While half of the people who tune into my weekly blogs are those who are trying to improve their fitness, the other half are current or aspiring personal trainers. In the three years that I have been a trainer I have made a lot of progress, made many mistakes, and learned a lot from those mistakes. Though I still have much to learn, I wanted to share my early mistakes and interpretations of the industry that I truly believe in for the benefit of the new or soon-to-be trainer.
I'm not certain who originally said it but there's a quote that goes along the lines of "A smart man learns from his mistakes...A smarter man learns from the mistakes of others."
When I got certified as a personal trainer I thought I knew everything in the world that there was to know about personal training. Truth is, I knew nothing. While my certification taught me the basics, there was SO much more that I still needed to learn. Your certification is not enough.
Depending on who you get certified by, (and yes it matters because there are so many BS online certs out there it's sickening), you probably know enough to get started training people safely but what you will learn with experience is the difference between acceptable and optimal. In other words, one workout program may be good enough but maybe you could be more efficient with a different style or application. This all comes with time and it's something I'm still working to get better at. I suspect I will always look for ways to get better and more effective with my programs.
What They Don't Tell You
Write this next statement down: no one cares about how many certifications you have. Knowledge is great, certifications are great, and it is absolutely imperative that you continue to learn more and get better. With that said, your client doesn't know the difference between a CPT, a CSCS, or a CES. What schools and certifications do not tell you is that this is a business.
If you cannot sell yourself, market, and retain clients, you will likely not be a trainer for very long. I didn't learn this until I was almost an entire year into my training career. The sooner you learn how to sell, market to the right clients, and deliver an amazing service/experience to your clients, the better.
It is also important to consider the types of clients that you will be training. When I first started training I wanted to train all college athletes. For my first three months it was great! I had built up quite a few college baseball clients and was seeing most of them 2-3 times a week over the summer. All was going smoothly until the end of August when all of my college athletes returned to school and I was left with a grand total of zero clients.
Training college athletes was awesome and I knew it was what I wanted to do but I needed to be smarter about my client base. After my foolish mistake I began working with some local high school athletes and I landed a job at a gym where I could train general population folks too. This was great because I was able to train year-round and it turns out that I really do enjoy working with different types of people.
What Else They Don't Tell You
My mother has owned/worked in a hair salon since long before I was even born and I never would've thought that I would be able to discern similarities between her business and mine. I can remember sitting in the chair, waiting to get my hair cut, and hearing the constant chatter between client and stylist. I would think, "How can they talk all day like this?!"
Fast forward about ten years and I'm chatting away with my clients all day long. You see, another thing that they don't tell you is that, not only are you a trainer, you're also a therapist, consultant, and friend. With my athletes it is sometimes a little bit different but when working with the general population, I have found this to be more than true.
Becoming a personal trainer was the best decision I have ever made. I was very fortunate to attend an amazing technical high school with an exercise science program, and to have met some incredible mentors that allowed me to start the learning process very early. I hope that if you are a trainer, or would like to be a trainer someday, that this article helps you. I made way more mistakes than the simple ones that I've listed in this article and they've all helped me get better along the way. Don't be afraid to get started. Get your certification and start working with clients as soon as possible; this is the best way to learn. I don't care what textbook you're reading from, nothing beats experience.
Follow On Social Media!