What personal trainers can learn from Jiro


Jiro Uno is one incredible chef.

He’s the only sushi bar to ever win the prestigious 3 star Micheline award (meaning his restaurant is considered to be worth traveling to for a meal). Not an easy award to receive.

Every single detail in his restaurant is controlled and perfected by him for a consistent experience. The way his food was prepared to the position of the chop sticks for his guests.

He knows who he is and what he does. He’s a sushi expert and refuses to even serve side dishes, as his focus is on creating the best sushi in the world.

This 85 year old man has been doing this his whole life and lives by 5 principles I thought apply just as well to personal trainers with the purpose of excellence.

Jiro sums up his best attributes of restauranteur:

1. Take your art seriously, mastering every detail on a consistent basis.

2. Cleanliness sets the perception. “Poor cleanliness, poor food.” He says.

3. Nothing goes out to the customer that isn’t perfect.

4. Have passion for your art and work your ass off. Hard work day in and day out makes you a pro.

5. Never stop learning and always work on improving your art. At 85 years old he is still on his quest to perfect the art of sushi.

So what are you the best in the world at?

Improving Self-confidence for Increased Sales

consumer confidence! by Chris and Karen Highland, licensed under Creative Commons
consumer confidence! by Chris and Karen Highland, licensed under Creative Commons

When it comes to sales, being confident can be the difference between a solid close and an “I’ll think about it.” When you are confident during a sales meeting, you tend to be more direct, react quicker to their responses and clients are more likely to believe in you. Prospective clients can see and hear when you are not sure of yourself. If you are not sure, how sure can they be of your services?

We tend to think of confidence as a stable personality trait that people are naturally born with. We all know at least one person in our lives who just oozes confidence. Things just come easily to him.

What you may not realize is that confidence is also a personality state; something that can change depending on the situation. Even if you consider yourself someone who generally lacks in self-confidence, there will definitely be things that you are in fact confident in. Just think about something that you are good at. Are you confident in your skills?

Even people who are generally confident will have moments of low self-confidence. This happens all the time in sports. When the team is on a long losing streak, you will hear the players talk about how confidence in the room is low.

These are people who are being paid millions of dollars to do something that they are supposed to be the best in the world at. Yet, they also experience times of low self-confidence. Confidence is something that you have to continually work at to maintain.

Here are 5 ways that you can increase your confidence to improve sales.

Think about past successes

You’ve done it before, so you can do it again. Get yourself back into the mindset of those past successful sales. Instilling this belief in yourself should be the first step in gaining self-confidence. If you don’t believe that you can do something, how can you be confident in it?

I’ve written before about how experiencing mastery can help your clients feel more confident in their abilities. The same goes for you, too. Knowing how to communicate with people, establish a relationship, and show how you can help doesn’t just disappear overnight. These skills are already in you. You just need to believe it.

Get a “sale” elsewhere

What if you’ve never sold anything? Many of our readers are either new or aspiring personal trainers, so this question has merit. My answer to you is that you probably sell something every single day.

When you convince a friend to watch a movie, when you persuade your partner to try a new restaurant, when your mom let you borrow her new car. These are all examples of selling. And that is essentially what selling is. Convincing another person that an idea (or product or service) that you are offering is something that he would also be interested in.

So, get out there and “sell” something. Once you’ve tasted success, you will no doubt feel better and more confident in yourself.

Think and act confident

“Fake it ‘til you make it.”

It’s a phrase we’ve all heard before. But, could it actually be true?

Research by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, shows that it certainly can be. By adopting a strong and powerful pose, you can actually cause physiological changes within your body. Cortisol levels go down, which lowers stress. At the same time, levels of testosterone gets increased, leading to greater feelings confidence and dominance.

Before your next sales meeting, hold your head high and walk tall around the gym. Look and feel powerful. You will not only feel less stressed about having to make another sale, you will also feel more confident in your ability to close.

