The biggest mistakes people make when deciding to become a personal trainer

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They don’t shop around for the right certification.

Humans like to categorize things because it helps us learn better. The problem with this is that categorizing things dilutes the ability to see the big picture. For example, a client is overweight. He goes to see his eye doctor and the eye doctor says that the client’s vision is going because it’s genetic. The dentist tells the client that tooth decay is happening because he’s not flossing enough. The family doctor fixes the rash on his skin with antibiotics. The chiropractor says he has poor posture because of how he sits. Meanwhile, the real reason all of these things are an issue, is because he’s overweight and has gotten here from a lack of exercise, poor nutritional choices and the wrong mindset.

When shopping around for a certification, most certifications give you specialties only to end up with trainers categorized and scared to move beyond their expertise. Our society is filled with specialists who fail to see the big picture. This in turn fails to create real change. As a personal trainer, I feel it is our job to stop looking at life through a straw and to start assessing the big picture.

They don’t shop around for the right club.

Some clubs don’t care whether or not you are good at what you do. All they care about is that you can sell. Nothing is more disappointing than someone with all the passion in the world being misguided to think that personal training is about sales. These passionate people often quit the career of personal training with a bad taste in their mouth. But not all clubs are like this. Shop around for a club that matches your values. Often the smaller ones are better.

They think learning is over after a course.

I always tell my trainers, “You hear, you forget. You see, you remember. You do, you understand.”

To understand nutrition, you have to study it from every angle. It’s a very controversial subject with a lot of financial interests involved. That’s why taking the opinion of one course is not enough. You need to constantly be studying wide to avoid being stuck in an information bubble. The information bubble is where you find vegetarians only reading from vegetarian authors never having the interest to dive into the paleo world. In order to get a true sense of what is right, you must read everything far and wide even if it sounds ridiculous. You need to take notice of patterns and experiment with yourself. Once you are certified the learning doesn’t end. It starts.

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.

Three ways to gain clients

Prime adult Caucasian female with personal trainer at gym.

If you’re just starting out in the field of personal training, the chances of having a long list of waiting clients right away is slim. Here are a few simple ways to help gain your first few clients.

1.) Family and friends are your greatest allies.
Focus on helping people in your current network. If you’re just starting out, your goal should be to master your craft by helping a lot of people. FREE removes the barrier of entry and spreads word fast. It’s common in the coaching world to say, “Don’t undervalue yourself.” But this is bad advice for someone just starting out. Be generous and help people out like your friends and family.

2) Your story is important.
Tell people your story. Why did you get into fitness and personal training in the first place? What are you hoping to see? Ask these people if they can be your first client. If your story is authentic, it’s sure to connect with someone AND motivate them at the same time to better themselves.

3) Don’t be afraid to ask.
Once you have a small group of people and they are seeing value, give them a reason to bring a friend. This time, charge them a small fee. As the network expands, your price will also increase.

A task like this can be daunting, but it can also be extremely rewarding. Especially when you’re able to watch your clientele list flourish before your eyes.

Remember, your authenticity is extremely important. This is especially true for people who need help with their health and fitness. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be able to watch your client list grow in no time, and in turn, you’ll be helping more people reach their goals.

Personal Training – What You Really Need to Know

Trinity College Sports Centre, Trinity College, Dublin, 10/7/2013 General view of Personal Trainers Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

The fitness industry was worth $21.4 billion in 2011 (1) and is expected to grow by 24 percent from 2010-2020 (2). Buying personal trainers’ services is an emotional decision and one that’s often done without adequate thought. It’s not surprising that some people are taking advantage of consumers. Personal training service is arbitrary. Trainers don’t have a prescribed scope.

Education for for trainers in North America is un-regulated. While good resources exist for trainers, the overall picture is not bright. Anybody can call himself or herself a personal trainer, even without certification. And anybody can create educational platforms and designate trainers as “certified”.

Trainers are also duped into believing that the next best thing is better than the last best thing. The reality is that they get tricked into emptying their wallets just as much as the unfortunate clients they serve.  The trainers are trying to do the right thing. With all the noise, it’s difficult to get a clear and unbiased view of what the job entails and what methods work best.

I was a personal trainer. It was my career and I was passionate about it. My focus is now on giving personal trainers the skills they need to succeed. The prospect that my generation won’t be able to support the raising health care costs for the baby boomers in the near future is scary. Preventative medicine must be a priority. Exercise has been well established to decrease/eliminate risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and even dementia. (3 4 5 6)

Personal training can change people’s lives.  It’s a fulfilling career and not a part-time job.

Click here to read the rest of Jonathan Goodman’s article on personal training

*This article is written by Jonathan Goodman.jon
Jonathan Goodman is the creator of the world’s largest independent collaborative community of personal trainers, the Personal Trainer Development Center (the PTDC). He is also the author of the best book for personal trainersIgnite the Fire. Originally from Toronto, Jon spends his winters exploring the world.

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10 Things to Consider When Choosing To Hire The Best Personal Trainer For You

Personal trainer helping woman at gym

Buying personal trainers’ services is an emotional decision and one that often lacks adequate thought.

The industry is unregulated and service is arbitrary.

Trainers don’t have a prescribed scope. There are very good trainers and very bad trainers. What you may not know is that anybody can create educational platforms and designate trainers as “certified” but, as you’ll soon see, certification ≠ qualification.

When you decide to invest in a trainer you’re making a decision that has the potential to change your life. Yet, most who hire trainers put little-to-no thought into it. Would you walk into a car dealership on a whim and buy a car? Likely not, you’d do your research and make an informed decision.

This article will give you all of the tools you need to help you make the most informed decision possible.  Here’s how to decide what personal trainer is best for you.

*This article is written by Jonathan Goodman.jon
Jonathan Goodman is the creator of the world’s largest independent collaborative community of personal trainers, the Personal Trainer Development Center (the PTDC). He is also the author of the best book for personal trainersIgnite the Fire. Originally from Toronto, Jon spends his winters exploring the world.

jon_book