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Becoming a Personal Trainer Article

Thoughts?

Just a few bullets

-Its common sense but not so common for us to realize some clients find skinny ideal

-Training privately(would love to hear more). Maybe work part time at a commercial gym to attract more clients?

-Approach, how are you setting your self apart from other trainers so possible clients come up to you?

Im currently looking into this profession so would love to hear some thoughts.

Decent article.

though some points on working at commercial gyms is not always correct. Different gyms have different rules. Mine we are independent contractors who can set their own hours, still required to wear a set uniform (which is not the norm for contractors).

And it would be silly not to work independently (in-home type training) while working for a commercial club. While it’s a little extra travel time/gas, you’ll more than make up for it by not having to give the gym a cut, plus you can typically charge a slight premium over your current rates.

To be a successful trainer there are 2 key things that IMO are more important than being a rock star w/anatomy/physiology… 1- knowing psychology 2- being a phenomenal business person (and/or people person)

If you’re looking to be a trainer, find someone in the industry to learn from that has done it successfully.

And how to set yourself apart? That’s easy in this field.

Be a true professional soon as you step in the gym, even if you’re just working out. People watch. They watch you while you train people (are you staring off, talking/texting on the phone, talking to other members), or do you focus completely on the client.

What do you wear. Are you wearing a skin tight UA shirt? Most gym goers don’t want so egotistical “BBer” trainer.

I think Al did a great job with the article and lays things out pretty straight-forward.

Alwyn Cosgrove had a similar two-part interview piece a while ago that also talks about the real world side of training:


I think being a trainer is, for some high school or college guys, almost like being a pro athlete (without the fame, glamour, or wealth) in the sense that they have an idealized version of what a sweet, cushy dream job it must be, but they don’t expect trudging through all the detail work required to get there.

We had a pretty long-running thread where trainers/members here on the site talked about work-related stuff. Might be worth skimming through that and seeing what you can pick out as useful:

Great posts. Chris i have read alot of Alywn Cosgrove. Just like hearing more opinions. And somehow ive never seen the last thread, thank you very much.

I had considered this profession, although the thought of dealing with people that just want to be “toned” or “lose a bit of fat” etc etc without wanting to do any of the hard work has turned me off.

I had a personal trainer for awhile who knew his stuff, although I realised most of his clients were fat people who didnt want to work out. Not my idea of fun.

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[quote]jehovasfitness wrote:
To be a successful trainer there are 2 key things that IMO are more important than being a rock star w/anatomy/physiology… 1- knowing psychology 2- being a phenomenal business person (and/or people person)
[/quote]

Great points. 99% of your clients won’t care if you can explain the science of why something works, merely that whatever you’re having them do will no doubt get them the results they want. Also, realize that you’re going to be spending a good hour with a client, several days each week. If your interpersonal skills are lacking, it won’t be much fun. You have to drive them, but at the same time remain friendly and supportive, no matter how little effort they seem to be putting forth, whatever silly questions they ask, or what ridiculous stories of their everyday lives they choose to share.

And yes, most people do not want to look like bodybuilders, so you must be able to tailor to a more everyday client base, as well as attract them in the first place.

One thing that was missing from the article is the fact that all of these certifying bodies are not regulated by the government. They are businesses that people set up to sell you a piece of paper. Companies like ACE and the others are out to take your money, make no mistake. They have no real authority to declare you qualified other than the one that they give themselves. Your certification is not a college degree, nor license given via a government regulated series of exams. While showing said paper to a gym, or person on the street may indeed make them feel better about hiring you, it is not a requirement to train people.
On the other hand, don’t assume that because you trained yourself and helped your girlfriend to lose 5 lbs that you’re qualified to train other people.

S

In between getting shit canned from one job and looking for a more traditional job I became a personal trainer at a commercial gym. Unfortunately the biggest asset you can have a as a personal trainer is being a great salesperson, IMO. This, is precedes being knowledgeable. Gotta get em to sign up.

I did and do have a passion for weight training but quickly realized that as the article said, your path on how to get a clients desired results is often the hardest part. If they buy into the plan and methods you have devised for them you now have to worry about the follow through. If you can somehow build a client base within a commercial setting and then take them outside on your own venture would be the best route.

