10 Lessons Learned From Personal Training

1) There’s no faster way to kill your integrity than by not  charging what you are worth.  

Now, there’s a difference between what you are worth and being completely off the  radar in terms of your market. But you need to charge what you are worth if you are  not to appear ‘divided’ in a sea of customers that are too informed and just have too  many choices. 

2) Personal training will beat your body up in ways that you  did not think possible.  

I was 31 years old when I started StrongFound, and had endured a very tough 2-month  field job the year prior (at my former full-time job) in the middle of Houston Summer  heat. Personal training full-time gave this prior experience a run for its money. 

3) It’s quite normal to feel ‘burnt-out’ at some point working  as a trainer.  

Split shifts, repetition, and the emotional and physical energy that goes into training are  the biggest reasons for this. How do trainers survive past this phase? They ‘evolve’ and  begin establishing themselves as more than the ‘one-trick’ trainer. 

4) Personal training has a certain amount of allure to it; but  nothing could be farther from the truth.  

We imagine training athletes, celebrities, and that everyone is going to be so happy  when they come to the gym. Wearing workout clothes all the time seems so ‘cool’.  People are going to laude at your qualification and knowledge, and be motivated to  workout hard.

5) Lesson four continued…  

Most individuals you work with have regular jobs, regular lives, and aren’t here to be  fitness purists. You’ll never do so much laundry in your life (socks) and feel so liberated  when you can actually wear a pair of jeans. No one cares about your qualifications, and  they’ll be expecting you to provide them motivation. 

6) Personal training is about so much more than the perfect  workout.  

You may spend your years trying to chase the perfect workout, but that is not what  training clients is about. It is about people, and learning to deliver fitness in ways that  make sense for them. It is about understanding, and offering to lead them when they  are sometimes at their most vulnerable and worst. And yes, it requires a ton of  vulnerability to move, breath, sweat, and fart in front of a professional. You read that  correctly. 

7) The trainers that are the best will learn to be client centered versus coach-centered.  

One of my greatest weaknesses when starting out was that I wanted and expected my  clients to do things ‘my way’ versus serving as the guide on their journey. A lot of this  stemmed from how passionate I was about my own fitness, I just never saw another  way. Eventually I realized I wasn’t as ‘good’ as I thought I was, and decided to learn  what the best trainers were doing at the time. 

8) Being a personal trainer means learning why your clients  are really here.  

As trainers we can become so wrapped up in what we envision for our clients, that we  miss a much more basic need. You might have the client that comes to you wanting to  get ‘fit’ initially; but in reality, they like being pushed on occasion and having somebody to talk to. If you can step beyond your own ego as a trainer, you gain the ability to  identity and appreciate this-and understand that you are still making a difference in  their life. 

9) Fitness is an emotional and fickle character. 

As apt to change as the weather in Houston, fitness is quite emotional and  unpredictable. The decision to start is typically impulsive by nature, and with that there  comes indecision, cancellations, the ups/downs of eating habits, and sometimes  dropping off completely without any explanation. Besides from a pure business  standpoint, this becomes the premise behind 12-month commitments ☺ 

10) In today’s world being a good trainer is simply not  enough. 

Unfortunately, I was a bit too late starting StrongFound, in that it’s not good enough to  have the qualification and expertise to stand-out as a good trainer. You must specialize.  Now that I have embraced a market (and particularly enjoy training people in this  group); it makes it so much more effective and enjoyable. Not that there aren’t  exceptions. But just like with the principle of fitness, you need to focus on one  particular area if you are to get really good at it. 

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