I get quite frequent messages on Twitter asking about tips for personal training from newer or soon-to-be personal trainers. I don’t feel best placed to write this article conclusively, as I am most definitely not the perfect personal trainer (and do not have ‘celebrity, master-guru-elite-hyper-superior-personal trainer and life coach to the stars’ in my title), but here are my top tips from 6 years of working in gyms and with clients.
We feel so strongly about ensuring PT’s do have the right attitude and approach, that we have created our very own LDNM Academy, offering both Level 2 and Level 3 personal trainer qualifications. Our PT course covers the core syllabus, but we have also added many additional elements to allow you to be successful, respected and the best you can be.
Always be presentable and approachable.
A smouldering look may work well in a magazine or on a poster, but a clean neat uniform, smile and a concerted effort on your appearance goes a long way to helping newer gym goers or potential clients approach and listen to you. Scruffy hair, dirty clothing and poor hygiene, as superficial as it sounds, will repel potential clients.
Be an example.
You are going to be wearing a visible uniform and thus you are always an advert for your services (and workplace/company). Trying to intimidate people, being arrogant or generally egocentric/idiotic in the gym you work might impress your gym buddy, but it won’t help you get clients. Be nice, treat others as you would like to be treated yourself, and help maintain an inviting atmosphere on the gym floor!
I see this all the time. A (generally) male gym instructor bypasses the struggling young guy or middle-aged man and heads straight for the attractive woman who’s in no need of assistance on the mats or cross-trainer. People don’t come to the gym to be hit on, so help as wide a range of people as possible to help hone your people and professional skills.
I personally know a handful of girls that have moved gyms because of consistent hounding from male gym staff, lifeguards and personal trainers.
If you feel you are the biggest and best person in the gym, be the most helpful too!
This needs no expansion- leave your ego at home and spread the love. Don’t grunt angrily at someone if they are using the machine you want and happen to have less weight on it than you would use- it won’t get you the machine any sooner.
Learn to say “I don’t know”.
Nobody knows the answer to every question. So encourage your clients to keep you on your toes by asking questions when they want to (within reason). If you don’t know the answer, admit it- this is much better than guessing and getting the answer wildly wrong! Uncovering areas you are weak on knowledge wise is also a great indicator of what areas you could benefit from studying further.
Plan your PT sessions and log client improvements over time.
Your client has not come to you for the same session each time, so plan their workouts ahead of time and compare these to ensure you vary, build or simply improve their (effective) exercise base over time. They want to improve, and the most efficient way to achieve this is to log results and manipulate variables over time to show them that they are progressing- and verify your training (and nutritional) methods for you both.
Don’t try to destroy everyone, every time.
Prioritise technique and realise that a newer trainer will not need the same volume of work as you. I made this mistake a lot when I first started training people, and subsequently lost several clients because I ignored their comments that the sessions were too hard. Any trainer can wear somebody out (or make their client vomit- this isn’t a good thing!), but a good personal trainer will push their client safely and in a structured format over time for maximal results with minimised risks.
To put it simply, newer trainers do not need as much volume as you. Upper and Lower body splits, or even full body resistance sessions, will be more suitable than muscle group splits initially when the client can benefit from a small relative workload and achieve great results.
Keep an open mind.
This is hard to do in an industry where so many people make unscrupulous and definitive claims, and companies present evidence for their products’ efficacy via studies funded by themselves. However, following some well-respected (natural) sports scientists who specialise in nutrition, training and/or both will help bring possible new and effective training and nutritional methods to trial. Rather than listening to a Youtube sensation who’s remarkably strong, huge and over 100kg lean who uses his enhanced results to validate his products/methods.
Ensure you check the quality of your written or typed work.
We all get rushed and are prone to grammatical errors and spelling mistakes occasionally- and I am aware some people have dyslexia or learning difficulties (myself included)- but always try to read your written work back and/or run it through a spellchecker. Simple things like neatening up small errors, making emails more concise and understandable, ensuring documents/emails actually make sense, and improving grammar/spelling success will also improve clients’ faith in your commitment to your work and their transformation.
Don’t be on your phone 24/7.
I am terrible for this so am not well-placed to say it, but sitting on a machine on your phone rather than paying attention to the gym floor or greeting members isn’t the best practice. Also, put your phone away during actual PT sessions unless filming or in isolated cases where you have informed your client that you need to keep your phone on you. Messaging during their set or break is just plain rude is most cases.
Team LDNM’s Level 2 Gym Instructor, and Level 3 Personal Training courses have landed! Our LDNM Academy ensures that you become fully qualified and properly informed, as well as providing real life anecdotal evidence, experiences and content/advice to ensure you are ready to train someone in real life (not just in theory).