I was eventually fired from the commercial settings for training people under the table because the commercial gym packages were too exorbitant. So I figured Ill do the same amount of session for half the price and 150% of the profit. Worked great for a while until I wasn’t putting enough sales on the board for the gym and they eventually caught on.

Two others I trained with who I became friends with did it the right way, took their clients outside the commercial setting as well as still training them in the commercial setting and eventually opened up their own gym, yes a CF gym but its been there a while and they are doing very well for themselves.

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:

[quote]jehovasfitness wrote:
To be a successful trainer there are 2 key things that IMO are more important than being a rock star w/anatomy/physiology… 1- knowing psychology 2- being a phenomenal business person (and/or people person)
[/quote]

Great points. 99% of your clients won’t care if you can explain the science of why something works, merely that whatever you’re having them do will no doubt get them the results they want. Also, realize that you’re going to be spending a good hour with a client, several days each week. If your interpersonal skills are lacking, it won’t be much fun. You have to drive them, but at the same time remain friendly and supportive, no matter how little effort they seem to be putting forth, whatever silly questions they ask, or what ridiculous stories of their everyday lives they choose to share.

And yes, most people do not want to look like bodybuilders, so you must be able to tailor to a more everyday client base, as well as attract them in the first place.

One thing that was missing from the article is the fact that all of these certifying bodies are not regulated by the government. They are businesses that people set up to sell you a piece of paper. Companies like ACE and the others are out to take your money, make no mistake. They have no real authority to declare you qualified other than the one that they give themselves. Your certification is not a college degree, nor license given via a government regulated series of exams. While showing said paper to a gym, or person on the street may indeed make them feel better about hiring you, it is not a requirement to train people.
On the other hand, don’t assume that because you trained yourself and helped your girlfriend to lose 5 lbs that you’re qualified to train other people.

S

[/quote]

Thank you Stu for posting and especially about the certs.

[quote]MattyXL wrote:
In between getting shit canned from one job and looking for a more traditional job I became a personal trainer at a commercial gym. Unfortunately the biggest asset you can have a as a personal trainer is being a great salesperson, IMO. This, is precedes being knowledgeable. Gotta get em to sign up. I did and do have a passion for weight training but quickly realized that as the article said, your path on how to get a clients desired results is often the hardest part. If they buy into the plan and methods you have devised for them you now have to worry about the follow through. If you can somehow build a client base within a commercial setting and then take them outside on your own venture would be the best route. I was eventually fired from the commercial settings for training people under the table because the commercial gym packages were too exorbitant. So I figured Ill do the same amount of session for half the price and 150% of the profit. Worked great for a while until I wasn’t putting enough sales on the board for the gym and they eventually caught on.

Two others I trained with who I became friends with did it the right way, took their clients outside the commercial setting as well as still training them in the commercial setting and eventually opened up their own gym, yes a CF gym but its been there a while and they are doing very well for themselves.

[/quote]

Lol

Sinner

Great posts again thank you guys. If you guys dont mind i am going to continually throw out more questions.

-If you had to choose one thing that made you succeed in personal training, what was it? Ability to interact with new potential clients?

-What if your clients do not want to become a bodybuilder or an athlete and that is what you are? How did you convince the you could get the client “toned up” or 'skinny". Show off previous clients? What if it is your first client? Maybe give a few free sessions and hope?

More questions to come. Thanks for all the info so far.

[quote]JohnMariette wrote:
Great posts again thank you guys. If you guys dont mind i am going to continually throw out more questions.

-If you had to choose one thing that made you succeed in personal training, what was it? Ability to interact with new potential clients?

-What if your clients do not want to become a bodybuilder or an athlete and that is what you are? How did you convince the you could get the client “toned up” or 'skinny". Show off previous clients? What if it is your first client? Maybe give a few free sessions and hope?

More questions to come. Thanks for all the info so far.[/quote]

Wow, tough question to say just one thing. I’m gonna throw out a few things that come to mind:

  1. Eagerness to keep learning
  2. Making “it” about the client
  3. Studying tons of business material (books, CDs, DVDs, etc)- as some have mentioned, you MUST be good at selling (a weak part of most trainers)
  4. Learning from those that are successful in the same field
  5. Finding a mentor that you can interact with
  6. Among the best things to do is establish yourself as an expert on a given topic. Think about some of the authors on this site. Bret Contreras while he may know a good amount about nutrition, if you wanted a diet plan would you go to him or John Meadows? Would you go to John Berardi for tips on how to do O-lifts, even though he knows how to do and teach them?

