Below you will find tips from eleven personal trainers to help you grow as a trainer, be a better coach, and encourage you.
Mentors, advice, and confidence can be hard to come by as a new personal trainer – or at least it can feel that way when you are just starting out and overwhelmed.
There is so much more to learn as a new personal trainer – and even a veteran trainer – that the “books” just don’t teach you.
And that is a good thing!
If we aren’t moving forward, we are moving backwards – never stop learning!
If we aren't moving forward, we are moving backwards - never stop learning! #personaltraineradvice Click To Tweet
Many new personal trainers – or aspiring personal trainers – seek a mentor in the field.
I wish I had a mentor when I started personal training. I felt lost for at least my whole first year. I questioned if I even liked this job, if I was good at it, and why anyone would want to be a trainer (the hours when you start can really suck!)
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Since I did not have a mentor or anyone in the field I could ask questions, I spend A LOT of time on The Personal Training Development Center website.
I read all sorts of articles on training and business, listened to podcasts, got involved in fitness business and personal trainer Facebook Groups, and, eventually, launched this blog.
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My BIGGEST piece of advice to a new trainer would be:
Becoming great at what you do takes time… be patient.
You are not going to be great when you start out – accept that.
You will look back and think there were sooo many better ways you could have progressed a program, explained an exercise, presented the training packages, etc. Stick with it, don’t give up. Keep walking the walk, keep learning, keep trying new things – it will get easier.
It took me quitting my first training job, coming back to training years later, then taking 4 months off for maternity leave not long after, and now here I am again (almost a year post baby) and I FINALLY kind of feel like I know what the heck I am doing! 🙂
While being a good trainer takes TIME, how you spend that time is KEY.
I took to a couple Personal Trainer FB Groups and asked veteran trainers:
What advice would you give new personal trainers?
Always have a book in your hand
My biggest piece of advice is to READ READ READ. Until you get a mentor, be your own biggest advocate. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t always have a book in your hand. Either furthering your knowledge as a personal trainer or your career.
– Dixie Louise Sonnier from MomBod ReDefined
Take a “fitness” break once in awhile
Get out of “fitness” once in awhile. Read fiction. Talk to people who aren’t in the industry. Get an outside perspective. You’ll come back refreshed, and be more interesting to your clients if you can talk about something besides loading schemes and periodization.
– Katie Prendergast from KPxFitness
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Volunteer at a local high school
If you want to learn how to more effectively write programs and coach people, but you’re not that busy yet, volunteer with local high schools and their strength coaches.
Not only will you learn more about coaching, but you’ll gather ideas about program design, how to manage many moving parts, and also give back to the community. Most high school weight rooms are woefully understaffed, so they’ll be happy to have you along. The coaches I’ve worked with in this way were a gold mine of information, and it came at the low cost of a couple hours a week of my time.
Don’t be afraid to volunteer. You’ll gain mentors and knowledge in the field faster than any book or online course could give you.
– Andy Van Grinsven from Andy Van Strength & Conditioning
There is more than one way to do something
There are always new things you can learn – don’t think you know it all straight off. And don’t have tunnel vision, there are other ways of doing things.
– Sally Mills from Sally Mills Personal Training
Tell YOUR story
Be vulnerable and tell your story… As a coach you need to connect with your athletes/clients and let them know that you are always still working on improving yourself and your own life and you are not perfect. Nobody should strive for perfection just to be the best version of themselves.
And when it comes to fitness, nutrition, and living a healthy lifestyle – not one person is better or worse than the next – some are just more practiced than others and have been improving their craft over time!!
– Marty Rinehart from Driven Personal Training
Nobody should strive for perfection just to be the best version of themselves. #businessadvice Click To Tweet
Look for ways to disprove your own thoughts and opinions
Be willing to work a lot. Experience in working with different bodies and personalities at the beginning will help you figure out your target market in the future.
And never, ever get stuck following one guru’s dogmatic approach. There are many great minds out there that have differing opinions and methods, and yet each of their clients get results. Find the overlap in their systems and apply that. And finally, always look for ways to disprove your thoughts and opinions.
Think H.I.T. is the greatest strength system out there? Read up on opposing viewpoints, find out why they disagree and work on understanding the science behind their rationale, then you’ll be armed with more knowledge than the average trainer.
