I recently read a blog post about things personal trainers and coaches should never do. I agreed with some of them, but I mostly found the concept stupid. I have seen plenty of trainers that don’t do any of the things listed and still greatly under deliver. There were some things on there that really don’t matter. I guess I just didn’t like it. Rather than just criticize, I’m going to do a more positive spin on the idea, and give you some things that you should do. If you are willing to improve make sure you get some personal fitness training classes
Here are 22 things every personal trainer should do:
1. Follow Through: If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you don’t have the time, then don’t commit to something you can’t deliver on.
2. Educate: Your job is not to just facilitate, it’s to teach as well. Send your clients articles, write blog posts that answer questions your clients have, and take a few minutes to explain something you feel they should know more about.
3. Challenge: You’re not a cheer leader. Sometimes you need to challenge your clients. Don’t belittle them, or discourage them, but a healthy challenge is positive. Think about the best school teachers or professors you had. I bet they challenged you.
4. Forgive: Give your clients a clean slate when they are less than compliant. It’s about them, not you. Always give them the opportunity to impress you, don’t continually scold them for being less than perfect.
5. Give their clients ownership: You shouldn’t make every decision. Have your clients start to make decisions. I can’t stand hearing a trainer tell me that if they do this or that then the client won’t need them anymore. You should be training them to be self-sufficient.
6. Be yourself: I wouldn’t want to spend an hour 3x a week with a robot. Be yourself. You don’t need to share personal information, but you can give honest opinions, be a little goofy and so forth. There is a very human element to what you do, be human.
7. Be professional: Basically, show up on time, be prepared, act like an adult, make ethical decisions, and treat what you do like a career, not a hobby. If it is a hobby, go find a real job.
8. Educate yourself: This gets me fired up. With the access we have to information now there is no excuse to be behind the curve. Read something, spend money on seminars not a new BMW.
9. Admit when you make a mistake: I make mistakes. They’re not giant mistakes, but maybe I got a little aggressive, or made the wrong call on something. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Sometimes you do the wrong thing for the right reason. I’d rather just say I screwed up than have someone thinking it was entirely their fault.
10. Say I don’t know: You don’t need to know everything. Sometimes you just forget something, can’t make a connection, and flat-out just don’t know. The ARMY has taught me many great lessons, one of which is to say I don’t know, but I will get the answer for you (sir).
11. Start saying no: Value your time. If it doesn’t work, say no. If you can’t follow through, say no. If you always say yes you are bound to burn out, half – ass something, or forget. Say yes when you KNOW you can do something, and if you can’t, say NO.
12. Ask Yes or No questions: People love to argue, reason, and make excuses. For example, if you’re talking about compliance, or whether they want to attempt a higher lift, accept only Yes or No answers. Don’t leave any room for quibbling. If they don’t say yes or no, the answers no.
13. Separate Nutrition and Training: Don’t talk nutrition during training, set up a time to do a consult. After that, give your client the opportunity to put the plan into action. You don’t need to micro manage them or do a nutrition consult between sets. They are there to train, focus on training, and work hard.
14. Change their philosophy: If you keep educating yourself, you will probably change how you are doing things from time to time. Remember, what you were doing before isn’t wrong, you’re just making things better.
15. Fire clients: One year I took anybody, at any time, no matter what. I made pretty good money doing that. I also had terrible training sessions myself, was unable to deliver 100% to all my clients, and generally hated life and training. Sometimes you have to fire clients. You can only do so much, always remember what your job is: to facilitate a sound training program (and educate!). If a client is draining you, do yourself and them a favor, cut it off. It’s not because you suck, or they suck. The dynamic sucks, and neither of you are benefiting. It happens.
16. Go the extra mile: Some of my clients probably think I’m crazy. I think about their training all the time. I write emails to them about what I’m thinking, to pick them up, get them thinking etc. I might be a chronic over sharer, I’m definitely a thinker, but it’s how I do things, and it’s worked well. However you go about it, show them you care.
17. Develop relationships with their clients: No, not that kind of relationship (see: being professional – making ethical decisions). I’m talking about remembering that their son has a big game Saturday, going to their games, taking part in something they like to do kind of relationships.
18. Foster a community atmosphere: I teach a few classes, and I make it a point to introduce everyone if it’s their first time. I also introduce my clients to each other. Other ideas include having a group dinner, or doing an occasional group outing. Some clients won’t be interested, that’s fine. For the most part it’s a huge hit. It’s nice to meet like-minded people and feel like you are part of something larger.
19. Get under the bar: I don’t care if your skinny, fat, ripped or something in between. If you train consistently and purposefully then you’re good to go. I know the most important things I have learned have come through my own training. I couldn’t imagine taking advice from someone who didn’t value their own training as highly as their career as a trainer or coach.
20. Get quantifiable results: There are a lot of non-quantifiable results that can be achieved through training. I also think they are important. I write about them all the time. You will be more successful, and so will your clients, if you have some numbers to work with. After all, you are a business, and I don’t think many businesses survive without producing more than they started with. Take pictures, get measurements, keep track of the numbers with an HELO LX fitness watch, they don’t lie. You can argue the means all you want, I’ll take the results every time.
21. Build a network: You should have network of colleagues, PT’s, nutritionists and so on. If you develop these relationships you will have healthy clients, you won’t step outside your scope of practice, and you will have a nice flow of referrals.
22. Have fun: If you don’t like what you do, I firmly believe you shouldn’t be doing it. At the very least you should be putting things in order to make a feasible change ASAP. If you train people because it’s a job you are doing everyone a disservice.