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A HFE instructor working with their client by showing an iPad tablet.

Seven Big Mistakes Personal Trainers Make

6 minute read

Have you ever wondered why there are some personal trainers out there with hugely successful businesses, but also those who are seriously struggling to make it work?

The good news is that success is never just due to chance or good luck. Success in any walk of life comes about by consistently working towards a clear goal using the best knowledge, skills and strategies available.

Would you love to discover the business steps that the most successful personal trainers out there today are applying so that you too can start building the foundations for your own successful personal training business?

We’ve written plenty of PT articles on what you should do as a new or old trainer, so lets look at what not to do this time.

Below are seven of the biggest mistakes that personal trainers make after completing their personal training course; mistakes that limit the flow of clients, limit your income, limit your freedom and make the challenge of building a successful business out of personal training far greater than it needs to be.

1.    Trying to be a Personal Trainer for Everyone

The majority of personal trainers think they need and want to serve everyone and anyone, but the truth is that no successful business does this. It’s rare to find a personal trainer who has really defined their place in the market.

When you research the personal trainer websites, it’s impossible to tell the difference between one trainer and another, which makes it impossible for potential clients to identify the right professional for them. Failure to define your place within the market makes building a strong foundation for your business very difficult. Get it right and you’ve got the first ingredient for creating a steady stream of clients.

2.    Failing to Think With a Business Mindset

Are you thinking like a person who owns a business or as a self-employed personal trainer? It’s sometimes easier to think and behave like an employed service professional and to be led by your club and the industry. But by doing this, you end up doing a job rather than building a business.

You end up being led rather than leading; controlled rather than being in control of your own destiny. If you want to build a successful business you need to start thinking like a business owner and start doing the things that successful business owners do. It’s time to start thinking differently about your roles and responsibilities as a personal trainer. It’s time to start working on your business as well as in it.

3.    No Clear Vision or Goals and No Business Plan

Without a clear vision and a set of goals to work towards, how can you develop a business plan or make effective decisions regarding the direction or growth of your business? How can you choose the best strategy if you aren’t clear on the outcome you want to achieve?

How can you find the drive, energy, motivation and courage to move out of your comfort zone, to overcome the challenges and do whatever it takes to make your business successful if you aren’t clear about what it’s all for?

If you haven’t yet spent time working out what your vision is for yourself and your business, then do it now. You can’t be successful at something unless you’ve first defined what success is for you and only you know the answer to that – find your why.

4.    Following the Crowd

Sadly, there are large numbers of qualified personal trainers who find it so difficult to get started that they quickly become disillusioned with the profession and feel forced to give up and go back to a job. One of the challenges is to find the business resources and support that will help you to do what you want to do.

It’s quite normal to look around at what your colleagues are doing and copy that in the hope that this will be the road to your success. However, I urge you to choose your role models very carefully. Just because your fellow personal trainers are moving in a particular direction doesn’t mean that you have to follow – you could be following them on a path to frustration and failure.

This goes back to getting clear on your vision for your business. Don’t judge what’s possible by what you see around you, unless of course what you see is exactly what you want!

5.    Generic and Egocentric Marketing

Just like the websites tend to look and sound very similar, so do the other marketing tools that many personal trainers use; the leaflets, adverts and business cards. If you’re trying to appeal to everyone out there, then it’s impossible for you to create promotional materials that speak effectively to anyone in particular. Generic, catch-all marketing tactics just don’t work. – you have to get specific and decide who you want your clients to be.

Another common mistake is to make your marketing all about you, your qualifications, skills and services. This isn’t what clients want to hear as they are interested in just one thing: finding solutions to their painful problems.

They want to know that you understand their problem and that you can offer the solution and the benefits they are looking for. Stop trying to prove yourself and start focusing on your clients. Find out what they really want and deliver it., nothing builds your credibility faster than this.

6.    Operating a One-Stop Sales Process

Expecting individuals to go from stranger to full paying client in one step is a risky strategy if your aim is to build a steady flow of ideal, high paying clients. This strategy results in a lot of rejections, low prices and leaves a considerable amount of money on the table.

Remember, people buy from people they know, like and trust. Achieving this in one step is a tall order. Developing an effective sales process for your clients will not only attract more clients your way without any hard sales, but it can create opportunities to generate additional income streams along the way too.

7. Trying to Build a Successful Business on Your Own

Nobody builds a successful business or career on their own, just ask any successful business owner. They don’t underestimate the challenges and obstacles involved in turning a profession into a successful business.

Failing to build professional networks and valuable personal and professional relationships leaves you isolated and missing out on a wealth of opportunities, not to mention a wealth of clients. The contribution of others to your career and your business can be worth its weight in gold, stimulating and energizing you beyond anything you can muster on your own.

Every successful business person has invested in resources and built networks in order to learn, develop, create accountability and stand upon the shoulders of those who’ve gone before. Your PT clients invest in you to ensure their success. What resources will you invest in to ensure yours?

Yvette Nevrkla – accomplished business coach, author of the book, The PT Business Gym, and founder of The PT Business Gym which offers business coaching and mentoring support and resources specifically for personal trainers. If you’re a personal trainer with aspirations and big plans for your business, then visit where you can download a FREE chapter of The PT Business Gym book.

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