Exercise is imperative for good health—but exercise can also be dangerous. Selecting the wrong type of exercise or using the wrong technique might prevent individuals from achieving the results they desire, and they might even cause lasting injury that hinders one’s ability to work out into the future. Out of fear of making such mistakes, many would-be exercisers turn to a knowledgeable expert: a personal trainer.
Personal trainers are professionals in the wellness or healthcare industries who have expertise in exercise. Essentially anyone with experience in physical training can become a personal trainer—but there are a few key characteristics the best personal trainers always share:
Develop a Personality
Personality is a key ingredient of a personal trainer’s brand. It isn’t necessarily important that an individual develops a specific personality; rather, trainers need their personality to effectively illustrate their approach to physical training. For example, some trainers believe in the importance of discipline in exercise, and thus, they cultivate a drill-sergeant-like personality to whip clients into shape. Meanwhile, other trainers rely on calmness and gentleness, perhaps because they advocate for slow and careful movement and change. It is a good idea for trainers to tweak their personalities to fit certain clients’ emotional needs, but a consistent personality helps create a consistent brand, which aids in attracting new clients.
Communication is critical in every profession, but because trainers are tasked with imparting health-related information to their clients, it is of special importance that trainers learn how to communicate effectively. Trainers should practice different styles of communication whenever they get the chance, and they should consider how non-verbal communication is affecting what they say and what their clients hear.
The best personal trainers use communication to lead their clients toward a fitter, healthier lifestyle. While it might be easier to become a cheerleader, hand-holding through workouts and offering hollow praise, trainers should strive to foster independence in their clients, teaching their clients how to structure workouts to achieve their fitness goals. This builds a trainer’s integrity while improving a client’s internal motivation, resulting in positive outcomes for everyone.
Many professions within health and wellness require certification, but physical training isn’t one. No state requires personal trainers to become certified—but the best personal trainers seek certification anyway. Trainers can use online education to earn an exercise physiology certificate from a prestigious university, which increases their knowledge and skill while boosting their credentials to attract and impress more clients. Certification is a small investment with significant benefits to a trainer’s career.
Certification shouldn’t be the end of a trainer’s journey through physical education. In fact, knowledge about sports medicine is constantly evolving as we gain more data about how the human body works, so continuing to engage with formal physical education is an excellent way for a personal trainer to deliver the most up-to-date strategies and information about health and fitness to their clients. Trainers might also spend time improving their business acumen with courses devoted to marketing, entrepreneurship and the like. This ensures that a personal trainer has the skills to grow their training business if they are so interested.
Many personal trainers will work with any client, regardless of their physical ability, their interests or their goals. Especially for newer personal trainers, this provides the greatest opportunity to make a living from their passion: fitness and physical movement. However, specializing within the field of personal training can give trainers greater power to effect positive change in their clients. Some examples of personal training specialities include:
- Strength and conditioning
- Mobility and flexibility
- Weight loss transformation
Trainers might also opt to work exclusively with specific populations, like seniors, women or people of lower socioeconomic status. Though specializing might seem to limit a trainer’s audience, it provides more opportunities for targeted marketing and deep client relationships.
Build a Business
The best trainers function as successful entrepreneurs, building a business from their knowledge and passion for fitness. While working as an employed trainer for a major gym can give trainers experience working with clients, trainers should strive toward independence. Managing one’s own branding, marketing and expenses can be difficult, but it tends to provide greater rewards while giving trainers more freedom to work with clients as they see fit.
Personal training is an important profession that delivers knowledge about health and fitness to those who need it most. Becoming the best possible personal trainer means helping more people achieve their goals — while obtaining one’s own, as well.