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Why Would Anyone Bother to Become a Personal Trainer?

I hope I have your attention! If you are an aspiring fitness coach or a struggling personal trainer then read carefully. If you know a fitness coach who you think could use some support this might also be of value. We all know that personal trainers play a crucial role in helping people achieve their fitness goals and lead healthier lives. As the demand for fitness coaching continues to grow, it's essential for up and coming personal trainers to equip themselves with a set of skills that goes beyond just knowing how to design effective workout routines. For a skilled trainer that's the easy part. So let's take a closer look at the essential skills needed to become an impactful and financially successful personal trainer. I am talking about financial literacy, branding, amarketing strategies, customer service training, and communication skills. While we are at it, we should delve into the benefits a fitness coach can bring to the community. Somewhere along the way we may find the answer to our question.

Top 5 Skills Needed to Succeed as a Fitness Coach:

1. Financial Literacy

It might not be the first skill that comes to mind when pursuing a career in personal training, but financial literacy is fundamental to building a sustainable and successful personal training business. Personal trainers need to be adept at managing their finances, understanding cash flow, expense tracking, budgeting, and investment options. It's important to set realistic pricing for your services, taking into account your expertise, experience, and market demand. By maintaining a strong financial foundation, personal trainers can navigate economic fluctuations, make informed financial decisions, and secure a rewarding future. If you know nothing about how to manage the debits, credits or cashflow you could be dead in the water before you have even started. If you are starting out you may think you can't afford the cost or time to learn. You can't afford not to. The good news is that the internet is filled with endless free information to get you started on learning what's going to be relevant to your business. There are no shortage of good financial management systems you can get for an affordable price. Eventually hiring a freelance book keeper or using a certified account would be a smart move. It's still vital you understand the basics so you make informed financial decisions as you start or expand your business.

Book Recommendation: Bookkeeping and Accounting All-in-One for Dummies by Jane Kelly

2. Branding

Establishing a unique and compelling personal brand is essential to stand out in a highly competitive industry. Personal trainers need to know their target audience, define their niche, and create a brand identity that resonates with potential clients. This includes designing a professional logo, creating a consistent visual style, and developing a compelling brand story that communicates the value and benefits of working with you as a personal trainer. Authenticity, professionalism, and a clear understanding of what sets you apart from others in the field are key elements in building a strong personal brand. You need to tell your story. The story of your business that is. You are building a tribe and the stories you tell with your branding will attract or repel your tribe. If you don't have a clear vision of why you do what you do, who you want to serve and what are their clear needs then it's time to think in those terms.

Book Recommendation: Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Also: What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest by Denise Lee Yohn

3. Marketing Strategies

A robust marketing strategy is vital to attract and retain clients. Personal trainers should take advantage of both offline and online marketing channels to reach their target audience effectively. Traditional tactics such as handing out business cards, flyers, and networking within the local fitness community can help generate leads. (That's the easy stuff.) I used to walk the streets talking to people and go into every local business handing out flyers. It's a good way to connect with the people in the community. Establishing a strong online presence through social media platforms, a professional website, and content creation can significantly expand your reach. (Now its getting tricky.) Leveraging search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, and partnerships with complementary businesses or influencers can also boost your visibility and attract new clients. (Now you are earning your keep.) I have also been fortunate to work with numerous companies, non-profit groups, schools, and government bodies over the years. Building strong and lasting relationships beyond the internet are worth their weight in gold. Remember that you will get it wrong a lot at the beginning, the middle and even toward the end of your business. Learn from the mistakes made in marketing, not only your own but from others. Keep adapting your strategies when needed to evolve with your business.

Book Recommendation: The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

An Early Attempt at Being Clever 10 Years Ago

Always Start with a Smile

4. Customer Service Training

Providing superb customer service remains crucial for fitness coaches to build lasting relationships with clients and enhance the business reputation. Besides delivering high-quality training sessions, it's important to go above and beyond to create a positive and personalized experience. This includes being attentive to clients' needs and goals, being punctual, demonstrating professionalism, and maintaining open lines of communication. Actively seeking feedback, constantly improving your services, and showing genuine care for your clients' well-being will not only lead to client retention but also generate positive word-of-mouth referrals. Exceptional customer service skills (that's the aim) will help create strong brand ambassadors for your business. Let's face it, when you learn to be a trainer or coach the idea of bed side manner hardly comes up let alone how to deliver a memorable customer service experience. What level of care makes a business stand out? How much attention to detail will be needed? What's the tipping point between good and great service. All great questions to ask when examining your business.

