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One of the UK's leading personal trainers, Matt Roberts, guiding clients through an exercise.
One of the UK's leading personal trainers, Matt Roberts, guiding clients through an exercise.

What Makes a Successful Personal Trainer?

5 minute read

Personal trainers are often seen as the face of the fitness industry. Many misconceptions still surround the profession, but what’s clear is the sheer impact trainers have inside and outside of gyms. Day in, day out, they help clients achieve their goals and truly make a difference to their lives. Subsequently, it’s seen as the promised land for many who are just starting out.

While it has the potential to be a highly lucrative and rewarding career, it’s worth noting that the majority of personal trainers are self-employed. This means they’ve got to work incredibly hard to consistently strengthen their personal brand and secure new business.

It’s simply not a role for fair-weather people looking to get rich quick, which may explain why 1 in 3 new businesses fail within the first three years. To establish yourself takes a focused mindset, a great attitude, and plenty of drive.

We’ve trained countless personal trainers over the years and many have gone on to carve out their place in the market. A lot of elements can contribute to a person’s success and we’ve picked out some of the most important ones. Here’s what makes a successful personal trainer:

They are qualified

Seems like a given, right? Having the right qualification will get your career off to the best possible start and begin to open doors. Gym managers and clients alike need to know the person they’re involved with knows what they’re doing.

A popular phrase around our office is: ‘no one wants a second-rate anything’, especially when it comes to something so important as health and fitness. From a perception standpoint, having a personal trainer who is Level 3 qualified and has a CIMSPA accredited qualification suggests a level of baseline quality.

They have personal goals

Always monitoring the goals of clients is a critical part of the role, but the most successful PTs also have an eye on their own development. This goes far beyond stealing a few minutes for yourself in the gym, these goals look at the bigger picture.

The best in the industry treat what they do with the utmost seriousness, they are their own business after all. Along with this mindset brings long term goals, plans for expansion, sales/clients targets, and other opportunities such as a seminars or online sessions.

They master the consultation

Aside from your own marketing efforts, the consultation is a golden opportunity to not only land a new client, but create a lasting relationship.

If you ask the right questions, quickly establish their needs and begin to create a fitness plan there and then, you’ll find sealing the deal very easy. A great technique to use is ‘future pacing’, essentially referring to the prospect as if they’re already your client and talking to them as such.

If the sales side of being a PT isn’t something you find yourself jumping for joy at, don’t worry. We’ve written a five-step guide on how to get personal training clients without the hard sell.

They make time for themselves

Burnout is a very real and very common problem, but the best PTs have a few tricks up their sleeve to ensure they’re striking a healthy work-life balance. As great of a career as being a PT is, it can come with a lot of sacrifice in terms of irregular working hours and days.

Ensuring you don’t burn yourself out is key to not only your health and wellbeing, but also your productivity in sessions. To deliver the best possible service, you too need to be at your best.

If you’re too tired to pay attention in your sessions or deliver them properly, you’ll soon find yourself to be losing clients and not producing results. This is never a good outcome, as we know from our attracting and retaining personal training clients article that keeping existing customers is always easier than searching for new ones.

A few ways to avoid burnout include:

Always making sure you’re sleeping, eating, and exercising properly – just as you would tell your clients!

Combining clients with group training where possible – both you and your clients can benefit from this in terms of getting multiple sessions in at once while creating healthy competition.

Having defined working hours – this can definitely be tough, and every PT knows that it’s not the traditional 9-5. However, keeping the hours you do work regular and consistent each week can help you establish a routine, which in turn should help you with the other points made.

Most importantly, taking at least one day off a week – while being a PT is one of the more enjoyable jobs one can do, it should not completely take over your life. Make time to relax, do your hobbies, see your friends and live outside of work.

We have a more in depth piece on how to avoid personal training burnout for those who would like to learn more.

They live and breathe fitness

Virtually every personal trainer we’ve helped get qualified has had a burning passion for the industry to match our own. They’re always reading, learning about new trends, and constantly looking to refine their approach. To really make a mark, you have to love what you do.

Constantly find ways to improve and upskill yourself, and never become too complacent with where you’re at. The fitness industry is always moving, so by keeping yourself engrossed in it you can keep up with the trends.

We’ve also created a list of the UK’s most successful personal trainers, exploring how they have mastered their careers.

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