One of the best things I ever did with my career to get more clients was to (at first) do free seminars at my club. No other trainer was doing them for several reasons, but that hour I spent in front of 20-50 people more than paid for itself, and now I charge for seminars, that still leads to new clients.

ultimately though, what my mentor said years ago that has stuck with me was along the lines that this is what he was meant to do with his life. That has been a driving force in my career since then. You either deep down want to help people or you want to just make money doing something you enjoy. If it’s the latter people will see through it, BUT it’s not an either or thing, you can genuinely want to help people AND make a career out of something you enjoy.

How do you convince them w/o a prior history? U guess a good way is to be in shape yourself, other than that, that’s why new trainers no matter how smart they are usually have to charge less than those maybe not as formally educated but a history of providing results. Or, do what I did and offer some free seminars (I would advise against free sessions). Free individual sessions are a time suck, and it you’re setting yourself up to devalue yourself. A doctor or dentist does not offer free “sessions”, nor should trainers.

Document your clients with before/after pics, measurements testimonials, something you can print out and market with.

Hope some of that helps.

@jehovasfitness helps a ton. Much appreciated. Could you go into more detail about what you talked about at your seminars? Was it more generalized information? Or very specific?

[quote]JohnMariette wrote:
@jehovasfitness helps a ton. Much appreciated. Could you go into more detail about what you talked about at your seminars? Was it more generalized information? Or very specific?[/quote]

Topics included ones that would draw attention, people don’t want to learn “how to prevent injury”, or “how to stretch to feel better”

my more successful ones were about nutrition for fat loss, shorter workouts faster fat loss, supplements for fat loss, etc

One mistake I made early on (and still struggle with a little), is trying to give too much info in a lecture where you want to give them tons of info they can use, or speak over their head as in stuff like “eat 1g/lb protein” etc. When designing a lecture, keep it rather simple and general, but provide soemthing they can go home and do right away.

Another mistake I made was with my PPT’s, cramming a lot of info no the slides, now my PPTs are probably 80% of just one picture on a slide, and that’s it. People are visual learners, so if you are up there talking talking talkign with tons of words on the slide it ain’t gonna stick.

Part of my job now is to bring in presenters (often times doctors) and their slides can often be atrocious as far as the design and over use of words (quite common among PPT).

If you really want to learn how to make effective PPTs check out a book called “Presentation Zen”, last I checked it wasn’t a cheap book, but well worth it.

[quote]jehovasfitness wrote:
Free individual sessions are a time suck, and it you’re setting yourself up to devalue yourself. A doctor or dentist does not offer free “sessions”, nor should trainers.
[/quote]

Jehova with the great advice in this thread. ^This is a biggie in my book. A couple of years back, I had time in my schedule for a limited number of actual real world (not online) clients. Occasionally someone would express interest, try to pick my brain, and then tell me they couldn’t handle my rates. I learned to walk away from these people.

One time a potential client pointed out that another trainer charged significantly less than I did. My response was that if all he cared about was how much he was paying, then by all means go hire the other guy. (he went with me and totally changed his physique in a few months)

Bottom line, don’t undersell yourself. While I’m not suggesting you act cocky, definitely project the image that you know what you’re worth.

S
S

Great point on free sessions. How did you start with online clients, and how did you attract them? Bodybuilding show? Sorry for all the questions still trying to absorb as much as i can. I a still finishing up this thread http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/music_movies_girls_life/trainers_talking_shop?id=1214749

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
One thing that was missing from the article is the fact that all of these certifying bodies are not regulated by the government. They are businesses that people set up to sell you a piece of paper. Companies like ACE and the others are out to take your money, make no mistake. They have no real authority to declare you qualified other than the one that they give themselves. Your certification is not a college degree, nor license given via a government regulated series of exams.[/quote]
Very valid point. I know that, a while back, the National Board of Fitness Examiners was intended to be some semblance of an overwatch group, but even that’s voluntary (I believe trainers have to sign up on their own) and still isn’t connected to any type of government recognition. I have heard of a few states that had tried to pass bills regulating training within their states, but I don’t think anything came of it because, truth be told, it’s a relatively-minor issue for now.