Visualize your next sale

Visualizing has become a popular skill to use in recent years. Sports is one area where this technique is used with success.

However, like all skills, it takes practice before it can be of benefit. With visualization, the more vivid the picture, the more applicable it is for real-life situations. You can’t just sit there and think about closing a sale and expect it to be true.

Sit in the actual office where you do your meetings. Think about what the prospective client might say and come up with several responses. Most importantly, visualize your closing line. How are you saying it? How are you positioned? See it happening. Feel it happening.

Positive self-talk

What would you say when your client is struggling on their last rep? Give yourself that same boost.

Whenever you feel down about yourself, some good old fashioned positivity is your quickest and most effective tool. Be critical about your past performances, but focus on your strengths. How can you use your strengths to your advantage? What can you do to improve your weaker areas? Because you can and you will improve.

A career as a Personal Trainer – The right fit?

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo
Personal Trainer – Looking for a fit


As an executive and leadership coach, clients often seek my help about critical decisions regarding their careers. So, let’s say that you are considering a career as a personal trainer, or that you already have a career and want to embark on a new path as a personal trainer. And let’s say you are asking me for guidance on your career choice in order to assess if it is the right fit for you.  Well, I would keep it simple and invite you to reflect on three things: Thoroughly researching your areas of interest; understanding who you are, and; determining who you’d like to work with.

Areas of interest

On April 14, Vania Hau published a post on this site where she tackled the topic of personal trainers’ salary. In her article, she identified factors that influence how much you can expect to earn as a personal trainer. But what she also did, was to offer a way to go about making informed decisions regarding career fit; Researching your areas of interestWhen it comes to personal training, there are a multitude of areas you can look at in order to determine if it is a good career fit for you. Assess the economic situation of the fitness industry. Find information about growth projections, market conditions, legislative or regulatory environment, business models, and more. Extend your research to include the health and wellness sectors.  Note that researching areas of career interest is, at this time, external to you. It does not involve your personality, perceived talents or skill sets, likes and dislikes.

Understanding who you are

Once you have done a thorough and objective search for career opportunities, it is now time to put yourself in the picture. Again, a member of the Free Form Academy’s team has contributed deep and intuitive understanding of the decision-making process when it comes to career choices. On April 29, Jean-Luc Boissonneault shared his personal journey leading to his choice to become a personal trainer.  Jean-Luc is passionate, intuitive, curious and dynamic. It is not surprising that he chose his career based on those personality traits. He was able to identify his passion early on. He intuitively understood that he could transform his passion for weight lifting, and more importantly, caring for others….., into a livelihood. He was curious about his chosen field and therefore became an informed expert, through hard work. The point here is that you need to understand who you are to ensure that there is as good a fit as possible between yourself (internal) and your job (external). To become a great personal trainer, there are certain attributes that need to be seated deeply in your beliefs and personality in order for you to succeed. Examples include:

  • Healthy living is part of who you are, of your core beliefs;
  • Empathy. You can relate to others by putting yourself in their shoes and seeing the world as they see it;
  • An ability to learn. You are in a constant state of learning and are open to the ideas and expertise of others. If you are not “trainable”, you will not be able to train others.

There are of course many other attributes that can apply. And they are not exclusive to the field of personal training. But they have one thing in common; they speak about who you are.  The more you know about what you like, what you are good at, and what you deeply believe in, the more likely you will be able to find work that is the perfect fit for you.

Determining who you’d like to work with

When assessing career fit, an often neglected area is the social interaction that will occur in your field of choice. Get ready here for my incredible revelation (drum roll please) – In fitness, you will meet…. clients.  While clients may share a common goal in getting control of their health, if only for a time, they will come with all kind of personalities.  So you need to ask yourself this basic question: Can I work with clients?  As a personal-trainer-to-be, you may be able to provide exquisite instructions about how to perform an exercice.  But it is irrelevant if you get impatient every time a client perform it poorly…. By assessing the nature of social interactions related to your carrer of choice, you will be able to better evaluate  if it fits the social aspects of your own personality.  If there is adequation between your social self and the people you will meet along the way, you are likely to grow, and thrive in your work place.

