able to talk about fitness and exercise in a language the client understands.
Rather than request that the client does plyometric exercise, for example, you’d ask them to do box jumps or burpees instead. If even those terms are too obtuse for some of your clients, you can simplify things even further.
Beyond just the names for exercises and equipment, you can also clearly request what you want your clients to do so there’s no confusion.
If you give your clients homework, either dietarily or with exercises they can do in their spare time, they know exactly what to do because you’re an excellent communicator.
Your ability to be flexible with your diary, your training, or any other aspect of your training business, is a huge part of being a good personal trainer.
No, we don’t mean your physical flexibility, although that’s important too. Rather, how flexible you can be in your schedule and with your clients will make you an in-demand PT.
If a client shows up late to one of their appointments, for instance, can you still give them a good workout in the time you have left, or do you get flustered?
If you have to deal with two new clients in one day and both have completely different learning styles, are you ready for that?
Flexibility is something that you’ll learn and refine the more you’re on the job, but it’s good to have a certain degree of it walking into your first days as a personal trainer too.
One of the worst things a personal trainer can tell a client is “I don’t know.”
That doesn’t mean a personal trainer has to be an all-knowing god. However, they should be well-versed in all things health, fitness, and anatomy.
To supplement what they learned when they obtained their personal training degree and certifications, a great personal trainer will keep learning.
Perhaps you take online courses or a class at a local community college. Maybe you buy textbooks to brush up on your knowledge.
You stay current on fitness and exercise trends because you know it’s only a matter of time before a client asks about them and whether they work.
When a client does ask you something and you’re not sure of the answer, you tell them you’re willing to answer them later when you have more information.
This shows your client that you care about their wellbeing, as you’re not just giving them whatever off-the-cuff answer you can pull out of thin air.
You may be toned and muscular (you are a personal trainer, after all), but you should not be intimidating.
Approachability is one of the top personality traits of a personal trainer. If new clients don’t feel like they can talk to you, or if they feel like they can’t relate to you because your body seems like it’s chiseled out of marble, they may work with a different trainer instead.
You can’t help that you’re fit, but you can help your approachability.
Angle yourself towards your clients whenever you’re interacting. Make eye contact, but don’t stare. Keep your head up rather than staring at the gym floor. Oh, and smiling definitely puts most people’s minds at ease.
Once a client gets to know you and you can let your skills shine, you should have no problem retaining clients.
Working at a gym is about a million times better than being employed at an office.
You don’t have to wear a stuffy button-down shirt and business slacks. You can don comfy, trendy gym attire instead. You don’t have a cookie-cutter nine-to-five schedule either.
Even still, a good personal trainer never lets their professionalism lax.
When someone walks through the front door of the gym, they don’t see you goofing off with your personal trainer buddies. They see a professional, smiling staff who’s there to greet them and direct the client to where they need to go.
You can joke, talk, and even laugh with your clients, but at the end of the day, you don’t spend too much time on chit-chat. You keep your clients working when they’re in your care (but you give them breaks too, of course).
If you’re still wondering how to be a great personal trainer, punctuality is a trait you certainly want to embody.
Sometimes your clients will be late. It happens. Maybe they got stuck in traffic or fell ill and forgot to call you and tell you. Since you’re patient, you’re willing to wait a few extra minutes if that’s what’s required.
It’s different when you’re late. It can come across as disrespectful to the client’s time, especially if it happens often enough.
While it’s also disrespectful when the client is late, they’re only hurting themselves. After all, they’re paying for the service.
That’s the difference and why punctuality matters as a personal trainer. When a client is late, they’re cutting their own session time in half. When you’re late, you’re forcing the client to miss out on what they paid for.
Now, we’re not discounting that sometimes, things will happen that could be out of your control. If you have a reliable track record of punctuality with your clients though, then they’ll be more willing to accept a minor transgression like being late once.
Have you ever received a service such as at a hair or a nail salon and got called by someone else’s name? It doesn’t feel good, does it?
To be a good personal trainer, you need to have all your ducks in a row. Your schedule is organized so you know who you’re seeing that day and when. This prevents the above kind of mishaps that can result in hurt feelings and possibly even lost clients.
It’s also vital that trainers keep track of their client’s progress and remember what weights they should be using each week. There’s nothing worse than a trainer that’s blagging each session and guessing what last week’s bench press weight was. Your client will immediately see you as unprofessional if you act this way.
Everyone needs motivation in their lives from time to time. As a personal trainer, it’s your responsibility to motivate those who hire your services. You even have to motivate yourself from time to time.
What do you tell yourself on those days when your bed feels so comfy that you don’t want to get up? You can share these tactics with your clients so they too can feel pumped up to exercise and tackle the day.
Your motivation will come through in critical times of the client’s fitness journey.
As an example, perhaps your client wanted to lose 10 pounds in five months. For the first few months, they were losing weight on track, but then they plateaued. They’re naturally going to feel frustrated and might even want to give up.
It’s your job to reinflate their spirit. You can work with your client to set new goals that will get the client excited about losing weight all over again.
