Suppose for a second that what's holding you back is actually coming from inside your head?

Self-limiting thoughts are beliefs that hold us back from being awesome. Our beliefs can prevent us from doing life-changing things, taking chances, or following our dreams.

These beliefs come from thoughts and experiences in our past. Most aren't real, but we convince ourselves that they are. As such, they become part of our identity and are very hard to change.

Let's take a common story in our industry: People turned to the path of a personal trainer because health, fitness, or sports changed their life. They were on a path with no bright future, but they turned their life around, thanks to fitness.

In a similar vein, you love everything about fitness and want so badly to share this passion with others, but you feel like you aren't qualified. No one will listen to you because you don't have a degree or a handful of certifications and letters behind your name. So you don't start a website, tell your story, or help other people change their lives because you're worried about what others will think.

Well, you're doing the world a disservice.

Because the people who seek help will listen, and they want to hear from you. You know what it's like to be in their shoes, they can relate to you, and who knows--you can probably help someone with what you know and what you've experienced a lot more than you think.

The real problem is you.

The three self-limiting thoughts of personal trainers.

Three specific kinds of "mind traps" used to prevent me from furthering my own online coaching business, but I'm aware they're not the only ones.

Once I freed myself from these traps, my career and confidence skyrocketed. I imagine the same can happen for you, too.


1. "I am not a salesman or a marketer. I don't want to come off like a sleazy salesman"

If you want to help more people, you need to have good communication skills and be able to market the incredible content that you will be creating.

This isn't "sleazy sales"; it's knowing your audience and how you can help them, and being able to deliver that help to them in a way they understand.

Let's say you're a guy looking for new underwear and you walk into Calvin Klein. You ask for help and the salesperson brings you to the women's bras. It's still clothing, but it's not at all what you're looking for. You're pissed and confused at the same time. That's how a prospective client feels when they come to you, but you talk to them about "training like an athlete" when they really want to feel sexier and more attractive to the spouse.

You owe it to yourself and your audience to be better at sales and marketing. You owe it to them to know what they need and know how to help them best.

You might be the greatest trainer in the world, but you won't be able to help anyone unless they buy in and trust and understand you. Selling and marketing mean positioning yourself in a way that results in more interactions, more transactions, or more money per transaction.

So, what's the first step to becoming better at selling and marketing? Start by making that blog you held off on and writing (and writing a lot). Just sign up on WordPress or Blogger. They're free. You don't need to reinvent the wheel. Just share your knowledge. It doesn't matter that you're not a proficient writer (yet). It'll come with more practice and learning from others.

And remember this quote:

"People don't like to be sold, but they love to buy"
-Jefferey Gitomer

READ ALSO: 9 Tips to Master Personal Training Marketing

2. "Why would someone want to train with me or listen to what I have to say instead of another trainer?"

Well, did you play a sport? Do they see something in you that they can connect to? Maybe this person looks up to you and wants to learn from you.

If you were an obese gamer who found fitness and changed your life, someone can relate to that. People like to follow people they know, like, and trust because there is a connection.


People would rather listen to someone who has been in the same shoes as theirs, as opposed to a "Men's Health Expert Tommy the Top Trainer" who sports a perpetual 8-pack and has never been above 6 percent body fat his entire life (or at least hasn't admitted it).

This is where your personal stories and struggles swoop in to save the day. These are the buffers that connect you with your audience: share your favorite movies, books, characters, hobbies, places to travel, favorite foods, and so on and so forth. Share you. You're a real person, after all.

Of course, storytelling is a skill. Even telling your own story can be a form of art. When you tell a story, even about yourself, you want to ask yourself, "Who is your audience and what is the message you want to share?" From this, you use your own experiences to craft the story around that message, being sure to highlight your struggles. Make the story less about how great you are, and more about the people who've helped you and the lessons you learned.

Let your personality shine, get good at what you do, and make sure your clients know who you are. When you do these things, you will already be a step above most trainers, even the experienced ones.

3. "Who would want to read what I have to say? I don't even know what to write about."

A lot of coaches fall into the trap of thinking they need to come up with revolutionary original content that has never been written about.

Before you hurt your brain, stop.