A tool is just that- a tool, not better or worse, and not always applicable to the client for a host of reasons. And in terms of industry leaders, they’re all bright, but it doesn’t mean they’re always right. Trainers/coaches need to think for themselves, solve their own problems and be aware that even the best don’t have all the answers.
– Craig Hubert
Finding a mentor really is not that hard
I think “mentors” are extremely easy to find. I see marketing all over the place – too much in fact… But I think finding a good one who is actually competently qualified to mentor is a bit more difficult (as we are in the age of “I read a book and have a website so I can mentor you in business….) but it’s still not impossible.
What I have found, however, in many cases, is that young (in the field and age) trainers looking for mentoring want it at no effort on their part and for free. They haven’t grasped the fact that we run a business, and that THIS IS our business… our time and knowledge are valuable and a mentor is just that… a reference, a guide, an adviser, a consultant; not a “coach” and not an investor or partner.
– Rob Yontz from True North Fitness and Health
Give away your knowledge for free and work to attract your ideal clients (it will make your life easier)
Never be afraid to give away your most valuable content for free. Everything you know, everything that you think in the customer’s eyes may find useful, anything that may help them get from point A to point B, share it.
There is no “secret” formula or system you need to grow your business. The secret is attracting the right kind of clients for you specific niche. The clients who are committed and ready to change. These are the clients who will excel and succeed. And honestly, will be semi easy for you to coach making your job less stressful and more fun!
– Tom Jorgenson from Twin Fitness Fix
Value your time and “appear” busy
Value your time. Clients will want to book you when it is most convenient to them, but make sure it is an ideal schedule for you.
For instance, if getting your workouts in is important to you, schedule “Gary” as a client in your calendar. It is your ‘code’ name for ‘workout’. Even if they see you looking at your calendar, no one will ever try to take another client’s time. If you stick to your guns and they really want to workout (which they do, that is why they hired you), they will find another time that works for them.
– Dawn McNevin from The Right Fit Fitness
Read, learn, document, and implement every darn day
1. Respect the POWER HOUR – each and everyday devote 1 hour to reading/digesting pertinent material to your craft. Not just research journals or textbooks, but also self-help guides, “professional development” and even sales/marketing. Find a takeaway and utilize it each day – then each week you will have implemented 5 new things or tried 5 new things. Did you know that it has been proven that if you read 1 hour a day for 7 years that you would be a leader in your field? We tell our clients that 1 hour is not much in the grand scheme of things – time to take our own advice!
2. Journal – document your journey. Whether this is part of the first 10 minutes of your power hour or you use it as your meditation for beginning/end of the day. Reflection can lead to alot of personal growth and awareness.
3. Mentors do not need to be in the fitness/health/wellness field. (Yes, it helps) but when it comes to the business side of personal training, you will be glad you had someone guiding you through setting things up, handling business transactions, diffusing a crisis, etc. One of my friends is an interior decorator – her advice on website, setting up sales packages, etc was very insightful. Networking with others outside of the fit/wellness arena can do wonders for you overall as well as have some great side effects!
Basically, I learned that it is a rare and highly valuable gift to have someone in the flesh and blood helping you step by step. The key here is that you *could* have the greatest mentor in the world with you but it will never mean much if YOU don’t step up. Which means that with or without a mentor, you put in the work – it will pay off… “Play the long game” as Gary Vaynerchuk says.
– Alicia Valleskey from RokitFit
Find amazing people, say hi, and imitate them
Find amazing people online who resonate with you. Read EVERYTHING (and watch everything they have on YouTube) on their blog.
Write down the tips/notes that blow you away and cues you can use with clients. Reach out to them and just “hi.” Tell em you’re getting started and that you’ve been influenced by them. Do not pitch them to read your shit. Do not ask them for time to chat or advice. Just say, hi.
And then all those blogs you read, of the people you admire—imitate them. You don’t have to publish your imitation writing, but write in a voice outside your own.
Well, it’s like being a singer/songwriter: you have to play a few covers before you find your own voice and style. Sort of like Modest Mouse, who started as a Built to Spill cover band.
You will change ideas and philosophies overtime – that’s good, don’t be a zealot for one thing.
That being said, know what you stand for and what works. Don’t appease people like they’re a six year old. They’re coming to you for guidance and advice, don’t confuse them with more choices or uncertainties.
– Robbie Farlow from Side Quest Fitness
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Other resources for new trainers on The PTDC:
What is the best piece of advice you received as a new trainer?
What advice would you give someone new to the field?
What is something you wish you knew when you started out?