How to become the best personal trainer, you ask? That’s simple. It’s all about passion.
You can tell when someone is phoning it in at their job. Their interactions feel inauthentic and the whole experience is lacking.
Think of your passion as a flame. If you allow the flame to remain, it will shrink with time and eventually burn out. Then you’ll be just like those lifeless drones. It won’t be a joy to work with you, and that will be reflected in your reduced client numbers.
You must do what it takes to nourish and feed that flame whenever you can. When someone has an amazing experience working with you, think of how good that makes you feel. Try to hold onto that feeling for those times when work gets tough.
And it will get tough, just as any job does. You’ll have difficult clients or clients who blame you when they don’t meet an unrealistic milestone in a week.
You have to remind yourself why you got into personal training in the first place. It’s likely because you want to make a difference in people’s lives, right?
After all, you know how much more fulfilling life can be when you eat right and exercise, as then you have the energy to enjoy more of life rather than sleepwalk through it.
All that said, don’t be afraid to take time off every now and again. A couple of days’ vacation or even a week away gives you time to rest and recharge.
By the time you come back to work, you’ll be bursting at the seams and raring to go!
When you accept a client into your personal training program, you’re also committing to that person. You’re telling them that you’re going to give it your all and help them meet the most fitness and health goals they can.
In your commitment to your clients, you might sometimes have to change things up in your exercise program to suit the client.
Some people who are trying to lose weight or be more active could be easily discouraged. They’ll want to give up on themselves. You should be the reliable presence that doesn’t give up on them and doesn’t let them give up on themselves either. That’s also part of your commitment.
You might travel to see your clients, which takes time. Even if you have a steady stream of clients visiting a gym to see you instead, you have to spend time individualizing with each one of them.
You’re not just standing there the whole time, either. You’re demonstrating exercise routines and being a consistent presence by the client to motivate them to do their best during their sessions.
No matter how exhausted you may feel, you know better than to let it show. A great personal trainer will always display high energy even when they don’t feel very energetic.
Every paying client deserves to get the best version of you, and that’s also part of the commitment you make in accepting new clients.
It can be hard for some clients to get an honest assessment. Their friends and family might shy away from touchy subjects like discussing the client’s weight, or they’ll be complimentary because what else are they supposed to say?
You’re willing to level with your clients. You’re not going to be derogatory or rude, of course, but if a client is indeed overweight, you’ll tell them as much using clinical terms.
You’re also honest about a client’s goal planning. You know that a client can’t reasonably lose 30 pounds in a week, and so you won’t encourage them to chase after unattainable goals that will just leave them bitter and disappointed.
Honesty might seem like a dicey trait to possess as a personal trainer, but this is one area where your clients want you to be honest with them. If you tell them the truth, they should respect you even more!
Charisma is often defined by having that it factor. It draws people in and keeps them gravitating like a magnet.
Being charismatic transcends having a bright personality. It also refers to your ability to communicate, which should be sterling.
More so than being an excellent communicator, you’re also fantastic at persuading people. You use this power for good, persuading your clients to take better care of their health.
Those who possess true charisma are often perceived as undeniably attractive. This isn’t only in the sense of romantic attraction, by the way. You might have more clients lining up to work with you than you can handle because you have a way with people that puts them at ease.
We’ve touched on this already, but reliability is another must-have personality trait for aspiring personal trainers.
Your clients know what they’re in for when they see you. They don’t have to guess because you two have a nice sense of routine. Yet that routine isn’t so ingrained that the client isn’t making progress in their health and fitness goals, whether that’s toning up or losing weight.
To be hired as a personal trainer, you need at least a GED (high school diploma), but higher education looks great on your resume. Whether you have an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, or even a master’s in health or fitness, you know your stuff.
You’ve also pursued third-party certifications from the American Council on Exercise or ACE, the National Academy of Sports Medicine or NASM, the International Sports Science Association or ISSA, and other organizations and academies in this same vein.
You keep your certifications current too, as they expire every two to three years.
Going above and beyond
Being the best personal trainer doesn’t have to do with how much you can deadlift. Instead, it’s all about how much effort you’re willing to put forth for your clients.
Personal trainers who go above and beyond in every way will make an impact.
You may customize your training programs per client to accommodate their unique needs. Perhaps you check in with your clients between appointments. Maybe you remember their birthdays and get them a small gift.
You try to show your clients that they matter to you because they do. In jobs like personal training that are so driven by your number of clients, you want to treat each one like gold.
No personal trainer is perfect, as they have a mix of strengths and weaknesses. The greatest personal trainers are willing to solidify their strengths and overcome their weaknesses, improving all the time to better serve their clients.
If you’re looking to hire a personal trainer to help you achieve your fitness goals, the traits listed in this article should be exactly what you should be looking for in your trainer, and if you are a trainer yourself, have a read through and see if you’re missing any of these important elements, which will certainly show you how to be a good personal trainer.
We hope the information in this guide gives you a starting point on how to improve as a personal trainer!
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