Personal training is a highly sought-after profession these days. It seems like everyone wants to be a fitness professional, guru, coach, influencer, etc. On top of that, social media has made it very easy to project success, whether it’s authentic or not. But the truth is being a good personal trainer who can stand the test of time, consistently build their clientele, develop talent around them, have a good reputation in their community, and get incredible results is much harder to find than you might think.
By no means am I perfect. My 25 year career has been fraught with countless mistakes and failures. But I’ve also had a lot of success. I’ve grown my business from a humble 900 square foot closet in 2006 to an 11,000 square foot training facility with over ten coaches and a million dollars in revenue. In my opinion there are certain attributes I believe a successful coach should have:
- They walk the walk. A good personal trainer should be a living, breathing example of their craft. They should look fit, be fit, practice sound nutrition and lifestyle habits, and be a shining example of vitality.
- They are obsessed with learning. The best trainers and coaches are hellbent on acquiring knowledge. They attend multiple seminars a year, are constantly reading books (not just their instagram feed), teach others, and see the gym as a laboratory, always experimenting and searching for new and innovative ways to get results for their clients.
- They often say, “I don’t know” or “perhaps.” This is a big one. The older I get and the more I learn the less dogmatic I become. I understand there is more than one way to skin a cat and that my way is not the only way. I also know that I don’t know. It’s ok to not have all the answers and the best trainers aren’t scared to admit when they don’t.
- They show empathy. Again, this comes with age and wisdom. We are all fighting our own battles. In the past (before I had kids or any real trails and tribulations) I would never give my client the benefit of the doubt. I was quick to label their non-compliance as laziness or an excuse. The truth is being fit and healthy these days comes with a lot of challenges. If someone can’t get to the gym four days a week but they can get there two days, then we start there. If someone struggles to meal prep and prefers to eat out then we help them make the right choices when they eat out. Meet your client where they are. Be empathetic to their situation and seek to understand their challenges not downplay them. And prescribe a level of compliance they can be most consistent with. Because consistency creates momentum and momentum builds.
- They create success for their clients. Early in my career my only goal was to crush people’s souls; to send them running home with their tail between their legs crying. I scared a lot of people off. Hell, I may have discouraged people from working all together. These days I’m much more savvy and have gotten quite good at diagnosing people’s ability very quickly. My workouts are hard, but meet the client right at the edge of their capability. When clients feel challenged and are able to meet those challenges successfully they come back for more. If every session is a beatdown of epic proportions their compliance will likely suffer and they’ll eventually quit. Create success for your clients and they’ll always come back for more.