10 Tips To Stand Out And Be A Unique Personal Trainer

If you want to succeed as a personal trainer in a commercial gym, you’re going to need to stand out. Blending into the background is the fastest way towards ending your career as a trainer.

In this article, I’m going to be showing you how you can be a unique trainer, so that you stand out in the sea of trainers and have clients coming to you, rather than you chasing them.

Sound good?

Let’s go…

Blending in with a crowd isn’t always a bad thing, but in the case of personal training, it absolutely is!

For you to be successful, you are going to need people in a gym to notice you and approach you. Trust me, having people approach you for training instead of the other way around is very rare as a trainer, but it’s one of the best feelings you can get.

You might be thinking “But if I have the same qualifications as everyone else, how can I stand out and set myself apart?”, well that’s a great question, and I’m proud of you for asking it, in fact, I’m so proud, I’ll get to the point and start answering it.

how to be a unique personal trainer

10 Ways To Stand Out As A Personal Trainer

Look for trainer gaps in your gym

“What the hell is a trainer gap?”, I hear you scream.

A trainer gap is when you look at all the trainers in your gym and see what they are teaching people. Look through all the specialties that the trainers in your gym have and see if you can spot any potential gaps in the market.

An example would be if you are working in an area that a high number of young couples buying their first homes, yet no one in your gym is offering pre or postnatal training sessions. Maybe a lot of young mums would like to keep fit and healthy whilst they are carrying a baby or right after.

The key to finding a trainer gap is to look at your local area, see if there is something specific that a lot of people would be interested in that is either not being offered at all or at least is being underserved, then provide it.

Please don’t just guess that people might need a particular style of training in your area, do your research first. This way you could be one of the only trainers offering that style in your area, which would really help you fill up your diary.

Just don’t be surprised if you suddenly see a whole bunch of other trainers copying you after they see your success.

Give your clients more than any other trainer

Ok, this tip may seem like exactly what you would expect from a list like this on the web, but I think my rationale is slightly different.

Trainers are busy people, and it isn’t easy running a business that includes 14-16 hour days spent at the gym. People understand this, and that’s why if you can still put in the effort to research specific details for individual clients, find time to answer emails and messages, and write up nutritional plans and workouts for them, they will really appreciate the effort you have put in for them.

I know you’re tired after a days work, and I know that you really want to just go home, eat and probably go to sleep, but to a client, they are paying a large amount of money for their training sessions, so if you can provide a quality service that truly justifies your price, you will be doing something that the vast majority of trainers don’t.

Can you survive in this industry without doing this? Yeah, you probably can, but when your clients start talking to their co-workers about how much they get from their trainer (you), it might just have other people wondering why they are paying for a trainer that only stands and watches them bench press for half an hour.

Get to know your clients on a deeper level

Get to know your clients on a deeper level

Get to really know and understand as much as you can about your clients’ life, their work, their families, and most importantly, their reasoning for training.

You’ll be amazed at just how deep a lot of people will let you get into their minds if you just ask the right questions and offer a non-judgemental ear.

Most of the time, people aren’t actually looking for advice, they just want someone to listen to them. If it’s about how annoying their husbands or wives are, then just stay impartial, but listen to what they have to say.

The reason this will help you stand out and set yourself apart as a personal trainer is that a lot of trainers don’t do this. They treat their clients as an appointment with £50 at the end of it, and pretty much nothing else. These trainers will stand looking at their stopwatches between sets and will only discuss exercise for an hour.

For some clients, this is exactly what they want and need, and if that’s the case, great, go for it. But for most people, establishing a deeper connection with their trainer will help to gain trust and fondness. This helps you as they will probably stay with you as a client for longer, but it also helps your client make better progress, as they are more likely to want to come to each session and listen to your advice whilst putting it into practice.

Become a true expert

Becoming an expert doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have a niche, as I discussed in my article “How To Find Your Training Niche & Do You Need One?“, having a niche isn’t always the road to success that training companies tout it to be.

What it means is taking your learning far further than just the bare minimum you need to pass the exams to get your certification. People are paying you top dollar to help them with exercise and training, so if you don’t know considerably more than they do, why should they consider you enough of an expert to hire you?

For example, if I feel Ill, I could quickly search for my symptoms to see what was wrong with me, but as anyone who has done this will know, doing that is a downward spiral into thinking you have the worst disease or illness imaginable. Instead, I would much prefer to go to a doctor, have them look me over, and trust their expert opinion after years of study and examinations that qualify them as an expert in their field.

Don’t be the trainer that only tells their clients what’s readily available after a quick Google search, really learn about the body and be proud of your trade. Carry on studying long after you’ve qualified so that you can be the go-to expert in the gym. You’ll gain a lot of respect from other trainers this way, and you’ll have a whole bunch of clients coming to you for your knowledge.

Don’t be a meathead 

Dont be a meathead personal trainer

For years, personal trainers have been seen as massively muscular men and women who walk around the gym with their arms out by their sides as if their lats are so massive they can barely fit through a doorway. They’re also seen as being people that can really help you pack on some muscle or trim yourself down, but aren’t particularly intelligent in most other areas.

Now, being a trainer myself for years and years, I know that this isn’t true, and I know that you know this isn’t true either, but the public generally doesn’t. This stereotype has been around for a long time, and it’s not going to be easy to shift.

So my point here is to stand out in your gym by doing everything you can to not be seen in this light. If that means becoming an expert, or just making sure you’re not behaving in any unprofessional ways that make people unfairly label you this way.

I’m talking about play fighting with your mates when you have free time in front of members and just generally acting unprofessionally. Act professionally at all times when you’re in front of the members.

