The 23 Habits EVERY Financially Successful Personal Trainer Has
When you think of your purpose as a personal trainer, what is it?
Is it to “help people get in shape”?
… or “keep people on track to their weight loss goals”?
… or is it something bigger?
This question is so important because it forms the foundation of your entire business.
And if your purpose is to utterly transform people’s lives, then you will be virtually guaranteed a long line of high-quality clients who will respect you, pay you top dollar and refer you to their friends.
When we studied personal trainers who were doing just that, we found it was their shared habits that made all the difference.
These habits – for which there are simply no substitute or shortcuts – can be learn and adopted by anyone in the industry… from the brand newbie to the experienced veteran.
In fact, if you are just starting out, you’re in luck! You don’t have to “unlearn” any bad habits. You can incorporate these 23 new ones into your business from Day One.
We guarantee if you do that, you’ll watch your client list and your income skyrocket exponentially.
Let’s get started!
1. Emphasize correct and safe technique.
Often, the average personal trainer will let this slide over time, especially when working with a client who seems to forget proper technique every time they come back in.
If you take an attitude of “Well, they’re never going to get it, so I’m not going to harp on the same thing every time”, you’re doing your client a great disservice. Without correct technique, your client runs a grave risk of injury and won’t see results as fast. Both of which can damage your reputation and cut into your bottom line.
2. Watch your client.
The gym can be a very social, lively place. Other trainers and even other clients may want to talk to you while you are training someone else. You must develop a habit of politely cutting these conversations short and returning your focus to your client.
Same goes for your phone! Keep your phone out of your hand unless you’re using it as a timer or to make notes on your client’s progress. If you absolutely must send an emergency text, don’t try and mask it from your all-too-aware client. Politely excuse the distraction with a quick explanation. Then give them 110% of your focus as soon as your phone goes away.
3. Constantly find ways to improve yourself.
A trainer who is committed to their own path of self-improvement and who shares their experiences, hard-earned wisdom and personal challenges with clients is an authentic inspiration. After all, they’re spending many hours with you working towards self-improvement, so knowing you’re after the same things in life is a great way to bond.
4. Keep up to date on trends.
Fitness fads and trends seem to pop up and fade out faster than the latest fashions. It can be challenging to stay on top of it all. However, clients want to know that you have your finger on the pulse of the industry. To them, you’re a fitness “insider” riding the cusp of the latest and greatest advances out there. Honor that expectation and keep yourself informed always.
5. Offer variety.
One of the most dangerous emotions you can instil in your clients is often boredom! The easiest way for a client to feel bored and uninspired is if every workout with you becomes a predictable routine. So, change it up! Surprise them. Challenge them. Sure, it requires more creativity on your part, but you’ll end up with clients who stick around and actually show up excited for what awaits them at each session.
6. Be their biggest cheerleader.
In reality, you may be the only person in their life who vocally expresses your pride and amazement at their progress. So do it often and do it wholeheartedly.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get tough with them though! The more you genuinely challenge them and insist they do the moves correctly, the more reason you’ll have to genuinely compliment their achievements in the end.
7. Listen to what the client likes (and doesn’t) and adapt.
You may be all about kettlebells, but your client might HATE them. If you notice them getting discouraged to the point of losing momentum in any given exercise, consider replacing it with something else that works better for them.
The key is to challenge them to go outside their comfort zone without forcing them to do something they loathe every time you meet.
8. Vary the intensity of sessions.
Hyper-intense workouts for every session may exhaust your client. It’s important to listen to how they’re feeling before and afterwards and respond appropriately to what they need. This requires flexibility on your part. The better trained you are, the easier it will be for you to pivot during a session as needed.
9. Be prepared!
Even though the ability to change and adapt when necessary is important, that doesn’t let you off the hook when it comes to planning! A client can instantly recognise if you haven’t put prior thought and energy into their session. It can make them feel like their health goals are just an afterthought to you.
If you come prepared and tell them how excited you are about what you have planned, however, they’ll feel that you’ve gone above and beyond in taking care of their needs.
10. Don’t cut time!
From the client’s point of view, every minute is money… and they’re right. If they have shown up and committed to an hour, they want you to share that commitment.
Quick tip: If you have extra time up your sleeve, consider occasionally giving clients an additional 5 minutes. Small things like this make little difference to you and a BIG difference to the client.