Book Recommendation: The Cult of the Customer: Create an Amazing Customer Experience That Turns Satisfied Customers Into Customer Evangelists by Shep Hyken

5. Communication Skills

Precise communication skills are vital for trainers to attract, sell, guide and help clients deliver amazing results. Sixty percent of your job comes down to how well you communicate. Listening attentively to clients' concerns, goals, and limitations will be essential for designing personalized fitness plans that yield results. A great trainer must be able to explain exercise techniques clearly, provide guidance on proper form & safety, and offer courteous, constructive feedback. Verbal, nonverbal, and written communication skills all contribute to creating a supportive and motivational environment for everyone. The best thing I learned when starting out as a trainer was to dump the idea that I was trying to impress other fitness professionals with complex language only found in a "how to sound like a personal trainer' guide book. Fitness trainers tend not to be the one hiring you. Real people want honest and easy to understand language that offers assurance that they are in good hands and that you know what you are doing.

Book Recommendation: Unleash the Power of Storytelling: Win Hearts, Change Minds, Get Results by Rob Biesenbach

The Benefits an Inspired Fitness Coach Brings to the Community

Some of the top health issues people face these days include obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, anxiety, substance abuse and the list goes on. You get the idea. Where do we look to for inspiration to help prevent or find the courage to help solve some of these problems. Personal trainers are more than just fitness experts; they serve as valuable resources and guides in promoting healthier lifestyles within their communities. The most prominent ones lead by example. What are some of the benefits a great coach can bring to their community? Thanks for asking.

1. Goal Achievement: Setting realistic fitness goals and providing the expertise to achieve them, working as a dedicated partner throughout a person's journey. Most people have vague ideas of what they want that often look back in time at what they used to be rather than creating a vision of a future self. Getting to the heart of a day 1 goal vs a day 90 vs a day 365 goal will set any trainer apart.

2. Personalized Programs: By tailoring workouts and nutrition plans to individual needs, a coach can help prevent injuries, optimize results, and accommodate specific health conditions or limitations. Oh, don't forget incorporating rest & recovery. This comes down to understanding where's the starting point for any client and back engineering a path toward success with real tools, discipline and easy to understand steps to execute.

3. Motivation and Accountability: Now we are taking our bread and butter, so to speak. Trainers provide ongoing support, encouragement, and accountability which can significantly boost clients' motivation and adherence to their fitness routines. This isn't about screaming or yelling like a madman. Okay, occassionally that's called for with some people but they always welcome it. Accountability leads to positive habits which leads to successful behaviour modification. Successful clients are happy and healthy clients.

4. Education and Empowerment: Empowering clients with knowledge about exercise techniques, good nutrition, and healthy habits enable them to make informed decisions and maintain a sustainable health driven lifestyle even outside the training sessions. It's all fine and good for them to kick ass when you are with them. It should go beyond that though at some point.

5. Building a Community: A top goal of any fitness professional should be to help create a supportive and welcoming community where customers and clients can connect, share experiences, and find inspiration in one another's fitness journeys. When you can bring together so many like minded people who, at varying stages, are all working toward living their best life through fitness it's pretty mind blowing.

I will admit, I thought I knew the answer to 'why would anybody bother to be a personal trainer?' when I first started. When I was learning about the fitness industry I dove head first into it all. By the end of year two, I was seriously questioning myself and recognizing just how much I didn't know. It would have been easy to throw in the towel like so many did. Something kept me going though. With time, the mistakes and set backs offered the challenges I needed to grow. Along the way, the business essentials started to become clear and make more sense. To make a difference as a personal trainer, coaches must develop a diverse skill set that goes beyond training knowledge and expertise. Knowing the numbers; understanding artful storytelling; and delivering a world class customer experience all contribute to the long term success of a business. What keeps me coming back though has always been the people and communities I have had the privilege to serve.


Oh, I found a video you might like if you stayed this far. My final thoughts on where most go wrong at the beginning.


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