Face it, no one wants to hear the the words “You’re Fired“.
Unfortunately, many personal trainers get told this phrase in one fashion or another over the course of their careers. However, these words typically won’t be coming from the mouths of their supervisors, but rather from their clients!
And to be perfectly blunt, these trainers deserve it.
While there are countless reasons why a client may decide to leave, without question the biggest reason why trainers get fired is because they lose sight of their primary professional priorities: focusing on their client’s goals and providing exemplary service.
Now I’m not about to begrudge anyone the opportunity to make a living training others, but I’ve witnessed far too many trainers who believe their job description starts and ends with “counting reps” and who treat their clients as “walking ATM machines”.
Needless to say, these trainers don’t stay in business for very long.
Frankly, the safest way to ensure long-term success in fitness is making the transition from being “a personal trainer” to becoming “a fitness professional”.
While personal training might be something people do part-time or as a way to make money during school, fitness professionals are those individuals who are always booked solid, maintain a waiting list of people dying to work with them, get all of their clients concrete results and whose clientele can’t stop gushing about the positive influence these trainers have had on their lives.
In other words, fitness professionals care and it gets reflected in their bottom line.
Notice at no point does entrance into the fraternity of fitness professional necessitate “having the flashiest ads or website”, “charging the most per hour for your services” or “labeling yourself a fitness professional on your business cards”.
If you spend most of your time trying to dupe people into believing you are great rather than actually going out there and being great… then you are in for a rude awakening.
Now I realize personal training can be daunting for anyone just starting out, but as long as you avoid these 10 major mistakes made by terrible trainers everywhere, you stand a fighting chance of becoming a fitness professional one day!
#1. You spend most of each hour talking about yourself.
As a trainer, you must never forget your primary responsibility: attend to your client’s fitness. The profession is personal trainer, not personal story teller.
While I’m sure the details of the latest argument with your boy/girlfriend are fascinating (actually, they really aren’t), if your clients want to listen to sordid gossip, tell them to go check out TMZ. You are being paid to produce results, not narrate a soap opera.
#2. Each training hour is a therapy hour.
Personal trainers are not licensed psychotherapists. As such, focus conservations on areas actually covered by your training, you know… stuff like exercise technique and diet habits.
While it is more than fine (and encouraged) to occasionally allow a client to get something off their chest, if this something is the 225 lbs barbell that is crushing their sternum resulting from your neglect because you were too engaged in a story… let’s just say the pink slip (and possibly a lawsuit) is coming your way.
#3. You look like you’ve never trained a day in your life.
Admittedly, “personal trainer” is not synonymous for “underwear model”. However, far too many personal trainers are still either significantly over- or underweight.
Unless you consider it prudent to get mortgage advice from a homeless person, realize that “living the lifestyle” you are teaching is your responsibility. Adopt the philosophy of “do as I do, not as I say” and watch your credibility skyrocket.
If you don’t care enough to eat healthy and exercise daily, why should your clients?
#4. Your programming sucks.
Because of the low barrier to entry in the personal training field (you can get started with just a weekend certificate) many trainers seemingly have no rhyme or reason to their programming. Either they assign programs that hop from exercise to exercise with no goal-specificity or the programs simply don’t change – ever.
Now programming doesn’t have to be complicated, nor should it. But if you have no idea how long it will take a client to increase strength, lose a certain amount of weight or improve their cardiovascular capacity as a result of the program you’ve given them… what kind of expertise are you really displaying?
#5. You tell your clients absolutes “never squat below 90°”, “fat is bad” or “carbs will kill you”.
This is a tell tale sign you haven’t been adequately trained. One of the neat things about personal training is the expectation that you will customize a program to your client’s unique needs… not spout off ridiculous universal truths.
With the ease of access to information on the internet, your clients will be easily able to verify the advice you are giving them. If you aren’t putting in the time helping them get the best of themselves, you can be sure they’ll find someone else who will.
#6. All of your clients get the same routine.
I realize that it’s tempting to use the same programs for many of your clients, however, it’s also a great way to lose business in the long run.
If you don’t have the time to do some custom programming for your clients, it means one of two things: either you have too many clients and are on the short-track to burnout or you are lazy.
Neither of which is going to make you a fitness professional any time soon.
#7. Your clients never fail because of muscle fatigue, they only fail due to boredom.
You aren’t being paid to be your client’s best friend, you are being paid to hold your client accountable and get them results. And although it sometimes sucks, results take hard work.
The longer a client is with you, the more heavy lifting they are going to require to continually progress. If none of your clients ever lift heavy enough that they require a spot during a workout… your programming sucks.
#8. You are trying to run a supplement business on the side.
I have nothing against supplements, I think there’s a time and place for certain key supplements in everyone’s diets. However, telling people to load up on supplements before they have a handle on healthy eating is like telling someone to pick out curtains before they’ve built a house.
Putting your commission cheque ahead of your client’s health is beyond selfish. Teach people how to embrace real food and the money you’ll make from happy referrals will never be in short supply.
#9. You consider plyometrics a key training tool for everyone.
Plyometrics are a great way to build explosive power… for lean, already fit individuals. Bounding drills are terrible exercise selections for individuals needing to lose appreciable amounts of body fat.
Jumping is stressful enough on the joints for lean individuals. Now imagine jumping with a 50 lbs weight vest and you can just imagine the joint devastation.
Nothing causes clients to leave faster than getting injured.
#10. You answer phone calls or check text messages during training sessions.
You seriously aren’t that important. I realize it may happen once a year where you need to carry your phone with you (wife going into labour… dad going into open heart surgery) but most things can wait till after your session concludes.
Show your clients the attention and respect they deserve. By making their goals, their needs and their questions the focus of the precious hour you spend with them, you will quickly turning yourself into an indispensable part of their lives.
Once you start to be seen as indispensable, you’ll quickly make the jump from the “dime a dozen crowd” into the realm of fitness professionals!