11. Become a constant learner.
As a personal trainer, there is always new information to learn and plenty to brush up on! From anatomy to physiology and nutrition to posture, Onfit offers a variety of quick, information-packed courses to enhance your skills and make you an even more valuable asset to your clients.
12. Give them homework!
This is like pushing a baby bird out of the nest and encouraging them to spread their wings! Encourage your clients to sign up for group fitness classes or go for a noontime run during their workday. This extracurricular activity will help speed up results and help the client take ownership of their health. They may even end up passionate about a new activity they wouldn’t have tried without your encouragement, like spin, yoga or weight lifting.
13. Be their hero!
As you get to know your client, it’s natural to begin feeling like “buddies”. Talking and sharing comes naturally and you learn a lot about each other’s lives. However, revealing too much about yourself can be detrimental in the long run, especially if you inadvertently create a less than flattering picture of yourself in their eyes.
Be open to telling them about yourself when they ask, but always remember that you are a hero, role model and inspiration first and a friend second.
14. Look the part.
When you meet an important client for the first time, how much thought do you give to your appearance? How about for the 100th time? There’s probably a pretty big difference there. But, like it or not, your appearance has an impact on others, even if you’re a great personal trainer. So, put in the extra time before you leave the house to make sure you look neat, clean and professional. Pretend every session is your first and you can never go wrong!
15. Talk the talk.
The way you talk to your client is a big part of how you motivate them. Your words can make all the difference when your client feels like they can’t possibly do one more rep. If you find yourself relying on stale phrases like “You can do it” over and over, claim two or three new soundbites as your own, keep them in your head and use them to boost your client’s morale.
Examples heard around the gym lately… “You are so much stronger than you think.” “The only way to be flawless is to be all in.” “Choose YES right now.”
16. Walk the walk.
When you demonstrate a new exercise for a client, they will be watching you with a critical eye, analysing your movements and trying to memorise exactly how to duplicate what you just did. Therefore, it’s critical that you understand and demonstrate perfect form and execute each movement with grace and confidence.
17. Be passionate!
One of the best things you can do for your client, your business and yourself is to fall madly in love with the art and science of personal training. When you love what you’re doing and embrace the impact your work has on others, you will develop a passion that radiates from you. It’s this drive that will attract top-notch clients who are excited to learn and don’t want to settle for less than the very best in the business.
18. Take a genuine interest in injuries or niggling problems …
and know who to refer them to. Don’t just say ‘a physio’. Instead, listen and understand everything that’s going on with your client and be able to recommend a great physio if one is needed. As a bonus, the next time that physio has a referral, he or she may pass that client your way. That’s the power of both genuinely caring and building a network!
19. Be flexible.
Life happens. Clients will cancel. And sometimes it will be at the last minute. Unless this becomes a consistent habit, the best thing you can do for them is be understanding and work with them as much as possible. Blaming or making them feel bad will lead nowhere.
That said, if you do institute late cancellation fees, make sure those are communicated clearly upfront so there are no surprises when it’s time to pay up.
20. Keep track of your client’s progress.
Clients and potential clients love success stories, so you should keep consistent and accurate records of each of your client’s progress as they continue their health and fitness journey with you.
Refer back to your clients initial goals, so you can keep track of what they are achieving. Are they losing weight? Gaining muscle? Lifting twice the weight they were when they started? Pay attention to these things and log them in a notebook or on a mobile device. Then celebrate their milestones (even the little ones) as often as possible!
Trainers with a niche can quickly become more well-known and sought after than an all-purpose personal trainer. For example, a woman looking to lose pregnancy weight will look for someone who specialises in post-natal fat burning workouts.
There are several niches covered in Onfit’s Certificate III and IV in Fitness, including training children, older adults, endurance, strength and conditioning training. Onfit also offers additional short courses that can help you determine and develop your particular area of interest.
22. Follow up.
Let your clients know you’re thinking about their health, goals and progress from time to time. Check in with them to see how they’re recovering after sessions. Or send reminders the day before you meet. Maybe even send a motivational message once in a while to make sure they are staying on track.
23. Offer a referral bonus!
Let your clients know you would be happy to reward them for referring their friends and family. A cash bonus, gift certificate or free sessions are great incentives to get clients thinking about who else might be interested in training with you.
And remember, if you commit to incorporating these 23 habits into your business, there is no doubt your clients are going to be shouting your praises from the rooftops!
At that point, all you need to do is keep up the great work and enjoy your profitable, inspirational and flexible career as a personal trainer.