Being a successful fitness professional is not always measured in sessions sold or income generated. Some personal trainers enjoy the interaction and challenge of helping individuals change or improve their lives. Success, in this case, is measured by the number of clients you are able to help achieve their goals.
Success can be easily achieved by everyone, especially if you have a firm understanding of the way the industry works. Over the years, I have learned a few things that have helped me as a fitness professional reach new heights of success. I have dubbed them “teaching anchors,” and I share them with all of my staff trainers to help them meet and exceed the unique demands placed upon them in the personal training profession.
Teaching Anchor #1: “The people you share your company with become an extension of you.”
Clients become your representatives, not because they will make sales for you but because they represent everything you know. Your service to them helps accomplish a goal. That goal is facilitated through your knowledge, expertise and planning. If your client has attained a goal (i.e., fat loss, marathon completion, increased strength, etc), then he has accomplished it partially by what you taught him. He accomplished this because at each session, during every set and every repetition, you were there encouraging and motivating him because you understand that the road to achieving a goal begins with “connecting” with your client. Connecting with your client is what separates trainers from other professions because we see how hard work contributes to behavior modification, and we see the profound effect we have once a client has achieved his goal. That profound effect stays with your clients and becomes your billboard to success and confidence.
Teaching Anchor #2: “You have to be in a position where you 'service others.'"
Gas attendants pump your gas, waiters take your food order and police protect you. How do you service others in personal training? You have to understand and accept the position of helping others for the betterment of others... and not for self serving pleasure. As a fitness professional, you want to help someone achieve his goal because it is what he has struggled to do for years alone. And now, with your help, he can and will accomplish this goal. Don’t view your clients' successes as notches under your belt. Rather, view them as experiences with the diversity of the human spirit. The human spirit can be strong, weak, sturdy, fragile, complicated, simple, driven or misguided. You “give” yourself to others to improve your own spirit. This process is usually seen in fitness professionals and enthusiasts who have been exercising for decades. They tend to have increased self efficacy and self esteem and speak with more conviction.
Teaching Anchor #3: “You have to have interaction to be an effective communicator.”
In order for your clients to perform the exercises you prescribe properly, you need to give them the instructions effectively. The difference between you and the newest issue of a muscle magazine is you can provide verbal and kinesthetic cues to your client. A page in a magazine cannot. Remember, communicating effectively involves interaction between the personal trainer and client. Reciprocal conversation allows the client to feel more comfortable and open to you. As a personal trainer, this is helpful because it allows your clients to avoid any apprehension or doubt they may have towards exercise. It helps make your client become “coach-able.” Communicating with a client effectively promotes proper instruction and relationship building, which will also assist in achieving the previous two anchors.
Teaching Anchor #4:“Instruct…Inspire…Integrate.”
Longevity in any industry enables you to look back and learn from mistakes and emphasize on positives. This is how I came up with the three "I"s.
- Instruct - Instructing means teaching the skills you have acquired through education, experience or certification courses. These are the skills from which your exercise programming originates. However, it is important to note that education alone does not make you an effective fitness professional. Most successful fitness professionals also have the ability to engage their clients through vocal conviction (speaking clearly, concisely and with confidence) and potent motivational techniques that enable them to capture their clients' attention.
- Inspire - Inspiring is the subconscious technique of putting into action the first three teaching anchors: realizing that clients are representative of you (extensions), understading you need to service others and becoming an effective communicator.
- Integrate - Integrating yourself into your client’s life doesn’t have to be an ethics issue or a question of professionalism. Get to know your clients and the things that matter to them. Make achieving your clients' goals your goal to achieve.
Teaching Anchor #5: “The client is your boss.”
Yes, it’s true. Good trainers realize this. You work for every client. They don’t work for you. Just as you assume you can “fire” your clients, they can also fire you. And if they fire you, it doesn’t make you look good, and you run the risk of being bad mouthed, losing referrals and losing potential income. If you understand and apply the first four teaching anchors, then this last one should not be a problem. If you accept that every client is your responsibility and that you have goals (deadlines), and if you are insubordinate (tardy, habitual calling out, lying, etc), you can be let go! It’s the trainers who don’t believe this (or don’t want to) that don’t last more than six months in the business.
Remember, personal training is a career. Treat it as a business. Show your clients you are a responsible professional from day one. Show them you are respected among your peers and fellow staff. Be ready to showcase your accomplishments and experience to earn their trust and business. Doing these things will give you that crucial advantage you'll need to succeed where others have failed.