The key is to write about the same topic in a different way.

That's pretty much what most content on the internet is. Your life, experiences, education, childhood, horror stories, favorite memories, and struggles are different from everyone else's, so your content should reflect those differences. People like to listen to what other people experience.

So, to find out what kind of content you should write, listen to the questions that your clients, family, and friends are asking you about. Simply turn your answers for them into a more detailed article that you can post on your site.


For example, let's take a look at five different headlines that talk about "losing stubborn body fat":

  • How to Lose Stubborn Body Fat
  • Why Diet Is More Important than Training to Lose Stubborn Body Fat
  • How This Teacher and Single Parent Got Down to 7% Body Fat
  • Why Most Experts Are Wrong About Losing Stubborn Body Fat
  • How This Popular Fitness Article Is Holding You Back From Losing Stubborn Body Fat

See? The list can go on and on. Change your position, change the outlook, and let the content flow.

You can stop having these self-limiting thoughts.

Here's a hypothetical but familiar scenario: When you start at a new gym, you're scared to talk to potential clients and gym members. You don't want to come off too strong, like those used car salesmen. You're concerned about how this person will react, what they'll think, and what they'll end up saying about you.

You assume you're already the 100th person to strike up the same conversation and are doomed to failure and rejection. So, you keep to yourself because you're convinced no one wants to talk to you. Well, here are three steps to stop you from thinking that way.

STEP 1. Grasp the reality of your thoughts.

At this point, you need to ask yourself two questions:

Question 1. Can you absolutely know this is true?

When it comes down to it, you can't. You don't know what that person is thinking without asking. You might think he doesn't want to talk, but you don't know for sure. Maybe that frown is his normal face, or maybe he's actually angry because people don't strike up a conversation with him on a regular basis.

Question 2. How would you feel without that thought?

You might feel more free and open to start conversations with anyone, at which point you'll realize the unlimited potential for new clients and new friendships. The possibilities are endless.

STEP 2: Find a situation in your life or someone else's where this thought turned out to be false.

Have you had a similar feeling before but did it anyway, and it actually turned out to be okay?

Maybe you know of someone else who had a self-limiting thought about talking to a girl, still went for it, and they wound up together. There are plenty of instances about people facing their negative thoughts head-on and ending up okay, or better for it.

Come up with at least one situation in which "the script" has been proven wrong. If you can come up with more, that's even better.

STEP 3: Use the 10/10/10 rule.

For really tough scripts that you can't seem to shake, use the 10/10/10 Rule.

Invented by business journalist and author Suzy Welch, the 10/10/10 Rule is a guide to help you by asking you these questions:

  • How will we feel about it 10 minutes from now?
  • How about 10 months from now?
  • How about 10 years from now?

Take the same example of starting a conversation with a gym member. Let's say you just can't sack up and do it.


In the best-case scenario, he is awesome, welcoming, and thankful that you started the conversation and asked about his goals. He loves the input and advice you were able to provide, and you landed a new personal training client.

Worst-case scenario: he is busy and doesn't want to have a conversation. He is an unpleasant person who gives you an attitude and just walks away.

How will you feel about this 10 minutes from now?

You're pissed off and it ruined the rest of your day; or you just landed a new client and it turned into a great day.

How will you feel about this 10 months from now?

You'll laugh about that time the miserable guy at the gym, who is mean to everyone, snapped on you for being friendly; or you'll have a great client who's been crushing it for the past 10 months.

How will you feel about this 10 years from now?

You'll straight-up forget about the funny story about the miserable guy at the gym; or you'll have a friendship and past relationship with a stranger you once started a conversation with at the gym when you were a new trainer.

Take the steps and take action.

Take 10 minutes and write down all self-limiting thoughts that pop into your head. Don't filter anything. Write freely. They could range from "What if I'm not cut out to be a personal trainer?" to "What if clients sign up with me and realize I'm not good enough for them and quit on me?"

Once you have that list of 10, find the one that repeats itself the most in your life or you feel is the biggest obstacle.

Go through the steps and find the actual truths and endless possibilities. Then, with the 10/10/10 Rule, discover what it is you need to do and take the necessary action, whatever that may be.

Don't hold yourself back. Thrive.