Does that mean you can’t muck around when you are in the staff room or on a night out?
No way, do whatever you want, but when you are on that gym floor, you and your business are on display.

Show some personality

Have you ever spent 10 or 15 minutes talking to a person who sounds like a complete robot? Maybe a telemarketer or a supermarket cashier? It’s the worst thing ever!

Well, there might be worse things in life, but it’s pretty annoying and it makes any amount of time, no matter how short, uncomfortable, and generally awful.

I’ve met a bunch of trainers who were just like this, spoke robotically, trained only in one particular way, and treated their clients as if they were trying to convert them to some sort of suspicious religion.

If you want to stand out in your gym, show some personality, have some fun in your sessions. Remember, a lot of people are really nervous about using a trainer to help them achieve more, seeing you having fun with your clients makes it much more likely that they will seek you out if they need help, rather than the boring looking robot trainer guy person thing staring blankly while their client does biceps curls.

Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but I’m sure if you look around your own gym, you’ll see some pretty boring-looking training sessions going on. Remember, everyone can see you in a gym, if they are looking for a trainer, never let them see you looking bored or like your sessions aren’t fun.

Make use of exciting equipment and exercises

Use interesting equipment in your personal training sessions

Dumbbells are great and barbells are great, but there is a whole bunch of other awesome pieces of kit you could be using in your training sessions that most trainers will ignore.

I get that some trainers like training in the traditional ways, but what’s to say you can’t mix things up at least a little?

For example, you might have a client who wants to pack on a ton of muscle, but they are also looking to lose some body fat at the same time. They might not like the idea of standing on a cross-trainer for half an hour with you, but how about a 10 minute HIIT session with some badass battle ropes?

Most people would love to try equipment like this, It makes your sessions more exciting and they are exercises they would probably never do themselves. You can show them how to use the kit properly, get the most out of the exercises, and most importantly really enjoy doing it.

Make sure every member knows your name

There are tons and tons of trainers in most inner-city commercial gyms, usually about twenty, which is a really crazy number when you think about it.

How many of those trainers’ names do you think the gym members know? maybe three or four? And more importantly, do they know your name? For your business’s success, gym members knowing your name is essential!

You should make sure as many members as possible know exactly who you are and what you do. You can do this by teaching classes, offering help to everyone you meet, or just becoming friends with as many people as possible.

Not every member is going to want to train with you just because you are friendly with them, but if they ever consider training, who do you think they are going to look for, the trainers in the corner of the gym who they have never spoken to, or the really nice person who has spoken to them a bunch of times and they are on first name terms with?

Bit of a no-brainer to me.

This sets you apart from other trainers because hardly anyone takes the time to go out and meet people unless they’re looking for clients. People aren’t dumb, they can see this a mile away. Make sure everyone knows who you are and they will come to you, rather than you needing to go and scout for clients.

Design training packages for everyone

personal training price packages

My personal training package ideas were one area where I really excelled as a trainer.

Gym rents are high, really high, they cost hundreds of pounds (or dollars) each month, so you need to make sure all your clients are paying top dollar so you don’t end up working sixteen hours each day.

Or do you?

By saying you’ll only ever train people for £50 or £60 hour-long sessions, you are making yourself far too expensive for a lot (if not most) people in a gym. Why not make training packages that suit people from all different incomes so that you can make yourself affordable to more people and increase your client base.

I don’t mean make your hour-long sessions cheaper, that sucks and it won’t help you. Instead, design training packages that include half-hour sessions or purely cater for people wanting program sessions written up for them.

You can have an hour-long session that you charge £50 for, but why not also have half-hour long sessions that you charge £35 for, you’re now making £70 an hour when you put to half-hour clients together and everyone can afford you.

It’s an easy thing to do, and I really don’t see why more people do it, half-hour sessions are really fun too. Have a look at this article if you want to learn more about them.

Can 30 Minutes Of Personal Training Be Long Enough?

Never let members see you scrolling through your phone

Personal trainer looking bored looking at mobile

I’ll make this a quick point, but it’s on this list because it’s really important.

Walk into any big commercial gym and you will almost certainly see a bunch of trainers sitting around scrolling through their phones looking bored.

Under no circumstances do this if you want to stand out as a personal trainer in your gym.

Nothing will put off potential clients quicker than seeing you looking bored scrolling through your phone. It makes you look like you have plenty of time to waste, which means you must not be busy, and if you’re not busy, it’s because you aren’t good.

That’s probably not true, but it’s the impression the members will get. Would you eat in an empty restaurant?

Use your phone by all means, but go to the staff room, or go outside, just don’t let people see you doing it like all the other trainers.

In Conclusion, what makes a personal trainer stand out?

  • Genuinely caring about your client and not seeing them as walking dollar signs.
  • Becoming a true expert so you can give them their money’s worth in each session.
  • Offering training that no other trainer in your gym provides.
  • Not conforming to stereotypes.
  • Offering training packages for everyone, not just the elite few.
  • Making use of equipment that other trainers ignore.
  • Offering a better service than other trainers by giving more.
  • Getting to know your clients as individual people.
  • Not being a robot and showing some personality.
  • Making sure that every person that walks into that gym knows who you are!

I’m pretty confident that with the tips I’ve listed out today, you’ll be able to easily stand out as an individual and unique personal trainer in your gym.

Trainers can easily be grouped together in gyms, so if you start to see that trainers you usually hang around with are acting in a way that makes you look bad (from anything listed above or additionally), separate yourself from them pretty quickly.

They might be your friends, but remember, you’re running a business, and if you want to be successful you need to set yourself apart as a true professional at all times. Don’t let someone else be responsible for your business failing.

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.

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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.

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