Top Tips for New Personal Trainers
Personal training is a career and a business. It may be your passion and hobby now, but if you want to earn a living from fitness, it’s time to get serious and get down to business. You’ll learn so much as you go, but it doesn’t hurt to have a little help too. Here are some of the best tips for new personal trainers as you start out on your new adventure.
Getting and Staying Educated
If you haven’t done it yet, get certified. Competition for clients can be fierce, and without appropriate training and certification, why should anyone choose you? Think of your education as an investment in your career success. It costs money up front but will pay off in the end.
Trainer Certification Programs
- Not all certification programs for personal trainers are the same. Look for one that is backed by experts in the field and accredited.
- Start with basic personal trainer certification. This is the program that will give you the educational foundation needed to be a successful trainer.
- Don’t forget specialties. Again, competition can be serious and if you have one or more specialty certifications, like in nutrition or senior fitness, you have more to offer potential clients.
- Never stop learning. Fitness trends change, exercise science advances, and trainers need to keep up.
- There are many ways to keep learning. Go to fitness and personal trainer professional conferences and conventions; try workshops; add specialty certifications with online courses and programs; and always keep reading industry magazines, books, and journals.
- Don’t forget to learn what your clients are learning. Many will be reading popular magazines and blogs, so don’t just focus on your industry materials. You need to know what they are learning, and whether or not it’s good advice and information.
Business Tips for New Personal Trainers
Yes, working as a personal trainer means you are also a business person. Even if you are an employee in a gym, you need to understand some basic business principles to be successful. From marketing to potential new clients to managing appointments and always being professional and ethical, personal training is a business.
Getting and Keeping Clients
Without clients, you’re only a trainer in your own imagination. The most important things you’ll do include not only acquiring new clients but also retaining those you have.
- Be patient. When you’re brand new to the business, it may take some time to build up a client base. Don’t give up yet.
- Be willing to volunteer some time to get started. Offer your services at the local high school or community center, or give a free session to a few potential new clients that may be on the fence. In return, ask for an honest review to post online.
- Be your own best promotional tool. You live and breathe fitness, right? Always be prepared to talk about fitness, and when people ask how you know so much, you may have a new client on the hook. Also, wear gear that promotes your brand; be a walking billboard for your services.
- Put a lot of your focus and energy on retaining clients. A major reason trainers fail is that they can’t maintain a steady number of clients. Having a good base of long-term clients will give you a regular income, and it’s always cheaper to keep clients than to find new ones.
- Build relationships. Retaining clients is all about developing good relationships. Don’t focus only on training programs and reps. Ask your clients about their lives and their work, and offer some of your own stories in return, while always remaining professional, of course.
To get more useful tips for retaining the clients you already have, check out this client retention post on the ISSA blog.
Marketing Success for New Personal Trainers
Marketing and promoting a new business can be a real challenge for many new trainers. Here are some tips to get you started.
- Use social media. And don’t just use your personal pages. Set up pages on all the major sites for your personal training business. Post regularly with tips, offers, fitness news, and other related content to keep followers interested.
- Build a website and keep it fresh. Most people these days research businesses online. Make sure you have a strong and professional presence. Pages that have updated content rank better too, so post a regular blog about fitness and training.
- Keep a database of client information and also with information on almost-clients. These are the people who showed up for marketing events, gave you contact information, or who signed up for emails or newsletters but never followed through with a session. This is a targeted audience you can market to when you need new clients.
- Learn how to network. Networking is essential for small business owners, especially those in an industry like fitness that relies so much on word of mouth. You need to know people to get clients. Go to fitness expos and conventions, local recreation areas, community events, 5k races, and any type of local business event and start introducing yourself. Bring business cards, of course.
Tips for Relating to Clients
You won’t get along with every client. Some will be more fun to work with than others, and certain clients will develop an immediate rapport with you. In most cases, you’ll have to work for that good relationship, though.
- Be yourself. You need to be professional with clients, but no one wants to work out with a machine. Don’t be afraid to laugh and converse during sessions.
- Educate clients. Your clients come to you as the expert. Always be educating them, and if you don’t have an immediate answer to a question, research it.
- Be flexible with clients. They have lives outside the gym. If your client has to cancel at the last minute sometimes, roll with it. Of course, if it happens all the time, see the next tip.
- Know when to fire a client, and be prepared to do it. You’ll likely know in your gut when it’s time to say good-bye, but it won’t be easy to do. Prepare a short explanation beforehand because you’re likely to get flustered.
How to Motivate Clients and Hit Goals
Some of your clients will be highly motivated. We call these our dream clients. But most need some pushing. It’s a part of the job because if your clients don’t get to their goals, they probably won’t come back for more sessions.
- Always take before measurements and do a fitness analysis. Showing your clients how far they have come is a big motivator. Only lost two pounds? That can be de-motivating. But, your client may have also lost two inches from her waist. Now that’s a big deal.
- Give your clients homework. Giving a client something to do between sessions helps extend the session and gets him closer to his goals.
- Design programs for your clients, not for you. This may sound obvious, but as you get into training you’ll discover how easy it is to revert to training for your own personal mindset. Instead, get into the head of your clients, figure out what motivates them, under what conditions they work best, and what kinds of workouts they are most likely to do.
- Be prepared to challenge your clients. This doesn’t mean being a bully, or saying mean or belittling things. Challenge clients in a positive way by pushing them a little further than they think they can go. This is how you hit goals.
- Let clients make some decisions about workouts and programs to give them ownership. Have good options ready so they can choose.
Becoming a personal trainer isn’t that difficult; becoming a successful trainer is. Always keep learning, and use these tips for building good client relationships, getting and keeping clients, and marketing your growing business.
Check out all the certification courses the ISSA has to offer, from the Personal Trainer certification to specialties and master trainer certification, launch your successful new career.