So! Common personal trainer mistakes! Well, there are so many potentials for a list like this. But I’m going to list a few where I can really speak from experience. They are mistakes I know I’ve made in the past. But also ones that I still see many trianers making. How do I know? I see these trainers in interviews. I see them when they ask me questions. And most of the time, the mistake they are making falls into one of these areas.
So let’s get started…
The first mistake I see many trainers make is that they are not learning enough. Most personal trainers only start a career once they have passed or at least enrolled on a course to become certified. And that’s a smart move. You should have that piece of paper as it shows you take your profession seriously. It shows that you are an actual fitness professional. It shows that you know at least the basics of what is needed to perform the job to a minimum satisfactory level.
But in all honesty, a course doesn’t give you enough to prepare you for the actual day to day of being a personal trainer.
I’ve talked about this before. And courses miss out on so much of what makes a good trainer. We’ll get into some of this latter a bit more, but right now, let’s cover some of the basics.
Courses do not cover enough on mindset and behaviour change which is what is going to get you so much of the results with your clients. Yes, they may cover a little bit of theory like the transtheoretical model, or self efficacy. But there is not any real world application taught with it to really help trainers with real clients.
Very few courses also teach trainers how to properly program. In interviews when we have a trainer write a program for a hypothetical client…no matter who the client is, the programs are all the same. Which is generally a 5 or 6 days split of body parts.
And this isn't even taught in courses to be fair. But for trainers to expect a new client, new to the gym, that is middle aged and wants to lose some weight, this program is not a good one!
So there are already 2 quick points…there are more!
But my point being here, that many trainers are not learning enough, is that, first you are going to need to learn more to fill some knowledge gaps that are left over from your courses.
Next you are going to need to learn a wider variety of things to open your mind on different ways of doing things and to learn to think about things a little differently.
Keep in mind that passing your course is the beginning of your journey…not the end.
Just because you are now good enough to be let loose on the public, that doesn't mean that you have everything you need…not yet.
So keep learning! Either through workshops, seminars and even better…mentorships…to keep up the knowledge, your motivation and the level of service and skills you can use to benefit your clients.
It is also a great way to add some value and charge more in the long run!
Next up on the list is not engaging with your ideal or potential clients enough. You see this all the time, especially in gyms where a new personal trainer is really shy and avoids the gym floor. Or on the flip side, you get the arrogant trainer that thinks getting on the gym floor is beneath them and they try and chill all day in the trainers cabin thinking clients will come to them.
Neither is a good way to go.
At Invictus, our whole business is built on engagement. It is why we have half our members involved with personal training and our retention extremely high.
Everything we do is to try and create engagement points between trainers and members. And that includes general and personal training members. It starts with gym tours, how we do free trials and how we do general training. The more engagement we have between our team and our members, the better the business gets…without fail!
So, as a trainer, no matter what type you are or where you train people start to engage with your ideal clients or your potential clients.
In a gym it is easy…you get on the gym floor, you try to speak to as many people as possible with the intention of just helping them. You try to take as many tours as possible, do as many free body assessments as possible or whatever your gym offers. Look for as many ways as possible to get yourself in front of people so you can add value and help them.
If you are freelance or even online…you still need the same approach. Where are your people? Either online or offline? Where can you find them, reach out to them and start to engage with them?
No bad can come from this!
You will become known in the circles you want to be known in. And even if people do not hire you right at the beginning, you are in their world and hopefully they will enter yours.
You may not be the trainer they hire, but you may become the trainer they recommend. Doors can open and opportunities arise, but first you have to reach out and engage and serve these people without expectations.
Engagement is the key that will unlock all possibilities and help you fill your calendar quickly and with the right people.
Number 3 on today’s list is jumping into freelance too early.
A short while back I recorded a session on generalising vs specialising as a personal trainer when you’re starting off. And one of the questions that’s included in this is should you start off employed or freelance? It is session number three if you want to check that out.
Now my general recommendation for trainers starting out is to be an employed trainer to begin with and in session number 3 I go over the reasons for this.
But I know that most trainers do not want to be in this situation as much, or for long, and would much prefer to be freelance.
And I can understand why. Freelance is so attractive to trainers. The big mean gym isn’t taking a percentage…you can be more flexible with your timings, charge what you want and a whole bunch of other things.
But what I see almost on a daily basis is trainers that made the jump too early from employed to freelance.
Half the people we interview are freelance trainers wanting to return to an employed position because they couldn’t make it work. Not because they are not good enough. It’s because they didn’t take the time to learn the skills they needed to make a freelance career work for them.
They could get enough clients, they undercharged for their services or gave away too much as discounts.
They didn’t know how to market themselves or reach the people they really wanted to train. They failed to set boundaries that made their effective hourly rate almost nothing.
All the areas that the gym used to work for them, they forgot to learn how to do that for themselves.
Getting clients, selling packages, setting boundaries, taking care of taxes and all the other things that the gym did. You now have to do!
You have to learn these things to be a successful freelance trainer and not many trainers have the skills to do it right out the door.
Again, your course doesn’t take you through the ins and outs of being a freelance trainer. That isn't what they are there for.
So where are you going to learn this? Going back to the first point…you keep learning. You learn on the job, you take some courses, a webinar or even join a special personal trainer business community, like my EPIC community!
Nice plug right!
Which leads us into the final point. Trainers, employed or freelance, don’t treat their business like a business.
Maybe you think you do not need to if you are employed in a gym. But trust me…you should. Because the way that most gyms are set up, you really are trying to run your own business within the business of the gym. You have to get your clients, take care of them, keep them accountable and help them get results the same way as if you were a freelance trainer. If you go to the gym everyday with this mindset then you will give yourself a far better chance of success.
And if you are a freelance trainer, then it is kind of essential to your success.
But what do I mean by business and business skills? Well, let’s go through things in a bit of an order.
As a trainer, to build a business, the first thing you will need is some clients. So how do you get them? Well, first you need to know who they are. You need to know how to find them. And then you need to know how you can appeal to them so they might hire you.
This is knowing your ideal client and then your marketing. By knowing the ‘who’ you can find where they are and use either paid or non-paid ways to reach and talk with them.
Once you have someone interested, what is your client journey? What is the repeatable process or system that you will take them through so they can get results and you as a trainer can deliver on what you have promised?
When you have this happy client, how can you use their experience to help grow your business, either through referrals or using testimonials?
You see, there is a very easy and logical way to go through what your business needs. And maybe there is a little more to it than this. But by keeping it simple, you can do big things as a trainer. It’s just that you are not taught this in courses and it isn’t ever really mentioned to anyone that is just starting out.
But if you are a trainer, just starting out, then this can really give you an advantage if you know what to do and how to do it.
Did you know that pretty much half of all new personal trainers have quit within the first year of being a trainer?
These are fully certified trainers. And I'm betting that they didn’t quit due to a lack of exercise knowledge. They didn’t quit due to poor work ethics, well, maybe some of them.
But they quit because they couldn’t make things work as a business. They couldn’t earn enough money in those early days. And that’s fully understandable considering the training that is on offer.
I think I almost quit 3 different times because I was struggling. It is something that many trainers go through before reaching success. But it doesn't have to be that way.
So here is what I suggest.
Join the 100% free Epic community where you can at least be a part of a community of personal trainers that are focused on building their business.
Being a personal trainer can be a little lonely at times. By getting online and having access to other like minded trainers can be an invaluable tool for new personal trainers to clear any doubts you have. You can ask questions of more experienced trainers that can help and get some great ideas on how to grow your business.
Learn new things, and do your best not to fall into the 50% of new trainers that fail within their first year.