3 ways to be taken seriously as a personal trainer

The most important component to being a good coach is to build trust. Trust takes a long time to build and a second to lose. Here are 3 ways to gain trust:

1. By showing how good you are
Let’s start with the word “showing”. Showing means you actually put yourself out there in front of others to see instead of staying in your cave. Now on to the next part; too many trainers have credibility pieces that they never use. What’s your story? What have you accomplished? How do you keep healthy? How long have you been at it? What about that special certification you received? Do you have testimonials? Do you write about your expertise?
2. By doing what you say you will every time.
Always be on time. Always be prepared. Show that you are a reliable coach. Always under promise and over deliver. If you tell a client you will send them an email, send it. If you tell the client that you will evaluate them next Monday, evaluate them next Monday. As a coach, your actions are just as important as what you say.
3. By being approachable.
Is your personality intimidating? Intimidating comes from the word timid. You can’t make people feel timid around you. This means that the more you work on you personality skills the more approachable you will be. Here’s a great book. If people feel comfortable around you, they will be able to open up. When they open up with you, you get to hear the truth. It’s hard to help someone when they are not giving you the true reasons they aren’t reaching their goals.

By the way, none of the above works if you’re doing it in the service of yourself over the other person.

How to know if a personal training career is right for you?


Personal training has the word “personal” in it. I think that’s the biggest part. On the surface you would think it’s more about how much knowledge you have but it’s not the case. Much of your job is about helping your client change their habits. You should have the maturity to be able to have honest discussions. Knowing when to be hard and when to be soft.

Not everyone has the compassion to make a great trainer. In order to become a great trainer you have to be a good listener. You need to be able to pull information from people and not be scared of being open and honest with your clients. When you’re honest, you let them know that you expect the same.

If you:

  • Love people and you gain energy from being around them
  • Love health and fitness and what it does to people
  • Find joy in helping others

Personal training might just be the perfect fit.

On the flip side, if:

  • Being around people drains your energy
  • You don’t take care of yourself
  • Helping people doesn’t satisfy you

Personal training will not be a good fit.


3 books all aspiring personal trainers need to read

Two Young Women Readin In Park At Sunset

I consistently read 1-2 books a week, and have been for the last thirteen years. Even though not all of these books are fitness related, that is how my curiosity started with different topics.

As you master exercise, let your curiosity drive you towards solutions for your client’s problems. Instead of thinking, “this is out of my expertise,” challenge yourself by learning everything you can about that topic. Once you have a better understanding, you will then be able to add it to your tool kit for other clients.

The books I’m recommending below are foundational books that serve the vast majority of people who hire a personal trainer. These are people who want to lose fat, get healthy and be fit. If you’re targeting athletes, there are many books out there on sports specific training, but I have to say Supertraining by Mel Siff is the athletic bible.

There are three pillars that are important in understanding how to help your clients lose fat and feel amazing.

First it’s nutrition. If your client wants to lose weight and you don’t understand nutrition, they might as well go find a new trainer. Nutrition and exercise work together, so with exercise alone, most of these clients would be wasting their time.

The second pillar is exercise. We all know how important it is to move.

Third is Psychology; if you can’t get them to stick to anything you say, well… your success rate isn’t going to be very high.

Here are a few books that I recommend that cater to the three pillars I have mentioned.

1. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price

This book detailing Dr. Weston A. Price’s global travels studying the diets and nutrition of various cultures. The book is filled with pictures and evidence that can’t be ignored.

2. Magnificent Mobility by Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson

When you start exercising with clients you quickly learn that most people lack in flexibility and mobility. This book outlines an almost “paint by numbers” way of fixing these issues. Its simplicity is fantastic.

3. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath 

As personal trainers, changing people is what we are really doing in the big picture. Chip and Dan has given us a great scientific breakdown of how to change when change is hard. This can be applied to anything but it is especially important for someone looking to change their habits.

A mentor of mine once gave me advice that I’m passing along to you.

“You’re only as smart as the books you read and the people you meet. So start reading and start meeting.” So I did.

How to determine what you should charge as a personal trainer


Determining what to charge as a personal trainer can be challenging, especially if you are new to the job market. Keep these points in mind when first starting out

1) Most clubs will set the price for you. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. If the club services all types of people and charges members differently based on the certificates you gain, then they may end up raising your price to a point where no one can afford to work with you. The member is not paying for certificates, they want results. On the other hand, if the club is focused on a specific segment of the population, the club will be able to charge a premium because they know how to service that segment better than the rest. The service is in line with the member’s issue, and the club will have gained proof and experience that can be part of your story. This means pricing will be set higher than normal giving you an advantage you would have trouble getting on your own.

2) Most people make the mistake at pricing themselves a little lower than what the market charges. If the average is $60, they think they should be a little below that number to help sway members your way. We call this the race to the bottom. Who charges the cheapest is not a game I suggest anyone plays.3) Instead, you need to figure out WHO you are serving. Is it hockey players, house wives, students, people with injuries or seniors? The deeper you dive into your category, the more you will start to understand them and you will become a specialist worth charging a premium for.

Once you know who you are helping, you can then determine how much they are willing to pay by seeing what they feel the value is worth. You can find this out by asking people and/or by observing their buying habits.

A day in the life of a personal trainer: What you can expect

middle aged gym trainer greeting client

The majority of people that want a personal trainer want to exercise in the morning, at lunch or after work. 

The best thing to do when starting out, is to first make yourself available in those time frames. Don’t try to set your times on your schedule or you will have a very hard time getting a constant flow of clients.

Having said that, I would suggest alternating mornings, days and evening days to allow yourself more flexibility and rest time.

Remember that in the world of personal training, very rarely will a club pay you a salary, so that means you are paid only when you train people (which in the end, allows you for more money but is a little harder to get started). Be sure to find a club that markets themselves well in the personal training so that you will have:

1. People that can afford it
2. Enough people coming in the door.

Once you’ve committed to a schedule, depending on the workplace you will be given, you will likely have to get your first clients yourself. (See article on how to gain your first client).

If you’re doing great work, you should start to fill your schedule with 3-4 new clients a week, and it should become exponentially more as you help more people. In my experience, within 4 weeks
you should be making enough money to pay your bills and within 2 months, you should be doing well.

I suggest you work closely with the club manager to help you get busy. They may give you a list of clients you can call or email.

Once your time slots are getting full, you can expect to make a good living, with some trainers making the average is 23-86k a year.  Where most clubs will give you $20/hour, some clubs will pay up
to $40/hour. So choose the club wisely.

Once you have a full roster of clients, you can then start to manage your time better, shifting flexible clients into slower slots. This way you can set the life balance you want.

If you can get past the 2 month mark, things get easier. Coming in to see clients is like seeing your friends. It’s fun, and when you help them achieve their goals it will feel extremely rewarding. That’s
the part most trainers love best.