If you read these lines, I know you are interested in fitness.  Well, there is the notion of “fitness” in career choices as well.

How to find your passion


Not everyone’s as lucky as I am to have fallen into their passion. I was 17 years old and fell in love with lifting weights. I had been working out since the age of 13 and it was a sort of mental outlet for me. The gym felt like home where I got to hang out with friends. People of all ages and backgrounds with the same lifestyle as me.

A man wanting to lose weight walked in the door at the gym I was working at. Weighing 400lbs I felt the need to help this guy. So I did.

I trained him 5 days a week for free and helped him lose 200lbs. I wasn’t a personal trainer (yet) but that’s how it all started. In fact the willingness to do it for free is part of the passion that I discuss below.

People would see this guy melting fat away every week and started asking me to help them too. The owner of the club named Laurier at NBD got me on board because I was now in demand. I owe a lot to him having let me become a trainer at such a young age.

What I learned at that point was this:

“No one cares what you know until they know that you care.”

Looking back now I cared …a lot and that’s what guided me.

This question of finding your passion has always intrigued me. People always say to me “you’re lucky you found your passion” but fail to dissect what that means.

What is passion?

Passion is an intense enthusiasm or desire for something. Fitness and nutrition was that for me.

So if you’re looking to find what your true passion is the first question you need to ask yourself is what do you enjoy? What do you enjoy learning or doing on your free time? What would you do for free?

It can be anything, teaching: Hockey, writing, golf, cycling, working out, traveling or playing the guitar.

Now that you’ve answered that, hold on to that thought because there’s more to it. It’s not enough to just like something to succeed at it. We happen to live in a world where we compete over one another. Standards keep getting higher.

Now this next question is a little harder to answer but it helps if you think back to your school days.

You see, I can play the guitar but I’m pretty bad at it. Back in school, I had a friend that started at the same time as me but while I was still trying to figure out basic chords, he was playing songs. His ability to learn music was much stronger than mine. (Check him out here, he’s the one playing the drums.)

I was mediocre in most subjects in school but I was good at biology, gym and art. Weird mix, huh? But if you look at those subjects you can see that I should be good at sculpting bodies using fitness and understanding how nutrition affects the body.

If you want to succeed you need to focus and the better you know this from the start the better off you will be. So the question is:

What subjects came easy to you?

Once you’ve answered this question you need to get creative and bring those two questions together.

Here is what the formulae should look like:

I love sports
Statistics and math come easy to me
= Sports analyst

I love animals
Drama and acting come easy to me
= performer with animals

I love cycling
Drawing and design comes easy to me
= Bike designer

I hope you can get a little creative and figure out your passion.

PS: If you’re thinking your too late to make a switch to finding your passion.

Just take a look at the chart below.

Finding your passion

5 habits of a successful personal trainer


By Vania Hau

The life of a new personal trainer can be unpredictable and uncertain. However, the payoff of helping people go through life-changing transformations more than makes up for it. Here are 5 steps to help you minimize the uncertainty by making you a better trainer, faster.

  1. Observe

    Observe other trainers, other clients, your own clients, and anyone you encounter throughout your day. Observation is a key skill to develop as a personal trainer. Observation helps with spotting various movement deficiencies someone may have in order to adjust your training, accordingly. This observation should begin the moment you meet your client before any hands-on assessment or exercise instruction.

    When I took a seminar with Dr. Stuart McGill, a renowned back expert, he talked about the importance of greeting his patients in the waiting room. He did this so that he could observe the way they sat in a chair. As he led him to his office, he noted the way they walked. His observation skills are so developed at this point, he is able to get a good sense of why a patient is experiencing pain before they even reach his office. Of course, he still does a full assessment to confirm his initial suspicions and to be able to develop a sound treatment plan, but the important thing to remember is how much information can be gleaned simply through watching people move.