[quote]jehovasfitness wrote:
6. Among the best things to do is establish yourself as an expert on a given topic. Think about some of the authors on this site. Bret Contreras while he may know a good amount about nutrition, if you wanted a diet plan would you go to him or John Meadows? Would you go to John Berardi for tips on how to do O-lifts, even though he knows how to do and teach them?[/quote]
Just wanted to touch on this. I totally agree with this idea… after you’ve spent significant time working with the general population.

Niche marketing and developing an area of expertise can definitely be a great way to “make a name” and build some success, but doing it too soon will hamstring you because A - you won’t have developed the ability to work with different populations if the need should arise and B - you’ll be closing the door to a big number of clients too soon and will limit your growth/income.

When I first training, there were days where I might’ve had an overweight 82 year old, a lady who recently had triplets, and a high school tennis player all in the same day. I believe dealing with a diverse client base (with varying goals) will sharpen your skills faster than focusing on “fine-tuning” how to deal with a particular type of client over and over.

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
One thing that was missing from the article is the fact that all of these certifying bodies are not regulated by the government. They are businesses that people set up to sell you a piece of paper. Companies like ACE and the others are out to take your money, make no mistake. They have no real authority to declare you qualified other than the one that they give themselves. Your certification is not a college degree, nor license given via a government regulated series of exams.[/quote]
Very valid point. I know that, a while back, the National Board of Fitness Examiners was intended to be some semblance of an overwatch group, but even that’s voluntary (I believe trainers have to sign up on their own) and still isn’t connected to any type of government recognition. I have heard of a few states that had tried to pass bills regulating training within their states, but I don’t think anything came of it because, truth be told, it’s a relatively-minor issue for now.

[quote]jehovasfitness wrote:
6. Among the best things to do is establish yourself as an expert on a given topic. Think about some of the authors on this site. Bret Contreras while he may know a good amount about nutrition, if you wanted a diet plan would you go to him or John Meadows? Would you go to John Berardi for tips on how to do O-lifts, even though he knows how to do and teach them?[/quote]
Just wanted to touch on this. I totally agree with this idea… after you’ve spent significant time working with the general population.

Niche marketing and developing an area of expertise can definitely be a great way to “make a name” and build some success, but doing it too soon will hamstring you because A - you won’t have developed the ability to work with different populations if the need should arise and B - you’ll be closing the door to a big number of clients too soon and will limit your growth/income.

When I first training, there were days where I might’ve had an overweight 82 year old, a lady who recently had triplets, and a high school tennis player all in the same day. I believe dealing with a diverse client base (with varying goals) will sharpen your skills faster than focusing on “fine-tuning” how to deal with a particular type of client over and over.[/quote]

definitely agree. In fact, working with a variety of people and having a broad knowledge of topics will expose you to that one thing that really connects for you.

[quote]JohnMariette wrote:
Great point on free sessions. How did you start with online clients, and how did you attract them? Bodybuilding show? Sorry for all the questions still trying to absorb as much as i can. I a still finishing up this thread http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/music_movies_girls_life/trainers_talking_shop?id=1214749[/quote]

I guess I kinda had an advantage in that people would routinely contact me online after each contest win (in addition to the usual folks who’d approach me during my own training). Surprisingly some people actually follow the ‘sport’, and would reach out to me recognizing my past successes.

It’s actually been an amazing benefit in that I’ve had clients not only in other states, but in several other countries as well. Not merely bodybuilders looking for prep advice either, quite often regular folks who realized that if you’re looking to drop fat and keep muscle, trainers with experience in bodybuilding might know a thing or two, despite not looking how they’re like to look themselves.

I’m not saying that it’s the only way to get the online thing rolling, but you have to watch out if you’re going to start popping all over the net advertising your services. You don’t want to come across badly. Of course there’s the not-so-subtle method of pretending to ask questions for forum discussions, while putting up silly videos each week, and constantly referring to your ‘clients’ in the hope that people will seek you out -lol. I’ve seen quite a few on here over the years.

S

I’ve held an ISSA certification for a couple years and trained clients for about four years. Usually I trained high School kids who had dreams of college ball. (IN Florida) Now I’m studing for my CSCS and while most certs are just out for the money I believe certain certs like a CSCS can make you more credible on paper and more attractive. I would like to write articles in magazines and promote my own training systems on the web and a CSCS would go hand in hand with that. Plus you have to have college degree to take the test so theres a bit more prestige than just a regular online certification.