10 Tips for Starting Your Career as a Personal Trainer

1.    Obtain multiple certifications to increase specializations.  There are certifications available for many specialized areas in the personal training field.  The more certifications a trainer can obtain the more marketable and employable they become.

2.    Be open to employment from non-traditional industries.  Fitness is a national focus and many different industries and companies are developing in-house fitness programs for their employees.  If looking for a full-time position, expand employments searches into the following areas:

  • Public and private fitness centers
  • Athletic venues and sport-specific training centers
  • Spas and rejuvenation centers
  • Public and private schools
  • College recreation centers
  • Hospital based wellness centers
  • Hotels and condominiums
  • Resorts and cruise lines

3.    Create fitness plans that will appeal to different clients.  Train in group fitness classes to get exposure to more potential clients at one time.  Group classes can lead to more one on one training as a trainer gets to know the attendees and learns their fitness goal and then can offer to help them achieve them.  Learn outdoor training and some clients may not always want to be stuck in a gym.  Is there a park or beach than can be used, maybe an existing fitness trail that a class can be designed around?

4.    Develop and implement a regular marketing plan.  While it may be ideal to build a business off referrals only, very rarely will this truly build a successful career alone.  A free lance personal trainer will need both network marketing and mainstream marketing to build a successful client list that will meet income needs.  Some tips on creating a marketing strategy are:

  • Do research on the market: Find out what demographics are most prevalent in the market and create a strategy that address those need.  Does the market have a high concentration of elderly people?  Develop a senior’s fitness plan. Are there a lot of children in the area?  Create fitness seminars geared toward parents to help them get and keep their children fit.
  • Engage potential clients in non-traditional ways: Create a seminar series to get potential clients exposed to how you can help them.  Join chambers or other networking associations and offer to be a key speaker.
  • If there are fitness events such as marathons or triathlons, reach out to people who are interested in participating:  Look for companies who may be interested in putting together a team and need a trainer.
  • Find a niche or specialty:  There are thousands of personal trainers competing for business in any given market.  A personal trainer can find an area to specialize in than can set them apart.  This specialty can often come from personal experiences, maybe a medical condition the trainer themselves or someone in their family has had to deal with.  Personal experiences that can be turned into specialties can allow a trainer to connect with a clientele in only a way someone who has dealt with the issue can.
  • When using social media, focus on quality not quantity: Choose 2-3 channels and have a really good presence on them rather than trying to spread efforts across as many as possible.  Update constantly, social presences have very short life spans so a trainer must be dedicated to keeping social presences current.

5.    Use your personality to succeed.  Personal training is well…personal.  People want to feel important and cared about.  Treat every one of your clients like a treasured friend.  Accommodate them, whenever possible.  Show interest in their lives.  Personal trainers can often become life coaches for their clients, develop the relationships and referrals will come.

6.    Become educated about related fields.  Exercise fitness is only one component to be physically fit.  Nutrition, stress management and medical issues also play an important part in a person’s well being.  A personal trainer who is knowledgeable in these areas will increase their value to their clients.

7.    Capitalize on fitness marketing trends.   What is the most commonly made New Years’ resolution?  To lose weight.  Personal trainers can capitalize on this timing trend and create programs and direct marketing efforts at peak times when potential clients are most interested.  If a personal trainer is in a northern market, bathing suit season.  How many women, or men, put on a few extra pounds during the winter months and are dreading what they are going to look like in a bathing suit come summer?  Another excellent opportunity for a personal trainer to market to women by offering to help them achieve their goals of looking great in their new bikini.

8.    Use your time wisely.   Put you “down time” to work for you.  If you are not training a client, and hence earning money, then do something that will create the possibility of earning money.  Use this time to do you marketing and networking.  Consider offering some free training sessions to get clients interested and get referrals.

9.    Sell yourself to your clients.   Most personal trainers may cringe at the mention of sales, but in effect a trainer is selling themselves.  A trainer needs to connect with their clients and make sure they see the value in the services they are paying for.  If a client had financial issues maybe suggest they pair up and split the cost with a friend.  Pay attention and listen to the clients, the session is about getting them what they want and need to be physically fit, not about a trainer pushing a personal agenda.  Think customer service, excellent customer service, a client should walk away from a session feeling good about themselves and looking forward to the next session.

10.  Maintain appearances.   This may seem like a no-brainer, but personal trainers must maintain their own appearances.  Not only by staying fit, how much confidence will a client have in a trainer that is overweight.  Clothing choices and hairstyles should also be chosen to give the best impression possible.  Clients using personal trainers want to look good themselves so the trainer needs to be a role model for the client.

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