  2. Develop Systems

    You should have set protocols for all interactions that you have with clients. As you work with more people, you will begin to notice patterns developing with respect to the kinds of questions you get or what type of program works for certain goals. Take the time to produce a FAQ page or articles about topics that seem to interest a lot of your clients. Having these handouts that you can quickly print off or email can save you hours in time compared to having to email the same response to different people over and over again.

    You are being paid to keep people accountable. If you don’t do scheduled weigh-ins or measurements, you will not know what is happening with your clients. If you don’t know if change is happening, you will not know if adjustments need to be made to your clients’ programs.

    Finally, create programming templates to deal with different goals, such as weight loss or strength building. These programs should take a client through at least their first three months of training. This way, you have something to refer to for all new clients, which cuts down on programming time. There are essentially five basic exercises: squat, deadlift, push, pull, and core. Everyone will be doing some variant of all of these movements. You can easily modify any of the basic movements to suit the individual’s needs.

  3. Set money aside for professional development

    Start by automatically deducting 5-10% of your total paycheque. It might be tough in the beginning, but professional development should be seen as an essential part of building your business. Part of getting more clients is showing that you are a good trainer. Good trainers are knowledgeable and are always trying to improve their craft.

    Buy books, take courses, and attend seminars. Most certifications require you to do some sort of professional development in order to retain your credentials, anyway. Choose things that interest you the most. Don’t just take the most convenient ones available or ones that just reach the minimum requirements.

    I have met and worked with many trainers with different personalities and training styles. The one common denominator among the best trainers is that they always learning something new and trying to improve. All quality courses will be worth at least double the amount of money that you spend.

  4. Read regularly

    Depending on how diligent you are with your personal development, there will be a steep learning curve during the first few years on the job. Take these first few months to develop the habit to read as much and as often as you can. As you build your clientele and get busier, this will be harder to develop, so get used to it now when you have the time.

    Start with subscribing to free blogs (like this one!). You get new articles delivered right to your inbox and it takes very little time to read at least a couple of articles a day. At this point, you should have several large gaps of free time where this is easy to do. Don’t waste your time on Facebook or Candy Crush. Make effective use of your time. Here are some other great blogs to check out:

    The Personal Trainer Development Center
    Precision Nutrition
    Strength Sensei

    Always have a book around. Quick articles can offer insight and spark an area of interest. Books go more in depth and give you a more detailed examination of a topic. They give you a deeper understanding than a blog article can, which allows you to take the information and apply it towards different problems. A blog article might only give you an idea to solve one specific problem. You can find a list of books that all trainers should read along with other good resources here.

    Finally, learn how to read and decipher research articles. This is the most difficult stage to get to, as it can be quite expensive to purchase just a single journal article, but there are free articles out there. Begin by searching things that you are curious about or interested in on Google Scholar and Pubmed. Read a few abstracts to get a feel for the language that is used. To make things easier, there are several services that exist that send out monthly research reviews. Not only do you get to discover the latest research, it is also dissected for you into practical terms. Some examples are:

    Strength and Conditioning Research
    Examine.com Research Digest

  5. Stick to a schedule

    In the early stages, you may have a very irregular schedule. You may have a 6 am client one day and then not start until 2 in the afternoon the next day. Try to make it a habit to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. By waking up early every day, you will be more prepared to do so once you have more regular clients at that hour. It can also help build the habit of reading regularly and developing systems. If you treat these hours as work hours rather than free time, you will be more productive. Have set hours for work and set hours for time off. If you only have four clients one day, it does not mean that you have 12 hours of free time. Build the habit of a strong work ethic by actually doing productive work even when you don’t technically have to.

Training is very hard work and the first few months are always a struggle. If this is truly your passion, follow