Successful Personal Trainers Are More Than Meets the Eye

If you haven’t already guessed, the job of a personal trainer is a lot more than meets the eye. The most successful personal trainers not only realize this, but embrace it and put into place strategies to excel in all areas of their job better helping clients achieve their goals of weight loss, fitness and health. From the first contact with a lead to signing them as a client to seeing them achieve the goals they’ve set, communication and playing each of the following roles is vital to success.


Strategic Fitness Expert – Anyone can whip out a few pushups, sprints or bench presses here and there on any given day. It takes a professional to strategically plan a long term, progressive program that supports client goals of increased muscle, reduced body fat or rehab while incrementally increasing in difficulty, remaining balanced and staying interesting and motivating to the client.


Nutrition Expert – True, you have a defined scope of practice, but clients don’t know that and even if they do they expect you to provide expert guidance and dietary management. It’s up to you to find partners and technology to meet and exceed client expectations for dietary management. Registered dietitians can provide meal plans that pair well with those progressive fitness programs you create and are easy for clients to maintain all while you stay safely within your scope of practice.


Undercover Investigator – This is where the job of a personal trainer becomes “other duties as assigned.” Rarely is work with clients straightforward. Working with clients requires the ability to ask the right questions and dig deeper without pushing clients to far in order to uncover hidden goals, beliefs, habits and influences that may be impacting their fitness or nutrition program and ultimately their results and goals.


Personal Coach– Every client you take on will be unique. They may come to you with the same black and white goals of “lose 20 pounds” or “run a 5K,” but the underlying reasons for those goals, personal motivations and day to day situations that you uncover as an investigator will help you to coach them as individuals to reach those goals. Do they need handholding and a soft touch or honest, no-holds-barred feedback and freedom? Do they work best with a detailed, set in stone plan or flexibility in the fitness routine and meal plan? Do they prefer simply being directed or do they need to contribute to the decision-making process in order to be fully invested?


CEO – Successful personal trainers take ultimate responsibility for their business and its success no matter how big or small, broad or focused.  They recognize not only their direct role in helping clients achieve goals but also the importance of growing a successful business to provide a solid foundation from which to help clients. While it is a balancing act to work closely with clients on those fitness and nutrition programs and still invest time in marketing, social media, technology, day-to-day business and long-term business-building strategies, it’s a must in order to continue making an impact in your community now and far into the future.


Student – Whether it’s an online course, regular meetings with a mentor or attending a fitness or nutrition industry conference, truly successful personal trainers never stop learning and growing. This ever-changing industry and increasingly educated consumers demand that in order to succeed, personal trainers stay on top and ahead of the latest research, techniques and trends.


Personal trainers are change-makers. A change maker is most certainly not a one-dimensional role and takes a great deal of depth, expertise and understanding in order to make a significant impact for the better. It’s about so much more than just a fitness program and dietary management. How have you successfully navigated these many roles of a personal trainer? What roles would you add to the job description of a successful personal trainer?

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